Bookseller’s Choice
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1
About Pam’s Choices
"It's difficult to remember a time when there weren't
books and the love of them in my life. My greatest joy was
the Christmas gift that I knew contained that new
hardcover carrying with it its smell, feel and prospect of
hours spent delving into some new and magical place. Tell
me a Story!
When, a few years ago, I saw a reissue of one of those
books with a medallion affixed to the cover announcing its
50th Anniversary, I realized that I've carried no other
consistent passion with me and smiled contentedly.
I'm still captivated by those same childhood sensations
and fortunately have found a place where I can try to share
them with you!"
2
The Unseen - by Roy Jacobsen,
translated by Don Bartlett and Don
Shaw
The first in a trilogy, The Unseen, set on a
fictional Norwegian island is quietly
masterful both in its prose and its
characters. Peopled by three generations
of a single family, who work the land and
sea surrounding them, we are allowed
into their world - the sometimes harsh
island that is their home and the
changes (some welcome and necessary-
some not) encroaching from the
mainland world.
True Story - by Kate Reed Petty
Kate Reed Petty pulls together an
intricately layered debut novel that
refuses to conform to a single literary
genre, structure or style. A
rollercoaster ride through “the true
story” of four characters 15 years after
one traumatic night.
Thought-provoking
The Death of Vivek Oji - by Akwaeke
Emezi
Emezi is a major talent with a capital M.
They have given us a book that will
continue to linger in your heart and soul
long after its last sentence is savored.
An exquisitely written, powerful and
haunting novel.
3
Norwegian by Night -by Derek B.
Miller
Pitch perfect on many levels! Billed as a
Scandanavian crime novel, but it's
actually wrapped around a book filled
with heart, laugh aloud humor and asks
lots of questions large and small.
Sheldon is unforgettable. A thriller,
caper, and thoughtful piece about
fathers and sons, past wars, present
societal issues and living life well. Also
try American by Day with some of the
same characters.
The Girl in Green - by Derek B.
Miller
OK - so you know I'm a fan of Mr.
Miller. His brilliance at creating
unforgettable characters and
transporting the reader into a book's
setting continue in this wonderful
novel. Set amid the Syrian civil war,
follow a most unlikely pair trying to
locate a young victim they encountered
years earlier. An intelligent and
insightful trip into a brutal situation. It
is filled with humility, warmth and the
author's trademark wit.
A Gentleman in Moscow - by Amor
Towles
A masterpiece I've recommended since
hundreds of times since its publication.
Beginning in 1922, Count Alexander
Rostov is convicted of being an
unrepentent aristocrat and sentenced to
house arrest in a grand hotel near the
Kremlin. He now lives in an attic room
and watches history unfold right
outside his doors. This is so beautifully
written and filled with such wonderful
characters that it's impossible to forget.
4
Ways to Disappear - by Idra Novey
When Brazlian auth Beatriz Yagoda
vanishes, her American translator
travels to Rio de Janeiro feeling her
intimate knowledge of the novels she
has worked on will help her children's
search for their mother. Their quest
leads them down unexpected paths and
as they begin to question their own lives
searches they find there are numerous
ways to define disappearance. A fast-
paced and at time madcap debut written
in spare and wonderfully poetic prose.
Hum If You Don’t Know the Words -
by Bianca Marais
Some books draw you in with their
language, some with their sense of
place, some with unforgettable
characters. This debut set in apartheid
South Africa embodies all of these.
The Far Field - by Madhuri Vijay
An absolutely remarkable novel it's
hard to believe is a debut. Set in India,
you'll set out from the south of the
country to Kashmir with a young
woman searching for someone lost
from her childhood. The journey, which
leads her to both personal and political
awakenings will enthrall you page after
page.
5
The Shadow of the Wind - by Carlos
Ruiz Zafón
If you've never had the exquisite
pleasure of reading this sumptuous
novel - you really should do it now. A
story within a story set in Barcelona, it
unravels a young man's quest to unearth
the works of an enigmatic author. What
an amazing read!
The Do-Right - by Lisa Sandlin
An unconventional debut filled with grit
and humor. It was the Winner of both
the Shamus Award and Dashiell
Hammett Prize. After 14 years in prison
for killing the man who was raping her,
Delphia Wade is now employed by Tom
Phelan, a small time fledgling PI in a
blue collar Texas city....and she does
most of the heavy lifting. The spare,
clipped prose is wonderfully poetic! Her
second book featuring these 2
characters, The Bird Boys, is equally
complex and compelling. Loved 'em
both.
Lights All Night Long - by Lydia
Fitzpatrick
A remarkable and intricate, well-paced
mystery that, at its core, is a story of
familial bonds in all their complexity.
Heartwarming. Heartbreaking. Not
easily forgotten. I was, and am still
enthralled by it.
6
The Bear and the Nightingale, The
Girl in the Tower, & The Winter of the
Witch - by Katherine Arden
Having always been a sucker for folklore,
fairy tales and Russian settings, this
trilogy combines it all into 1 luscious
borscht and had me from page 1. Set in a
medieval Russian forest during
midwinter, meet Vasya, an unforgettable
character bestowed with her
grandmother's magic and uses both it
and her bravery to save her family.
Where the Crawdads Sing - by Delia
Owens
An astonishingly beautiful first novel
set in the outer banks of North Carolina.
You will ache and root for Kyay an
abandoned child coming of age with her
beloved marshes as nurturer. Add a
compelling mystery and courtroom
drama and you have a truly
unforgettable story of loneliness,
survival and love.
Sharks in the Time of Saviors - by
Kawai Strong Washburn
While I've never much cared for the term
"unputdownable" when describing the
attributes of a book, it just might wiggle
into this review. Kawai Strong Washburn,
has written a compelling and marvelous
melding/juxtaposition of Hawaiian legend
and the hardscrabble lives of
contemporary islanders. After a fall into
the ocean, 7-year old Noa is returned
unharmed to his mother. As he struggles
to understand the "gift" that he
possesses, every family member struggles
in their own way. Familial bonds and
those of their heritage are tested in a truly
indelible novel. I so loved this!
7
Your House Will Pay - by Steph Cha
With its roots in an actual event in 1991
Los Angeles, Steph moves us to 2019 in a
still racially divided Los Angeles when
yet another black teen is shot and
tensions grow. In that setting, the lives
of the two families most directly affected
by the 1991 shooting are brought
together. I'll say no more. This is a
powerful, no-easy-answers book that
MUST be read.
Deep River - by Karl Marlantes
Having loved Matterhorn, I was excited
to find a new novel by this author.....and
I wasn't disappointed. If you're ready
for an 800 page multi-generational
family saga, this is the book for you.
Beginning in 1893 it traces the lives of 3
Finnish siblings who flee Russian
occupied Finland and settle in the
Pacific Northwest to begin working in
its logging industry. Detail abounds,
but none feel wasted. It was a
wonderful read.
The Mercies - by Kiran Millwood
Hargrave
This powerful and heart-rending novel
was inspired by the real events of the 1617
storm in Norway that killed all the men in
the town of Vardo and the 1620 witch
trials. Left alone and forced to learn to
provide for themselves, the women
become adept at doing so. Three years
later they must reckon with their greatest
threat in the person of a witch-hunting
Scottish cleric and his wife who have been
sent to insure the community is god
fearing and attends the local church. As a
bond forms between a local woman and
the cleric's wife, tensions heighten. This
will tug at every emotion.
8
Homeland Elegies - by Ayad Akhtar
A masterful blend of memoir and fiction,
this is an unforgettable journey through
the lives of a Muslim family finding their
place in a post 911 America. A searing
navigation of the loves we try to
reconcile - familial, religious, societal
and the definition of home. Written with
wisdom, wit and unsparing honesty,
this an important book that you will
continue to contemplate for a very long
time. Both intimate and epic, this is a
must read.
The Cold Millions - by Jess Walter
Thank you Jess Walter for yet again
treating us to your beautiful writing and
wonderful storytelling in a novel filled
with a kaleidoscope of unforgettable
characters navigating the tumultuous
union struggles and social inequity in
early 1900's Spokane. Loved it!
Magpie Murders - by Anthony
Horowitz
Anthony Horowitz has ingeniously
corraled so much between the covers of
this novel, that it's a difficult one to
describe without destroying both the
suspense and the fun you'll have once you
crack it open. Yes, it's a homage to those
Golden Age mysteries many of us love, but
it's also one of the best contemporary
novel-within-a-novel crime creations to
come along in a long time. I was
completely captivated. You should also
read his Moonflower Murders, The Word is
Murder, & The Sentence is Death. If you're a
fan of Sherlock Holmes pastiche novells,
try The House of Silk and Moriarty. The
guy really know how to tell a story!
9
Migrations - by Charlotte
McConaghy
Franny Stone, the lost, damaged and
complex narrator has talked her way
aboard a fishing vessel crewed by its own
band of wanderers, to track what may be
the final migration of the Arctic tern due
to our manmade carelessness of the
planet. As the journey progresses, her
life, past and present, unfolds in a
(possibly final?) migration of its own. In
gorgeous prose, the author has given us
much to think about. Haunting.
Kitchens of the Great Midwest - by J.
Ryan Stradal
Delightful, funny and quite tender. Lars
Thorvald has a love of food and for Eva,
the daughter he is raising. We follow
her life through the lenses of 8 different
characters and dishes at different
stages of her life. You needn't be a
foodie or from the Midwest to
thoroughly enjoy this. Also enjoy the
author's following novel, The Lager
Queen of Minnesota, 3 complex, strong
women - 2 estranged sisters & 1
grandaughter baking pies and making
beer!
Another Brooklyn - by Jacqueline
Woodson
A chance meeting with a long-ago friend
sends August back to her childhood in
1970's Brooklyn. Exquisitely written and
emotionally complex, from page 1 you'll be
drawn into the characters navigating the
loves, fears and friendships as they grow
to adulthood.
10
Leave the World Behind - by Rumaan
Alam
A finalist for the National Book Award
for fiction, this gripping novel opens
with a white family renting an air BNB
Long Island home, only to have the
owners, who are black, knock at the
door asking to stay the night due to a
power outage in Manhattan. Sounds like
your typical "disaster" trope, right?
Wrong. It doesn't take you necessarily
where you expect. Over the layer of
unseen cataclysm and humanity's
coping mechanisms in the face of an
impending catastrophe the author deftly
builds on issues of race, class, and age.
Prescient in today's world?
Crooked Hallelujah - by Kelli Jo
Ford
There are a million ways a novel can
approach family and community.. Kelli
Jo, in a book of interwoven chapters ,
spreads the lives of four generations of
Cherokee women on the pages of a
truly wonderful book that is
compelling, compassionate and quietly
tender. I genuinely cared for these
people and their hardscrabble lives.
The Bright Side Sanctuary for
Animals - by Becky Mandelbaum
Spoiler alert - if you're a Trump supporter,
you might not want to read this. Bright
Side Animal Sanctuary is struggling.
FInancially strapped, the target of arson
and an anti-semetic attack, the owner's
long-estranged daughter comes home to
lend support. All these complicated
emotions are gloriously handled by this
very gifted author who has penned a
tender, funny and moving portrait of the
meaning of home. Chock full of heart.
11
An Unnecessary Woman - by Rabih
Alameddine
Rabih Alameddine is a magician. His
portrait of aging, intelligent Aaliya
Sohbi, living alone in her Beirut
apartment is astonishing. An introvert,
surrounded by books, she yearly
translates one of her favorites into
Arabic simply for her own enjoyment,
Divorced, childless, estranged from her
family, Aaliya's internal dialogues
revolve around her beloved literature,
philosophy, historical and present
Beirut, and her own past. This is an
unconventional and unforgettable book
written in a very unique voice.
Anxious People - by Fredrick
Backman
I suppose you could say this book is a
locked room mystery about a bank
robber who takes clients at an
apartment open house hostage.....but it
isn't. This is a hilarious, painful and
tender book about the human condition
with all its strengths and foibles,
dreams and nightmares. As you read,
you'll be nodding your head and
wondering how he knew.
The Triumph of Seeds - by Thor
Hanson
With impish humor and the unbridled
enthusiasm of a natural storyteller,
biologist/author Hanson takes you on a
fascinating tour of what might initially
seem the rather bland world of the
overlooked seed - how they survive and
their contributions to our survival. You'll
be equally captivated by Feathers and Buzz.
12
The Library Book - by Susan Orlean
A fascinating and immediately engaging
story of the 1986 Los Angeles Central
Library fire that raged for 7 hours and
damaged/destroyed more than a million
books. It is also a passionate reflection
on the author's lifelong love affair with
books and libraries...their importance
and eccentricities.
God’s Hotel - by Victoria Sweet
A treasure of a book about the author's
time practicing at San Francisco's
Laguna Honda Hospital, considered the
last almshouse in the country. A two-
month stint that turned into a 20-year
tenure in this low-tech environment
allowed Sweet to practice what she
describes as 'slow medicine" when a
doctor is allowed the time to pay
attention to her patients. The warmth,
humor and passion all combine to make
this one of the more unforgettable
pieces of nonfiction I've ever read.
The Ravenmaster - by Christopher
Skaife
Christopher Skaife is the Yeoman Warder
and Ravenmaster at the Tower of London.
A wonderful and very funny storyteller, he
gives us a fascinating and loving glimpse
into the lives of these seven quite amazing
and uniquely individual birds. Funny, I
adore this book and have put it in the
hands of any likely (and even unlikely)
nonfiction readers. I would be stunned to
hear of any who didn't adore it as much as
I did. Amazing!
13
The Library Book - by Susan Orlean
A fascinating and immediately engaging
story of the 1986 Los Angeles Central
Library fire that raged for 7 hours and
damaged/destroyed more than a million
books. It is also a passionate reflection
on the author's lifelong love affair with
books and libraries...their importance
and eccentricities.
God’s Hotel - by Victoria Sweet
A treasure of a book about the author's
time practicing at San Francisco's
Laguna Honda Hospital, considered the
last almshouse in the country. A two-
month stint that turned into a 20-year
tenure in this low-tech environment
allowed Sweet to practice what she
describes as 'slow medicine" when a
doctor is allowed the time to pay
attention to her patients. The warmth,
humor and passion all combine to make
this one of the more unforgettable
pieces of nonfiction I've ever read.
The Ravenmaster - by Christopher
Skaife
Christopher Skaife is the Yeoman Warder
and Ravenmaster at the Tower of London.
A wonderful and very funny storyteller, he
gives us a fascinating and loving glimpse
into the lives of these seven quite amazing
and uniquely individual birds. Funny, I
adore this book and have put it in the
hands of any likely (and even unlikely)
nonfiction readers. I would be stunned to
hear of any who didn't adore it as much as
I did. Amazing!
14
Odes to Common Things - by Pablo
Neruda, translated by Ken
Krabbenhoft, illustrated by Ferris
Cook
I've always felt an affinity for the everyday
things of the world, but until I found Pablo
Neruda I didn't know there was a way to
translate those feelings to words that so
simply yet eloquently gave voice to them.
From the more general (pliers, scissors,
thimbles and hats) to the tribute to the
table and the pair of socks your previously
mundane daily companions take on an
entirely new meaning. This edition of 25 ot
Neruda's odes, published with the Spanish
on an opposing page and exquisite pencil
drawings is a book that everyone should
own, cherish and share.
Tell Me How It Ends, by Valeria
Luiselli
The forty questions Luiselli translates
and asks undocumented Latin American
minors facing deportation form a
powerful look into the lives of these
children. Brilliant! Compassionate,
humane and eye-opening, we're
allowed inside the painful process of the
sometimes horrifying injustices of our
immigration policy.
A Must Read