Independent booksellers are exceedingly good at recommending books. They also go out of their way to support local authors, and in turn, the authors return the favor, coming for events, offering personalized signed copies of their books (Chris Bohjalian, Julia Alvarez, Katherine Arden to name a few) and speaking up in support of us, their local independent bookstore and indie bookstores all across the country.
INDIES FIRST, Saturday, November 30 (also Small Business Saturday) is a national day celebrating and recognizing independent bookstores. We ask that you consider shopping Indies First for your holiday gift giving and other shopping needs. We don't expect you to shift all your spending to local independently-owned businesses, but shifting some of your spending helps keep us here.
In honor of this occasion, we asked some of our favorite Vermont authors to recommend a few books to you, our customers and readers. Here is our For Indies First, Vermont Authors Recommend…
Note: If authors recommended more than one title, the first title is in book list below and the rest of their recommendations are linked in the review below. (You can also download a PDF of this list, HERE)
From Julia Alvarez: "Hands down my favorite this past year is Jenny Erpenbeck’s Go, Went, Gone." She also loved Kali Fajardo-Anstine’s Sabrina and Corina: Stories, Ocean Vuong’s On Earth We Are Briefly Gorgeous, and Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X. She added, "I could go on and on!"
Chris Bohjalian proffered a list of new(ish) books he just loved! The Gifted School by Bruce Holsinger, Toil & Trouble by Augusten Burroughs, The Testaments by Margaret Atwood, plus a fewer older ones he recently read and loved: Nuclear Family by Susanna Fogel, Midnight in Chernobyl by Adam Higginbotham.
Tommy Orange's award-winning novel There There is being recommended by THREE Vermont authors, Katy Farber (Salamander Sky), Jeremy Holt (Before Houdini), and Meg Little Reilly (Everything That Follows). Even Margaret Atwood is a fan, calling the book "an astonishing literary debut."
Besides recommending her own new collection of essays, Made Holy (which Jenny also recommends), author Emily Casey said if she were a bookseller, she would handsell The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Once The Shore by Paul Yoon, The Boys of My Youth JoAnn Beard, The Maytrees by Annie Dillard, and On Looking by Lia Purpura.
Tal Birdsey (Hearts of the Mountain), recommends the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in History, David Blight's biography Frederick Douglass: Prophet of Freedom. He also recommends Brown: Poems by Kevin Young.
Katherine Arden (Winternight trilogy) recommends The Ten Thousand Doors of January by Alix E. Harrow, a tale set primarily in early-20th-century Vermont, but also in an alternative world called the City of Nin.
Doug Wilhelm (Street of Storytellers) recommends Junkyard at No Town by J. C. Myers. "This hilarious, outrageous novel is about a backroads town full of crazy rednecks and vivid characters. It's also about finding love, mystery and meaning in life—and it's a story you won't forget."
Dede Cummings, author, poet and publisher/designer at Green Writers Press & The Hopper Literary Magazine recommends Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward.
Jon Clinch (Marley) recommends Charles Frazier’s Nightwoods. It’s one of his all-time favorite novels.
Leath Tonino (The West Will Swallow You) recommends Last Witnesses by Svetlana Alexievich.
Garret Keizer (The World Pushes Back: Poems) recommends Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography by Richard Rodriguez, author of Hunger of Memory, Brown, and Days of Obligation.