Since I first began selling books to Joseph-Beth Booksellers as a sales rep for indie press distributor PGW, I was aware of Joseph-Beth's Master Bookseller program. Their stores' most experienced, knowledgeable booksellers are given that designation, embodying what we idealize about indie stores - voracious readers, tireless recommenders, making connections between customers and books. Our guest contributor, Micheal Fraser, is a Master Bookseller for Joseph-Beth and today he's brought his handselling powers to my3books.
OK, its summer and it's hot and there are just some books that lend themselves to reading on those lethargic summer when a little mystery or fantasy is welcome as a cool breeze. I have the urge to read To Kill a Mockingbird every summer, so for my3books I have chosen three books that also deal with that strange world of 11-12 year olds.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
by Alan Bradley
Delacorte Press | 9780385342308 | $23 | April 2009
It is the English country side of 1950 when we meet Flavia de Luce, an 11-year-old chemist and expert on poisons who is preoccupied with retaliating against her two older sisters' taunts. In the midst of this she finds a body in the cucumber patch and, rebuffed by the police as a nuisance, decides to solve the crime herself.
All of your defenses tumble and you are thrown headlong into an Agatha Christie mystery, a Harriet the Spy adventure and a delightful romp complete with odd neighbors, odder servants, a father with a mysterious past who is arrested for the murder and a wickedly funny heroine who merrily leads you on the chase. Pray you fall victim to this amazing mystery debut.
The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet
by Reif Larsen
Penguin Press | 9781594202179 | $27.95 | May 2009
T. S. is a 12-year-old genius at mapping the world. He maps his sister shucking corn or Moby Dick or his bedroom. He makes sense of the world by mapping it. Surprisingly he gets a call from the Smithsonian, informing him he has won a major prize (they are unaware that he is just a 12-year-old). He decides to accept and hops a freight near his parent's ranch in Montana for the cross-country trip to Washington D.C.
On the trip you fully inhabit his convoluted world, informed by sidebars and T. S.’s drawings in the margins and his very 12-year-old musings on why his father favored his brother who mysteriously died or just how detached his mother is or if he will, like the others in his family, never reach the potential they started out with. You are completely captivated by his young voice and for the summer you are 12 again, full of all the angst that trying to make sense of it all can bring.
Be sure to check out his web site www.tsspivet.com which is visually as fun and amazing as the book.
The Earth Hums in B Flat
by Mari Strachan
Canongate US | 9781847671929 | $14 | June 2009
The first impression I got from reading Gwenni’s story - which grows stronger as it goes along - is "magical." The story just sucks you into this world of a small Welsh village with all its people and their stories. At the center of it all is an ordinary, normal family who has an extraordinary child.
What do you do when you are a normal family harboring an exotic bird not knowing what to do.? When you add the insanity of Gwenni’s mother trying to squash her daughter into something less embarrassing, it is amazing that she always calmly maintains her sense of self. This is a book which holds you until the end and then becomes one of those books you re-read, hoping to relive the joy of a first reading.