Staff Picks

Wendy Recommends Pandemic Reads 4/14/20

Hello out there! I’m checking in from where I am hunkered down in the boonies. Today I am launching my blog, Wendy Recommends:  Originally, I was going to talk mostly about mysteries, and I will go there in future posts. However, in light of what’s happening in the world I want to recommend some of my favorite post-apocalyptic novels. Some are classics and some newer, but all are wonderful reads! You’ll see the recurring theme of world destruction (lotsa pandemics), but all of these treat the subject matter in unique and inventive ways. They are in no particular order.

A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter Miller

     Many years after civilization has crumbled, Brother Francis of the Albertian Order of Leibowitz tends the sacred relics of the blessed blueprint and the sacred shopping list.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

            A vampire apocalypse causes society’s downfall, but one of the original twelve victims might just save the world.

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank

            After a nuclear strike kills millions, neighbors in a small Florida town try to heal themselves and restore civilization.

Fever by Deon Meyer

            A father and son try to build a community after a virus sweeps the world.

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

             When a virulent flu destroys civilization, survivors cope with the aftermath in unusual and creative ways.

The Stand by Stephen King

            99% of the world’s population is wiped out by a flu, so survivors band together, even as an evil cult leader tries to take over.

I am Legend by Richard Matheson

            The last human survivor of a New York City plague tries to stay alive and find a cure.

The Dog Stars by Peter Heller

            A lone flu survivor in rural Colorado flies his 1956 Cessna, hangs out with his dog, and looks for hope and a future.

The Postman by David Brin

            Years after a devastating war, a wanderer comes upon an old postal worker jacket, and a new vocation is born.

Zone One by Colson Whitehead (Right? Who knew?)

            After a pandemic, soldiers in New York City are tasked with clearing out the remaining zombies in lower Manhattan.

The Last Policeman by Ben Winters

            In the days leading up to an asteroid strike destined to destroy the world, most people go nuts, but one policeman tries to just do his job. (Technically not a post-apocalyptic novel, but so what?)

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The Booksellers of Country Bookshelf Recommend

We recently partnered with Harper Collins and went LIVE on Facebook with some of our booksellers favorite recommendations and books to handsell. If you missed it live, you can check out the video here.

We kicked things off with some important Bozeman books - including the One Book One Bozeman pick The Weight of an Infinite Sky by Montana Author Carrie La Seur. Keep an eye out for more events tied to this book and make sure you book club adds it to your rotation. We also highlighted one of our Children’s Festival of the Book authors, Brian Floca and his book Moonshot, since this year is the fiftieth anniversary of the lunar landing. Floca will be joined by Caldecott winner Sophia Blackall and Montana Author Susan Adrian. Visit the Children’s Festival of the Book website for more details. 

Our mystery maven Wendy jumped in with two of her favorite fall books - The Chestnut Man by Soren Sviestrup, which Wendy calls a great chilling Scandanavian thriller. Wendy also loved Tim Egan’s newest book A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith about his travels along the Via Francigena. 

Harry was prepared for “Spook-tober” with his recommendations - The Saturday Night Ghost Club, Undead Girl Gang, and The Cosmology of Monsters. He also had two graphic novel recommendations for you - Maestros and Fairlady. 

Non-fiction fan Kaycee took us to the True Crime section, recommending I’ll Be Gone in the Dark, Chase Darkness With Me, Savage Appetites, and the new adult horror title from Stephen Chbosky Imaginary Friend. 

Not to be outdone, Kasey jumped in with some of her favorite recommendations, including Name of the Wind - a perennial staff favorite, and the work of Otessa Mosfegh - which she brought to our Book Club in July with My Year of Rest and Relaxation. 

Finally, Jessica closed us out with some of her favorites, including Lady Derring Takes a Lover from our new romance section, The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo, Braiding Sweetgrass (which you won’t be able to get her to be quiet about), and her favorite book of the year, Gideon the Ninth.

Obviously we love talking about books, so we hope you’ll ask our staff for their recommendations on your next favorite read.

 

Books: 
Staff Pick Badge
The Chestnut Man: A Novel Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062895363
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - September 3rd, 2019

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A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780735225237
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking - October 15th, 2019

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The Saturday Night Ghost Club: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143133933
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Penguin Books - July 9th, 2019

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Undead Girl Gang Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780451478245
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Razorbill - May 14th, 2019

Staff Pick Badge
A Cosmology of Monsters: A Novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781524747671
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Pantheon - September 17th, 2019

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Maestros Volume 1 Cover Image
By Steve Skroce, Steve Skroce (Artist)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781534306738
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Image Comics - November 6th, 2018

Fairlady Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781534313316
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Image Comics - September 17th, 2019

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I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer Cover Image
By Michelle McNamara, Gillian Flynn (Introduction by), Patton Oswalt (Afterword by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062319791
Availability: Backordered
Published: Harper Perennial - February 26th, 2019

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Chase Darkness with Me: How One True-Crime Writer Started Solving Murders Cover Image
By Billy Jensen, Karen Kilgariff (Foreword by)
$25.99
ISBN: 9781492685852
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Sourcebooks - August 13th, 2019

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Savage Appetites: Four True Stories of Women, Crime, and Obsession Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501188886
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - August 20th, 2019

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Imaginary Friend Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781538731338
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Grand Central Publishing - October 1st, 2019

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780756404741
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: DAW - April 1st, 2008

My Year of Rest and Relaxation: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525522133
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Penguin Books - June 25th, 2019

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Lady Derring Takes a Lover: The Palace of Rogues Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062867469
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Avon - February 26th, 2019

The Poet X Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062662804
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Quill Tree Books - March 6th, 2018

Staff Pick Badge
Braiding Sweetgrass Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781571313560
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 1st, 2014

Staff Pick Badge
Gideon the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy #1) Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9781250313195
Availability: On Our Shelves as of 9am Today
Published: Tor.com - September 10th, 2019

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Q&A with Pete Fromm for A Job You Mostly Won't Know How to Do

We are very excited to welcome Pete Fromm back to the Country Bookshelf on June 11th for his new novel - A Job You Mostly Won’t Know How to Do. Bookseller Wendy Blake loved it:

Marnie and Taz have it all-they love, laugh and work together, sneak off to swim at their secret spot, and now they are starting a family. But Marnie dies in childbirth, leaving Taz to cope with his incredible loss...and his new baby daughter. Following Taz's sometimes bumbling first two years as a father, I found myself laughing and crying on the same page. Pete Fromm writes so beautifully about the confusing mix of grief and love, and what being a family really means.

Wendy had a couple questions for Pete:

Wendy Blake: The river scenes first with Marnie and later with Midge are so wonderful! Can you tell us about your favorite rivers and how they wove their way into the book?

Pete Fromm: Some of my favorite rivers? Oh boy. I was a river ranger on the Snake in Grand Teton National Park for six years, floating it nearly every day, so that one's right up there, and even figured in my last novel, If Not for This. Another season on the Rio Grande, in Big Bend NP. A winter on the Selway. Countless trips on the Blackfoot, Bitterroot, Missouri, Smith, some on the Flatheads, Madison, Yellowstone, Salmon, Wind, Green. Really it gets ridiculous, but rivers have been a huge part of my life, so much so, that when Taz and Marnie found their perfect swimming hole it really became parts of several favorites of mine from Montana, Idaho and even Texas.

WB: Parenting is, of course, the “job” of the title. You are a parent…is Taz you or is his parenting style different than yours? Also, are Elmo and Rudy also Midge’s “parents” in a way?

PF: No, Taz is not me. You find out pretty quickly that you're not interesting enough to become your characters. But, I did spend many, many nights without much sleep when our sons were young, so it wasn't hard to go into those details, or to find ways for Taz to spend time with Midge, wonder on what he should be doing, what he might be doing wrong. Maybe Taz and I both leaned toward the edge of raising feral children.

And of course Elmo becomes very much a parent to Midge, and Rudy too, speaking of feral parenting.

WB: How did Marnie’s dying in childbirth, leaving Taz as the sole parent become a part of the plot? Did someone you know have that experience? Also, tell us about having Marnie’s voice continue in the book, helping Taz even after her death.

PF: This whole story actually began with a student slapping me in the chest with a copy of Glimmer Train magazine, telling me to read "The Hospital," by Silas Dent Zobel, and then tell him if was a sap for crying. He wasn't. A very moving story of a man whose wife dies in childbirth, it ends with the father taking his first step out of the hospital with this new baby. It was the right end for the story, but I thought, Wow, that's really just the beginning for a much bigger story. So, the next day I started Taz's story; a semi-employed carpenter walking into the half-demolished fixer upper he and his wife had been renovating, alone with this newborn, no idea how to make one move forward. I thought it would be a story of Taz raising this child alone, but almost immediately his best friend showed up to help, making me realize that he was not alone, that none of us really are. More people showed up, family, friends, and, yes, even his wife, not in any ghostly way, but just Taz still so close to her that he could imagine (hear?) what she would say to him from time to time. It acts as another way to show how he is not really as alone as he thought at the outset.

Join us for more from Pete Fromm on Tuesday, June 11th at 6pm. Don’t forget to get your exclusive signed edition, available only at Country Bookshelf.

 
Books: 

Q&A with Grady Hendrix

Country Bookshelf's horror officianado Harry took a moment to chat with author Grady Hendrix about his newest title We Sold Our Souls

Harry: You're obviously a relative expert on Horror fiction. What is it about the genre that drew you to it? 

Grady: I’m not an expert on anything, but that’s nice of you to say. I never read much horror as a kid because the covers scared me too much, but as I got older I found myself going back to horror again and again because it’s the one genre that deals with death, and death is what gives our lives meaning. So to me, it’s kind of the only genre that matters.

 

H: My Best Friend's Exorcism had songs as chapter titles and We Sold Our Souls is all about metal. Do you have a background in music? Do you play an instrument? Do you have a favorite genre?

G: I am about as musical as a brick, but music saved my life in high school. Being able to listen to music while driving to school was what got me through my day, and that feeling has lasted my entire life. I have huge emotional reactions to some songs and I’m an ugly crier, so I’m sure there are people on the subway who look at this red-faced crybaby wearing earbuds and rapidly move away. I’ve never played an instrument, or at least not in a way that wasn’t considered a crime in some states, but I did take a few months of guitar lessons while writing We Sold Our Souls because my main character played guitar and I needed to know what that felt like.

 

H: Is there a type of horror story that you prefer over others? Do you prefer something psychological or supernatural? 

G: I’ll take horror in all shapes and sizes. While writing Paperbacks from Hell, my history of the horror paperback boom of the Seventies and Eighties, I read hundreds of horror paperbacks I never would have otherwise touched and I found so many books I loved that I’ve learned not to have standards. Life’s more fun when you have no taste.

 

H: What's your process for making something scary? Is there any personal experience involved?

G: Writing is all about personal experience. We Sold Our Souls was a deeply personal book full of things that really happened to me — living on the road for a while, finding a dead body in a cemetery, arriving at Las Vegas late at night, eating in parking lots, feeling trapped in a bad contract, being broke, working miserable jobs. But writing also has the reverse effect: focusing on a book so hard for so long (it takes me about 6 months to write a novel) and the book begins to warp your life. You find things you write about happening in reality. You see parallels between the book and what’s going on around you. Emotionally, We Sold Our Souls is a really bleak book and I sunk into a bad depression while writing it. Getting my main character, Kris Pulaski, through all that horror and despair was how I got myself through it, too.

 

H: What's your favorite horror story? Book, movie, anything.

G: I’m going to change the question a little: one of my favorite books of all time, and one not enough people talk about, is Charles Portis’s True Grit. I re-read it every couple of years and as far as I’m concerned it’s the Great American Novel. Sure, Huckleberry Finn was the Great American Novel of the 19th century, but True Grit is the Great American Novel of the 20th century. It’s a hard-edged Western, narrated by a fourteen-year-old girl, and it’s all about how we needed tough people to build our country, but once they’ve done their job and made the world safe for rules, and banks, and law and order, we don’t need them anymore and they kind of embarrass us a little bit. It’s also very, very funny.

Harry praised We Sold Our Souls - on sale Tuesday, 9/18 - saying: "Harry praised the book, saying "At first I was like this isn't as good as My Best Friend's Exorcism, and then I got into and I was like 'This book rocks!' Grady Hendrix is a genius and I will never doubt him again!" Harry chatted with Grady about the book on our blog, check out this highlight." Pre-order your copy today and let's get metal!

Books: 
We Sold Our Souls: A Novel Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781683690122
Availability: Backordered
Published: Quirk Books - September 18th, 2018

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