Tag: Best of the Year

Lemuria Community Favorites for 2017

Earlier, in December, our staff shared our favorite books that came out in 2017 in three categories: fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books. But somebody had a great idea: instead of just sharing our opinions, why didn’t we share yours?

The rules are a little different this time, though: this is a list of people’s favorite book that they read in 2017, regardless of when it came out (not necessarily last year). Without further ado:

Kathie LottDisclaimer by Renee Knight; The Leavers by Lisa Ko; A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; A Fine Balance by Rohinton Mistry

John Hugh TateA Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles; Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard; A Soldier of the Great War by Mark Helprin

Michael SteptThe Tale of Genji by Murasaki Shikibu

Kirby ArinderThe Collected Fantasies of Clark Ashton Smith

Lee HowellThe Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

Ed MoakAlone: Britain, Churchill, and Dunkirk: Defeat into Victory by Michael Korda; Camino Island by John Grisham; The Road to Camelot: Inside JFK’s Five-Year Campaign by Thomas Oliphant and Curtis Wilkie

Hannah HesterThe Fifth Season by N.K. Jenison

Kristine WeaverThe Goldfinch by Donna Tartt

Kay HedglinEveningland by Michael Knight

Jeff Good, proprietor of Broad Street, Bravo, and Sal & Mookie’s – The Simple Truth About Your Business by Alex Brennan-Martin and Larry Taylor

Melvin Priester, Ward 2 City Council member – A Visit from the Good Squad by Jennifer Egan; the Saga series by Brian K. Vaughn

Haley Barbour, Mississippi governor (2004-2012) – Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance

Jim Ewing, Clarion-Ledger book reviewer – A Really Big Lunch by Jim Harrison

Jana Hoops, Clarion-Ledger author interviewer – Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant; A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles

Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing and Salvage the Bones – The Fortunes by Peter Ho Davies

Michael Farris Smith, author of Desperation RoadStoner by John Williams

Angie Thomas, author The Hate U GiveLong Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Richard Grant, author of Dispatches from PlutoDesperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

Howard Bahr, author of Pelican RoadHue 1968 by Mark Bowden

Matthew Guinn, author of The Scribe and The ResurrectionistDesperation Road by Michael Farris Smith

Thanks especially to the readers and authors who helped compile this list, and thanks to anybody  and everybody who reads this blog and shops at our store. You make Lemuria exist, and on behalf of everybody who works here, we extend our deepest thanks. In the words (you’ve probably heard over our P.A.) of our muse, Ms. Jody, “This wouldn’t be a party without each one of you.”

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Best Books of 2017 for All Kids

At the end of every year, it is always wonderful to look back and see what great books were published and now on the shelves for children to enjoy reading.

Here are the Best Books of 2017 to you can give as a gift this holiday season. To see a more comprehensive list for each age group, click the links on the ages!

Best Books for Kids Ages 0 -3

Life CoverLife by Cynthia Rylant and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel, $17.99 (signed copies available at Lemuria)

The vibrant, life-filled illustrations are accompanied by one line of text per page. The story begins with an illustration of a small plant growing in the desert, with the line, “Life begins small. Even for the elephants. Then it grows.” The following page shows a baby elephant reaching a trunk up to a larger elephant. “Life grows. Ask any animal on earth, what do you love about life?” A gorgeous book for a newborn or toddler.

Life Interior

 

My Very First Mother GooseMy Very First Mother Goose by Iona Opie, illustrated by Rosemary Wells, $24.99 (copies signed by Rosemary Wells available at Lemuria)

Folklorist Iona Opie passed away this year. Her legacy lives on in the nursery rhymes that she collected and edited in this beautiful edition of Mother Goose that are perfect for baby’s first Christmas.

 

The Little Red Cat Who Ran AwayThe Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (The Hard Way) by Patrick McDonnell, $17.99

I’ve been a fan of Patrick McDonnell’s illustrations for a long time, and this little red cat is one of my new favorites. As the little red cat runs away from home, he encounters adventures involving the alphabet, and this is the perfect book for a little one just learning his or her letters. The letter Z is accompanied by a little red cat, safe at home again, fast asleep.

Little Red Cat interior

 

12 Days of XMAS12 Days of Christmas by Greg Pizzoli, $16.99 (signed copies available at Lemuria Books)

We all know how the song goes: “On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…A Patridge in a pear tree.” Followed by turtle doves, french hens, and five golden rings. Greg Pizzoli re-imagines this classic Christmas carol in his newest picture book for children, The Twelve Days of Christmas.” With each introduction of a new day of Christams, an elephant family receives the gift that corresponds to the day according to the carol. Have you ever really stopped to think about what would happen if you had a room filled with an assortment of birds? Namely, six geese a-laying and seven swans a-swimming? It would be chaos. Pizzoli takes the this carol and makes it literal, and that parents and young readers alike will giggle over the growing gifts the little elephant family does not know what to do with.

Best Books for Kids Ages 4 – 7

Princess Cora and the CrocodilePrincess Cora and the Crocodile by Laura Amy Schlitz and Brian Floca, $16.99 (signed copies available at Lemuria)

Hands down this is one of my favorite books for kids this year. It’s about a princess who is tired of her routine, so she writes to her fairy godmother, asking for a pet. She imagines getting a golden retriever, but what she gets instead is a crocodile. When the crocodile pretends to be the princess for a day, you can imagine that things do not go smoothly. Hilarious, and told in short chapters, this is a wonderful book for the reader just beginning chapter books or to be read aloud at bed time.

Princess Cora and the Crocodile interior

This House OnceThis House Once by Deborah Freedman, $17.99 (signed copies available at Lemuria)

Curl up by the fire and read this picture book on a cold night. This is one of the most beautifully illustrated picture books of 2017, and a great book to add to any child’s collection.

 

The Wolf, the Duck, and the MouseThe Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse by Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen, $17.99 (signed copies by both author and illustrator available at Lemuria)

Mac Barnett and Jon Klassen have a history of creating great books together, and this one might be their funniest yet. What happens when a mouse is swallowed by a big, bad wolf? He finds a duck who has set up camp inside the wolf’s stomach, and both duck and mouse feast and feast until the wolf has a bellyache. Both duck and mouse are living it up—until the wolf’s life is threatened by a hunter, and then they have to create a plan to save the day. Add this book to your shelf immediately.

The Wolf, the Duck, and the Mouse interior

Best Books for Kids Ages 8 – 12

purloiningThe Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain, Philip Stead, and illustrated by Erin Stead, $24.99 (signed copies available at Lemuria)

Why is this my favorite fiction book this year? In publishing, it is not too rare for a well-known author’s work to be found and published posthumously. However, in the case of The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine, Phil and Erin Stead managed to take sixteen pages of notes from a bedtime story that Mark Twain told his daughters, and turn it into a true literary masterpiece over a century later. Phil holds a conversation with the ghost of Mark Twain (which is hilarious) and Erin’s illustrations are airy and lovely, as always. They truly breathe life into the story. So what’s the right age for this book? I’d say somewhere from 6 to 96.

There are a handful of times where I walk out of the store, a book under my arm, and race home to read it. Not only did I do that, but I felt somehow as if I was reading a lost masterpiece of children’s literature. There’s only one time I’ve had that experience, and it was with The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine.

Purloining interior

Tumble & BlueTumble and Blue by Cassie Beasley, $17.99 (signed copies available at Lemuria)

Cassie Beasley is one of the best writers I know for children in the age range of 8 to 12. Her characters are funny, full of heart, and she really understands kids. Tumble and Blue is set in the Okefenokee Swamp of Georgia, involves a golden alligator named Munch, a cursed boy named Blue born into a family with special gifts, and one spunky girl named Tumble who is out to save the day and reverse Blue’s unluckiness.

 

The VanderbeekersThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Yan Glaser, $16.99

If I had a favorite category of children’s books, it would be “big-family-where-the-siblings-must-band-together”. Think The Penderwicks, The Five Little Peppers and How they Grew, The Moffats, and so on and so forth. Well, the Vanderbeekers officially get to join that list. It is almost Christmas, and the five Vanderbeeker children find out that their mean landlord is not going to renew their lease on the brownstone where they’ve lived their whole lives. It is up to them to change his mind, and perhaps, create little Christmas magic in the process.

 

The ExplorerThe Explorer by Katherine Rundell, $16.99 (signed copies available at Lemuria)

If you know me at all, you know that Kate Rundell is one of my absolute favorite writers right now for kids. Her new book, The Explorer, is about four children who are stranded in the Amazon after a fiery plane crash. Rundell visited Lemuria in October on a Friday. Her event was Friday evening, during most high-school football games. Two young boys, about age 10, showed up, and as they stood in the signing line, their father told the author, “I don’t know what you said at their school today, but they told me they had to come and get your book and have you sign it. These two football crazy boys are missing the big game right now for your book!” If that’s not a great endorsement for a book for kids in Mississippi, I don’t know what is!

Best Books for Young Adults

Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, $17.99 (signed copies available at Lemuria)

So if you have not heard about this book yet, it is time that you know about it! This book, inspired by the #blacklivesmatter movement, was awarded eight starred reviews (virtually unheard of), was long listed for the National Book Award, and won the Horn-Globe Book Award. It has been on the NYT Bestseller list for 39 weeks and counting. The upcoming movie wrapped filming this fall, and Angie Thomas herself is from Jackson, Mississippi. It has been a pleasure to see the amount of success Angie has experienced in the year 2017, and her star is only growing brighter. I encourage you to pick up this timely book about how one young girl navigates life between her mostly-white prep school and all-black neighborhood, all while dealing with the death of her friend at the hands of the police.

You can now pre-order a signed, first edition copy of her new novel, On the Come Up.

Librarian of AuschwitzThe Librarian of Auschwitz by Antonio Iturbe, translated by Lilit Thwaites, $19.99

Written by Spanish author Antonio Iturbe, this book is based off of his real interviews with Dita Kraus, who survived the Holocaust and who now lives in Israel. It tells her story, how she served as a librarian in a concentration camp, where she protected eight precious books for the children at Auschwitz. Inspiring and heart-breaking, this is one book you should not wait to read, now that it has been translated.

Last NamsaraThe Last Namsara by Kristen Cicarelli, $17.99

If you have a reader who loves fantasy stories, The Last Samsara is the next one to add to your to-read list. Filled with dragons who are slain for telling stories, this book has all the great elements of a high-fantasy, for fans of Sabaa Tahir’s An Ember in the Ashes or Leigh Bardugo’s Grisha series.

 

Staff Fiction Favorites for 2017

Last Tuesday, we brought you our favorite nonfiction books from the past year. Next week, we’re going to post our favorite children’s books from the experts in Oz. (Don’t forget to share with us your personal favorites; see below). But today, we’re going to share our favorites in the glamour category: fiction. These books made us laugh, cry, and helped us connect more deeply with the world around, like all great stories do. Without further ado, here are each of our staff’s favorite fiction books of the year:

  • John Evans, bookstore owner – Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin
  • Kelly, general manager – The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
  • Austen, operations manager – Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders
  • austen lincoln in the bardo verticalIt was with wonder and awe that I read Lincoln in the Bardo. With his first novel, George Saunders subverts the structural integrity of the form nearly to collapse, but apparently, he can dance en pointe. Mr. Saunders was able to transmute the most somber subject into something both wildly entertaining and profound. This is a malformed and superb piece of art.

  • Lisa, first editions manager – Paris in the Present Tense by Mark Helprin
  • Mark Helprin gave his first book to his friend and well-known writer John Cheever with the hope that he would write a favorable review. When Cheever rejected the book and wrote a review for another writer, Helprin described the rejection as a “double lightning bolt of anger and shame.” And so his first book, Dove of the East, has no blurbs on the dust jacket, just a photo of Mark Helprin on the back of the dust jacket looking rather melancholy. To this day, Helprin writes no reviews or blurbs for other writers, he does not long for prizes, and he occupies himself with a large life beyond writing his best-selling novels. He shared in the Paris Review that it was “Flaubert who said something like ‘live like a bourgeois so you can write like a wildman.’” Though others continue to blurb, I will not blurb Mark Helprin’s Paris in the Present Tense. Just read it and live wild.

  • Hillary, front desk manager – History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund
  • hillary history of wolves verticalFrom the very beginning of History of Wolves, I could literally feel the anticipation building. I just knew something was going to happen, yet the shock factor was still there when it did. This is a eloquently written debut novel with a fascinating story. Emily Fridlund has a masterful way with words, no doubt, her writing is beautiful.

  • Clara, Oz manager – The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine by Mark Twain and Philip Stead
  • clara prince oleomargarine verticalWhy is The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine my favorite fiction book this year? In publishing, it is not too rare for a well-known author’s work to be found and published posthumously. However, in the case of this book, Phil and Erin Stead managed to take sixteen pages of notes from a bedtime story that Mark Twain told his daughters, and turn it into a true literary masterpiece over a century later. Phil holds a conversation with the ghost of Mark Twain (which is hilarious) and Erin’s illustrations are airy and lovely, as always. They truly breathe life into the story. So what’s the right age for this book? I’d say somewhere from 6 to 96. There are a handful of times where I walk out of the store, a book under my arm, and race home to read it. Not only did I do that, but I felt somehow as if I was reading a lost masterpiece of children’s literature. There’s only one time I’ve had that experience, and it was with The Purloining of Prince Oleomargarine.

  • Abbie, fiction supervisor – The Confusion of Languages by Siobhan Fallon
  • abbie confusion of languages vertical

    The Confusion of Languages is about two military wives who aren’t too fond of each other but have to band together to navigate life in Jordan. It’s a beautiful, well-written story about how kindness, friendship, and otherness translate between cultures.

  • Guy, First Editions Club supervisor – Dinner at the Center of the Earth by Nathan Englander
  • guy dinner at the center verticalDinner at the Center of the Earth gave me the chance to look closely at something, all at once individual and global, and to work backwards and forwards through its history. This is a wild, prismatic spy novel full of strange facets and wonderfully flawed characters. It’s fractured and beautiful and just what you need to puzzle over.

  • Andrew, blog supervisor – Desperation Road by Michael Farris Smith
  • andrew desperation road verticalDesperation Road is a stunning second novel by Michael Farris Smith. It’s long, elegant sentences bring urgency and dignity to two desperate citizens, a drifter with her daughter and an ex-con, living on the margins in south Mississippi. It tells the story of the tragedy that binds them together, and the hope that can bring them forward.

  • Pat, bookseller – Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  • pat exit westExit West is a short book packed with big ideas.  It’s the story of day to day survival in a mid-Eastern country where love and hope bloom in the midst of bombs exploding at any and every corner.

  • Ellen, bookseller – The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  • ellen heart's invisible furies verticalThe Heart’s Invisible Furies is the story of the life of Cyril Avery, from conception to end of life. Cyril comes roaring into the world in Ireland during the year of 1946. He is alive during the heyday of the IRA and the height of bigotry and intolerance for homosexuals in Ireland, so he therefore is forced to hide his homosexuality for years. His story takes us to Amsterdam and all the way across the Atlantic Ocean to New York City. Fact: Cyril has many hardships in his life. However, this book is not some unending sob story due to the fact that it is balanced with wonderful humor. This is a novel of redemption and it just couldn’t have been a better story. (I fear for the immortal soul of the person who does not love this book.)

  • Katie, bookseller – Human Acts by Han Kang
  • Kang’s second book published in English, Human Acts tells the story of the Gwanju uprising that occurred in South Korea in the 1980’s. This is one of the most beautiful, most powerful books I have read this year.

  • Jamie, bookseller – Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • jamie sing unburied square

     

    Nothing I read this year matched Sing, Unburied, Sing‘s lyric beauty. The characters are compelling and believable, and Ward’s prose is perfect.

     

  • Aimee, bookseller – Celine by Peter Heller
  • Of all the books I read this year, Celine has stuck with me the best. The writing style and the plot itself contribute to what I now call one of my all time favorite books. Celine is the woman I want to be when I’m in my 60s.

  • Hunter, bookseller – American War by Omar El Akkad
  • Trianne, bookseller – Fresh Complaint by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • Fresh Complaint is a collection of short stories that is both practical and profound, capturing the lovely details of every day life while examining the underlying existential questions.

  • Taylor, bookseller – Spaceman of Bohemia by Jaroslav Kalfar
  • Julia, bookseller – The Resurrection of Joan Ashby by Cherise Wolas
  • Abigail, bookseller – The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne
  • Dorian, bookseller – Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
  • Reading Sing, Unburied, Sing was like the shadow of Toni  Morrison’s younger self snuck up behind me and gave me something else to think about. Jesmyn Ward is an inspired voice sounding at a time when it is most needed.
  • Erica, Oz bookseller – Caraval by Stephanie Garber
  • Diane, Oz bookseller – The Explorer by Katherine Rundell

fiction books vertical

Did you enjoy our recommendations? We hope so–but we want to hear from you, dear readers! Tell us your favorite fiction, nonfiction, or children’s books published in 2017. Reach out to us on social media, e-mail us at blog@lemuriabooks.com, or come visit us at the store! All we need is your name and your favorite book of 2017, and a brief description like the ones above and a picture of your book if you wish. We will be dedicating a post next week to our the customers and community of Lemuria. Here’s to a happy new year, full of more great books!

Staff Nonfiction Favorites for 2017

We’re coming to the end of another exciting year for books. Below are a list of books that our staff consider to be the very best of the year in nonfiction, from the horrors of war, crime, and discrimination to the beauty of music, poetry, humor, and solitude. We encourage you to come to Lemuria and check these books out, either as a great gift for Christmas or a present to yourself to read in the new year.

all nonfiction

Did you enjoy our recommendations? We hope so–but we want to hear from you, dear readers! Tell us your favorite fiction, nonfiction, or children’s books published in 2017. Reach out to us on social media, e-mail us at blog@lemuriabooks.com, or come visit us at the store! All we need is your name and your favorite book of 2017, and a brief description like the ones above and a picture of your book if you wish. We will be dedicating a post next week to our the customers and community of Lemuria. Here’s to a happy new year, full of more great books!

Staff Nonfiction Favorites from 2016

Last month, we showed you our favorite fiction books from 2016. This time, we’re back to tell you what our favorite nonfiction books were. From Churchill to Hitler, from art to music, from the frontier to the boudoir,  our picks were all over the place, but they all have a place on your shelf in 2017. Come to the store and ask us about our favorites–we’ll tell you all about them!

  • John Evans, bookstore owner – Hero of the Empire by Candice Millard
  • Kelly, general manager – Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth
  • Austen, operations manager – Hitler: Ascent 1889 – 1939 by Volker Ullrich
  • Lisa, first editions manager – Absolutely on Music by Haruki Murakami
  • Hillary, front desk supervisor – Trials of the Earth by Mary Mann Hamilton
  • hillary-trialsFor what small amount of education she had during her life, Hamilton has created a beautifully written book about her time as a pioneer women in the Mississippi Delta.  Throughout this time in her life, she encounters a flood that completely washes away her home and the family’s logging camp, buries children, and deals with her husband’s secretive life and drinking problem. Hamilton is a fierce woman that I found absolutely fascinating.

  • Clara, Oz manager – Mad Enchantment by Ross King
  • Abbie, fiction supervisor – Present Over Perfect by Shauna Niequist
  • Julia, First Editions Club supervisor – You Will Not Have My Hate by Antone Leiris
  • Andrew, blog supervisor – Scrappy Little Nobody by Anna Kendrick
  • Ellen, bookseller – The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese
  • ellen voyeursThe Voyeur’s Motel is an amazing work of narrative journalism which I could not put down. The majority of this book is from the titular voyeur Gerald Foos’ actual journals and notes, which were extremely fascinating. Basically, Foos spent the majority of his time writing down any and everything that he watched from his voyeuristic “observation deck” and shared those thoughts with Gay Talese. Fascinating read.

  • Katie, bookseller – Shrill: Notes from a Loud Woman by Lindy West
  • katie-shrillLindy West is an outspoken, confident, intriguing woman in our world today. Shrill tells the story of Lindy’s life, her accomplishments and failures, and her highs and her lows. Her story is insanely inspiring and relatable, touching on the many struggles that women are still facing today. Lindy is a role model to me and many others, and I know she could be one to you, too.

  • Jamie, bookseller – March by John Lewis
  • Matt K., bookseller – The Voyeur’s Motel by Gay Talese
  • Alex, bookseller – The Fire This Time edited by Jesmyn Ward
  • James, bookseller – Trials of the Earth by Mary Mann Hamilton
  • Diane, Oz bookseller – The Journey That Saved Curious George by Louise Borden

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Gifting the Perfect Book: Staff Fiction Favorites for 2016

Are you in a crunch for Christmas gifts?! Can’t find that perfect book for the one you love? Let our staff give you some GREAT recommendations! Here is a list of some of our FAVORITE FICTION books from the year 2016! Hurry by and we’ll wrap one for you just in time to stick under the tree!

  • John Evans, bookstore owner – Everybody’s Fool by Richard Russo
  • Kelly, general manager – Bright Precious Days by Jay McInerney
  • Austen, operations manager – The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • Lisa, first editions manager – Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift
  • Hillary, front desk supervisor – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Clara, Oz manager – The House at the Edge of Night by Catherine Banner
  • Abbie, fiction supervisor – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • abbie-homegoing“Homegoing is  about the families of two sisters, one of whom marries a slaver, and one who is taken into slavery. It is a story that spans generations that is for every generation. You’ll fall in love with every character. Gyasi weaves together a compelling and beautiful tale. ” – Abbie

  • Julia, First Editions Club supervisor – by Graham Swift
  • julia-mothering-sundayMothering Sunday is a short and fabulous book about
    forbidden love and class division. I would read it 100 times over; it was so good. – Julia

  • Andrew, blog supervisor – The Nix by Nathan Hill
  • andrew-nixThe Nix is a spectacular debut novel about a writer searching for the truth about the mother who abandoned him, only to make headline news decades later. The tone alternates between comic and serious, and and it expertly captures the zeitgeist of both the 2010s and the 1960s. Hill does such a good job writing from multiple perspetives. – Andrew

  • Ellen, bookseller – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Katie, bookseller – Nicotine by Nell Zink
  • Jamie, bookseller – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Maggie Smith, bookseller – Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi
  • Matt K., bookseller – Mischling by Affinity Konar
  • Aimee, bookseller – The Chemist by Stephanie Meyer
  • Alex, bookseller – Nutshell by Ian McEwan
  • James, bookseller – El Paso by Winston Groom
  • Erica, Oz bookseller – Scythe by Neal Shusterman
  • Diane, Oz bookseller – Pax by Sara Pennypacker
  • Polly, Oz bookseller – Tell Me Three Things by Julie Buxbaum

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