These days I’ve been spending much of my blogging time working on the book store blog to try to keep business going so I have a job to return to once this is all over. I had a lot of fun putting the following post together last week and when I was wracking my brain for what to post today, I figured it worked for my Bookish Tuesday post – I hope you’ll enjoy it!
After traveling to Scotland for the first time in 2018 and returning in January 2019 for a longer road trip, traveling from Edinburgh to Orkney (the first set of islands off the northern coast) and back, I’ve become obsessed with all thing Scotland. Now any time a book comes through the store that has anything to do with the gorgeous country, I’m sure to grab it! After months of saying I wanted a book set in Scotland other than Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander, on the recommendation of a customer whose tastes are similar to mine, I decided to give it a go.
The Enigma Game is the latest in the Verity series by Elizabeth Wein and will be released in May and is also a WWII book. The Lost Queen is the first of a planned trilogy and is inspired by Arthurian legend. And Outlander is a modern classic tale of love and time travel between post-WWII Britain and Jacobite Scotland.
For as long as I can remember I have been fascinated by Amelia Earhart and my obsession with female aviators just blossomed from there, particularly as I learned about the women who ferried planes during WWII and the Night Witches of the Soviet armed services.
The Unwomanly Face of War is an oral history of the Soviet Women who served during WWII. Fly Girls is about Amelia Earhart and her contemporaries. Code Name Verity is the story of two best friends, one spy, one pilot, in occupied France during WWII.
Sports (especially ice hockey)
I grew up skating and shooting around a puck on the ice and on the floor and may or may not have intentionally started a goalie fight during floor hockey in high school gym class… I’ve always been an avid sports fan, but nothing is as near and dear to me as the greatest winter sport, played on a sheet of ice.
A Team of Their Own is about the united Korean women’s ice hockey team’s journey to the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics. The Boys of Winter is the story of the 1980 US men’s Olympic hockey team and the Miracle on Ice moment. Women in Sports features women across all sports and the page on my personal hero, Manon Rheaume, actually made me cry happy tears. Michigan vs. the Boys is the YA book I wish I had had growing up.
WWII (both fiction and nonfiction)
I’ve always had a deep fascination with WWII (for more on that, please visit my personal book blog), but these are just a few of my favorites and span all ages from elementary school through adult fiction and nonfiction.
Molly was one of my favorite American Girls and I’m glad her books have been repackaged so they are still available to readers today. A Brief History of Montmaray is one of my all-time favorite books and the first in a series. The Nightingale really does live up to all the hype. Salt to the Sea offers an often overlooked perspective on the war and is told in alternating viewpoints. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society bounces back and forth in time and is written entirely in letters. And D-Day Girls is a great look at the French-British women who were spies in occupied France in the lead up to D-Day.
Peter Pan has long been a favorite book of mine and started my deep and abiding fascination with piracy. Each of these books features pirates in some manner.
Peter Pan gave us the infamous Captain Hook and Peter and the Starcatchers builds upon that story. Cinnamon and Gunpowder introduces the world to my all time favorite female pirate, Mad Hannah Mabbot. A Darker Shade of Magic and Nevernight lack pirates in them, but the later books in both series heavily feature pirates. The Lady’s Guide to Petticoats and Piracy is a wonderful store favorite. Pirate Women is a nonfiction book of short bios about female pirates and Empire of Blue Water is all about Captain Morgan!
As a classically trained violist (and cellist, and pianist…) and composer and arranger, and avid WRTI listener, I love books that predominantly feature music and musicians within their pages.
Station Eleven is a favorite book of Marielle’s as well, and features a roaming troupe of musicians in the US post apocalyptic epidemic. City of Dark Magic features the music of one of my favorite composers, Beethoven, and also features a main character named Sarah! The Kingdom of Back is a new favorite and Marie Lu’s newest about Mozart’s sister. The Music Shop is a great work of modern millennial fiction. The Infernal Devices trilogy features one of my favorite violin playing characters in Jem, and Musicophilia is my favorite Oliver Sacks book.
Authors (& Characters) Named Sarah
Selfish, I know, but I will pick up and read a book strictly because the author is named Sarah or because the main character is named Sarah, like in City of Dark Magic. And hey, I never would have read Throne of Glass before the rest of the world became obsessed with it if it wasn’t written by a fellow Sarah. (Also, I steer away from books written people who share my name but spell it incorrectly. And yes I know it’s petty, but I can’t help it.)
Throne of Glass is my all-time favorite fantasy series and I’m actually watching a Sarah J. Maas live stream while writing this. The Girl Who Chase the Moon is a lovely contemporary novel of magical realism. Upside-Down Magic is a great middle grade series about accepting yourself. And Calm the F*ck Down is an incredibly unhelpful self-help book, but for some reason I still enjoyed reading it.
I’ve always been a bit of a royalty nut, as a little kid it was probably because of all the Disney movies and as a teenage it was because I thought Prince Harry was hot. But as an adult, my love of royalty has stuck around and inspired much of my own writing as well. The first four are nonfiction, the second set of four are fiction.
Rejected Princesses is by a former Dreamworks animator and is one of my all-time favorite compilations of mini-bios. Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret by Craig Brown is part bio, part parody of Elizabeth II’s little sister. The Crown: The Official Companion is the nonfiction companion to the fictionalized show. Princesses Behaving Badly is another mini-bio compilation. The Royal We is pretty much Kate & Wills fanfic, The Royal Runaway is also set in Scotland and great lighthearted read, Royally Matched is more than just a steamy new adult book (and Prince Harry fanfic), and of course, the classic Princess Diaries.
Books About Books
As a bookseller, I absolutely love books about books! These are just a few of my favorites.
The Bookshop on the Corner is also set in Scotland and is about a young millennial bookseller. Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore is party mystery, part ’80s nostalgia and is a favorite of retired bookstore owner PK and myself. The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry is about a bookseller on a Martha’s Vineyard type island. The Book Thief is a favorite WWII novel of mine and is the closest I will come to understanding my grandmother’s experience in Germany during WWII. The Diary of a Bookseller is the actual diary of Scottish bookseller Shaun Bythell, and Word by Word is all about the life of dictionaries!
Last, but not least, I love books about Vikings and my own novel that I’ve been working on for years is about vikings. And dragons. And pirates. And generally badass women. And Scotland plays a part. It’s got so many of my favorite things.
The Last Kingdom I read after starting to watch the series and I have enjoyed the books more than the show. Eaters of the Dead is a Beowulf retelling and the basis for the movie Thirteenth Warrior. Orkneyinga Saga I read before going to Scotland last year and it is a great (almost) first person account of the vikings experiences in the north of Scotland.