July 06, 2000
July/August Book Sense 76
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Independence * 1776 * Independents
76 great books, picked by booksellers with experience,
knowledge and passion.
A diverse, eclectic range of choices.
July and August 2000
Top Ten Vote-Getters
Books for Young Adult Readers
Books for Children
Fiction in Paperback
Fiction -- New in Hardcover
Gifts -- Good All Year-Round
History and Memoir
Sports -- On a Broad Canvas
A Category All of Their Own
These are the Top Ten Vote-Getters
for this July/August Book Sense 76, as tallied from hundreds of recommendations
from independent booksellers. For each book, one of the many enthusiastic nominations
was chosen to represent it as follows:
- The top vote-getter; a first novel published in
April with simply tremendous word-of-mouth: FRIENDSHIP CAKE: A Novel,
by Lynne Hinton (Harper San Francisco, $20, 0688171478). "Mix up two parts
Steel Magnolias, one part Fried Green Tomatoes, and a dash of
Mitford, and you've got Friendship Cake. Filled with colorful characters,
poignant stories, and mouth-watering recipes, this delightful debut novel
is the perfect summertime read."--Angie Howard, Davis-Kidd Booksellers,
- A very close second; bookseller favorite Hoffman's
new book is due out July 13: THE RIVER KING, by Alice Hoffman (Putnam,
$23.95, 0399145990). "This is one of Alice Hoffman's most satisfying and beautifully
written novels. With her mastery of language, even her simplest sentence has
a lyrical quality rare in today's fiction."-- Bill Wilbur, Mrs. Nelson's
Bookshop, Pomona, CA
- Fantastic new young readers' series that booksellers--and
readers--are wild for: THE SAMMY KEYES SERIES, by Wendelin
Van Draanen. Shades of Harriet the Spy and Nancy Drew, this
series only started in 1998 with Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief (Knopf,
$4.99 paper, 0679892648). - and is now up to five books. The newest book is
in hardcover: Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary (0375802657,
$14.95). "It's been fun to see the kids come running back for each new book!"--Carol
Schweppe, Hicklebee's, San Jose, CA
- One of Book Sense's first big picks of last year
-- a big bestseller, due in paperback July 13: ISAAC'S STORM:
A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History, by Erik
Larson (Vintage, $13 paper, 0375708278). "This is the perfect beach
read, capturing the drama and intensity of the hurricane which almost wiped
Galveston off the map in 1900. This is history made human and non-fiction
writing at its best."--Mary Gleysteen, Eagle Harbor Book Co., Bainbridge
- A recent young adult novel booksellers love: RULES
OF THE ROAD, by Joan Bauer (Puffin, $4.99 paper, 0698118286)."Jenna gets
to grow up, sell shoes, have a makeover, learn to cope with her father's alcoholism,
and attend her first stockholder's meeting, all in 200 pages. The story is
compelling, the ending is not happily-ever-after unrealistic, and it's often
laugh out-loud funny!"--Rondi Brower, Blackwood & Brouwer Booksellers,
- For ages 4-8…but really for everyone!:
THE LION'S SHARE, by Chris Conover (Farrar, $16, 0374399743). "The
King of Cats has everything--except the ability to read! When his son
gets lost, the King of the North rescues him. After a winter spent in a palace
full of books, Prince Leo returns home with the greatest treasure of all.
The illustrations in this book are rich and beautiful, as is the message."--Carolyn
Kretzer, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS
- What a trip!: DRIVING MR. ALBERT:
A Trip Across America with Einstein's Brain, by Michael Paterniti
(Dial Press, $18.95, 0385333005; due out July 11). "A delightfully different
travelogue with lots of quirks. Take this one to the beach if you don't mind
laughing out loud in public. You might as well buy extras now because you'll
want to give this one to all your friends!"--Paulette Zander, Happy Carrot
Bookshop, Old Lyme, CT
- A very well-reviewed biography from last year,
now in paperback: A CLEARING IN THE DISTANCE: Frederick Law
Olmsted and America in the Nineteenth Century, by Witold Rybczynski
(Touchstone, $15 paper, 0684865750). "Olmsted invented the profession of landscape
architecture and in the process built a good portion of the famous city parks
in this country. A masterful biography."--Tom Rider, Goerings Book Store,
- A business book, but much more: OUTSMARTING
GOLIATH: How to Achieve Equal Footing with Companies that are Bigger, Richer,
Older, and Better Known, by Debra Koontz Traverso (Bloomberg Press,
$19.95, 1576600319). "The author's insight into the needs of independent merchants
in this time of accelerating change is remarkable. Suggestions for achieving
a competitive rivalry with mammoth companies are many and valuable. This is
not just a good read, but a handbook for coping."--Harold Hicks, The Book
Shop, Brunswick, GA
- One of the most overlooked and special novels of
last year, coming in paperback on August 8: THE MARK OF THE
ANGEL, by Nancy Huston (Vintage, $12 paper, 0375709215). "This intense
story, set in Paris in the late 50s, vividly evokes the culture and politics
of the time; a page-turner with substance. Made me want to reread Camus…after
I caught my breath!"--Bobby Tichenor, Annie Bloom's, Portland OR
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A directory of independent bookstores
with Book Sense--complete with names, addresses, and, phone numbers--is
available at 1-888-BOOKSENSE and online at BookSense.com.
Maps are downloadable at bigyellow.com.
And ask your bookseller for a list of towns and cities with independent
bookstores with Book Sense.
Books for Young
See also the Top Ten Picks
- BREAKING BOXES, by A.M. Jenkins (Laurel Leaf, $4.99 paper, 0440227178).
"Jenkins has created realistic characters dealing with life. The main character
has developed coping mechanisms that work well for him; a terrific, very human
story. I put this in my top five young adult books of all time."--Teressa
Corson, Stroudwater Books, Dover, NH
- DOVEY COE, by Frances O'Roark Dowell (Atheneum, $16, 0689831749.)
Ages 9-12. "Dovey isn't afraid to speak her mind, and everyone in town knows
she doesn't like rich, conceited Parnell Caraway. When he is found dead and
Dovey is nearby, she is accused of the murder. Will the truth be found out
in time? Dovey Coe will definitely remind you of that other great southern
heroine -- Scout in To Kill A Mockingbird. A must-read!"--Martie
Amador, Marin Teachers' Store/Education Express, San Rafael, CA
- IN THE FORESTS OF THE NIGHT by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes (Laurel Leaf,
$4.99 paper, 0440228166). "A vampire novel, with some really original ideas
in it. What really blows me away was that the author was only thirteen years
old when she wrote it!"--Stefani Kelley, Avalon Books, Brenham, TX
- SANG SPELL, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor (Aladdin, $4.99 paper, 0689820062).
"A teenage boy is robbed and beaten while hitchhiking, and regains consciousness
in what seems to be another time and place. Not an ordinary time travel story,
this strange and mysterious tale of the boy's efforts to figure out where
he is and how he can get home is gripping and intriguing."--Harvada Elisberg,
Children's Bookshop, Appleton, WI
- THE TAKER'S STONE, by Barabara Timberlake Russell (DK, $16.95, 0789425688).
"If you like Harry Potter, take a look! Two boys, a dare that goes
too far, the start of Armageddon, and a handful of stones protected by a young
girl and her father are the only things that keep good and evil in balance.
I was drawn into this fast-paced book from the beginning and was reluctant
to let go at the end."--Nikki Mutch, UConn Co-op, Storrs, CT
- THE WANDERER, by Sharon Creech (Harper Collins, $15.95, 0060277300).
"This is a great story about a modern-day family's sail across the Atlantic.
Boys and girls ages 8-12 will enjoy the two feisty narrators, Sophie and Cody,
and all their summer adventures."--Laura McCrodden, Quail Ridge Books,
Books for Children
See also the Top Ten Picks
- FIBBLESTAX, by Devin Scillian; illus. by Kathryn Darnell (Sleeping
Bear Press, $15.95, 1886947902). Ages 4-8. "This is a beautiful children's
book with a lovely story. The lyrical poetry tells the story of how things
are named; the soft-muted colors of the illustrations complement the text.
A great book for teachers, parents, and, of course, kids!"--Donna Bucholz,
Mostly Books, Gig Harbor, WA
- HOW FLETCHER WAS HATCHED, by Wende Devlin; illus. by Harry Devlin
(Town Book Press, $14, 1892657007). "A fun story, full of love, with beautiful
bright pictures that all children would love."--Pat Cofone, Bookland, Westerly,
- PRACTICALLY PERFECT PAJAMAS, by Erik Brooks (Winslow Press, $16.95,
1890817228). "A woooonderful children's book!! Percy loves his footed pajamas,
but the other polar bears tease him for being different, so he decides to
pack them away. Without his pj's to protect him, his cocoa spills on his white
fur and the snow sticks to his feet…but a new friend comes up with a plan
which you'll just have to see for yourself. The two-page spread of all those
bears trying on pj's is absolutely the best!" --Mary Burns, The BookWorks,
- SYLVIA LONG'S MOTHER GOOSE, by Sylvia Long (Chronicle, $19.95, 0811820882).
"We're always on the look-out for unique Mother Goose books. This book is
truly a delight to the eyes. Slyvia Long's illustrations of traditional nursery
rhymes are the most delightful we've seen in a long time. An absolute masterpiece!"--Susan
Danner, Danner's Books, Muncie, IN
The NEW national bestseller list
The Book Sense Bestseller List, gathered weekly from HUNDREDS
of independent bookstores, is the most representative AND diverse list
of its kind.
You'll find books on this list way BEFORE other
national lists, and you'll find books that will NEVER show up on any other
Ask at your local independent about the new Book
Sense Bestseller List, or visit BookSense.com each Thursday for the latest
Perfect for Summer Reading and Reading Groups!!
See also 'History', 'Mystery' and 'Well, A Category All Their Own'
- BLINDNESS, by Jose Saramago (Harvest, $14 paper, 0156007754). "Nobel
Prize winner Saramago here depicts a society gone mad, as 'blindness' spreads
fear, betrayal and guilt."--Maureen Weingartner, McKinzey-White Bookshop,
Colorado Springs, CO
- BRIGHTEN THE CORNER WHERE YOU ARE, by Fred Chappell (St. Martins,
$10.95 paper, 0312050577). "Set in the hills of Western North Carolina in
1946, this good-hearted and humorous novel is a joy to read. After finishing
this you will understand why many consider Chappell one of our finest Southern
writers."--Jay Weaver, University Bookstore, Seattle, WA
- DAIRY QUEEN DAYS, by Robert Inman (Back Bay, $12.95 paper, 0316418374).
"There is a wonderful blend of humor, sorrow, and down-home charm in this
Southern coming-of-age novel."--Patti Siberz, Bob's Beach Books, Lincoln
- THE DELINQUENT VIRGIN:Wayward Pieces, by Laura Kalpakian (Graywolf
Press, $14 paper, 1555972950). "Pause and wonder at Kalpakian's elegant skill
at weaving tales of people and places. In these stories, you will find no
simple, straight plots nor bland narrative, but stories supported by language
snappy and thoughtful, characters alive and unique. You will relish these
stories."--Alaine Borgias, Village Books, Bellingham, WA
- DOWN ON PONCE, by Fred Willard (Longstreet, $12 paper, 1563524317).
"This mystery/black comedy features an wonderful ensemble cast of misfits
investigating a murder."--Beth Fedyn, Books & Co., Oconomowoc, WI
- EUREKA STREET: A Novel of Ireland Like No Other, by Robert
McLiam Wilson (Ballantine, $12.95 paper, 0345427130). "This is an amazing
book. Set in Belfast, Wilson gives us a non-partisan view of Northern Ireland.
A gritty read; funny, sad and thought-provoking."--Jan Croke, Olsson's
Books & Records, Bethesda, MD
- THE FALL OF A SPARROW, by Robert Hellenga (Scribner, $14 paper, 0684850273).
"This is the story of a family which has created its own private Eden, only
to have it destroyed by the murder of one of its members in a terrorist bombing.
It is only after each member has discovered his/herself away from the family
that they can reunite and attempt to relinquish their mourning of a lost past
and to re-weave themselves into a family. This is an amazing book about love
and loss: love of one's family, one's occupation, and one's self; loss of
old bonds, old ideas, and old scars."--Josh Ward, Harvard Bookstore, Cambridge,
- THE GRANNY, by Brendan O'Carroll (Plume, $10.95 paper, 0452281849).
"I can't tell you how much I loved this series; I have had people asking constantly
for this third book featuring a wonderful Dublin woman and her family."--Jo-Ellen
Mitchell, Booksmith, Hanover, MA
- THE HIAWATHA, by David Treuer (Picador, $14 paper, 0312252722). "The
story of the Ojibwe Indians who worked on the skyscrapers of Minneapolis.
Not an easy read, but the writing is compact and tight; this is for fans of
Michael Dorris and Cormac McCarthy. A treasure."-- Doni Kay, Books &
Books, Coral Gables, FL
- HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY, by Richard Llewellyn (Scribner, $14 paper,
0684825554). "I discovered this gem--first published in 1939 and just
reissued--via my book group. It is the most lyrical piece of fiction I have
ever read."--Ginny Givens, Givens Books, Lynchburg, VA
- THE INTUITIONIST, by Colson Whitehead (Anchor, $11.95 paper, 0385493002).
"When a friend, browsing your bookshelves, asks what this is about, you say
'elevator inspectors.' Their eyes start to glaze. So you hastily add that
it's also about race. You explain further that when an elevator inspected
by Lila Mae Watson, the first black woman elevator inspector, crashes, she
tries to find out why. She becomes detective and pawn in the politics of the
elevator guild, for it's election time. Told with tongue firmly in cheek,
this wonderfully inventive first novel makes for an enjoyable and thought-provoking
read."--Deb Morris, Politics & Prose, Washington, DC
- LETTERS FROM YELLOWSTONE: A Novel, by Diane Smith (Penguin,
$12.95 paper, 0140291814). "The language is superb, the subject rich in historical
detail. This novel must be savored. Totally remarkable."--May Waldroup,
Thunderbird Bookshop, Carmel, CA
- THE LETTERS OF MINA HARKER, by Dodie Bellamy (Hard Press, $13.95
paper, 1889097144). "For almost ten years Bellamy wrote letters to friends,
writers, and artist as her 'alter-ego', Mina Harker (the heroine of Dracula).
The long-awaited collection of these letters is a book that seems larger than
the pages that hold them. Focused and complete as well as chaotic and rambling,
the letters force an interaction with the reader that is voyeuristic, realistic,
complex, and secretive. This creates a stylistic work that is challenging,
interesting, timeless, and strangely, extraordinarily moving."--Steven
Salardino, Skylight Books, Los Angeles, CA
- LUCY SULLIVAN IS GETTING MARRIED, by Marian Keyes (Avon, $6.99 paperback,
0380796104). "If you or your book group is looking for a funny and light-hearted
read, this is it! Follow Lucy Sullivan on a laugh-out-loud roller-coaster
ride that begins with a visit to a psychic and ends with true love."--Laura
Richmond, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA
- MAMAW, by Susan Dodd (Quill, $13 paper, 0688170013). "This is a superb
novel! Weaving fact with legend, Dodd creates an unforgettable character in
Zerelda James Samuel, mother of eight, including that notorious outlaw, Jesse
James. The troubled period after the Civil War in the Midwest certainly plays
its part in this tale, but Mamaw is primarily a look at a mother's
fierce love for her family and home. With lyrical writing, Dodd has given
us a character as unforgettable and as worthy of legend as her more famous
son."--Cissie Wellons, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC
- NICCOLO RISING, by Dorothy Dunnett (Vintage, $15 paper, 0375704779).
"I'm hopelessly addicted to the writings of Scottish writer Dunnett! Just
pick up the first book in her House of Niccolo series with 15th century
Flemish merchant-adventurer Niccolo vander Poele at the center; the authentic
detail and vivid, complex characters will quickly sweep you up. The Wash.
Post described Dunnett as 'the finest living writer of historical fiction,'
and I agree completely."--Kimberli Pollard-Smith, Copperfield's Books,
Santa Rosa, CA
- ONE THOUSAND WHITE WOMEN: The Journals of May Dodd, by Jim
Fergus (St. Martin's, $13.95 paper, 0312199430). "The premise: the
Indians and the Army will trade 1000 horses for 1000 white women in the hopes
of meshing the two cultures. Forty women are picked for the first journey
and it is through the eyes of May Dodd that this incredible story is told.
An enlightening and thoroughly engaging read. A favorite of our book club."--Linda
Tomlinson, Katy Budget Books, Katy TX
- OYSTER, by Janette Turner Hospital (Norton, $14 paper, 0393319369).
"Drawing on sources as seemingly disparate as the Tao Te Ching,
Alice in Wonderland, and The Book of Revelations, Hospital creates
a dazzling novel."--Jules O. Davis, Pendragon Books, Oakland, CA
- PARADISE, NEW YORK, by Eileen Pollack (Temple U. Press, $17.95 paper,
1566397898). "This first novel is an elegantly detailed narrative of a young
woman returning to her family's Catskills resort in an attempt to save it
from abandonment. A moving and heartfelt book, this story probes the pasts
of the people who have shared their summers together at the hotel over the
decades. Amidst a sometimes vaudevillian, nearly calamitous collision of family
and guests, this novel achieves an otherworldly grace. A great writer. A fantastic
novel."--Jeremy Chamberlin, Canterbury Bookshop, Madison, WI
- TIPPING THE VELVET, by Sarah Waters (Riverhead, $13.95 paper, 1573227889).
"We're all enthusiastic about Sarah Waters' genre bender. As the London Independent
asked: 'Could this be a new genre? The bawdy lesbian picaresque novel? Whatever
it is, take it with you. It's gorgeous.' "--Amy, Randy and Rachel, Olsson's,
- VINTNER'S LUCK, by Elizabeth Knox (Picador, $13 paper, 0312264100;
due in August). "War, class, and religion shape the lives of a family
over several decades in the 1800's Burgundian countryside of France. Complex
and mysterious, this is what good literature is all about."--Joyce Meskis,
Tattered Cover, Denver, CO
- 42. THE WAR OF THE RATS, by David Robbins (Bantam, $6.99
paper, 055358135X). "August 1942. A Russian and German sniper stalk each other
during the 1942 siege of Stalingrad. This novel is based on historical fact
and it's a fabulous read."-- Tres Anderson, Anderson's Bookshops, Naperville,
- 43. YELLOW JACK, by Josh Russell (Norton, $13.95 paper,
039332110X; due in August). "A photography apprentice brings his camera and
technique to plague-stricken 1840's New Orleans and to a mistress and society
girl who will become his wife. A smart and atmospheric novel, full of seedy
scenery."--Christopher Hubbuch, The Ruminator, St. Paul MN
Page Two -- July/August Book Sense 76
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