Book Bites: Running the Gamut

We pride ourselves on balance here at the store. Half of our space is devoted to kids’ books, half is for adults, and each one of our merry band of booksellers is wholly committed to fostering a love of books in readers of any age. Just check out our list of recent favorites below—we’ve got everything from a great read aloud for young families to a terrific book about Egypt and the Arab spring by longtime New Yorker staff writer Peter Hessler. Welcome, all readers!

Ages 4-8

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry; Illustrated by Vashti Harrison

In this charming picture book, Zuri describes how her hair has a mind of its own. When she needs help with it, she and her father collaborate to create the hairstyle she wants for the day. Their adventures are funny and relatable, making this book a great fit for homes, libraries, and classrooms. 

READ for the beautiful message—and gorgeous illustrations to match.
PASS is the thing that author Matthew A. Cherry used to catch when he was a wide receiver in the NFL.
Order your copy on our website. 
Meet the creators when they visit the shop on May 21!

The Important Thing About Margaret Wise Brown by Mac Barnett; Illustrated by Sarah Jacoby

In this picture book, Mac Barnett takes a closer look at the life of Margaret Wise Brown. On the surface, it's a biography about an author who's incredibly creative as well as a bit odd. Dig a little deeper, let the words resonate, and you will notice even more. At the heart of this book, Barnett reminds us that not all books are for all kids. And that's okay. It's only by embracing the rich diversity of theme and representation that we can truly have a treasury of books that reflects our experiences as a nation and an industry as a whole. Every time I read this book, I see something new. And each time I read this book I remember why I am a librarian and a bookseller and why I love connecting children and books. Read it; I suspect you will feel the same way.

READ because when Cathy feels this strongly about a book, reading it is the only sensible option.
PASS if you want to miss out on a remarkable book with a truly important message.
Pre-order a signed first edition while supplies last!

Ages 8-12

A Wolf Called Wander by Rosanne Parry

This book is based on the true story of a wolf, “OR-7,” and his 1,000 mile journey through the Pacific Northwest. Swift (OR-7) is a young wolf cub who lives with his family. When Swift and his family are attacked by a rival wolf pack, the family scatters and Swift ends up alone. Swift does not give up and tries to find a new home and his family, or another wolf with whom to make a family. He encounters forest fires, hunters, highways, and hunger on his long journey. Along the way, the lessons taught to him by his family are not forgotten, and he works hard to make his father proud by applying these lessons. His is an amazing tale of survival, courage and loyalty.  

READ if you enjoyed books like The One and Only Ivan, Pax, or Song for a Whale.
PASS for now if you’re not quite ready for some gritty descriptions of a predator’s life in the wilderness.
Order your copy on our website. 

Endling #2: The First by Katherine Applegate

Stakes are raised and the world enlarged in this second installment of the Endling series. When Byx the dairne journeys outside her homeland of Nedarra to search for more of her kind, she and her friends soon become entangled in the buildup to a costly war. It’s full of fast-paced fantasy action and adventure, moments of humor to balance the hardship, and plenty of character development for each of the main players—and it sets things up nicely for an epic finale in book three. Through it all, Applegate incorporates characteristic themes of tolerance and environmental stewardship. Another rock-solid effort for ages 9 and up from the 2013 Newbery medalist (The One and Only Ivan).

READ because come on—you have to know if Byx is the last dairne or not!
PASS if you still need to catch up on book one—it’s now available in paperback!
Order your copy on our website. 

Ages 13 & Up

With the Fire on High by Elizabeth Acevedo

Emoni is many things, including a high school senior and an amazing cook, but what defines her the most is her love for and her responsibility to her daughter Emma. Trying to balance motherhood with school, a culinary class and a job is a daily struggle, but Emoni's Abuela, her friends, and her teachers provide support. Like a good meal, this stunning coming of age story has heart, depth, and plenty of seasoning in the gorgeous words and the strong characters.

READ because anything by Elizabeth Acevedo should make its way to your nightstand.
PASS if you like your books how you like your food: Bland and boring.
Order your copy on our website. 

Adult Fiction

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

For fans of American history, this novel highlights a little known story of the "blue" people who lived in Kentucky. They possessed a recessive gene that caused their skin to be tinted blue. Cussy Mary Carter is supposed to be the last of the blues. She lives with her father in the hollow. During the ’30s Cussy is a WPA book woman, riding her mule up and down the mountains delivering hope to the people. Cussy must endure sadness and hardship, but her joy for reading carries her through her story.

READ because this is Valerie’s Appalachian Region pick of the season, and those are always worth reading.
PASS if the second letter of your last name corresponds to the first letter of the street where you grew up.
Order your copy on our website. 

Adult Nonfiction

Furious Hours by Casey Cep

Cep channels Harper Lee in this documentary about the last big project Lee worked on but never published—an investigation of a murder trial in Alexander City, Alabama. Presenting the facts behind the court case as Lee would have seen them, Cep describes the actions of the Reverend Willie Maxwell, who collected thousands of dollars of life insurance benefits when four people close to him died under mysterious circumstances. Though the Reverend was considered by many to have killed the four, he was never found guilty. At the funeral of the last of his victims, the Reverend was shot to death by the victim's uncle, Robert Burns, and it is the Burns trial that drew Harper Lee to Alexander City, where she prepared to do an investigative study, much like In Cold Blood, which she had helped Truman Capote research. While thoroughly describing the events leading up to the trial, Cep also recounts Harper Lee's life story, from her childhood friendship with Capote to her relatively reclusive life after the astounding success of To Kill A Mockingbird. Recommended.

READ for a page-turning look at a beloved author—and the true crime story that captivated her.
PASS if you’re a method actor preparing to undertake the role of Boo Radley. You probably won’t be going out much. (Although: We do ship.)
Order your copy on our website. 

The Buried by Peter Hessler

For anyone who is interested in modern Egypt and its culture, politics, and social structures, this book is a must read. MacArthur fellow Hessler was the correspondent for The New Yorker and lived in Egypt from 2011 to 2016 with his wife and two young daughters. He brings to his observations a background of experience in China, and his comparisons of the two cultures are very revealing. Making the effort to learn Arabic, he was able to communicate with a variety of Egyptians, and his insights about the Arab Spring revolution, Morsi's tenure and Sisi's coup are thoughtful and informative. Highly recommended, especially if you're planning a trip to Egypt any time soon.

READ if you are going, have gone, or would like to go to Egypt at any point in your life.
PASS if you don’t want to learn about the world.
Order your copy on our website.