Tom's Picks

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

I was blown away by the Underground Railway and I couldn't envision how Whitehead could follow up such an imaginative piece of literature. He did it by changing the style and format of the book. Nickel Boys is almost journalistic, Whitehead carefully adds detail to detail, plot to plot to paint a picture of a must read moment in American history. As painful as it was to watch my favorite character suffer injustice, I was shocked by the ending.

Idaho by Emily Ruskovich

If you live in north Idaho this is a must read. It is an exquisitely crafted, internationally award winning novel that is meant to be savored and re-read. The book is not for the delicate; it is truly a glimpse into the heart of a human being.

The Labyrinth of the Spirits by Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Great read! Tense. Gritty. Sexy. Best of all, intelligent. Well worth every minute. And the bonus is the author has three other books in the series.

Disappearing Earth by Julia Phillips

Don't let the title of this book fool you. It is not about the environment of climate change. The heart of this story is the disappearance of two little girls. How does a mother continue to survive? But Phillips expands the question to an entire community of people suffering loss. Deeply insightful and absolutely beautiful.

The Library Book by Susan Orlean

This book unexpectedly pulled me in and captured my imagination. It is part history, part biography, part mystery. There are so many wonderful stories and quirky real life characters. I found the history of book burins especially fascinating. As a bonus, I enjoyed many on-line pictures of the LA Public Library and hope to visit it if I'm ever in LA!

There There by Tommy Orange

The accolades for There There are glowing. And I agree. The writing is wonderful. The characters are carved out of the reality of today's urban Native American. Absolutely one of my top five novels. Pure reading joy.

The Wolf and the Watchman by Niklas Natt och Dag

I am a big fan of dark Scandinavian murder mysteries. This may be the best on yet! The only word I can think to accurately describe it comes from Edgar Allen Poe - phantasmagoria. The remains of a mutilated body are pulled from a polluted tarn. There is a decaying country mansion owned by an ancient, decrepit Swedish family. That's just the tip of the gore!

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Take a walk on the wild side of contemporary magical realism. An artist heads out on a road trip following the shock of breaking up with the woman he loves.

The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides

I had this psychological thriller all figured out. NO!! I did not! Twists and turns abound. Read I very carefully and enjoy the revelations. This was recommended to me by a fellow bookseller - I work with great readers.

The Institute by Stephen King

King is prolific and his novels have become centerpieces of American culture. The Institute is one of his best. He raises classic King questions. Is there no end to people's inhumane treatment of each other? Where does a child find the strength to survive? King's imagination and sharp insight has produces a novel you can't put down. The NYT's reviewer said it may be his scariest yet!

The Fifth Season by NK Jemisin

Essun comes home to discover her husband has murdered her son and kidnapped her daughter. She follows them. Take your time. Slip into a new (post-apocalyptic?) reality.

Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving

Even though it was published in 1989 I only just recently read it. What a fool I was. Irving is a great storyteller and I felt I was re-living growing up in the 50's and 60's. He captures all the the joy, turmoil, and pain of the period. I laughed and cried my way through the book. Absolutely loved it.

Newcomer by Keigi Kigashino

Looking for a "Cozy" murder mystery? Quirky characters - or should I say suspects - abound. So do the clues. The author uses a unique format to present each chapter with a new point of view. A plus is the insight into daily Japanese culture. A very sweet read.

Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Many novels and movies tend to romanticize the survivalist in the face of the apocalypse. Heller imagines what may be the reality. He portrays the damage to the mind and heart as well as the environment. This is a painfully beautiful, literate story. As I read, I found myself slowing down and sinking into the creation of this new life in the Colorado Rockies. As sorrowful as the book is, I really liked it. Peter Heller is one of my new favorite authors.

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Yes, there is a mystery. But to read Tana French is to enjoy slipping into the lives of her characters. I like to think of myself as a savvy reader of mysteries. But the climax of this novel surprised and shocked me.

The Big Burn by Timothy Egan

My wife and I absolutely loved this book! Egan is such a good, entertaining writer. Throw in local history, and you can't miss. As soon as we read the last line we headed to Wallace and hiked the Pulaski Trail.

Martin Martin by Brain Doyle

There is a good reason this is a store favorite. Absolutely loved it. Community life on Mt. Hood is only the tip of the iceberg.

American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins

First read the book. It is a good thriller and you'll have a difficult time putting it down. Cummins knows how to build tension whether it is riding a train or hiking through the Texas desert. In addition, I learned a lot about the migrant experience. Second, research the charges of cultural approbation. There are very good essays to challenge your thinking and deepen your understanding. This would make a great book club book.

Recursion by Blake Crouch

Crouch does it again! A total heart pounding thriller. Clear the calendar and make a fresh pot of coffee before starting this one. It is a mind-boggler you truly can't put down!

Fools and Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Remember how fun and smart the movie, Shakespeare in Love, was? Well groundlings it's time to drop a penny in the box for another raucous and rowdy romp to Elizabethan England. This book may not have an orchestrated sound track; but, even better, it has Bernard Cornwell's skills of story telling and his ability to apply intimate historical detail. The author makes me dream of how grand it would have been to be a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men!

The Night Fire by Michael Connelly

I probably should be honest up front and confess that Harry Bosch is my favorite detective. That being said, this was such a good book! Connelly's characters are people you really grow to care about. If you are one of those people who can't jump into a series in the middle - or in this case, the most recent - go ahead and start with the Black Echo. Connelly is pure reading enjoyment.

The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates

Water Dancer is a reader's dream. I loved it! Pure and simple. Great writing - almost magical poetry. I recommend watching Oprah's interview of Ta-Nehisi Coates AFTER you read the book. I was so surprised by the research he did during the writing process. This new information transformed the novel and blew me away. I learned so much. Great book!

The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup

Another great Scandinavian thriller! This guy really knows how to write a page turner. So many plot twists and mysteries. Edgy detectives must challenge the system to solve this one.

Letters from an Astrophysicist by Neil deGrasse Tyson

Entertaining and informative. He addresses so many issues and questions with kindness, integrity, and the truth of science. This book makes the big ideas of science accessible.

The Overstory by Richard Powers

So many great characters and stories that twist together and merge into this grand novel. You'll laugh. You'll cry. Andy maybe even change your mind. I can't stop thinking and talking about it.

The Witch Elm by Tana French

Yes, there is a mystery. But to read Tana French is to enjoy slipping into the lives of her characters. I like to think of myself as a savvy reader of mysteries. But the climax of this novel surprised and shocked me.

There There by Tommy Orange

The accolades for There There are glowing. And I agree. The writing is wonderful. The characters are carved out of the reality of today's urban Native American. Absolutely one of my top five novels. Pure reading joy.

Fools & Mortals by Bernard Cornwell

Remember how fun and smart the movie, Shakespeare in Love, was? Well groundlings it's time to drop a penny in the box for another raucous and rowdy romp to Elizabethan England. This book may not have an orchestrated sound track; but, even better, it has Bernard Cornwell's skills of story telling and his ability to apply intimate historical detail. The author makes me dream of how grand it would have been to be a member of the Lord Chamberlain's Men!

Dog Stars by Peter Heller

Many novels and movies tend to romanticize the survivalist in the face of the apocalypse. Heller imagines what may be the reality. He portrays the damage to the mind and heart as well as the environment. This is a painfully beautiful, literate story. As I read, I found myself slowing down and sinking into the creation of this new life in the Colorado Rockies. As sorrowful as the book is, I really liked it. Peter Heller is one of my new favorite authors.

Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami

Take a walk on the wild side of contemporary magical realism. An artist heads out on a road trip following the shock of breaking up with the woman he loves.

The Fifth Season by N. K. Jemison

Essun comes home to discover her husband has murdered her son and kidnapped her daughter. She follows them. Take your time. Slip into a new (post-apocalyptic?) reality.

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