“Eclectic” might be the best one-word description for Tegan’s picks. From layered literary fiction to super-geeky sci fi and US history, her tastes run the gamut. As our buyer for teens and kids, Tegan has a particular fondness for those genres. Below are her recommendations, split by age group.
Whether or not you've read (or seen) "Doctor Zhivago," if you like Cold War intrigue, love stories, and literary passion, you'll get swept up in this historical fiction! Wonderful writing, complex characters I cared deeply about, and two suspenseful interwoven plots make this a recent favorite.
John le Carre + Mihkail Bulgakov= THIS
I was struck by the depth of this gripping story. Seol’s quest for answers about her own past are a fascinating counterpoint to her investigation into a grisly murder. The meditative quality of the narration of this historical mystery felt perfectly suited to the Korean setting and the backdrop of political and religious struggles. Seol’s courage, curiosity, and dedication make her a character I can’t get enough of. Let’s hope this is the start of a series.
Despite the fact that this is marketed as a YA book, I think adults who love a mystery with atmosphere should read it, too.
A gift idea for the Foodie: We Fed an Island by Jose Andres. Steph recommended this, but the inspiring nonfiction is now in paperback, perfect for gifting to many of your list. Andres, James Beard Award-winning chef, founded the nonprofit World Central Kitchen as a way to bring food to disaster-affected areas of the world. Every purchase of the book benefits the nonprofit, but you can also dedicate a donation on the WCK website and put the acknowledgement into a copy of the book for a very meaningful and heartwarming gift. Another idea: Combine it with Andres’s Vegetables Unleashed cookbook that came out in May or maybe some olive oil from our neighbor, A Bit of Taste: Queen Anne Olive Oil Co.
A gift idea for the Fan of Pageturners: A Noel Killing by M. L. Longworth. This holiday volume has the usual clever and sympathetic examining magistrate Verlaque, his burly work partner, his brilliant life partner, the delicious French food, and the charming setting, but it has the added bonus of Christmas caroling festivity plus loads of international food from a cast of characters selling treats at the town’s Sister City Christmas market, plus expats and locals aplenty. There are many suspects and just as many delicious meals and snacks. It’s a perfect contemporary mystery for readers who enjoy armchair travel, food writing, and nothing gory. It can be read as a stand-alone or out of sequence.
Travel to Madrid of 1957, Franco's Spain, a place of romance and fear, opportunity and oppression, art and intrigue... Sepetys is a master of telling details, striking revelations, and historical atmosphere. This is marketed as YA but works wonderfully for adult readers open to an emotional and powerful coming-of-age story.
Let yourself get swept away by this layered, luscious, lovely novel! Fans of "The Night Circus" will find so much to enjoy here: stories within stories, atmosphere and magic (of sorts...) aplenty. If you loved Carlos Ruiz Zafon's Cemetery of Forgotten Books series but don't require a plot that is quite as driving (this is a bit more meandering), this is a great book to try.
This atmospheric new novel captures desire, artistry, and absession. Claude Ballard, a genius and pioneer of silent filmmaking, opens up his life - and film archives - to a grad student in 1962 Los Angeles, touching on the invention of moving pictures and the rise of the film industry. From Paris to New York, Belgium , L.A., and beyond, the story sweeps through grand love and a passionate career. It reminds me of the Shadow of the Wind, The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo, and The Invention of Huga Cabret all in one well-written, captivating book. Breathtaking!
This mystery is a fantastic mash-up of an old-fashioned Agatha Christie-esque book within a book and a modern, meta publishing world who-dunnit. The story starts with a contemporary London editor, Susan Ryeland, explaining how the latest manuscript from a best-selling author changed her life—and not for the better. We get to read the manuscript, a very classic-feeling British village mystery set in the 1950s, as Susan reads it. Then we return to Susan’s life as mysteries unfold around the manuscript and the author behind it. I think Horowitz (who created “Foyle’s War,” adapted “Midsomer Murders” for TV, and wrote the Alex Rider spy series for kids, too) is brilliant. For twists and turns aplenty, pick this up! This is available in paperback, so it’s perfect for travel and book clubs. It’s also a great audiobook.
I can guarantee this is unlike anything you've read before! The main characer is an Inuit shaman, whose people are in danger... There is magical realism, arctic survivalism, lots of majestic nature, some Vikings, and much, much more! I loved it.
Filled with with and emotion-- like a modern Jane Austen in the Pacific Northwest! This tells of the life on the treadmill of academia: lots of work, little traditional payoff, yet all worthwhile. No wonder these characters give so much-- and the rewards of their unusual family are so hard-earned and so extraordinary. Pure of heart, voice, and message. Plus the author lives right in the neighborhood, so we often have autographed copies!
This true story page-turner has it all: daring escapes, zany teamwork, inspiring grit, and even evil twins! For folks who enjoy WWI history, British eccentricity, or pulse-racing survival stories, this is a great next read.
A clever contemporary Sherlock Holmes-ish investigator stars in this mystery with a compelling backstory, loveable but troubled characters, astute observations about race, class, and fame, and wonderfully satisfying deductions and action scenes! It's everything I wanted and more. Good thing it's a series!
This is an epic of hearts broken, scars healing, and the everyday and extraordinary choices people have to make. Brace yourself, open the cover, and allow yourself to be transformed.
(This would be great for discussion for book club!)
A sassy, compulsive series set in Singapore. The "Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous" elements combine with social commentary plus sweet romance and friendships to make this perfect for the plane, the beach, or anytime you need a diversion.
[If you saw the movie, please note that the book ends VERY differently!]
Hollywood star Evelyn Hugo decides to tell her whhole, passionate, glamorous life story to a young journalist. She had seven husbands, but only one true love... You'll hang on Evelyn's every word in this glitzy, suspenseful novel with heart.
Follow five thrilling points of view in this complex and dark fantasy world. Twisted loyalties, secret plots, passion, addiction, greed, and tyranny make this great for "Game of Thrones" fans.
This hilarious travelogue/memoir by Seattle author DeRuiter is about finding her being geographically and navigationally challenged all over the world, and even more importantly finding even more strength, satisfaction, and joy as she falls even deeper in love with her husband. Fans of Jenny Lawson, take note! If you could use a sassily sweet snapshot of modern love-- and you, too, enjoy a good poop joke as well as lyrical descriptions of exotic locales-- treat yourself to this.
Readers get a year’s worth of curated wine suggestions and food pairings from the Seattle author/ Master of Wine. Recommended wines are from all over the world, with one white, one red, and one other (like a rose or sparkling) each month. This will be used season after season. Filled with humor and knowledge, it will lead to great meals for years to come. A great gift for foodies!
The latest Oxford Junior Dictionary dropped words that weren’t considered as relevant to today’s children-- words like “acorn” and “newt.”This book stunningly reclaims those words of nature and wonder. Acrostic poems are accompanied by gorgeous illustrations in a large-format picture book that works as a coffee table book as well as a children’s book.
I adored the cleverness and heart of this dazzling time travel novel. Imagine a mash-up of Gary Shteyngart and "The Jetsons" with the high tech/ high emotional intelligence storytelling from Ready Player One.