Christmas and a new year are just around the corner, which means book reviewers everywhere are releasing their literary “best of” lists for 2018. Bas Bleu‘s annual Editors’ Choice list is a little bit different, because Bas Bleu is a little bit different. 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 our staff. Today in the Bluestocking Salon, Bas Bleu’s editors (that’s us, above) are sharing a few of our personal favorites from our 2018 catalogs. These aren’t all of our top picks: We limited each other to two books and one non-book item, for the sake of brevity!
Christie Hall (CH)
Shepherdess of Elk River Valley: I’m so thrilled that we were able to bring this book back into print! Margaret Duncan Brown’s memoir is so full of courage and grace that I felt like a stronger, wiser person just for having read it!
Crane Pond: This profoundly affecting and extremely well written historical fiction offered a view of the Salem Witch Trials from the perspective of one of the judges. It’s a fascinating character study and a true page turner!
Collective Noun Coasters: “A prickle of hedgehogs,” “a squabble of seagulls,” “a scurry of squirrels”…these delightfully amusing coasters from Scotland feature two of my favorite things: clever wordplay and adorable animals!
Ann Gregory (AG)
Time Is a Killer: I love the way this modern French noir novel straddled the genres of crime and literary fiction. The characters and setting were so well rendered that I was willing to suspend all disbelief and get lost in the twisty, beguiling mystery that unfolds gradually through this slow-burning novel.
The Art of the Wasted Day: This unusual memoir/travelogue/history about leisure was a breath of fresh air to this busy, smartphone-addicted mother. Sharp and poignant, it’s a compelling invitation to slow down, unplug, and embrace idle thoughtfulness.
Literary Fortune Cookies: These unique little treats steal the show at book clubs and dinner parties! The snippets of bookish wisdom found inside each little cookie actually offer great advice, too.
Katherine Giles (KG)
The Shadow Land: I was impressed by how seamlessly this compelling novel wove together history (I knew nothing about Bulgaria before reading this), drama, character development, and personal reflection…all of which remained perfectly balanced even after the author began dropping foreboding hints about an unseen villain!
The Light of the World: Memoirs about grief aren’t usually considered “must reads,” but this one from poet Elizabeth Alexander bowled me over—in a good way! Yes, the sudden, premature death of her husband was devastating (I cried at least a dozen times). but Alexander’s beautiful writing and depth of feeling resulted in a book that’s an unforgettable celebration of love, family, and a well-lived life.
Empathy Cards: The past few years have been rough ones for several people I love—grief, chronic illness, divorce—so I literally keep stacks of Emily McDowell’s empathy cards on hand, ready to drop in the mail to a friend as a reminder that I care about her and I haven’t forgotten her struggle. These cards manage to say just the right thing when I am at a loss for words.
Sarah Madsen (SM)
The 7½ Deaths of Evelyn Hardcastle: This complex, twisty mystery with a unique supernatural element kept me guessing until the shocking end. Delving into deep questions about the human condition and what it means to forgive, this brilliant novel left me absolutely spellbound.
Impossible Saints: This was a remarkably engaging debut novel about two seemingly disparate people in early nineteenth-century England dealing with the ramifications of the woman’s suffrage movement, and it showed how messy and complicated and wonderful people can be when their beliefs are challenged.
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