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What book from your childhood had the biggest impact on you as a reader?
Coraline by Neil Gaiman and The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. Both are magical and whimsical, and I loved getting lost in the worlds that Coraline and Milo were getting lost in themselves. They inspired me to be curious -- to learn more, to wonder more, to explore more. To do this day I love fantasy and anything with a hint of magic, and I think it all comes back to these books. I reread them both every few years just to be reminded of what it was like to be a kid, but I think I actually enjoy them more now as an adult.
What was your favorite 'adult' book that you read as a teenager?
I read Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro when I was a freshman in high school, and it has been my favorite book ever since. I don't think I fully grasped its tragedy when I was fourteen, but it left a lasting impression on me. It is beautiful and heartbreaking, and is a rare case where the movie adaptation is every bit as good as the book.
After years spent as a bookseller, what is a hidden gem that you wish more people knew about?
The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin. I love this book so much and I feel like I never hear people talking about it, even though it was pretty popular when it first came out.
Who is an author that you have just recently discovered?
Sy Montgomery! In the past I had a tendency to shy away from nonfiction, as I found a lot of it to be incredibly academic and dry, but Sy Montgomery opened my eyes to just how wonderful science writing can be. Soul of an Octopus is one of my favorite books that I read in 2023, and now I want to devour everything she's ever written.
What is a book that you enjoyed unexpectedly -- whether because of subject matter, genre, style, etc?
I don't read a lot of historical nonfiction, but Killers of the Flower Moon by David Grann really surprised me. The story felt like it was moving and progressing, rather than just being a timeline of events and list of facts.
What was the best book you've read during quarantine, or during the pandemic in general?
Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I had read Six of Crows and Crooked Kingdom in 2018 and was absolutely obsessed with them, but didn't get around to reading Ninth House until early 2021. When I finally did, it became my entire personality for months. Academia! Secret societies! Ghosts! I love everything about this book and when I think about parts of it I feel absolutely insane. The sequel, which came out in January 2023, was just as good and it kills me to not know when the third book will be coming out. Until then, I'll just have to keep rereading.
And while not quite the best books I read during the pandemic, I revisited the Meg Cabot books that I adored as a kid because I was back living at my mom's house for a bit, and what else was I going to do? She was such an icon of the early 2000s (at least in my mind. I mean, even though it's so much different from the book, who hasn't seen The Princess Diaries?), and I had entire shelves dedicated to her series. I would still recommend her books to teens today - they're just so much fun.
Read below for book recommendations from Tuesday...