Karen Valby is the author of Welcome to Utopia, one of our favorite books of the year, and a generally awesome person. Here's a trailer for her excellent book.
And here is Karen's pick:
On my 12th birthday, my mother gave me a hard-bound copy of Jay Leech’s How to Care for Your Horse. I loved horses--I lived for horses!--so at the time the present felt like a validation of not just my passion but my ability to be a good, capable friend and guardian to them. That year my mother’s bipolar disorder started chewing away at some crucial fibers a person needs to be a parent. As she unraveled, I dug deep into chapters like “Do You Really Want a Horse?” and “Diseases of the Horse” and “Common Unsoundnesses of the Horse.” I would read and study and practice and learn so that I could understand horses and their weaknesses and how to make them happy and healthy and whole. I like to imagine that my mother, who died six years later of a sucide, was already preparing me to take care of myself.
Oddly, Gianna, you are virtually the only person who has ever given me books (other than to blurb or send to my agent.) I guess I’m sort of the book giver in my circle. And I have loved every book you’ve given me, but The Frozen Thames still occupies a special spot in my heart. Maybe because it’s small, maybe because it’s beautiful, maybe because it’s unlike anything else I’ve ever read, it has stayed with me in a way few others have. Gorgeous illustrations coupled with a gorgeously-written vignettes about the few dozen times in recorded history that the Thames River has frozen has kept this wonder of a book forever frozen in my memory. Thank you again for sharing it with me.
Scott Montgomery is the mystery expert at BookPeople in Austin, and the driving force behind the creation of the store's mystery specialty store-within-a-store, MysteryPeople. Here's his pick:
I started a friendship with this author I admired so much, watching him hold court at whatever bar we were at, talking about the soldiers, criminals, and actors he met, occasionally dispensing writing advice when nobody was looking. We had a mutual friend in Wyoming, writer Craig Johnson. Both would pick on one another and use me as messenger to send their jibes back and forth to one another. It was Craig's wife who called me over two years ago to tell me Jim had died. The news hit me like it was a family member.
That Christmas I got a package Craig. He said they were Wyoming/ Montana themed gifts- a fine cheroot cigarello, a hat band made by an inmate in the Wyoming penitentiary, and another first edition of The Last Good Kiss. I now have two very expensive bookends that remind me of a great hero, mentor, and friend that is the epitome of those larger-than-life characters you meet in this business. With its Hunter Thompson-esque look at the modern West and America in this tough, heartbreaking book, any edition is priceless.
|The lovely one on the right is Gianna's mom.|
And Gianna is the other one.