Arsen Kashkashian, head buyer at the Boulder Bookstore along with April Gosling, school liaison with the Boulder Bookstore and Liesl Freudenstein, children’s book buyer at the Boulder Bookstore, join us for a discussion of the best books of 2015. For more features about books on KGNU, check out Booktalk and our Radio Book Club.
Arsen’s favorite books of the year:
- 100 Years of the Best American Short Stories, edited by Lorrie Moore: Draws 40 stories from 100 years of Best American Short Stories, No repeats from 1999 Best American Short Stores of the Centuries, Classics by Hemingway, Fitzgerald, Faulkner, Welty, Flannery O’Connor, Newer pieces by Junot Diaz, Jhumpa Lahiri and George Saunders. Beautiful packaged hardback.
- Bob Dylan All the Songs: The Story Behind Every Track by Philippe Margotin: Remarkable look at Dylan’s career through his songs, Draws on numerous sources to discuss the genesis of the works and the changes in the songs as they were developed, Tons of great photos, All the pertinent recording information including who played on each track, Get Dylan’s bio through the music. New Morning love songs. Blood on the Tracks break up.
- Thing Explainer: Complicated Stuff in Simple Words by Randall Munroe. Munroe wrote last year’s best selling What If? Serious scientific answers to hypothetical questions. Oversized book filled with great duotone drawings teaching you about all sorts of things from Writing Sticks (pencils and pens) to Computer Building to the Sun. Clearly explained. Extremely entertaining. He calls things by what they do rather than what they are named. “Long Biters without arms or legs” are snakes.
- Catalog of Unabashed Gratitude by Ross Gay. Poetry that celebrates the joy of being alive, or breathing in the air each day. He uses specific images, often nature and exhibits a generosity of spirit. Some great narrative poems including “To The Fig Tree on 9th and Christian.” Varies in style and length. Some are short little odes (Ode to a flute), others are longer rambling pieces (Spoon a murdered friend).
- Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels (My Brilliant Friend, Story of a New Name, Those who Leave and Those who Stay, Story of the Lost Child). Four novels detailing a female friendship that begins in 1950s Naples and moves through the present day. Captures the ups and downs of these women’s lives since childhood. Both are quite smart, but their lives took different turns due to their educational opportunities. Also shows us postwar Italy in a truly remarkable way. How the recessions, the political turmoil the good times affect the character’s lives.
- Mislaid by Nell Zink. Story of a white woman on the run in rural Virginia who passes as black and chooses to live in poverty to hide out. Zink is playing with racial expectations, but also with sexuality. Peggy is a lesbian student who discovers the wonders of sex with her gay male upper crust professor. The writing is humorous, the novel moves quickly and it confronts with strange moral dilemmas. Peggy’s daughter is celebrated as a star African American student and given a minority scholarship to the University of Virginia.
- Clementine by Sara Pennypacker: Seven books detailing Clementine’s third grade year.
April’s 2015 favorites:
- All the Wild that Remains by David Gessner
- The Witches by Stacy Schiff
- Not On Fire, But Burning by Greg Hrbek (FAVORITE BOOK OF THE YEAR!!!)
- Descent by Tim Johnston
- Winter by Marissa Meyer (Lunar Chronicles)
- The Hired Girl by Laura Amy Schlitz
Liesel’s 2015 favorites:
- Toys Meet Snow byEmily Jenkins & Paul O. Zelinski
- We Forgot Brock by Carter Goodrich
- Only Child by Goujing
- Thing About Jellyfish by Ali Benjamin
- The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
- Illuminae by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff
- SPQR by Mary Beard
- Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt
- Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
- The Book With No Pictures by B. J. Novak