The Best Books For Your Book Club, According To Our Reps From Penguin And Random House

On Tuesday, July 25th, our reps Liz Sullivan (Random House) and Brian Contine (Penguin) came to the shop to present some of their favorite current and upcoming reads (and pass out cat-hair-covered giveaways). 

With over 60 attendees, we had an unbelievable turnout. At staff meeting the next morning, we pondered the “why”… Was it Liz’s snarky comedy that attracted the crowds? Or Brian’s dad charm? Perhaps the promise of witty banter and books? Whatever it was, it was infectious, and we hope everyone had the best time.

If you couldn’t make it, don’t worry — we compiled blurbs (equal parts funny and informative) on the books (25+!) that Liz and Brian presented. Without further ado:


ALIAS GRACE by Margaret Atwood (Imprint: Anchor Books)

A novel of historical fiction, centering around a possible murderess from the 19th century.
“Read it before you watch the upcoming Netflix series, because it'll probably ruin it for you.” –Liz
Solve the crime.

A GENTLEMAN IN MOSCOW by Amor Towles (Imprint: Viking Books)

If you haven’t read this staff favorite, drive over here right now - you’ll love the Count as much as we do.
“A runaway, breakout hit throughout the country.” –Brian
Meet the Count.

MOTHERING SUNDAY by Graham Swift, (Imprint: Vintage International)

An enchanting novella perfect for fans of Atonement or Downton Abbey.
"This is beautifully written, and it's something that's under the radar that everyone should be reading.” –Liz
Go back in time.

EXIT WEST by Mohsin Hamid (Imprint: Riverhead Books)

An instant NYT bestseller, which was just long-listed for the Man Booker Prize.
“It’s a book of this time, which oftentimes means it's a punch in the gut, but it's a hopeful book, a love story.” –Brian
More on this Booker Prize long lister. 

QUICKSAND by Malin Persson Giolito (Imprint: Other Press)

A weighty Swedish blockbuster in the vein of Dragon Tattoo.
"I adore this book. It was named the best Swedish Crime Novel of 2016. It's about class and society, and there's a lot to talk about.” –Liz
Get Scandinavia-level scared.

THE IDIOT by Elif Batuman, Brian (Imprint: Penguin Press)

A sparkling debut novel drawing from the well of great Russian literature.
"It's a very traditional coming of age novel, which is great for book groups.” –Brian
Come of age. 

HOMEGOING by Yaa Gyasi (Imprint: Vintage)

A timely and engrossing family saga of the African diaspora.
"The book is absolutely stunning and beautiful, and the characters are just lush.” –Liz
Follow this epic family narrative.

THE NIX by Nathan Hill (Imprint: Vintage)

Love, family, politics, and American culture – it doesn't get much better than this.
"This is my favorite book in this huge pile.... Some of the writing in here is absolutely perfect.” –Liz
Read some perfect writing.

ELEANOR OLIPHAANT IS COMPLETELY FINE by Gail Honeyman (Imprint: Pamela Dorman Books)

For fans of A Man Called Ove and The Rosie Project.
“I'm always trying to get people to read by the spine. Each publisher has its own style, and Pam Dorman's books are super smart, but accessible to anyone in the room. Pam is best known for bringing us The Secret Life of Bees and Jojo Moyes.” –Brian
Meet Eleanor.

SAINTS FOR ALL OCCASIONS by J. Courtney Sullivan (Imprint: Knopf Publishing Group)

Secrets and sisters, played out over 50 years.
"There's so much to talk about in this book. If you went to Catholic school, there's even more to talk about.” –Liz
Get talking.

THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR by Shari Lapena (Imprint: Penguin Books)

The twists come thick and fast in this tense domestic thriller.
"I scare easy, but this one particularly affects me.... This is part of the domestic thriller genre that's really hot right now. No one plots like this author. If you want a page turner, this author is your lady.” –Brian
Get scared.

TOUCH by Courtney Maum, (Imprint: G.P. Putnam's Sons)

A satire of tech culture that's equal parts cheerful and razor-sharp.
“It's a really fun, cool book about a cool young lady who has a cool job.” –Brian “McCool” Contine
Take down techie consumerism. 

WE ARE NEVER MEETING IN REAL LIFE by Samantha Irby (Imprint: Vintage)

You may think you've had enough of the personal essay genre. You haven't.
"I love everything about this book. She doesn't like to wear pants, she has a demented cat, she is obsessed with reality TV, and she has a very dark sense of humor.... If you like the Blogess, this is your book.” –Liz
Get laughing. 

DO NOT BECOME ALARMED by Maile Meloy (Imprint: Riverhead Books)

A thrilling novel of family and adventure. Plus, Ann Patchett loves it.
"It is, to me, about as good a summer read as you're going to get.” –Liz
Score this summer read. 

THE MINISTRY OF UTMOST HAPPINESS by Arundhati Roy (Imprint: Knopf Publishing Group)

From Man Booker Prize-winning author Arundhati Roy, this latest was just long-listed for the 2017 Man Booker.
“One reviewer called it as 'beautiful mess', and I think that's the perfect way to describe this book.” –Liz
More on this fantastic, Man Booker long-listed book. 

THE MARSH KING'S DAUGHTER by Karen Dionne (Imprint: G.P. Putnam's Sons)

A gripping psychological thriller for fans of Paula Hawkins and Gillian Flynn.
"This book is deranged.... I think it's book club gold. I don't think this book is for everybody, and people will come in and be upset that you made them read this book, which is awesome.” –Brian
Strike book club gold. 

HARMONY by Carolyn Parkhurst (Imprint: Penguin Books)

Beautiful literary fiction that explores the bonds of love.
"Everyone knows someone who has a member of their family on the spectrum. This book is about an issue of our time.... It's a really important family drama. It's great for book groups." –Brian
Learn more about this family drama. 

MEDDLING KIDS by Edgar Cantero (Imprint: Doubleday Books)

A colorful horror pastiche that's sure to spread joy.
"If there's one book that I find just delightful in every way, it's Meddling Kids. It totally plays with the whole idea of Scooby Doo, and it's a murder mystery, and there's some supernatural stuff. This book is terrific. Please read it.” –Liz
Scooby Doooo Read This Book. 

PIECES OF HAPPINESS by Anne Ostby (Imprint: Doubleday Books)

A heartwarming tale of lifelong friendships.
"For people who liked A Man Called Ove. It's sort of like an enchanted April gathering of these women. Think ‘Best Exotic Marigold Hotel’ with chocolate.” –Liz
Head to the cocoa farm. 


LAB GIRL by Hope Jahren (Imprint: Vintage)

The 2016 National Book Critics Circle Award winner.
"This is one of my favorite memoirs. Pretty much ever.... I am not botanical in any way, but this woman makes dirt fascinating.” –Liz
Learn about fascinating dirt! 

**Coming Soon** SPINELESS by Juli Berwald (Imprint: Riverhead Books) 

A book on jellyfish.
"You don't think you want a book on jellyfish? You want this book on jellyfish.” –Brian
Pre-order this book on jellyfish. (Release date: November 7)

CORK DORK by Bianca Bosker (Imprint: Penguin Books)

Pairs well with Oliver Sacks or Mary Roach.
"It's a fascinating book, a science heavy book about wine and how we taste. We're all looking for a more authentic experience when we're going out. If I'm gonna eat goat cheese, I want to know what the goat's name was. This book poses the question: ‘Could I make myself better at tasting things?’” –Brian
Pop the cork on this book.

LOVE AND TROUBLE by Claire Dederer (Imprint: Knopf Publishing Group)

A moving and hilarious spin on one woman's midlife crisis.
"The writing is so, so good. It deals with women and sexuality in a way that I don't think is addressed in a very serious manner today.” –Liz
Go off the rails with this memoir.

HALLELUJAH ANYWAY: REDISCOVERING MERCY by Anne Lamont (Imprint: Riverhead Books)

An instant New York Times bestseller.
"This book explores the concept: 'Mercy is radical kindness.'" –Brian
Rediscover mercy. 

KILLERS OF THE FLOWER MOON by David Grann (Imprint: Doubleday Books)

A haunting true-crime tale.
"Fascinating story. A very fast read. Great, great nonfiction.” –Liz
Investigate the book. 

**Coming Soon** RANGER GAMES by Ben Blum (Imprint: Doubleday Books)

When a successful kid who’s just achieved his dream of becoming a US Army Ranger throws it all away by committing armed robbery, all you can do is ask, “Why?”
“This is great for dads, uncles, but it's also great for people who love nonfiction.” –Liz
Pre-order this crime story. 

Questions? Want to order a book? Give us a call at (218) 497-8675, or stop by the shop. We’re open Monday-Friday from 9:30-6:30 and Saturday from 9:30-6.

Blue Willow Bookshop
14532 Memorial Drive
Houston, TX 77079