What does it take to be the best? That is the question presenters at The Bookworm’s bi-annual Wine and Words event were pondering as they each carefully selected their top five books of the season. And we’re not talking about a limited selection of new releases and best-sellers. We’re talking about books that will move you, shake you and engross you. The event is more than what to read with your book club or bring on summer vacation; it’s that one line of prose that grips your heart, makes you laugh or challenges your soul.
Monday’s event will feature carefully selected titles from Meg Sherman, publisher representative from WW. Norton & Company, Inc.; Christopher Green, Bookworm bookseller; Matt Wickiser, publisher representative from Workman Publishing Company; and Tom Benton, publisher representative from Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
In anticipation of one night with four industry experts, each of the twenty titles to be discussed is preserved in a coveted list leading up to the event. “I always try to guess what our guests will choose as their favorites” said Nicole Magistro, Bookworm co-owner and buyer. “One thing I’ve learned is that book selections really say a lot about a person! I never get all the titles, and there are always surprises on the list - and always something for everyone. Leading up to the event, I have a hard time keeping those surprises a secret, but it’s always worth it for our readers. The night of the event, they take copious notes and hang on every word. I’m sure this time, it will be no different. I can’t wait!”
Here’s a sneak peak of the top-secret book list to be revealed in its entirely at Monday’s event.
“Gulp” by Mary Roach
Meg Sherman goes for the wildly entertaining: “This is Mary Roach’s most outrageous book since ‘Stiff.’ This time she looks at the digestive system. Think: From input to output. Those things that disgust us most are central to life itself. As always, ‘Gulp’ is filled with all of the surreal, bizarre, curious questions that Mary asks, which her readers have come to expect. Quick fun fact: Saliva is antiviral and a potent anti-biotic. It constantly adjusts the pH in your mouth so that acid doesn’t rot your teeth.”
Sherman is based in Colorado Springs, where she’s been in the book industry for 24 years. “I worked at independent bookstores for 15 years and have been repping for Norton for 9 years now. My hobbies include reading, hiking, biking, knitting, and playing European board games (not as unusual as it sounds). I cannot imagine my life without books and nothing makes me happier than having the opportunity to talk about books with other book lovers.”
“A Working Theory of Love” by Scott Hutchins
Christopher Green connects to a story: “This is the story of a chronically single 30-something, which I can identify with. It draws not just on his difficulties with women, but also the complex relationships he has with his parents. It’s a story of coming to terms with the past while building a future. Like life, it’s funny, sad, endearing, and messy. A good theory gets tested, changed, and improved. That’s exactly how I felt after reading this book: tested, changed, and improved.”
Green joined the Bookworm team in November of 2010 and it was love at first shift. “I graduated from Knox College with a degree in Creative Writing in 2002 and after living across the central U.S., found my home in the Vail valley. I am a writer, an avid skier and hiker. I consider myself the champion of the strange and obscure and am quite pleased to offer up suggestions that might otherwise get overlooked.”
“The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World’s Great Drinks” by Amy Stewart
Matt Wickiser indulges in booze and botany: ”In her latest bestselling title, Stewart explores the many ways in which herbs, flowers, trees, fruits, and fungi have evolved over centuries to make the drinks we enjoy today. Cocktails are back in a big fashion, and Stewart shows you from the ground up how to grow and distill agave, corn, rye, and hundreds of other plants, as well as how to grow fresh garnishes for your Manhattan and Martinis. No time to grow? Not a problem. With over 60 homemade recipes all you need is the proper ingredients to create a Bison Grass Cocktail that no one will forget. This book is a must have for anyone with even a fleeting interest in gardening or mixology. Want to be sure you’re the coolest cocktail host on the block? Pick up the coolest book of the Spring.”
Wickiser has worked in publishing for 3 years, and attended the University of Denver Publishing Institute in 2010. “I believe independent bookstores will never go away thanks to passionate buyers and a strong push to support local businesses. In my free time I enjoy reading, hiking with my puppy Luna (a German Shepherd-husky mix), and failing at fly-fishing.”
“A Tale for the Time Being” by Ruth Ozeki
Tom Benton zeros in on shared humanity: “I love it because Ozeki is able to write about such deep and profound subjects as teenage bullying, the Japanese Tsunami, Zen Buddhism, Japan and America during WWII and quantum physics—all of that and more—while still giving us a thoroughly entertaining reading experience. There is so much to discuss, especially the inherent ambiguity of the story, that this will be a fantastic book for book clubs.”
Benton has spent more than two decades in the book business, from publicity in New York to his present position as the Penguin sales rep in Los Angeles. “Despite all the changes in the book business and endless discussion of book formats, I like to keep my focus on the books themselves, always trying to make sure that I am putting the right books in the right hands. There are so many good books being published, as many as ever, and my job is to find readers for those books.”