February 16, 2000
The Book Sense 76 for March and April 2000
The Book Sense 76
March and April 2000
Independence * 1776 * Independents
Independent bookstores for independent minds. More choice and diversity. Books across many areas of interest, from a wide range of publishers.
Every two months, based on years and years of knowledge and passionate reading, thousands of independent booksellers nominate their favorite new and old books, and from that, 76 eclectic and diverse books of quality are chosen. NOT the usual bestsellers!
But with our support and yours, they could be. Let's discover new voices together, the great writers of tomorrow today. And the great books of recent years brought back to the fore again.
What to read while waiting for Potter
African American Interest
Body, Mind, and Shelter
Children's and Young Adult Books
Community and Humanity
Fiction for Reading Groups
The Best in New Fiction
History, Biography, and Current Issues
Mystery, Crime Fiiction, Science Fiction, & Fantasy
Many independent bookstores already have lists and displays of books that are
great for those who have caught Harry Potter fever...and need great reading while
we all await Harry's next adventure!
We took a poll of independent booksellers' favorite fiction for all the "Harry
Potter Deprivation Clubs"; here are the top-10 votegetters. (All are in paperback,
but hardcovers of most are also available, in case you want to start a special
library for your kids' kids!)
1. GOLDEN COMPASS, by Philip Pullman--The #1 pick of booksellers,
the first in a trilogy. SUBTLE KNIFE is Book 2, with book three due fall 2000.
The hero is a wonderful girl, and GOLDEN COMPASS is pure magic, drama and
2. REDWALL, by Brian Jacques--A close second, this is the first in
a 12 book series about the peace-loving but mighty mice of Redwall Abbey.
The latest installment, LEGEND OF LUKE, is just out in hardcover and is a
Book Sense National Bestseller!
3. THE CHRONICLES OF PRYDAIN series, by Lloyd Alexander--Favorites
for years and years now.
4. LION, WITCH AND THE WARDROBE, by C.S. Lewis--The first in the
beloved Chronicles of Narnia series. Also available on audiotape.
5. HALF MAGIC, by Edward Eager--The first in a series that has enthralled
readers for 50 years.
6. WRINKLE IN TIME, by Madeleine L'Engle--First in the famous Time
Quartet. Also on audiotape.
7. THE DARK IS RISING sequence, by Susan Cooper--Also on audiotape,
and the original hardcover is from a small press.
8. THE SECRETS OF DROON series, by Tony Abbott--A new series
by Harry's publisher.
9. THE HOBBIT, by J.R.R. Tolkein--One of the first fantasy books and
still one of the best.
10. And.....Harry on audio!! Do NOT miss Jim Dale's fantastic
reading of the Harry Potter books. Great for kids who have already read 'em,
great for first-timer kids and adults, great for the whole family in the car.
Honorable mention: PHANTOM TOLLBOOTH; Diane Wynne Jones' WITCH WEEK
and her Crestomanci books; WATERSHIP DOWN; Gail Carson Levine's ELLA ENCHANTED;
T.H.White's ONCE AND FUTURE KING; Jane Yolen's WIZARD'S HALL; Ellen Raskin's
WESTING GAME; The Lost Years of Merlin series, by T.A. Barron; Diane Duane's
Wizard books; Eva Ibottson's books (esp. SECRET OF PLATFORM 13); Avi's MIDNIGHT
MAGIC; Pat O'Shea's HOUNDS OF MORRIGAN; Patrice Wrede's ENCHANTED FOREST CHRONICLES;
all books by Tamora Pierce; Lemony Snicket's books ......and J.K. Rowling's favorite
author growing up--Edith Nesbitt.
Visit your local independent for advice on which of the books above are best
for what ages. Remember: Independent booksellers are the wizards of the Land
of Books--knowledgeable wizards eager to share all the secrets!
April is National Poetry Month, and while independent booksellers promote poetry year round, we do take this month to support the national campaign. Here are just a few recent works of poetry we recommend.
11. ABSENCE LUMINESCENT, by Valerie Martinez (Four Way Books, $12.95 paperback, 1884800238) "This collection of passionate and mysterious poems by young playwright Martinez is startling in its lucid intelligence. (Her next work is due soon, and she has poems in numerous anthologies.)"--JennyHannifin, Tome on the Range, Las Vegas, NM
12. THE COLLECTED POEMS OF AUDRE LORDE (Norton, $17.95 paperback, 0393319725) "Though she died of breast cancer in 1992, this black, lesbian, feminist, poet, amazon, mother, teacher, activist and role model continues to inspire many of us with the rich, honest, and intense work she's left behind."--Suzanne Corson, Boadecia's Books, Kensington, CA
13. ONE HAND ON THE WHEEL, by Dan Bellm (Roundhouse, $12.50 paperback, 096666910X) "Maybe no other single book so clearly testifies to the vitality of small presses than this, the first California Poetry Series book from new Roundhouse Press. Beautifully made, beautifully written, born of courage and clarity."--Amy McCurdy and John Evans, DIESEL: A Bookstore, Oakland, CA
14. 1968: A HISTORY IN VERSE, by Edward Sanders (Black Sparrow, $14 paperback, 1574230379) "I love the sixties...and I love poetry. To relive them both so vividly is a sheer delight! Good, bad and indifferent, it's here. The politics, the music, the poets, hippies, yippies, and drugs. A cornucopia of memories."--Cheryl Townsend, Cat's Impetuous Books, Kent, OH
15. READING RILKE: Reflections on the Problems of Translation, by William Gass (Knopf, $25, 0375708413) "A somewhat stodgy title for a study that perfectly understands and elucidates those sublime Rilkean heights and that is blessedly jargon-free. Mr. Gass's reading is instead full of wit and punch and passion, and is itself a form of poetry. For many readers of poetry, Rilke is a first and lasting love, and this is the book we've all been waiting for."--Terri Merz, Chapters: A Literary Bookstore, Washington, DC
16. THE RED LEAVES OF NIGHT, by David St. John (HarperPerennial, $13 paperback, 0060930160) "A striking collection of poems carved out of fierce sensuality. The precise elegance of St. John's writing bears the intensity of passion and its constant flow between darkness and translucence, loss and triumph, joy and pain. This is a searing testimony of the poet's surrender to erotic memory."--Marie du Vavre, Small World Books, Venice, CA
17. ROAD-SIDE DOG, by Czeslaw Milosz (Farrar, $13 paperback, 0374526230) "A compendium of this great poet's reflections and meditations on life, art, and writing that both educate and inspire. Short, spare, and beautifully written. I highly recommend this book."--Tim Morell, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA
See also Poetry and History sections.
18. SUGAR, by Bernice L. McFadden (Dutton $23.95, 0525945318) "McFadden brings a fresh voice to the literary scene. She puts you smack dab in middle of Bigelow, Arkansas, with Sugar and Pearl. She captures the essence of a small town. Sugar's return to Bigelow will remind readers of Toni Morrison's Sula."- Emma Rodgers, Black Images Book Bazaar, Dallas, TX
Body, Mind, and Shelter
19. HEART SONGS FOR ANIMAL LOVERS, by Hester Mundi (Rodale, $17.95, 1579540430) "Our small store has sold dozens of this wonderful, joyful book in just a few months. It's a compact book with big feelings and funny stories about people and their pets."--Barry Samuels, The Golden Notebook, Woodstock, NY
20. MITTEN STRINGS FOR GOD: Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry, by Katrina Kenison (Warner, $16.95, 0446525316; due in April) "From page one of Mitten Strings for God, I found myself nodding and sending up amens at the familiar frazzled reality Kenison characterizes so well. Importantly, though, the book is more than a mirror for modern mothers; it is also an inspiring template to help us slow down our harried paces, rethink our choices, and reshape our lives--for ourselves, our children, our world.--Rebecca Schwartz, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Milwaukee, WI (Also on audiotape.)
21. THE NOT SO BIG HOUSE: A Blueprint for the Way We Really Live, by Sarah Susanka with Kira Obolensky (Taunton Press, $30, 1561581305) "This book has hit a nerve with our customers and continues to be a best seller! The author says, 'It's time for a different kind of house. A house that is more than square footage; a house that is not so big, where each room is in use every day. A house for the future that embraces a few well-worn concepts from the past. A house that expresses our values and our personalities filled with special details and designed to accommodate the lifestyles of its occupants'. There are ideas throughout this book that will inspire you whether you a re-single, a couple, a family, or empty nesters; whether you plan to build new, remodel an existing home, or turn a room into a place of your own."--George Kiskaddon, Builder's Booksource, Berkeley, CA
22. STUMBLING TOWARDS ENLIGHTENMENT, by Geri Larkin (Celestial Arts, $12.95 paperback, 0890878498) "A very laid back, plain language explanation of Buddhism. Where the stuffy, overly vague books failed me, this book flourished. Highly recommended to the curious."--Tyson Evans, Bookland Lewiston, ME
23. YOGA OVER 50, by Mary Stewart (Fireside, $16 paperback, 0671885103) "Our bestselling yoga book by far, and one we discovered years ago when a customer special ordered it. The large, clear, color photos of real older folks (like me, age 54) doing real yoga are inspirational. (And the little 80-year old white-haired woman is who I want to be when I grow up!) Clear, easy-to-follow instructions as well as suggestions for daily routines. Year after year, day in and day out, this is the one yoga book (and I have lots) that I use."--Mary Fellows, Annie Bloom's Books, Portland, OR
The Books With The 's
These are the books that received the most bookseller
nominations as their favorite books of the moment and the recent past.
The books in this group of 76 books were nominated by
many independent booksellers. By email, fax, postcard and handwritten
letter, bookseller enthusiasm poured in. The Book Sense staff chose the
letter that best captured the essence of all the nominations for each
book to be printed here. So, while just one 'voice' for each book appears
here, there is a chorus behind it. (And many of our choices in the past
months have been validated with prestigious award nominations and appearances
on regional and national bestseller lists.)
Children's and Young
24. THE HONEST-TO-GOODNESS TRUTH, by Patricia C. McKissack illustrated by Giselle Potter (Atheneum, $16, 0689826680) "Just when little Libby think she has truth-telling all figured out, she figures out that telling the truth is all dependent on how you tell it. A great story for all ages; what we call an 'everybody' book."--Shelly Stewart, Chapters Bookstore, Holt ,MI
25. HOW THE HEATHER LOOKS: A Joyous Journey to the British Sources of Children's Books, by Joan Bodger (McClelland & Stewart, $23.95, 0771011180) "A gorgeous re-publication of a memorable book from 1965 tells of the author and her young family traveling all over the British Isles in search of places they had read about in children's literature: Beatrix Potter's Lake Country, Mole and Rat's river banks, and Johnny Crow's garden in Harwell, to name a few. It is also a delightful armchair travel book about driving around the rural roads of England poking into little shops, libraries, churches, and ruined abbeys. A wonderful book for Anglophiles and readers of Pooh, Peter Rabbit, et al."--Pat Kehde, The Raven Bookstore, Lawrence, KS
26. JUST ELLA, by Margaret Peterson Haddix (Simon & Schuster, $17, 0689821867) Young adult. "Beginning where 'happily ever after' left off, this is the 'true' story of Cinderella. Ella quickly discovers that life with Prince Charming isn't what she'd expected and that being treated like royalty isn't what she wants after all. This book is very smart and very funny--including a scene where Ella explains what really happened the night of the ball in a vain attempt to dispel fairy tale superstitions. A must read!"--Gina Guilinger, Bailey/Coy Books, Seattle, WA
27. MAGIC BOOTS, by Scott Emerson; illus. by Howard Post (Gibbs-Smith, $6.95 paperback, 0879058749) "Ah, the sheer joy of red cowboy boots! Especially boots that allow you to travel anywhere! But what happens to William when his magical boots become too small? To discover that the magic is within is truly a gift."--Liz Sandler, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN
28. SHIBUMI AND THE KITEMAKER, by Mercer Mayer (Marshall Cavendish, $18.95, 0761450548) For ages 4-8. "A dramatic story and eerily beautiful illustrations about a young princess who changes an empire. Don't miss this book."--Carl Lennertz, Book Sense staff
29. EYES OF THE HEART: Seeking a Path for the Poor in the Age of Globalization, by Jean-Bertrand Aristide (Common Courage Press, $12.50, 1567511872) "A short, powerful, passionate open letter that challenges myths about the developing world and pleads the case for a new direction."--Carl Lennertz, Book Sense staff
30. HOMETOWN ADVANTAGE, by Stacy Mitchell (Institute for Local Self-Reliance, $14 paperback, 0917582896) "How to defend your main street against chain stores. This is a powerful organizing tool for anyone who realizes that the local community is worth saving."--Karl Pohrt, Shaman Drum, Ann Arbor, MI
31. LIBBY: The Sketches, Letters and Journal of Libby Beaman, edited by Betty John (Council Oak Books, $16.95 paperback, 157178067X) "From the pages of a century-old diary, the author presents the extraordinary and true adventure of the first non-native American woman to travel to the Pribilof Islands. The book reads like a novel in its drama and romance; Libby is a very real woman, facing hardships and adventure on a windswept, bitterly cold island in the middle of the Bering Sea. I've read Libby several times, and each time I've felt closer to this fascinating and complex woman."--Lynn Dixon, Cook Inlet Book Co., Anchorage, AK
32. THE WALL, by Marlen Haushofer (Cleis, $12.95 paperback, 1573440949) "Thank goodness for Cleis Press, which recently reprinted this book, a fascinating, surreal tale of individual courage against impossible obstacles. This book more than delivers on the promise of its haunting premise: A woman, forced to live in isolation through an inexplicable event, chronicles her life in an Alpine meadow, separated from the rest of the world by an invisible wall. It's great to entertain the improbable."--Kathryn Clark, Square Books, Oxford, MS
33. WOMEN & OTHER ANIMALS: Stories, by Bonnie Jo Campbell (Univ. of Mass. Press, $25, 1558492194) "Sure-footed prose grounds these stories of resilient Michigan girls and women by the winner of the Associated Writing Programs Award for Short Fiction. Wonderfully imagined, these tough and tender stories tell of train wrecks, circus acts, men, and nature. The women are not necessarily heroic, but fiercely human, and they live by the choices they make."-- Linda Bubon, Women and Children First, Chicago, IL
An 'Old' Book is 'New'
if you haven't read it
While we keep up on all the newest books, we take great
pride in stocking and recommending our favorites of recent years, especially
for book groups and for anyone looking for a book that has stood the test
of time and satisfied many, many readers.
Fiction for Reading
Stop by your local independent for more suggestions and free discussion guides.
34. FALL ON YOUR KNEES, by Ann-Marie MacDonald (Scribner, $13 paperback, 0684838680) "Set in the harsh landscape of Nova Scotia, this extraordinary first novel takes each of three very different sisters from saint to sinner to redemption. You will never forget this novel."--Audrey Seitz, Joseph-Beth Booksellers, Cincinatti, OH
35. A FINE BALANCE, by Rohinton Mistry (Vintage, $15 paperback, 0679776451) "When this epic novel of India set during Indira Ghandi's 'reign' during the 1970s came out a few years ago, a member of our staff read it and immediately passed it along to anyone who walked into our store. It's an incredible story of that 'fine balance' of life between hope and despair, love and hate, equal and unequal. Many customers have told us it's changed their lives."--The staff at Book Works, Del Mar, CA
36. FOR THE RELIEF OF UNBEARABLE URGES, by Nathan Englander (Vintage, $12 paperback, 0375704434; due out late March) "This stands out as one of my top three books of last year and deserves to be the book group book of this year. Tragic, funny stories dealing with primarily Jewish themes. This book heralds the arrival of a major new talent."--Kelly Justice, Carytown Books, Richmond,VA
37. THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK, by Doris Lessing (Harper Perennial, $15 paperback, 006093140X) "According to the author, the central theme is one of 'breakdown,' that sometimes when people 'crack up' it is a way of self-healing. The book is built around the heroine's four notebooks, each one of which contains some facet of her life, and by the end of the book all four are threaded together into one Golden Notebook. A brilliant author's best book."--Barbara A. Maier, University of Oregon Bookstore, Eugene, OR
38. THE LAST DAYS OF SUMMER, by Steve Kluger (Bard, $12 paperback, 0380797631) "A heartwarming story of a 10-year-old boy, Joey Margolis, and his friendship with Charlie Banks, 23-year-old third base sensation for the 1940 Brooklyn Dodgers. Mr. Kluger tells the story, optioned for a film, in the form of letters, postcards, newspaper accounts, etc. A charming book worthy of 'sleeper' status."--Mary Yockey, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL
39. THE MOVIEGOER, by Walker Percy (Vintage, $12 paperback, 0375701966) "I like books that assume the reader is intelligent, where not everything needs to be spelled out. I like books in which the characters are searching for ways to live their lives right, meaningfully, well, authentically. Binx Bolling, New Orleans stockbroker, is doing just that. Searching. And he has it down to quite a science. Percy gives us small and grand moments of literary beauty full of gentle and glaring universalities."--Pam Daghlian, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
40. PERSIAN PICKLE CLUB by Sandra Dallas (St. Martin's, $12 paperback, 0312147015) "A story of friendship and secrets in the 1930's Midwest among a group of farm wives and a newcomer who bond together through the Depression, quilt meetings, and a murder. A big bookgroup for us; appeals to Ya-Ya fans and How to Make an American Quilt fans."--Kathy Kittredge, Village Books, El Dorado Hills, CA
41. THE VIRGIN SUICIDES, by Jeffrey Eugenides (Warner, $12.99, 0446670251) "A haunting story of innocence lost. It's the tale of five Lisbon sisters and their descent into despair and destruction, as witnessed by the neighborhood boys who are drawn to them. Read this great book before the movie."--Michael Kindness, Wellesley Booksmith, Wellesley, MA
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