Edmonds Booktalk: Quick reads for a quick month

First, a resolution update!

I am quite pleased to announce that I read two graphic novels* in January. And I am a complete convert! I started with “Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant?: A Memoir” by Roz Chast, the award-winning graphic memoir by New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast about her parents’ final years.

A little bit of humor around the edges. Tough and heartbreaking and poignant. So. Good. The illustrations are colorful and quirky. I am very glad I read it.

I also read “Green River Killer: A True Detective Story” by Jeff Jensen. Illustrated by Jonathan Case. Written by the lead Detective’s son, this is inspired by true events.  Behind the scenes story of arresting and interviewing Gary Ridgeway. Fascinating. The black and white illustrations are striking and quite dramatic. There are some panels with no words which make you slow down and really take in the graphics. And they are stunning.

*”graphic novels” – is apparently a generic term, and not necessarily 100% precise.  Of the first two I have read, one is a memoir, one is inspired by true events… we might have to come up with a new label… Graphic story. Graphic tale. Graphic book. Hmmmm. I will keep working on that….

I am thinking I might read George Takei’s graphic memoir next. Stay tuned!
And bonus: graphic novels are fairly quick reads…

Which leads nicely right into… suggestions for more quick reads for the quickest of months!

Titles that lend themselves to dipping into in short bits, if you so choose. Short stories. Essays. Like that.

We will start with a title featured on ‘This American Life’ that actually helped me come up with this idea!
“Book of Delights: Essays” by Ross Gay. Essays about the things, large and small, that delight. Featured on This American Life, here.
Also staff recommended.

Fiction short delights for adults:
“Dreadful Young Ladies and Other Stories” by Kelly Barnhill. Staff recommended.

“Exhalation: Stories” by Ted Chiang. ‘A collection of short stories that will make you think, grapple with big questions, and feel more human. The best kind of science fiction.’ –Barack Obama.

“Get in Trouble: Stories” by Kelly Link. Staff recommended.

“Joy: And 52 Other Very Short Stories” by Erin McGraw. “How can stories this brief be so satisfying? . . . Fifty-three gems that demonstrate all the things a short story can do. Wow.” –Kirkus Reviews (starred review) Staff recommended.

“We Live in Water: Stories”  by Jess Walter. One of my favorite collections of short stories, ever! Also made Barack Obama’s best books he read in 2019 list.

Nonfiction short delights for adults
A couple from staff favorite Brian Doyle:
“Eight Whopping Lies and Other Stories of Bruised Grace” by Brian Doyle. This is a guided tour through the mind of one of the most acclaimed voices in contemporary Catholic writing. Brian Doyle effortlessly connects the everyday with the inexpressible and consistently marries searingly honest prose with interruptions of humor and humanity.  In paperback.
“One Long River of Song: Notes on Wonder” by Brian Doyle.  A playful and moving book of essays by a “born storyteller” (Seattle Times) who invites us into the miraculous and transcendent moments of the everyday. [posthumously published.]

“Erosion: Essays of Undoing” by Terry Tempest Williams. In these new essays, Williams explores the concept of erosion: of the land, of the self, of belief, of fear. What is weathered, worn, and whittled away through wind, water, and time is as powerful as what remains. Staff recommended.

“The Joys of Travel: And Stories That Illuminate Them” by Thomas Swick.
“A perceptive, old-school travel writer whose prose brings celebrated and obscure destinations to life.” “The Joys of Travel is itself a joy.” –Paul Theroux

“Upstream: Selected Essays” by Mary Oliver. From the beloved Pulitzer Prize winner, essays encouraging readers to keep moving, to lose themselves in the awe of the unknown, and to give power and time to the creative and whimsical urges that live within.

A few short delights for kids

“In a Dark, Dark Room and Other Scary Stories” by Alvin Schwartz. This classic and ALA Notable Children’s Book full of spooky stories is perfect for beginning readers, ages 4 – 8.

“Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women” by Elena Favilli.

This reinvents fairy tales, inspiring girls with the stories of 100 heroic women from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

“Stories for Boys Who Dare to Be Different: True Tales of Amazing Boys Who Changed the World Without Killing Dragons” by Ben Brooks. This timely book offers an accessible compilation of 75 famous and not-so-famous men who were rule-breakers and stereotype-smashers in their own way. Profiles include Frank Ocean, Barack Obama, Jesse Owens.

Going on this month at Edmonds Bookshop:

February 2020 Book Club Book. “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood” by Trevor Noah.

Wednesday, Feb. 19, 2020. 9 – 10 a.m.

The compelling, inspiring, and comically sublime story of one man’s coming-of-age, set during the twilight of apartheid and the tumultuous days of freedom that followed.

Thursday, Feb. 20, 2020. 5 – 8 p.m.

Third Thursday Art Walk: We welcome debut author E.J. Koh and her memoir “The Magical Language of Others”

From the Publisher:

“The Magical Language of Others” is a powerful and aching love story in letters, from mother to daughter. It weaves a profound tale of hard-won selfhood and our deep bonds to family, place, and language, introducing–in Eun Ji Koh–a singular, incandescent voice.

Great review/interview in The Stranger, here.

From Seattle Arts + Lectures: Seattle’s very own E.J. Koh will be moderating our Q&A with Min Jin Lee in March!  More information about the SAL event, here.

Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020. Noon – 1 p.m.

Join us in welcoming local author Christine Day and her debut middle grade novel “I Can Make This Promise,” inspired by her family’s history. She tells the story of a girl who uncovers her family’s secrets — and finds her own Native American identity.

Learn all about Christine Day, here, on her website.

One of NPR’s Favorite Books of 2019.

Together with Sno-Isle Public Libraries, we are pleased to announce a donation drive of “I Can Make This Promise” to benefit Edmonds School District school libraries.

Thursday, Feb. 27, 2020. 7 – 8 p.m.

Join us for a very special event: A 30-minute preview of a new play.

We will welcome the actors from Women’s Work Productions as they perform a 30-minute preview of the new play “Carried by the Current.”

The play is a mystery from history based on the true story of The Women’s Commonwealth of Belton, Texas — a group that became so successful in business, they changed an entire community’s perception of women’s roles in society. Because sometimes we need to look back in order to see the way forward.

Visit the website for all kinds of great information about the play and the people. Don’t miss the blog: ‘Seattle Bound Blog: The Journey of a Play to Production’. 

Note: you will recognize one of the founders of Women’s Work Productions, and the author of the blog, as one of our favorite local authors, Nicola Pearson! [Even more talented than we knew!]

Leap day! Spend some of your extra day with us!

Saturday, Feb. 29, 2020. Noon – 1 p.m.

Welcome back author Jennifer Wilhoit and her new book “Weaned Seals and Snowy Summits: Stories of Passion for Place and Everyday Nature.”

Jennifer J. Wilhoit, PhD is a spiritual ecologist, the founder of TEALarbor stories, and the author of books, articles, and blogs focused on the inner/outer landscape. Learn more here: www.tealarborstories.com

Recent book releases of note:

“Such a Fun Age” by Kiley Reid. A debut novel chosen for January IndieBound www.indiebound.org/book/9780525541905.
And Reese Witherspoon’s latest choice for her book club.

“Dear Edward” by Ann Napolitano. Chosen for January IndieBound. www.indiebound.org/book/9781984854780

“The Magical Language of Others : A Memoir” by E. J. Koh.

“Creatures : A Novel” by Crissy Van Meter. Chosen for January IndieBound. www.indiebound.org/book/9781616208592

“Deep Creek: Finding Hope in the High Country” by Pam Houston. Staff recommended. In paperback.  “Long Bright River” by Liz Moore.

“The Long Petal of the Sea” by Isabel Allende. Staff recommended.

“American Dirt” by Jeanine Cummins.

“Agency” by William Gibson. A science fiction thriller heavily influenced by our most current events.

“A Very Stable Genius: Donald J. Trump’s Testing of America” by Philip Rucker and Carol Leonnig.

“Highfire” by Eoin Colfer.

“Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup” by John Carreyrou. Finally in paperback! Staff highly recommended.

Some books of note being released in February:

“Black Leopard, Red Wolf” by Marlon James.  In paperback. February 4, 2020.

“The Scent Keeper” by Erica Bauermeister. In paperback. February 4, 2020.

“Lost Children Archive” by Valeria Luiselli. In paperback. February 4, 2020.

“Murder in Bel-Air : An Aimée Leduc Investigation” by Cara Black. In paperback. February 4, 2020.

“Daisy Jones & the Six” by Taylor Jenkins Reid. Staff recommended. In paperback. February 4, 2020.

“The Resisters” by Gish Jen. A moving and important story of an America that seems ever more possible. February 4, 2020.

“The Holdout” by Graham Moore. One juror changed the verdict. What if she was wrong? From the bestselling author of staff recommended, “The Last Days of Night.”  February 18, 2020.

“The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz” by Erik Larson. Takes readers out of today’s political dysfunction and back to a time of true leadership, when, in the face of unrelenting horror, Churchill’s eloquence, courage, and perseverance bound a country, and a family, together. February 25, 2020.

“Pretty as a Picture” by Elizabeth Little. A wickedly funny exploration of our cultural addiction to tales of murder and mayhem and a thrilling, behind-the-scenes whodunit, Pretty as a Picture is a captivating page-turner from one of the most distinctive voices in crime fiction. February 25, 2020.

“Apeirogon,” by Colum McCann. Two fathers, one Palestinian and the other Israeli, are bound together by grief: Rami’s daughter was killed at age 13 by a suicide bomber, while Bassam’s daughter was shot dead by the border police near her school. McCann, who won the National Book Award for his novel “Let the Great World Spin,” named his latest book for a polygon with an infinite number of sides, a fitting visual for the political and cultural conflict he evokes. February 25, 2020.

You may pre-order any forthcoming title by giving us a call, or visiting our website.

Happy reading

Elaine Mattson

— By Elaine Mattson

Edmonds native Elaine Mattson has worked at The Edmonds Bookshop off and on since she was 12 years old, and has also worked at a book wholesaler, a book publisher, and for the book publishing division of a large local software company (yes, that one). “I was raised a book lover [thanks, Mom!],” Mattson says. “We got book lights by our beds as soon as we were old enough to read. And then I probably got in trouble for reading too late the very next night. And I still read too late!


2 Replies to “Edmonds Booktalk: Quick reads for a quick month”

  1. Thanks, Elaine! You sure know how to grab the attention of avid readers with your brief but captivating descriptions. Makes one want to hide out somewhere and just READ, READ, READ!


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