Friday, May 11, 2012

"If You Like This..."

Booksellers are extraordinary. They know what book it is when you ask for “Fifty Grey’s of Something”, they know that the book with the purple cover that someone spoke about at some time in the store is Richard Harvell’s The Bells, and they know the New York Times reviewed Nell Freudenberger’s The Newlyweds. Are booksellers psychic? No, of course not, but they know their books. One question that never fails to get an enthusiastic response from a bookseller at an independant store is the “I like ---- can you find me something similar”. It’s the classic “If you like this” question and booksellers are always eager to introduce readers to new authors. So, in honor of the question I hear everyday outside of my office here is a little list of suggestions.

If you like Kate Morton (The Forgotten Garden, The Distant Hours)…

Try Katherine Howe author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane and The House of Velvet and Glass. Like Morton, Howe’s narratives weave back and forth through time, alternating between character point of view, to create a rich and wonderful novel. Her writing style is smooth and entertaining and the combination of the prose with her thorough knowledge of history (Howe is a historian) grabs the reader in a way few novels of this ilk can. Either novel is a perfect pick-up for fans of Kate Morton’s writing.

If you like Tana French (The Likeness, Faithful Place)…

French’s brilliant thrillers are a perfect blend of edge of your seat psychological suspense and literary skill. The writing is unusually rich and complex, not run-of-the-mill mystery text. Similar writers who are more than capable of hitting that literary suspense vein are Erin Kelly (The Poison Tree) and Rosamund Lupton (Sister and Afterwards). Also notable is Nicci French, whose recently released Blue Monday evokes the same police dynamic of the other French, but with the added aspect of a lead character who is a psychotherapist, and deeply troubled in her own right.

If you like M.C. Beaton’s Hamish Macbeth series…

Love quaint and entertaining mysteries like those so wonderfully produced by M.C. Beaton? Check out Rhys Bowen’s Her Royal Spyness Series that follows Lady Georgiana Rannoch, 34th in line to the throne in 1930’s England and decidedly without funds. Bowen’s series is utterly enchanting with greedy aristocrats, comedy of errors, occasional whimsy, a touch of romance, and of course murder. For an added bonus the audio versions of these books are probably the some of the best I’ve ever come across—truly worth a listen.

In the same genre, author Carola Dunn and her Daisy Dalrymple series, which follows the Honourable Daisy Dalrymple a writer who invariably walks into murders, is an enjoyable option. This is another fun series, clean, light, and perfect for fans of writers like Beaton.

If you like Jodi Picoult

Try Heather Gudenkauf (These Things Hidden, The Weight of Silence and One Breath Away (July ’12)). Gudenkauf writes compelling contemporary fiction, hitting on issues like school shootings, teen pregnancy, adoptions, and so forth, but in a less pointed way than Picoult. Her novels effortlessly weave hot button issues into gripping plots, without hitting readers over the head. Readers (and reading groups) who enjoy Picoult’s fiction will take pleasure in the intricate and moving novels of Heather Gudenkauf.

If you like…a quick guide…

Beth Hoffman’s Saving CeeCee Honeycutt: try author Sarah Addison Allen (Garden Spells, The Girl Who Chased the Moon, The Peach Keeper)

Dan Brown: pick up a book by Steve Berry

Christopher Moore, Chuck Palahniuk, and Christopher Buckley: read Max Barry (Jennifer Government, Company, Machine Man)

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash: try Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Obviously this list could go on indefinitely, that’s where our booksellers come in, they are wells of book information waiting to be tapped, and eager to give you their own “If you like” recommendations. So, the next time you find yourself in need of a book, ask an in independant bookseller, and you will be introduced to some amazing new books and authors.

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