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Shelf Talkers: Under the Tree 2016!

It’s as seasonally inevitable as the need for warm gloves and the appearance of twinkling lights: every year, as December hits, readers are inundated with a flood of lists, each proclaiming The Best Books of the Year. It seems like everyone gets in on the game: journalists, writers, celebrities, newspapers, magazines... Everyone, it seems, except those folks who know the books best, the booksellers.

Sure, you might occasionally find a Best Of list featuring a token bookseller, but they are largely overlooked. Which, as I have mentioned before, is ridiculous. Who better to be able to winnow the thousands of books published each year down to a list (or a single pick) than those people who spend their lives literally surrounded by books?

Of course, a lot of booksellers do provide lists, for their customers. They may not appear in the newspaper or in a magazine, but across the country there are table displays and printed sheets, featured shelves and, you guessed it, shelf talkers.

Which is terrific. A good independent bookseller is worth their weight in gold, an invaluable resource when it comes to your next great read, or in finding the perfect gift.

But geography has a sad role to play. It would be nearly impossible to visit every bookseller in this country (though if I had a bucket list, that would surely be on it).

Thankfully, you have the booksellers of the Shelf Talker community to turn to, a country’s worth of erudite, well-read bibliophiles who have, this month, provided t …

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The Recommend: September 2016

Research shows that most of the books we read are the result of one thing: someone we know, trust, and/or admire tells us it's great. That's why we run this series, The Recommend, where readers, writers, reviewers, bloggers, and others tell us about a book they'd recommend to a good friend ... and why.

This month we're pleased to present the picks of authors Caroline Adderson (Ellen in Pieces), Kate Taylor (Serial Monogamy), Edeet Ravel (The Saver), Anna Leventhal (Sweet Affliction), and Shari Lapeña (The Couple Next Door).

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Caroline Adderson recommends Kerry Lee Powell’s Willem de Kooning’s Paintbrush

Set in grody strip clubs and greasy spoons, peopled with “tramps and lunatics,” “an assortment of creeps and lowlifes with bad breath,” battered girlfriends, and Soviet-scarred chamber maids, this energetic collection presents a “raw humanity defiantly festive in the face of poverty and despair.” Powell, also a poet, is a painterly prose writer, not just in her many references to visual art, but her gorgeous images. One character lives alone in a sagging house “surrounded by the upturned scarabs of old snowmobiles.” A husband lurking in a dark corner is “filleted by shadows from the Venetian blinds.” But what makes this book so striking i …

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