We’re starting a new feature here at Smart Bitch HQ. I was having a lively email conversation with Billie Bloebaum, who is the book buyer for Powell’s in the Portland airport, and she mentioned how much she enjoyed handselling books she knew were wonderpants but not as widely known as other more prominent bestselling pants.
I mentioned that I’d never had a bookstore employee handsell me a book in a store, and she about fell over. This handselling thing is an art, and with the consolidation of bookstores and the loss of smaller independents, it’s an endangered art. Some bookstore employees are incredibly good at matching your past reading history with newer books or undiscovered treasures. You sometimes find them at indies, and you can also find them at chain bookstores, too. People who are skilled at that art of matching a reader with books she’ll like are lurking among us, and Billie is one of them. Her favorite question: “What’s the last book you read that you really, really loved?”
So, to help her answer that question for more people, we’ve created The Bookmatcher. Folks have written in with their queries, and Billie will recommend books both inside and outside of the romance genre – we are a well-read readership, after all. It’s sort of like the “If you like…” features at DA and AAR, but more specific and more personal. If you’d like to ask for a Book Match, email me at sarahATsmartbitchestrashybooksDOTcom, with “Bookmatcher” in the subject line.
The links in this entry are all coded to Powell’s booksellers, as that’s where Billie works, and is one of the most awesomest independent booksellers.
On to our first query! This reader is not looking for a specific book, but a setting:
“I love books set in rural locales where the landscape is dangerous, and going off alone without preparation can kill you – like the frozen north, the exceptionally hot tropics, that kind of thing. I am not at all a big city fan.
But much of what I find set in, say, Alaska or the rural desolate American west is mystery or suspense. Is there anything else?”
Billie Bloebaum the Bookmatcher says: My first response is to steer this reader in the direction of one Ms. Julia Spencer-Fleming. [Her series begins with In the Bleak Midwinter.] They’re technically mysteries, but romance is at least as important to these novels as is the central crime.
And, my personal guilty pleasure read (which I just recently re-read) Johanna Lindsey’s Silver Angel, though the actual landscape doesn’t play a huge role, it is set in a desert kingdom.
Tempest Rising is a new “urban” fantasy that takes place in a small town in Maine.
What books set in places where the landscape is deadly, inside and outside the romance genre, work for you? And have you ever had a bookseller handsell you a book that you loved?