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 Weekly Words about New Books in
Independent Bookstores

October 13, 2019

Return of a Beloved Fictional Character and a Memoir of an Inspiring Human Rights Leader

Olive, Again by Elizabeth Strout. A decade ago, Strout's Olive Kitteridge won the 2008 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. Her linked stories offered up a hard-to-forget portrait of of a prickly retired schoolteacher living in the small town of Crosby, Maine. Olive wasn't necessarily someone you want to be friends with, but you couldn't wait to read what she'd do next, and her character captured a generation of readers. Strout then proved she wasn't a one-trick pony by writing several subsequent well received novels, including The Burgess Boys and My Name Is Lucy Barton. But, such success notwithstanding, Strout noted that "It turns out, 
I just wasn't done with Olive. It was like she kept poking me in the ribs, so I finally said 'Okay, okay...' "
 
And so, the irascible, crusty, and surprisingly empathetic Olive Kitteridge has returned to poke into her neighbors' lives and decipher her own in another collection of 13 stories about ordinary people woven into one extraordinary novel. In addition to several starred reviews, Olive, Again was an Indie Next pick for October; here's one enthusiastic independent bookseller's view of the book:  
 
"Thank goodness Elizabeth Strout decided to return for another round with one of the most beloved, maddening, confounding, and compelling characters I have ever had the pleasure of meeting. Readers will delight in the fact that Olive, while forging new relationships and puzzling over long-existing ones, remains the crazy, complicated family member you just can't quit. Add in spare yet beautifully rendered prose about the rugged, breathtaking state of Maine and you've got a gem of a book, one that leaves you rooting for Olive, despite her numerous shortcomings, as she stumbles through love, friendship, loss, and what it means to grow old. Strout, through Olive, reminds us that it's a messy business being human, but it's a privilege to be along for the ride."
- Page Berger, Barrett Bookstore, Darien, CT
   
 

The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power. Widely known as a relentless advocate for promoting human rights, Power has been heralded by President Obama as one of America's "foremost thinkers on foreign policy. In her new motivational memoir, Power blends her personal and political life in tracing a distinctly American journey - Dublin childhood to immigrant to war correspondent to presidential Cabinet official. In 2005, her critiques of US foreign policy caught the eye of newly elected senator Barack Obama, who invited her to work with him on Capitol Hill. After Obama was elected president, Power went from being an activist outsider to a government insider, navigating the halls of power while trying to put her ideals into practice. She served for four years as Obama's human rights adviser, and in 2013, he named her US Ambassador to the United Nations, the youngest American to assume the role. Power effortlessly transports readers from her childhood in Dublin to the White House Situation Room and the world of high-stakes diplomacy. Along the way, she illuminates the intricacies of politics and geopolitics, reminding us how the United States can lead in the world.   
 
Among the fans of The Education of an Idealist is noted historian Doris Kearns Goodwin, who wrote: "Samantha Power's captivating memoir is a rare and intimate revelation of the inner workings of international diplomacy as well as a heartening beacon of a book for young women and men everywhere. Its stories of dignity, kindness, empathy, and inclusiveness are needed today as never before."  
Fourth Harry Potter  Illustrated Gift Edition  
Has Arrived 
    
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire: The Illustrated Edition by J.K. Rowling, illustrated by Jim Kay. After a two-year wait, the fourth installment of the beautifully illustrated editions of the Harry Potter series is now on independent bookstore shelves. As with the first three, British artist Jim Kay provides the striking images that complement the continuing story of the extraordinary Potter, now 14, who joins the Weasleys at the Quidditch World Cup, then enters his fourth year at Hogwarts Academy. Kay's gorgeous work attracted the attention of the New York Times Book Review, which wrote: "Kay's illustrations, freshly re-envisioning the story, range from spot images to dramatic double page spreads, all pulsating with color and vitality."
 
This series has become increasingly popular with each installment, so I wouldn't be surprised if supplies run short in some stores as December 25th approaches. In other words, don't wait too long if you're interested. Also, if you're new to these books and find them appealing, there is a boxed set of the first three titles available. Not every store will have it on hand, but it's easily and quickly orderable - at least for now.  
WHERE TO FIND 
AN INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORE

Many of you already have a favorite local bookstore, but for those of you without such a relationship, you can click here to find the
nearest indie bookstore by simply entering your postal code.  

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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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