On the Nightstand: What Our Booksellers Are Reading

Here is just a sample of what our booksellers are reading. Some of them wanted to make note of books for which they share a true passion; works they feel are must-reads.  There are many of these titles, and I hope to share them with you over the days and weeks to come.

Jason Bouck-New Books Team Leader

The Lock Artist by Steve Hamilton
Marked by tragedy, traumatized at the age of eight, Michael, now eighteen, is no ordinary young man. Besides not uttering a single word in ten years, he discovers the one thing he can somehow do better than anyone else. Whether it’s a locked door without a key, a padlock with no combination, or even an eight-hundred pound safe … he can open them all.
It’s an unforgivable talent. A talent that will make young Michael a hot commodity with the wrong people and, whether he likes it or not, push him ever close to a life of crime. Until he finally sees his chance to escape, and with one desperate gamble risks everything to come back home to the only person he ever loved, and to unlock the secret that has kept him silent for so long.
Steve Hamilton steps away from his Edgar Award-winning Alex McKnight series to introduce a unique new character, unlike anyone you’ve ever seen in the world of crime fiction.
The Lock Artist is the winner of the 2011 Edgar Award for Best Novel.
My Friend Dahmer by Derf  Backderf
Many among us try to make sense of those in our lives who didn’t quite fit in; who were, just maybe, a little more than weird or frightening. Award-winning comic artist Derf Backderf tries to make sense of his acquaintance with serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer. What emerges in this haunting work is a boy whose path may have been altered if the adults in his life had cared enough to intervene!  Derf offers no gore, no glorification, just a searing indictment of indifference and an attempt to understand the strange classmate who hovered at the periphery of his life.
“Carefully researched and sourced with ample back matter, Backderf’s tragic chronicle of what shouldn’t have been is a real butt-kicker for educators and youth counselors as well as peers of other potential Dahmers. Highly recommended for professionals as well as true crime readers.” —Library Journal
Charlotte Bray- Events Coordinator
Gone Girl  by Gillian Flynn
Marriage can be a real killer.
Gillian Flynn takes that statement to its darkest place in her work about a marriage gone terribly, terribly wrong.  Gone Girl is a thriller that confounds you at every turn.
It’s Nick and Amy Dunne’s fifth wedding anniversary. Presents are being wrapped and reservations are being made when Nick’s clever and beautiful wife disappears from their rented McMansion on the Mississippi River. Husband-of-the-Year Nick isn’t doing himself any favors with cringe-worthy daydreams about the slope and shape of his wife’s head, but passages from Amy’s diary reveal the alpha-girl perfectionist could have put anyone dangerously on edge. Under mounting pressure from the police and the media—as well as Amy’s fiercely doting parents—the town golden boy parades an endless series of lies, deceits, and inappropriate behavior. Nick is oddly evasive, and he’s definitely bitter—but is he really a killer?
As the cops close in, every couple in town is soon wondering how well they know the one that they love. With his twin sister, Margo, at his side, Nick stands by his innocence. Trouble is, if Nick didn’t do it, where is that beautiful wife? And what was in that silvery gift box hidden in the back of her bedroom closet?
Spring Fever by Mary Kay Andrews
Annajane Hudgens truly believes she is over her ex-husband, Mason Bayless.  They’ve been divorced for four years, she’s engaged to a new, terrific guy, and she’s ready to leave the small town where she and Mason had so much history.  She is so over Mason that she has absolutely no problem attending his wedding to the beautiful, intelligent, delightful Celia.  But when fate intervenes and the wedding is called to a halt as the bride is literally walking down the aisle, Annajane begins to realize that maybe she’s been given a second chance.  Maybe everything happens for a reason.  And maybe, just maybe, she wants Mason back.  But there are secrets afoot in this small southern town.  On the peaceful surface of Hideaway Lake, Annajane discovers that the past is never really gone.  Even if there are people determined to keep Annajane from getting what she wants, happiness might be hers for the taking, and the life she once had with Mason in this sleepy lake town might be in her future.
Eddie Burton- General Manager
Steve Corrigan-Bookseller
Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk by Ben Fountain
A day at Texas Stadium is more than enough time for 19-year-old, Silver Star-winning Billy Lynn to see all that’s wonderful and troubling about America. Set during George W. Bush’s second term, the men of Bravo squad are turned into national heroes after Fox News broadcasts footage of the Bravos fighting off Iraqi insurgents. Billy feels overwhelmed by the size and spectacle of everything happening around him: The soldiers are pushed and pulled through press conferences, photo ops, meet and greets with millionaires, billionaires and their wives who “are substantially but not offensively younger, all blondes, all displaying the taut architectonics of surgical self-improvement.” There’s an awkward encounter with the players, several of whom volunteer to go kill Iraqi’s with the squad for free, and a tense halftime show where the Bravos find themselves torn between crying at the PTSD-triggering fireworks and checking out Beyonce’s skimpy outfit. The Bravos will be redeployed to Iraq the day after Thanksgiving, and Billy finds himself torn between an unexpected romance, his sister’s constant pestering  to walk away from the war, and his knowledge that leaving the Bravos behind will haunt him for the rest of his life.
Fountain’s debut novel has been termed the Catch-22 of the Iraq War.
Carley Cianciolo-Head of Marketing
Blood, Bones & Butter by Gabrielle Hamilton
“I wanted the lettuce and eggs at room temperature… the butter-and-sugar sandwiches we ate after school for snack… the marrow bones my mother made us eat as kids that I grew to crave as an adult… There would be no ‘conceptual’ or ‘intellectual’ food, just the salty, sweet, starchy, brothy, crispy things that one craves when one is actually hungry. In ecstatic farewell to my years of corporate catering, we would never serve anything but a martini in a martini glass. Preferably gin.”Before Gabrielle Hamilton opened her acclaimed New York restaurant Prune, she spent twenty fierce, hard-living years trying to find purpose and meaning in her life. Above all she sought family, particularly the thrill and the magnificence of the one from her childhood that, in her adult years, eluded her. Hamilton’s ease and comfort in a kitchen were instilled in her at an early age when her parents hosted grand parties, often for more than one hundred friends and neighbors. The smells of spit-roasted lamb, apple wood smoke, and rosemary garlic marinade became as necessary to her as her own skin.Blood, Bones & Butter follows an unconventional journey through the many kitchens Hamilton has inhabited through the years: the rural kitchen of her childhood, where her adored mother stood over the six-burner with an oily wooden spoon in hand; the kitchens of France, Greece, and Turkey, where she was often fed by complete strangers and learned the essence of hospitality; the soulless catering factories that helped pay the rent; Hamilton’s own kitchen at Prune, with its many unexpected challenges; and the kitchen of her Italian mother-in-law, who serves as the link between Hamilton’s idyllic past and her own future family – the result of a difficult and prickly marriage that nonetheless yields rich and lasting dividends.
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