Wendy's Staff Pick (October 2014): An amazing first novel from Matthew Thomas, a novel which the New York Times called one of the year’s best. Thomas chronicles 3 generations of the Leary family, against a backdrop of a changing 20th century America. He writes with searing emotional intelligence and creates characters you’ll not soon forget. A great book club suggestion.
Wendy's Staff Pick (October 2014): Wow. This is a gem of a novel by Colorado author and DU professor Laird Hunt. Its a civil war story told in the voice of his main character named Ash, a women who conceals her identity and joins the Union army. Hunt draws you right in to the time and the place as experienced through our hardy heroine. Breathtaking.
Wendy's Staff Pick (September 2014): In Blue Mind Wallace Nichols reports on the neuroscience, biology, and medical research that are beginning to illuminate the reasons why water has such profound affects on us, both physically and mentally. Fascinating.
Wendy's Staff Pick (September 2014): The New York Times gave Owen’s debut novel a strong thumbs up. Set in the mid-19th century, the novel is full of gothic mystery, drama, and vampires. Yes, vampires. Owen’s unique plot-ordering gives the narrative a new and inventive twist. The Quick is an entertaining read.
Wendy's Staff Pick (September 2014): The Long Way Home is the newest title in Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache mystery series. You don’t have to read them in order, so jump right in. All the novels are set in the Quebec area. This one plumbs the mysterious disappearance of artist Peter Morrow. You’ll be spell-bound by Penny’s excellent writing and complex characters.
Wendy's Staff Pick (September 2014): This book tells the gripping true story of the ill-fated USS Jeannette, which set sail for the Arctic in 1879. It’s a tale peopled with larger-than-life characters questing for glory. They end up in a life-and-death struggle for survival. Very well-written.
Wendy's Staff Pick (July 2014): Fans of Herman Koch’s “The Dinner” will love his new novel, full of the kind of slightly sick twists that make this Dutch author so famous. Darkly funny and provocative. You’ll be groaning and laughing all the way through.
Wendy's Staff Pick (July 2014): This amazing debut novel charts the lifelong friendship of two contemporary young women. Friends in childhood, their adult lives take utterly different courses. Mia ends up in the world of academia and lives abroad. Lorrie Ann marries young and suffers a series of struggles and losses. Thorpe chronicles their relationship with a masterful touch.
Wendy's Staff Pick (July 2014): I highly recommend this book to EVERYONE. It’s a beautifully told tale of the human spirit set in World War II. Not heavy and dark; not fluffy and light. It utterly hits the mark. You will love it.
Wendy's Staff Pick (July 2014): Donna Tartt has created a memorable character named Theo Decker, whom I will not soon forget. We follow Theo as he stumbles from boyhood through manhood. He always messes things up for himself and for those he loves, yet Tartt keeps us rooting for him. This novel is funny, smart, and sophisticated, with an interesting focus on the world of art and antiques.
Wendy's Staff Pick (April 2014): Conceived from a New York Times “Modern Love” column, this is the entrancing story of Scarboro’s marriage to Stephen, a man living with cystic fibrosis (CF). While Scarboro, her husband, and CF are the three main characters, the story truly shines as the two try to navigate their twenties bouncing between the Bay Area, Boulder, and Boston during the 1990s.
This book squeezes a soul-encompassing marriage into the events of just one decade, and Scarboro manages to tell—with strength and grace—her all-too-short love story.
Wendy's Staff Pick (April 2014): Korean author Chang-rae Lee’s new novel of dystopian fiction follows the life of Fan, a simple worker who leaves her work-compound, to the great surprise of her community.
The novel is set in future America, where society has split into three social groups: the Charters: a professional class; the Counties, loosely lead groups of scrappy individualists; and (Fan’s group): organized communities of workers whose lives are safe but extremely controlled.
The story has a unique quality of quiet-unquestioning in a strange new world. It is a thought-provoking read for anyone wanting to reflect on the possibilities of our future.
Wendy's Staff Pick (April 2014): This memoir is a beautifully written account of what the life of a craftsperson can be. David Esterly dedicated his professional life to the mastery of a 16th century woodcarving technique. After the great fire at Hampton Court Palace, Esterly undertook the restoration of a carved masterpiece in the palace.
This book explores the connection between head, hand, and heart, that made his work possible.
Wendy's Staff Pick (March 2014): What a treasure this book is! Edmund De Waal’s memoir traces his family’s history through five generations. His research is sparked by a mysterious inheritance of Japanese ivory carvings called netsuke. As he researches the history of these objects we learn the amazing history of his family, the Ephrussis, a 19th century banking dynasty, who were also Jewish. By the end of WWII, when the netsuke were hidden from the Nazis in Vienna, this collection of carvings was all that remained of their vast wealth.
Wendy's Staff Pick (March 2014): Hold onto your hat when you begin reading this novel: the first page is the best rant of an angry woman that I’ve ever read.
The New York Times calls this book ‘an ingenious disquieting novel’. It’s about Nora Eldridge, a woman alone at a ‘certain age’. She becomes wrapped up in the family of one of her students. For a time this brings her great emotional and creative fulfillment, but ultimately she experiences loss and betrayal.
The Times calls the novel ‘an intricate puzzle of self-belief and self-doubt, showing the peril of seeking your own image in someone else’s distorted mirror’. I highly recommend this read.
Wendy's Staff Pick (March 2014): This is a fascinating biography, well-written and nothing to bog you down. I loved learning about early 19th century life in America, while focusing on the century’s great naturalist James W. Audubon. The book recounts his struggle to bring his visionengraving images of all North American bird species to life.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Burial Rites is a novel based on the true story of Norway’s last woman to be publicly beheaded; it happened in the early 19th century. This sounds like the makings of a brutal story, but it’s not. Kent takes us into the mind of the accused woman…the wrongly accused woman. She also paints a wonderful portrait of life in Iceland at that time.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Hold onto your hat for this amazing thriller all about covert ops and the psychology of those who go undercover. Bob Shacochis is a National Book Award winner. His writing is sharp, informed by his years spent in Haiti covering the fall of Duvalier, and his year spent embedded there in the Special Forces. This book follows its characters from Croatia in WWII, through Bosnia, Haiti, and the beginnings of the war on terror. A gripping read for fans of John Le Carre or Steig Larrson.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Longbourn is a pitch-perfect retelling of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice from a servant’s perspective. Longbourn is full of romance, intrigue, and rich historical detail. A great vacation read that you won’t be able to put down; it might be your favorite read of the year.
Wendy's Staff Pick (December 2013): Vedge has me drooling with its fabulous array of cutting edge vegetarian recipes. Vedge is a trendy restaurant in Philidelphia. Their cookbook features unique flavor combinations: roasted cauliflower with kimchee cream, mushroom cioppino, and for desert…vegan chocolate filled beignets. I can’t wait to go home and start cooking.
Wendy's Staff Pick (February 2013): The modern science of the brain is rapidly affirming the ancient meditation practices of Buddhism. This book offers an excellent explanation of brain functioning and how and why meditation practices help calm the mind and improve mental health. Super insightful.
Wendy's Staff Pick (February 2013): A perfect getaway read! National Book Award finalist Jess Walter weaves together present day Hollywood and the Italian Amalfi coast of 1960 in this well-written tragicomic novel. The setting is the lavish set of Elizabeth Taylor and Richard Burton’s film classic Cleopatra. A struggling innkeeper named Pasqual falls in love with a mysterious starlet…setting the plot in motion.
Beautiful Ruins is bound to be included as a Notable Book of 2013.
Wendy's Staff Pick (February 2013): The Interestings follows the lives of a group of teens who meet at a summer camp for ‘creatives’ in the 70’s. As the years pass the characters maintain their friendships, which are tested by fame (and the lack of it), fortune, and loss. If you enjoyed Jeffrey Eugenides The Marriage Plot, you’ll love this novel.
Wendy's Staff Pick (February 2013): Jami Attenberg’s debut novel rings true to the heartbeat of Middle America. It tells the multi-generational tale of the Middlesteins, a solid Midwestern Jewish family…or are they?
Attenberg’s writing is spot-on emotionally. ‘The Middlesteins’ is funny, tragic, unique and universal. You’ll find something of yourself in these pages, I’m sure.
Wendy's Staff Pick (February 2013): This is Mathis’s first novel, but it won’t be the last we hear of her. The novel begins in 1923, when Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia for the North, settling in Philadelphia. Mathis brings Hattie and her nine children’s lives to life, and deeply mines the heart of the 20th century Black experience. It’s a gripping read, not to miss.
Wendy's Staff Pick (February 2013): This is a thick history read, to be sure, but absorbing and captivating. Goodwin’s Pulitzer Prize-winning prose provides a richly detailed account of Lincoln’s Civil War presidency. It’s readable and masterfully brings the time to life.
Wendy's Staff Pick (January 2013): In 2013 my weekends will be dedicated to the finest indulgences, but during the week I reach for Clean to keep me healthy. Clean is a perennial best seller in Steamboat. It offers a terrific detox program for rejuvenation; so appropriate this time of year.
Wendy's Staff Pick (January 2013): If I’m going to indulge in the New Year, I’m going to do it right, and the Dahlia Bakery Cookbook is my guide in 2013. This Seattle bakery is famous for its baked goods, sandwiches and jams. I can’t wait to make dahlia doughnuts with cinnamon sugar and marscarpone,and monkey bread with streusel and caramel sauce. Yum!
Wendy's Staff Pick (January 2013): This beautifully illustrated children’s book makes me laugh and laugh; I could read it aloud every day and still smile. Dragons love tacos; dragons love parties; but dragons hate spicy salsa. What happens if they eat spicy salsa? Read the book and find out!
Wendy's Staff Pick: Reading a good cookbook is one of my favorite ways to spend a cold winter afternoon. Ina Garten never disappoints. Her newest cookbook, Foolproof, is full of classic recipes using easy-to-find ingredients. None of the recipes are too complicated or time-consuming, but they’re bound to make you shine as a cook. This is a great gift for anyone just setting out in their own kitchen. If you haven’t seen Ina in action, check her out on Food Network. She’s awesome.
Wendy's Staff Pick: I’ll read anything that wins a Pulitzer prize, because I know that the writing will be good, and good writing makes any subject accessible. The Swerve presents a fascinating history of the Renaissance’s rediscovery of Greek and Roman discourse and thought. A great read for anyone curious about the study of the humanities or the history of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance.
Wendy's Staff Pick: Cloud Atlas is being rediscovered thanks to its being released as a major motion picture this winter. But its popularity is not because it goes along with a movie…it’s a great big amazing and entertaining read all by itself. Cloud Atlas is brilliantly original fiction that reveals how disparate people connect, how their fates intertwine, and how their souls drift across time like clouds across the sky. My husband just finished it and loved it, so it’s a great book for that hard-to-buy-for man in your life.
Wendy's Staff Pick: Colorado author Peter Heller’s debut novel pulls no punches…this work is set in a postapocalyptic Colorado. I can only recommend this book to readers who are willing to go to a dark place…where redemption and the human spirit do eventually prevail. Heller is a writer to watch and is an exciting presence in western writing.
Wendy's Staff Pick: I love Zadie Smith. She is British, she is black, she is young. She writes beautifully about our life and times: what it means to be black, what it means to be human.
NW is set in contemporary London. The city is very much a character in the book: it is the urban landscape that brings people into interactions which cross the barriers of race and class.
Smith captures Culture with a capital C; there’s no one quite like her. Read on!
Wendy's Staff Pick: Kathryn Harrison is a presenter at Steamboat’s 2012 Literary Sojourn. Her book Poison is riveting historical fiction, set in Spain in the time of the Inquisition. It tells the tale of two women and their fates: one is Queen to the mad and impotent Carlos II, the other is doomed by her passionate affair with a priest. Harrison’s writing is dramatic and spare; I can’t recommend her enough!
Wendy's Staff Pick: The Seal Wife is set in Anchorage, Alaska in the early 1900’s. Anchorage’s rough frontier is the setting for the rough emotional life of the main character, Bigelow, who becomes physically and emotionally obsessed with a mute Aleut woman, who abruptly disappears. A great read.
Wendy's Staff Pick: This book is a must read for anyone wanting to be educated about 21st century energy geo-politics, which should be everyone. Oil is the lifeblood both of the world economy and of our personal lives. In Private Empire Steve Coll masterly reveals the workings of America’s largest oil producer.
Private Empire tracks Exxon’s recent history beginning with the Exxon Valdez accident in 1989 and through to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. Exxon’s never-ending search for ‘bookable reserves’ takes us around the globe to Indonesia, Nigeria, and Equatorial Guinea, places with dicey politics and frequent environmental challenges. Coll is a master of the subject and his writing does not disappoint.
Wendy's Staff Pick: Home by Toni Morrison is distilled. Spare. And powerful. Like To Kill a Mockingbird it portrays a small moment in time that somehow stands for everything.
Home is the story of Frank, a Korean veteran. He struggles against his experience, his past, and the realities of race in the 1950’s. It is the story of his sister’s struggles as well, and of the siblings’ reunion and redemption.
No word, no sentence, no emotion escapes Morrison’s scrutiny; this small book speaks volumes. Please read.
Wendy's Staff Pick: Great summer reading! This book is the sequel to Mantel’s wonderful Wolf Hall, Man Booker Prize winner in 2010.
Bringing Up the Bodies tells of the fall of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s 2nd of six wives. Mantel’s treatment of the subject brings the era to life with great historical detail. You’ll feel like you’re living there. It’s historical fiction at its best: riveting, real, and not at all stuffy.
Wendy's Staff Pick: What in the world made me pick up an early 19th century novel by Dickens? I came home late one night and stumbled onto a PBS Television production of Great Expectations. Since I missed the beginning of the show and fell asleep before the end, I was inspired to pick up a copy of the novel at the bookstore.
Boy am I glad I did. Dickens is totally readable today; you won’t have to slog through arcane 19th century language and usage. His characters are lively, funny, and their social experiences resonate with our own. This is why his work is still adapted today for the stage and screen.
Pick up Great Expectations. Revel in the coming-of-age story of Pip, who goes from rags-to-riches at the hands of a mysterious benefactor. Brag to your friends about reading great literature. You’ll be glad you did.
Wendy's Staff Pick: What a find! Richard Mason sets History of a Pleasure Seeker in early 20th century Amsterdam of the belle époque. Think Titanic for grown-ups. This novel is steamy, sexy, and wonderfully written.
We follow the desires and ambitions of Piet Barol, a young and very handsome tutor hired by one of Amsterdam’s first families. His aim is to earn enough money to fund a new start in America. Along the way he indulges in any luxury or pleasure that he encounters, including the sexual awakening of the mistress of the house.
We end up rooting for Piet despite his moral lassitude; all ends well for everyone, and what a wild ride!
Wendy's Staff Pick: I picked up Jonah Lehrer’s book on creativity because I’m an artist, but this book’s focus is creativity in the workplace, which makes it ideal for a very broad audience.
Imagine is full of new insights into the functioning of the brain, made possible by new brain-imaging technology. The writing is not too scientific; it’s perfect for the lay-reader.
Lehrer sites extensive physiological studies that chart where in the brain creative thinking happens. He summarizes current psychological research which illustrates how creative thinking translates into problem-solving skills. He recounts some of the 20th centuries biggest innovations, from Scotch tape to the halls of Silicone valley, where creativity is fostered in innovative ways.
This book will give you a lift. Feeling a little stuck at work or at home? I’m sure you’ll find an ‘ahaa’ moment within the pages of Imagine, something to help you rethink your own experience in a positive light.
Wendy's Staff Pick: Monsoon has me transfixed by its sweeping look at the geopolitics and history of the Indian Ocean region. Kaplan takes the reader on a country by country tour of the Indian Ocean rim from Oman to Indonesia. He recounts the trading patterns of the ancient world, the spread of ideas, and the spread of Islam.
The West has long laid its claims to this region, beginning with the Portuguese, Dutch and British Navies, and by the U.S. in the 20th century. Kaplan broadens the context of our thinking about the Middle East to include the rise of India and China, the many different faces of Islam, and the challenges that the region faces due to global warming, globalization, and terrorism.
Wendy's Staff Pick: This follow-up novel to Anne Enright’s 2007 Booker Prize Winner The Gathering takes place in modern Ireland, and tells a tale of lives punctured by adultery and the economic crash. It is a romance, and also a book of secrets.
Enright’s narrator Gina is a polarizing figure who is perhaps untrustworthy, perhaps deceitful, or maybe just brutally honest. This ambiguity makes for provocative discussion: The Forgotten Waltz is a great book club read. Enright is incredibly sensitive to the nuance of everyday life; crystallizing time and place with great richness. The Booker Prize rewards her for that ability to evoke the human experience with intelligence and passion.
Wendy's Staff Pick: NPR interviewed the author Pamela Druckerman recently, and I was intrigued by her description of the simple differences between American and French parenting. “French kids are just as boisterous, curious, and creative as Americans. They’re just far better behaved and in command of themselves.” What parent can resist a claim like that? Druckerman is a former Wall Street Journal staff reporter, so you know the writing is good. Now she lives in Paris. If you’re like me, slightly impressed by all things French, you’ll have to read this book.
Wendy's Staff Pick: Everyone is reading The Weird Sisters, an Indie Next pick in paperback. I can’t wait to share it with my girlfriends and my sister.
Brown’s debut novel touches on the complex family ties of three sisters, a topic we all can relate to. Tragedy strikes at home, bringing the sisters together to deal with it and each other.
Brown writes with humor and skill. References to Shakespeare’s Macbeth add a nice twist.
An entertaining novel by a great new storyteller.
Wendy's Staff Pick: This #1 Indie Pick (Feb. 2012) is a tale of immigrant hope spanning the 20th Century. It begins in 1904 with the immigration of Frederick and Jetta Meisenheimer from Germany to a small Missouri town. The story of the family is told by James, their grandson.
This is a great read for fans of Lousie Erdrich’s The Master Butcher’s Singing Club. The lyrical prose and rich characters may leave you laughing and crying. A great novel of the American experience
Wendy's Staff Pick: In the Garden of Beasts locates the reader in Nazi Germany,1933, and tells the tale of America’s first ambassador to Hitler’s Germany, William E. Todd. Fans of The Devil in the White City will appreciate Larson’s richly detailed and readable history. The characters of Todd and his family are confronted with the oddly skewed reality of Berlin in the 30’s: the bright and “infectious enthusiasm” of the “New Germany”,and the growing shadows of Hitler’s true ambitions.
This book reveals the complexity of that time, leading one to ask ‘what would I have known, what would I have done?’. It is provocative and thoughtful reading.
Wendy's Staff Pick: I can’t think of better timing…here in Steamboat those of us who garden are beginning to fantasize about the coming of spring, the planting of seeds. This wonderful anthology collects short fiction about gardens and gardening, by literary greats: Collete, Eudora Welty, Edna O’Brien; Garrison Keilor, James Thurber, V. S. Pritchett, and even Stephen King! This book will take you around the world and plant you right back home in your own backyard, your own garden. A very fun read and a great gift idea for Valentine’s Day.
Wendy's Staff Pick: Michael Lewis is writing some of the best work on the subject of Finance today. In Boomerang he explores the ‘tsunami of cheap credit’ that infected the globe in the first decade of our new century. Lewis’s gift is to explore complex issues through the lens of individuals, people whose lives are often stranger than fiction. In this work we experience the bubble through a Greek monk, an Icelandic fisherman, an Irish real estate developer. The lessons of their experience ring true very close to home.
Seek no further for accessible analysis of financial issues affecting the world today.
Wendy's Staff Pick: Art is a fabulous entry into the study of history, and this encyclopedic work takes the reader into history through items in the collection of the British Museum. Filled with photos and amazing text contributed by experts in the field, this book will deliver something intriguing every time you pick it up. And, with short entries organized in time from 2,000,000 b.c. to the present, it’s easy to dip in and out of at will. Truly inspiring.
Wendy's Staff Pick: A wonderfully written novel exploring the classic theme of the Love Triangle, as experienced by 3 students at Brown University in the early 80’s. This book will appeal to both adults of that era, and young people in their 20’s today. What has changed about the challenges facing young college grads today, and what remains the same? Eugenides’ ear for dialogue and talent for character development will have you reading along with great pleasure and anticipation.
Wendy's Staff Pick: This beautifully written memoir tracks the romantic and artistic relationship of two greats: photographer Robert Mapplethorpe and Poet/Singer/Artist Patti Smith. Just Friends is a great read for anyone curious about the New York scene of the 60’s and 70’s, and fabulous for anyone wanting to learn more about these 2 gifted artists. It’s no accident that Patti Smith won the National Book Award for this memorable elegy; she writes wonderfully.