As the co-owner of Literati Bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan, I primarily read new literary fiction, looking for contenders for our signed first editions program, Literati Cultura. But I also love a good memoir, travel narrative, and essay collection. I also try to mix things up when choosing titles for our monthly book club, which alternates fiction and nonfiction, both old and new. Below are a few of my all-time favorites and some of the newer gems I’ve discovered as a bookstore owner over these past five years.
From the first perfectly soigné meal that she and her husband savored en route to their new life in Paris, Julia Child had an awakening that changed her life. Soon this tall, outspoken California girl was chatting with purveyors in local markets and enrolling in Le Cordon Bleu. Filled with photographs and laced with the good spirit that made her such an extraordinary success, Julia’s memoir of falling in love with French food makes for the perfect winter escape.
Spanning four decades and divergent worlds, this is the erotically charged story of the renowned Russian dancer Rudolf Nureyev. This historically inspired novel charts the extreme perfectionism and willful hedonism that drove the ballet star’s all-consuming artistic greatness, and reminds us that the thrill of the stage is both a curse and a redemption.
Read the full review of THE BRIGHT HOUR.
In a small rural village in Chechnya, eight-year-old Havaa watches from the woods as Russian soldiers abduct her father in the middle of the night and then set fire to her home. When their lifelong neighbor Akhmed finds Havaa hiding in the forest with a strange blue suitcase, he makes a decision that will forever change their lives. A story of the transcendent power of love in wartime, A CONSTELLATION OF VITAL PHENOMENA is a work of sweeping breadth, profound compassion, and lasting significance.
Read the full review of MEMORY WALL.
In the wise and beautiful second collection from the acclaimed, New York Times bestselling author of All the Light We Cannot See, "Doerr writes about the big questions, the imponderables, the major metaphysical dreads, and he does it fearlessly" (The New York Times Book Review).