Awards season is in full swing! On October 17th, George Saunders received the Man Booker Prize for his wildly inventive first novel Lincoln in the Bardo, becoming the second consecutive American to take home this award.
A few days earlier, Kazuo Ishiguro was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for his highly acclaimed body of work, which includes two of my most beloved favorites: The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go.
Of course, awards season wouldn’t be complete without the National Book Awards, the recipients of which will be announced on November 14th. Among the nominated authors are several familiar names, including Jennifer Egan, Jesmyn Ward, and David Grann, but we also want to share under-the-radar authors and awards season dark horses.
Peruse the books highlighted below and be sure to add one or two to your to-read pile.
- Brian, Book Buyer
Dark at the Crossing by Elliot Ackerman
Having served in Iraq and subsequently receiving the Purple Heart, Elliot Ackerman knows his subject inside and out. In what The New York Times calls “a fascinating and topical novel,” Ackerman tells the harrowing story of Haris, an Arab American living in Turkey who attempts to cross into Syria in order to fight against the regime.
The Leavers by Lisa Ko
Imagine waiting for your mother to come home from work, but she never does. In Lisa Ko’s emotionally-charged debut novel, that’s exactly what happens to eleven-year-old Deming, son of an undocumented Chinese immigrant living in New York City. Adopted by two white professors, Deming must come to terms with the disappearance of his mother and the loss of the only life he’s ever known.
Never Caught: The Washingtons' Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge by Erica Armstrong Dunbar
In the midst of the growing abolitionist movement, George and Martha Washington decided to give their most favored slave, Ona, to their not-so-nice granddaughter as a wedding gift. Ona, however, wouldn’t stand for it; she ran away in May of 1796 – and the Washington family took chase. Dunbar has written a book that Kirkus lauded as a “startling, well-researched slave narrative that seriously questions the intentions of our first president.”
The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America by Frances Fitzgerald
The most recent book from Pulitzer Prize-winning author Frances Fitzgerald is the first to tell the dramatic story of the Evangelical movement in the United States. From the Puritan era to the Civil War, from WWI to the 2016 election, Evangelicalism has been a highly influential force in the evolution of our nation. According to The New York Times, The Evangelicals is “…simply put, a page turner: Fitzgerald is a great writer capable of keeping a sprawling narrative on point.”
I love Halloween and those crisp fall days leading up to Thanksgiving, just before the Christmas season really begins. Up in the Kids' Department, November 1st signals the beginning of Picture Book Month, the perfect way to stretch out the fall and savor a new picture book in each of the 30 days.
Our shelves are starting to sag with all the new picture book offerings, and since they are written for a wide audience, ages 3 – 8, it makes sense that they can range from the simple to the masterfully short but complex.
Tune in to R.J. Julia on Instagram and / or Facebook this month to see a new featured picture book each day! In addition to these fantastic picture books, I have a few other great stories to suggest as well.
- Jamie, Kids' Book Buyer
Wild Animals by Xavier Deneux
This beautiful book by graphic design master Deneux is filled with charming jungle animals - cut out to promote tactile learning. It also has a list of key words about each animal, prompting the imagination of the reader and giving years of thoughtful exploration. Fantastic! P.S. Adding a Snack Nap Read Onesieand/or a plush lion would make this book an amazing gift! - Jamie
It Starts With a Seed by Laura Knowles
Gorgeous illustrations coupled with lovely rhyming text. Watch a single sycamore seed grow into a massive tree that provides a home for a wide variety of birds, bugs, and all sorts of wildlife. Perfectly matching a drawing in the story, this fawn finger puppet will bring the pages to life! - Susan
by Zack Loran Clark and Nick Eliopulos
I love this well-crafted adventure fantasy filled with humor, danger, monsters, magic, and friendship. Did I mention the humor? Because the authors nail it in this debut novel! The chapters rotate evenly between Zed, a half elf, and his best friend Brock, the son of a wealthy merchant. Add a wonderful mix of supporting characters and you have one of the best middle grade books of the year. Giving it as a gift? Add a Metal Compass - because all adventurer's need a compass! – Susan
My Brigadista Year by Katherine Paterson
A fascinating story of 13-year-old Lora’s decision to volunteer as one of Fidel Castro’s literacy Volunteers in early communist Cuba. With elements of historical fiction and adventure, this coming-of-age story follows one teen's determination to live by her values and thus find her greater purpose in life. The author of Bridge to Terabithia has again given us a book that allows us to experience life from deep within a character discovering her place in the world. Read the rest of Laura's review!
Turtles All the Way Down by John Green
There is a missing person mystery in this book, but it isn’t really about that. It’s about friendship and love; it’s about trying to truly understand your best friend; it’s about anxiety and fighting your demons, and giving in to them sometimes. It’s about mental illness. It’s about grief. It’s about life. It’s a John Green book, possibly the best John Green book. It made me feel less alone. I loved how friendship, in this book as in life, is just as important and turbulent as romance. Read the rest of Lindsey's review!
The Knowing by Sharon Cameron
After The Forgetting, there is The Knowing. Centuries after the first ship established a new colony called Canaan, Earth has developed a disease that only untainted blood can cure. A third ship is sent to find out what happened to the first two ships, and find out if there are any survivors. What they find, however, is not what they expected. Narrated by both Beckett (from Earth) and Samara (from Canaan), both fight to preserve their planets and learn that what neither of them Know has been Forgotten. - Terri
As previously mentioned by Brian, the National Book Awards winners will be announced on November 14th, and there is a special category just for Young People's Literature! You can find the nominees in our Young Adult (or 12+) section.
With great characters, compelling plots, outstanding writing, and main characters in their teens, these books are great for both teens and adults. Come see what teens already know; start with the National Book Award finalists below.
Give thanks for autumn weather and colorful leaves and stop in to see what we're "serving" up for Thanksgiving - from jam to "crackers!"
Not sure what to pick? A Gift Card is always a great gift!