Saturday, August 10, 2013

Best Book of the Year So Far: Picks from the Tattered Cover Crew

This country is full of great bookstores. Chances are that if you're a fan of independent bookstores, you've heard of Tattered Cover. What Powell's is to Portland, Tattered Cover is to Denver. Three locations, each with a distinct personality but an emphasis on a diverse selection and great staff picks, make the Tattered Cover a destination for tourists and Denver natives alike. They also host literally hundreds of authors each year. I sent an email query to buyer Cathy Langer, who dodged by saying she could not select a single title. Cathy forwarded along my question to the booksellers, though, and several of them took up the challenge.

Here are Tattered Cover staffers' picks for best books thus far:

Barry McComas:
Doll Bones by Holly Black 

Zach, Poppy, and Alice are three friends that have just started Middle School. Their favorite way to pass the time is to act out roll playing games with their toys, but other people have started to tell them that it is time to grow up. This book impressed me because anyone could relate to it. Each character has a unique personality and up bringing that is believable, which makes it all the more creepy when weird things start to happen to the trio. This book is the perfect combination of spooky-fun adventure and coming of age.

Jocelyn Gebhardt:
Zits Chillax by Jerry Scott is my favorite book so far this year.
I was thrilled that the characters  I love in the daily comic strip are absolutely true to themselves in a full length book for mid-grades and young adults (and adult adults, if I am any indication). Laugh out loud humor combined with compassion  for the perfect mix.
I fervently wish this is the start of a LONG series.

Laura Snapp:
It's Summer. I cannot be bothered with a sweltering walk to the Library. Even borrowing a new book from the bookstore seems like too much of a it's time to pick something off my bookshelf (did I buy it for the cover? All I know is that I never actually got around to reading it, but it's survived a move or two). And in this case, years and years ago a fantastic publishing friend named Marcie Goot recommended this one to me. It's Brother Of The More Famous Jack by Barbara Trapido and it's just perfection. Why is this out of print? Did you see An Education? This is better, richer, English at its finest. I don't even know if she ever wrote anything after this. Frankly, why should she? You will not be sorry if you track this one down.

Jackie Blem:
The book that rocked my world actually came out on December 6, 2012, very small and very quietly, but I still say that everyone who cares about reading and people need to read it.  What is this gem?  Hot Dogs and Hamburgers by Rob Shindler (9781938416095, Grove River Books) .  This is the story of a man with twins--the little girl flies through school, but the little boy just cannot get the hang of reading, and it's affecting the rest of his schooling.  Rob tried many different things, but they just weren't working for his son.  So, being very frustrated and feeling like he was failing as a father, he goes to The Literary Center of Chicago, where he trains to be a volunteer literacy teacher for adults.  He gets a very interesting group in his first class, and together they open doors for themselves (both students and teacher), but they also come up with ideas that actually help Rob's son.  In fact, he (the son) and his sister ran the class when Rob became very ill for a time.  This book is a wonderful view of how important reading is, and the doors that literacy opens can make an amazing turnaround for those who are finally given the tools to it.  It is one of the most feel-good and energizing stories I've ever read, and it still has me trying to figure out how I can help with this in my community.  I'm starting with hand selling copies one at a time and plan to work my way up from there.  It's going to be on my Best of the Best list for a very, very, very long time.

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