Star's Picks: Holiday 2020
For Children, Young Adult, Fiction, Non-fiction and more.
Quarterly Book Recommendations from Star Lowe
former owner and book slinger at Star Line Books
"For five years I had the privilege of owning and operating an indie bookstore
Star Line Books, in Chattanooga Tennessee. I have an insatiable appetite for
books and a fervent need to share them with other readers. I look forward to
continuing to literate my community, via a quarterly supplement, by sharing my latest reads and what new releases I am anticipating."
For All Ages
THE LOST SPELLS
by Robert MacFarlane, illustrated by Jackie Morris, Anansi International Oct. 2020.
"The Lost Spells evokes the wonder of everyday nature, conjuring up red foxes, birch trees, jackdaws, and more in poems and illustrations that flow between the pages and into readers’ minds."
So lovely and perfect a gift to warm the heart of your most reluctant readers.
WHAT IT’S LIKE TO BE A BIRD
by David Allen Sibley, Knopf Apr. 2020.
I’ve been enamored with David since he released THE SIBLEY FIELD GUIDE TO BIRDS in 2000. (I own a first edition-signed copy.) Also, I’ve always wanted the superpower to fly. Win-win.
Young and Young at Heart
ERNESTINE’S MILKY WAY
by Kerry Madden-Lunsford, illustrated by Emily Sutton, Schwartz & Wade Mar 2019.
Nostalgic and simple and regional, this picture book makes for a lovely gift from grandparent to child or vice versa.
WHEN YOU BREATHE
by Diane Farid, illustrated by Billy Renkl, Harry N. Abrams Sept 2020.
Timely and timeless, this picture book is what big lungs and small ones need to inhale right now.
BECOMING A GOOD CREATURE
by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green, HMH for Young Readers Sept 2020.
A child’s companion to a favorite of mine, HOW TO BE A GOOD CREATURE, Sept 2018, this picture book gives lessons learned from creature observations to young audiences.
SKUNK AND BADGER
by Amy Timberlake, illustrated by Jon Klassen, Algonquin Young Readers Sept 2020.
Just trust me on this one. I dare you not to enjoy it as much as the listener.
Middle Grade Readers
THE SILVER ARROW
by Lev Grossman, Little Brown Books for Young Readers Sept 2020.
Oh, to read FROM THE MIXED-UP FILES OF MRS. BASIL E. FRANKWEILER,1968, for the first time as my 11-year-old self. I think this will make a similar impression for lucky middle grade readers. Pure joy!
LOOK BOTH WAYS: A TALE TOLD IN TEN BLOCKS
by Jason Reynolds, Antheneum/Caitlyn Dlouhy Books Oct 2020.
The story takes place on one afternoon following school dismissal, ten walkers home have ten issues to tackle, some big, some small, and what happens is perfect because Jason Reynolds just gets being a kid.
BLACK HEROES OF THE WILD WEST:
Featuring Stagecoach Mary, Bass Reeves, and Bob Lemmons by James Otis Smith and Kadir Nelson, Tor Graphics Sept 2020.
Perfect for the graphic novel reader, this selection blends history and adventure, which can whet the appetite for more reading.
PUNCHING THE AIR
by Ibi Zoboi and Yusef Salaam, Balzer + Bray Sept 2020.
An extremely moving novel in verse about a boy who is wrongfully incarcerated. As co-author Salaam is one of the Exonerated Five, the writing is that much more powerful.
PRELUDE FOR LOST SOULS
by Helene Dunbar, Sourcebooks Fire Aug 2020.
Part ghost story, love story, and mystery, this novel will appeal to YA fans of Maggie Stiefvater. The characters and the atmospheric setting are mesmerizing and haunting. Perfectly moody!
THE LEFT-HANDED BOOKSELLERS OF LONDON
by Garth Nix, Katherine Tegen Books Sept 2020.
That title! When a girl goes searching for her father, and the quest leads her to an extended family of magical fighting booksellers, hold on tight. It’s going to get complicated and good FAST!
ALL ADULTS HERE
by Emma Straub, Riverhead Books May 2020.
“Emma Straub's unique alchemy of wisdom, humor, and insight come together in a deeply satisfying story about adult siblings, aging parents, high school boyfriends, middle school mean girls, the lifelong effects of birth order, and all the other things that follow us into adulthood, whether we like them to or not.” I couldn’t have said this better, so I didn’t.
THE INVISIBLE LIFE OF ADDIE LARUE
by V.E. Schwab, Tor Books Oct 2020.
There is absolutely nothing like it period. If you have a lover of literary fantasy on your list, they will LOVE this book.
by Maggie O’Farrell, Knopf July 2020.
Please refer back to my fall picks, where I gush about this novel. My favorite of the year!
by Helen Macdonald, Grove Press Aug 2020.
She had me at H IS FOR HAWK, 2014. Treat someone special to this collection of essays by one of our most insightful and important nature writers.
WINTERING: THE POWER OF REST AND RETREAT IN DIFFICULT TIMES
by Katherine May, Riverhead Books Nov 2020.
A mixture of memoir and philosophy, May offers comfort and solace, and a reminder that seasons eventually turn. I’ll have what she is having, please.
by Casey Cep, Vintage Sept 2020.
Again, refer to my Fall Picks. I’d give this to any reader who is reluctant to read nonfiction. Just tell them to give it a chance. If anyone can hook ‘em, it’s Casey Cep.
ME AND WHITE SUPREMACY
by Layla F. Saad, Sourcebooks Jan 2020.
We all have work to do. Layla gives us the tools we need to change ourselves. The time is now.
by Rupi Kaur, Andrew Mc Meel Publishing Nov 2020.
The highly anticipated third collection from the poet who put poetry on the NYTBestseller List. Need I say more.
A MARY OLIVER COLLECTION: A THOUSAND MORNINGS, DOG SONGS, BLUE HORSES, AND FELICITY
by Mary Oliver, Penguin Books Nov 2020.
Four of my favorite collections packaged together for the first time!
THIS WILL MAKE IT TASTE GOOD: A New Path to Simple Cooking
by Vivian Howard, Voracious Oct 2020.
I’m keeping it simple, and letting it Vivian’s bountiful food wisdom do the talkin
OUR LADY OF PERPETUAL HUNGER: A MEMOIR
by Lisa Donovan, Penguin Press Aug 2020.
"Our Lady of Perpetual Hunger is more than the story of a woman who finds her own voice in the patriarchal world of professional cooking. It’s also the story of making a life — a life of love, of community, of commitment to the flame of creativity that somehow manages to burn against all odds. Lisa Donovan has written nothing less than the story of making a life in our times.” —Margaret Renkl, author of Late Migrations
I Adore Margaret and her wordsmithery, so take her word/s for it.
Books for people who LOVE books
THE CALL ME ISHMAEL PHONEBOOK
by Logan Smalley and Stephanie Kent, Avid Reader Press/Simon&Schuster Oct 2020.
Quirky, nostalgic, and full of heart, The Call Me Ishmael Phone Book is a love letter to the stories that change us, connect us, and make us human.
They said it, and I concur.
THE WRITER’S LIBRARY
by Nancy Pearl and Jeff Schwager, HarperOne Sept 2020.
Oh to be Nancy and Jeff, and get to talk books with whilst wondering through the libraries and studies and bookstores of twenty-three of today’s literary legends. It’s a hard life, but someone’s got to live it.