Sam has been selling books for over 30 years, working at local indies Pages & Pages and Hawley-Cooke before coming to Carmichael's in 2014, where she is the Trainer and Floor Manager of the Frankfort Avenue location. Often an unoffical spokesperson for the store, she is a frequent guest on the literary podcast The Perks of Being a Book Lover, she appeared in the documentary "Bookstour" and interviewed author Leesa Cross-Smith for A Mighty Blaze's "Authors Love Bookstores".
Sam is also one of the featured booksellers in Reading is Magic: A Book Log for Families (9781419741401) published by Abrams Image.
Canadian actress, director and activist Sarah Polley seems to excel at everything she does so the fact that she has written a stellar essay collection surprised me not at all. What did surprise is the book's intimacy. From essays about her illness struggles, cautionary tales about her childhood actor days, to a #metoo essay about being a victim who doesn't come forward, Polley truly lays herself bare and the reader is the better for it. Highly recommended for readers of Leslie Jamison or Carmen Maria Machado.
Idiosyncratic Baltimore families are Tyler's stock in trade and The Garrett family in her latest are no different. But, to steal from Tolstoy, they are all weird in their own way and the author's use of specifics, and her overarching idea that you can tackle any subject through the lens of family, make each novel both fresh and welcome.
This novel is actually a collection of short stories told at different times by different members of the Shaw family, forming the chorus of the title. The matriarch's mental illness and death, the surprise teen pregnancy of one of the daughters and other, more prosaic, family events are recounted "Rashomon" style to build a tapestry that invites the reader to view the messy back side, where the knots are.
In this kitchen table time travel novel, it's not the the fate of the world that's at stake, but a single human life (and the others it touches). According to this tender love story there's not a version where the person you love most gets to live forever, but there is one where you can live your most authentic life, valuing what is truly important without distraction and it's worth fighting for. A lovely Valentine to the ties that bind.
Like all Trigiani novels this one is packed full of the things that make her books so satisfying-food, family and history. Her newest is the 20th century spanning story of of an Italian jeweler family-the personal sacrifices, the romantic heartaches and how the choices of one generation reverberate through the whole family tree. Readers seeking an emotional comfort read should tuck into this effort from an author at the top of her game.
National Book Award finalist McPhee tells the sweeping 20th century history of one Amercan family through the stories of four generations of its women. As the Isadora, the family historian, investigates the family matriarch's tales what she finds runs the gamet-extreme poverty, child abandonment, fantastic wealth, switched identities and thwarted love. Readers who love a good family saga need to carve out time for this delight.
Laura Lippman is the literary equivilent of a utility player-she's equally adept at short pieces or essays as she is at novels. This short story collection is woman focused and very 21st century (yes, there's a pandemic story) with tales of betrayal, crime and her beloved Baltimore. Longtime Lippman fans will enjoy appearances by her detective Tess Monaghan (and Tess's mother as a young woman) but this collection would also be the perfect place for a new reader to start.
A beautifully poetic memoir chronicling a time of loss and wonder, Lost and Found uses natural phenomena like meteorites and systems like alphabets to tell of the overlapping months when the author lost her beloved father and found her beloved wife. Sad and joyous in equal measure, this book is precious find, the kind you can't keep on your own shelves because you keep giving it away.
When it comes to difficult choices there's the right thing or the easy thing. These moments of decision that take a person's measure make for compelling fiction. One such is this small novella-without a single wasted word it is so perfectly written it could function as master class on character building and plotting. Would make a great gift for writer friends!
This illness memoir recounts the author's years living with Bell's Palsy and her struggles navigating the world as a wife, mother, and artist with one side of her face paralyzed. By turns funny, grave and uplifting, Smile offers comfort to fellow chronic condition sufferers and delight in life for everyone.
Lily King delivers absorbing novels written with precision and, as she happily proves with this collection, she can do the same in a shorter format. These stories are both incredible and everyday, frequently they gain their power from the friction when both rub againest the other. I feel somewhere along the line she took to heart Marianne Moore's line, "imaginary gardens with real toads in them", because no matter how fantastical the story, her characters speak and act with complete authenticity. This collection also showcases a fascination with darkness and the macabre absent from earlier works that I, for one, welcome.
You say you can't possibly read a novel about the pandemic, especially not one set in Minneapolis, but what if it were set in a bookstore? And what if there was a ghost of a regular customer who wouldn't leave? And what if it were infused with the spirit of fully realized indigenous characters? And what if the author was both a Pulitzer and National Book Award winner? Don't cheat yourself-read this incredible encapsulation of the crazy that was 2020.
Animal lovers know well sometimes bad babies are the best babies, especially when it comes to storytelling, and that the saying 'Who rescued who?' in regards to adopting animals is absolutely true. Always the Southern raconteur, Bragg makes poetry out of the ordinary-trucks, mommas, brothers, food- this time with the bittersweet knob turned all the way up. If there is a better writer at unearned grace I don't know them. A good one to read on your own front porch.
Lifting up all lives, human or animal, is what DiCamillo does best, never more so than in her newest. This medieval tale reads both like a fairy tale you missed as a child and like a story you've always known. A must read for people of all ages!
If you have a favorite kind of tea, this might be the humor book for you. If you have ever argued in a pub about who is greater Miss Marple or Poirot, this might be the humor book for you. If you own a PBS "Masterpiece Mystery" pledge drive tote that your cat likes to sleep in this is definately the humor book for you!
More than just a chronological band biography, this is far reaching music and social criticism, written by a fellow Southerner, that tells the store of the Drive-By Truckers regionally, by the cities they are associated with. This structure allows the author to inform the musical examination with the history of DBT's "Dirty South" - from Buford Pusser to Cooley Birds - that makes their music so distinctive.
Written with a precise clarity, this British novel from 1931 tells the story of a working class British family's seaside vacation. Though the plot seems low stakes by 21st century standards, its tender attention to the ups and downs of everyday life makes it that rare unicorn of reads- a well written feel good book.
As a longtime true crime reader I welcome the new trend of victim forward stories-too often in the past these stories have been lurid, making superstars of the worst of us. The Comfort of Monsters is one of these victim centered books, examining the fallout on families left behind. This dark, realistic read is set in Milwaukee in 1991, 'the Dahmer Summer', and Peg's sister Dee has gone missing. With no leads and no body, the hapless police, overwhelmed by media attention, are no help so she sets out to find Dee herself. In a different kind of book she'd solve the mystery and find peace but Richards instead focuses on the Peg's guilt and the family's disintegration after years of not knowing.
A dark tale about a ballet, female desire and ambition braided with a family story that reads like a modern day V. C. Andrews, The Turnaout is Megan Abbott at the top of her game.
Set in Martha's Vineyard the summer that the Hollywood people came to town to make that shark movie, this warmhearted graphic novel is about friendship, forgiveness and what it means to be a team. Young readers will appreciate the sharply drawn characters and their struggles for acceptance and true blue "Jaws" fans (like myself) will delight in all the tribute Easter eggs placed by a fan as big as themselves. A real charmer!
Maggie Smith's poetry is approachable and warmhearted, which makes her an ideal choice for readers who feel intimidated or like they just don't 'get' poetry. She uses concrete everyday objects - goldenrod, dinosaur pajamas - to examine larger concerns about family, solitude and the deteriorating state of the natural world. Bonus: this wise and knowing collection is handsomely packaged, ideal for gift giving!
In this memoir Dara McAnulty, a teenage writer and climate change activist, examines one year outside in his small village in Ireland and in doing so illuminates the greater enviromental challenges facing the planet today. Readers who enjoyed viewing the natural world through an indigenous lens in Braiding Sweetgrass will especially enjoy seeing it through an autistic one. Young articulate and committed citizens like Dara give one hope it's not too late.
This debut novel is gripping generational family saga where, by clever narrative trick, the story takes place both in one day and over fifty years. It reads like a new prestige TV show everyone is talking about about, (the author WAS a the head of drama series at HBO) so clear your schedule because you won't want to put it down.
I feel like I say it every time but Laura Lippman just keeps getting better with each book. Though she could have rested on her laurels many times over, she continues to challenge herself and the reader with unexplored corners of her literary Baltimore. In her latest, more horror than mystery, an author way past his artistic zenith is recuperating from an accident when he is contacted by a mysterious woman who claims to be the protaganist of his greatest novel. A person who doesn't exist. Is it the pain meds, madness or the dementia that runs in his family? Biting, absorbing and ruthlessly smart , Dream Girl promises to be the 'of the moment' thrill ride of 2021.
This great sweeping epic with richly drawn characters tells two stories-one of a 20th century aviatrix seeking to fly around the world and a 21st century Hollywood actress attempting to salvage her self sabotaged career by playing the flier in a movie. How these two stories amplify and mirror one another while examining women's choices and the joy/difficulty of shaping one's life narrative is the great joy of this book. Take it on a journey of your own today!
This thought provoking essay collection, edited by the daughter of the original American publisher, tackles Nabakov's masterpiece from all angles. Could it be published today? What does it mean in the #metoo era? How has it been absorbed into the culture? Heavy hitters like Roxane Gay, Ian Frazier, Sloane Crosley and Laura Lippman will challenge and change the way you see this classic.
Vlautin's new novel is an of the moment story of gentrification in Portland that shows how economic desperation puts the squeeze on everyday working people. But unlike his other novels, which also highlight the struggles of similiar folk, this one is paced like a thriller (albeit with kitchen table stakes) unfolding over a breathless 48 hours with nailbiting suspense and no good choices. A must read for anyone who has ever had to sweat the rent.
After losing her publishing job after an ill advised workplace romance, Florence is at loose ends, trying but never quite actually writing her novel, until she lands an assistant gig to the mysterious reclusive writer, Maud Dixon. At first symbiotic, their relationship takes a turn for the worse on a research trip to Morocco when Florence wakes up in the hospital after an accident she can't quite remember. Meticulously plotted, this Ripley for the 21st century will delight mystery readers who relish a deft plot twist.
When Louise's beloved dog dies she takes her grief to a nearby island where she meets a mysterious bear who helps her navigate her sadness. Lovely and perceptive, this picture books reassures readers of any age that bereavement is not linear and while the changes it brings are strange they are not unnavigable.
This new massive, but surprisingly quick reading, biography stands out from the plethora of Plath books in two important ways-it uses previously unavailible materials (especially medical documents) and it seeks to put the emphasis squarely on the work, not the personality cult built around the poet in the years since her suicide. This approach is refreshing and eyeopening whether the reader is new to Plath, or a huge fan.
If you are looking for a well written read that's sure to delight you can do no better than Christine Coulson's debut novel, which takes the reader behind the scenes at New York's Met Museum, ground the author knows well from her 25 years of service there. Told in bite sized vignettes that range from randy to poignant, everyone from the museum director to the man who minds the bags in the gift shop (even the art itself) all are brought vividly to life. Do your anxious pysche a favor and read this book!
Large and intimidating? Yes. Absolutely necessary for understanding how we got here? Also yes. Besides highlighting educational gaps, of which the average reader will likely find many, Dr. Kendi's book provides a clear throughline through American history that clarifies the rotten systemic whole. Grab a highlighter and prepare to have your mind blown.
The Vanishing Half tells the story of two African American twins and how, when they flee their small Louisiana town as teens, one passes as white. How her choice echoes and haunts the family for generations allows Bennett to probe racism from fresh perspectives. Thought provoking and masterfully written, this one deserves every bit of praise it's receiving and then some.
You survived a cult-great job! Now what? You have no life skills for the 'real world'. (Your herbal medicine skills and the other end of world prep only gets you so far when the Armageddon you readied for has yet to materialize). You also have no belief system to replace the old, which leaves you susceptibile to dark overtures from the other surviving cultists who are coping even worse than you. A pitch black "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-that's the juicy premise of The Poison Garden. Gripping and full of rich psychological detail!
Plucky Emmeline Lake just wants to do her part for the war effort. When she lands a job at the London Evening Chronicle she pictures herself as FEMALE WAR CORROSPONDENT. Alas, the job is actually assisting the formidible Henrietta Bird, the maddening advice columnist who refuses to actually offer any. So softhearted Emmy decides to answer a few letters on the sly because what could go wrong? How she copes with real life in wartorn London with her vibrant spirit intact makes for a delicious and uplifting treat for readers.
It seems impolite to laugh at a character who is lost, unsure and not finding anything on their journey to find themself but when they are as smart and sardonic as Ava, the heroine (?) of this debut you can't not laugh. Billed as the new Sallt Rooney, Nolan does have the ear for language but with more tenderness and humor. One to watch!
As a reader I admire writers who cast a wide story net, full of disparate threads that don’t seem to have anything in common, then pull it all tightly together. Emily St John Mandel excels at that in her latest, non dystopian, novel. The Glass Hotel is a story of ghosts, Ponzi schemes and feeling lost in your own life but more important than any mere plot description is the feeling this novel rises in the reader, feelings that aren’t easy to shake even when the last page is turned.