It’s December, which means it’s time for book reviewers near and far to release their literary “best of” lists, heralding what they think were the best/most important books published in 2015. We don’t do that at Bas Bleu: For starters, we don’t carry books in our catalog unless we think our readers will love them, value them, and enjoy sharing them with others. Plus, many of our books aren’t recently published titles; we love digging up old favorites or spying those literary gems that fly under the radar.
But though we love all of our books, some do resonate more strongly than others with individuals on our staff. So today in the Bluestocking Salon, Bas Bleu’s editors (that’s us above, decked out in our best winter pajamas for a recent photo shoot) are sharing a few of our personal favorites—two books, plus one non-book item—from our 2015 catalogs.
Christie Hall (CH)
The Soul of an Octopus: I’m a sucker (pardon the pun) for animals in general…and the astonishing intelligence and delightful oddities of the octopus that I discovered in this warm and fascinating memoir were absolutely thrilling. The fact that an invertebrate could have so much personality blew me away. Plus, I learned that the plural of octopus is octopuses, not octopi. I used to find octopus tasty…but now that I know how smart and interesting they are, I am resolved to abstain!
7 Minutes to Fit: I love this easy-to-use little manual because it is the first exercise routine that my husband and I have actually stuck with! Just seven minutes a day! Although, to be quite honest, sometimes seven minutes is too much (no judgements, right?) and we only do two or three. But still, it’s better than nothing!
“Live in the Sunshine” Tote: I love the colorful exuberance of this handy tote bag featuring artwork by Ande Cook and a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ande has been creating wonderful covers and merchandise for Bas Bleu for over a decade now and has become a dear friend. Our editors even visit her lovely farm/art studio in the North Georgia mountains now and then to take a break from Atlanta and spend some time with Ande, her sweet dogs, and her beautiful chickens!
Ann Gregory (AG)
The Black-Eyed Blonde: I admit, the only Raymond Chandler I’ve read is The Big Sleep—but I quite enjoyed it, and I really loved Humphrey Bogart’s Philip Marlowe in the movie adaption. But I have read a lot of John Banville (for whom Benjamin Black is a penname), so I knew I would be in good hands with this much-lauded tribute to Chandler’s legendary private eye. Rarely does a literary tribute live up to the original, but Banville/Black is an exquisite wordsmith with a passion for the detective genre, and The Black-Eyed Blonde is a extraordinary achievement…dare I say it’s better than its inspiration?
The Shepherd’s Life: I give my mom lots of books, and, though she reads almost all of them, the truth is that she is rarely enthusiastic about anything. (A common review of a book that I greatly enjoyed: “Well, I finished it.”) This memoir of a modern shepherd in England’s Lake District was a notable exception! She absolutely loved it, finding it both eloquent and fascinating. She actually wrote the review of A Shepherd’s Life for us, so be sure to scour future catalogs for more listings from (KK)…but they’ll likely be few and far between.
Doorway Puppet Theater: When I was a kid, one of my favorite toys was a little puppet theater that I got for Christmas one year. So, as a parent, I was thrilled to come across this handy doorway puppet theater. I pulled it out of our closet recently (it rolls up for storage so nicely!) and my three-year-old daughter and I performed a rousing rendition of the Three Little Pigs for my husband. I’m not sure which of us had more fun! With a little more practice, I think we could be headed to Broadway!
Katherine Giles (KG)
Being Mortal: This often-heartbreaking book by Dr. Atul Gawande takes an insightful look at the culture of aging and death in America. Officially, it resonated with me because I am a rational adult with a reasonably compassionate soul and concerns about the American healthcare system. Unofficially, reading the book left me in a puddle on my couch because of recent losses within my family and my anxiety over a future when my parents need heightened care. Yes, it’s an emotional read, but the insight packed inside is too important to avoid.
The Girls at the Kingfisher Club: When I was a little girl, one of my very favorite fairy tales was “The Twelve Dancing Princesses,” a lesser-known Brothers Grimm’s story that never ceased to enchant me with its magical details. So it’s no wonder I loved this adaptation of the story, set in Prohibition Era New York. This novel is more historical fiction and dramatic family saga than fairy tale, but there is undeniable magic in the spellbinding prose and the complex relationships between the twelve sisters. Fittingly, I passed the book on to my sister, who raced through it just as quickly as I did.
Tutti Frutti Bags: Reusable bags have been en vogue for a while now, but these polyester ones that roll up to fit in my purse—seriously, I keep three in my pocketbook at all times—are the best! Just one of these lightweight sacks can carry an entire Target’s run worth of stuff…or all of the books that have been piling up on my desk. Plus they’ve drastically cut down on the number of plastic bags I use, and the vibrantly colorful patterns garner lots of compliments from cashiers and shoppers.
With Christmas right around the corner, we want to take this opportunity to say “thank you!” to our readers and customers for your support throughout the year. Your enthusiastic love of all things literary makes our jobs worthwhile…and so much fun! Our happiest holiday wishes to you all—and be sure to check back in to the Bluestocking Salon at the end of the month, when we unveil our Winter 2016 reading list!