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Give the GIft of Good Reads

Give the Gift of Good Reads
The staff of Talking Leaves Books recommends these titles

Who better to know what worthwhile things have been recently published than the good folks who run and work at Buffalo’s most stalwart independent bookstore? Here, the staff of Talking Leaves...Books hips us to works we may have missed, in a wide variety of genres.

Lucy Kogler, manager,...Elmwood:

Two prolific writers have written incredible books this year. Both require that we as readers let go of reality and allow for the magical. John Irving’s Avenue of Mysteries (Simon and Schuster) and Salman Rushdie’s Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-eight Days (Random House) are each wondrously and masterfully written. I recommend them for the politically astute, the lover of beautiful sentences, those who need humor infused with the difficult and of course, devotees.

100 Years of the Best American Short Stories edited by Lorrie Moore (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) contains amazing work by luminaries of the 20th and 21st century. That it contains “I Stand Here Ironing” by Tillie Olsen clinches its inclusion in the list. The perfect volume for the reader who has everything, and has everything scattered around the house. A fine, hefty volume of incredible writing.

Two more not to missed are The Sympathizer (Grove Press) by Viet Thanh Nguyen and the biography Eleanor Marx (Bloomsbury Press). Both will make you reconsider their respective times—the Vietnam War and its aftermath, and the late 1800’s, Paris Commune, and the writing of Capital by Eleanor’s father Karl. Enlightening reads.

Tim Denesha

Follies of God, James Grissom (Knopf)—The best book, of the many I’ve read, on Tennessee Williams’ creative process. What a strange and marvelous mind he had.

Love in a Dark Time, Colm Toibin (Scribner)—Clear, incise essays on a variety of gay and lesbian authors, addressing how their sexual orientation informed their approach to writing.

Velvet Rage by Alan Downs (Lifelong Books/DaCapo)—The clearest, most succinct delineation of the origins and consequences of internalized homophobia, and how to address them.

Doug Zerby, Talking Leaves...Elmwood

A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, George R.R. Martin (Bantam Books) should keep Game of Thrones fans entertained while we all await the next installment in his epic fantasy series. This volume contains three novellas set about a century earlier (previously only available in separate anthologies), with very fine black and white illustrations by Gary Gianni.

Alicia Michielli, – .Elmwood

Illuminae (The Illuminae Files _01), by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff. Published as a YA novel, this incredible sci-fi thrill ride is an easy crossover for any fan of the genre. Told through a unique mix of emails, IMs, interviews, memos, and surveillance transcripts compiled into a government file, the narrative races along, punctuated by the voices of two teenagers trying to survive the unthinkable. The year is 2575. Kady And Ezra’s home planet has been destroyed by corporate attackers. They escape on separate ships, and while Ezra is conscripted into military service, Kady hacks the ship’s computers, trying to untangle a web of conspiracy, violence, a deadly plague, and the rogue AI system threatening to end them all. Clever, moving, philosophical, terrifying, heartbreaking, and hopeful, Illuminae is a fantastic read!

Jonathon Welch, owner, Talking Leaves

Between the World and Me, Ta-Nehisi Coates (Spiegel & Grau)—celebrated journalist’s impassioned letter to his son, a mix of personal narrative and memoir, historical perspective and contemporary reporting that limns the hazards and the hopes of black male life in the U.S.

S.O.S.: Poems 1961-2003, Amiri Baraka/Leroi Jones (Grove Press)—Posthumous collection of the late poet, playwright, activist, essayist, and music critic/historian confirms his place in the pantheon of post-World War II poets.

Time Ages in a Hurry, Antonio Tabucchi (Archipelago)—Nine philosophical stories by the late Italian master playing with the circularity of memory and time, the ways memory fails us while it props us up.

The Complete Works of Primo Levi, edited by Ann Goldstein (Liveright Publishing)—The literary publishing event of the year, bringing into new and improved English translation all of the work of the Italian chemist, essayist, novelist, and memoirist, best known for his books detailing his experience in the concentration camps of the Holocaust.

A History of Money, Allen Pauls (Melville House)—The intimate and the political combine in an Argentinian novel involving a dead body, a briefcase full of cash, and the history of the country in the 70s and 80s, through the memory and imagination of the unnamed protagonist and his dysfunctional family. A subtle and brilliant depiction of the place of money in lives and history—yes, it changes everything.

All My Puny Sorrows, Miriam Toews (McSweeney’s)—tragi-comic novel about sisters, and suicide, about the art of life and the life of art, about braking hearts and hearts breaking, by a Canadian master too little known in this country.

Martha Russell, bookseller and bookkeeper, Talking Leaves

Being Mortal, Atul Gawande (Metropolitan/Holt)—A compassionate, clear-eyed look at how our society and medical system fail the dying, from both age and disease. Chosen by independent booksellers around the country as the best non-fiction book of the year.

H is for Hawk, Helen MacDonald (Grove Press)—MacDonald’s powerful, beautifully crafted memoir of training her beloved goshawk Mabel while trying to find her way through the grief of losing her father. Spell-binding. Interwoven through the narrative is a brilliant reading of the life and work of T.H. White, a fellow writer and would-be falconer.

Four Ways to Forgiveness, Ursula LeGuin (Harper Collins)—A book I re-read every few years. LeGuin’s stories are always wise, sometimes wry, subversive and suspenseful; her prose is earthen, her philosophy draws from not only West and East, but also from imagined worlds in faraway galaxies.

Some Luck and Early Warning, Jane Smiley (Knopf), books 1 and 2 in The Last Hundred Years: A Family Saga—the third, The Golden Age has just been published. The first two volumes in the Langdon family saga range from its beginning on an Iowa farm in the early 20th Century to Washington, D.C., California, and New York, featuring political positions as they relate to agribusiness, Wall Street, the Cold War and the CIA. Smiley is astute—expansive as well as specific. She manages this large herd of characters like the horsewoman she is.

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