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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

May 17, 2020

Raw and Funny Essay Collection, and Moving Story of Search for Friendship
 
Wow, No Thank You. by Samantha Irby. It may be a sign of the times or a nod to the author's legions of fans, but the fact is that this third book of wildly funny autobiographical essays is the bestselling nonfiction paperback in the country. That said, you may well be thinking "Samantha Who?" right now, and you won't be alone. Irby is a big deal, but she first made her name as a blogger more than a decade ago with her blog site BitchesGottaEat. So if you weren't much of a reader of raunchy feminist blogs back then, Irby probably wasn't a household name in your household.

But those who did discover BitchesGottaEat loved it, and the blog quickly attracted a loyal cult-like following. Irby was among a hip young cadre of women using a new form of writing to explore issues of mind, body, and sex, and she was unapologetic and candid about her challenging upbringing and her weight. Irby also brought an unrestrained sense of humor to her prose - admittedly too down and dirty for some - and her sometimes shocking honesty drew more attention, including in the publishing world. Wow, No Thank You is her third essay collection, following Meaty (first published in 2013) and We Are Never Meeting in Real Life. Its perch atop the bestseller list is a testament to her ever-growing popularity. Her latest works are a kinder, gentler collection, reflecting Irby's move from Chicago to suburban Kalamazoo, Michigan, where she met and married her wife. But this new work is no less funny and still plenty raw. And although good reviews from the likes of The Advocate, PopSugar, and Time Out aren't surprising, how about this from The Wall Street Journal: "Samantha Irby has an ideal comic voice for this particular moment in time: a little casual, fairly raunchy and always hilarious. Her musings on everything from marriage to bodily functions are eminently digestible even when the food she chooses to eat is not."


Rules For Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane. And now for something completely different - an understated and moving story about finding connections in the digital age that O Magazine called "a quest for friendship that could have been written by Jane Austen's great-great-great-granddaughter."
At age 40, May Attaway loves literature and her work as a botanist for the university in her hometown. More at home with plants than people, May begins to suspect she isn't very good at friendship and wonders if it's possible to improve with practice. Granted some leave from her job, she sets out on a journey to spend time with four long-neglected friends. What she discovers, about both her friends and herself, is affecting and engaging.  
 
Rules For Visiting is now out in paperback. In a starred review, Booklist said, "Kane's delightful tale celebrates friendship, family, love, joy in the ordinary, finding peace, and connecting with those around us. Highly recommended for fans of humorous, touching stories about friendship and self-discovery."  
Four Ordinary Lives Come Together in 1927 Paris  
 
The Paris Hours by Alex George. Told over the course of a single day in 1927, George's new novel paints a picture of Paris between the wars teeming with the creative juices of artists, writers, and musicians. a glittering crucible of genius. But amidst the dazzling creativity of the city's most famous citizens, four regular people are each searching for something they've lost.

Camille was the maid of Marcel Proust, and she has a secret: when she was asked to burn her employer's notebooks, she saved one for herself. Now she is desperate to find it before her betrayal is revealed. Souren, an Armenian refugee, performs puppet shows for children that are nothing like the fairy tales they expect. Lovesick artist Guillaume is down on his luck and running from a debt he cannot repay - but when Gertrude Stein walks into his studio, he wonders if this is the day everything could change. And Jean-Paul is a journalist who tells other people's stories, because his own is too painful to tell.
 
In describing the book for the May IndieNext list, bookseller Betsy Von Kerens from The Bookworm of Omaha in Omaha, Nebraska, wrote: "Alex George has woven a beautiful tapestry of a historical novel in The Paris Hours through four colorful, intertwining threads. Each of the characters will touch your heart with their stories of love, loss, the ravages of war, and their search for answers and a path to pick up the broken pieces of their lives. Lush with descriptions of 1927's Paris and the appearance of many famous cultural figures of the era, The Paris Hours will transport readers to a time and place they will be reluctant to leave until the last unexpected moment."    
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WHY THE COLUMN?
Hi, I'm Hut Landon, and I work as a bookseller in an independent bookstore in BerkeIey, California.

My goal with this newsletter is to keep readers up to date about new books hitting the shelves, share what indie booksellers are recommending in their stores, and pass on occasional news about the book world.

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