Ulrika's Favorite Books and Gifts of 2016

Article by Ulrika

It’s that time again when everyone is compiling top ten lists for 2016. As Brazos Bookstore’s gift buyer, my lists usually center on my favorite gift items of the year. However, this year, I have decided to mix it up a bit. This is a combination of my favorite gift items along with some of the best books that I read this year. This list isn’t in chronological order; it’s just ten of my favorite gifts and books of the year.

The Vegetarian Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101906118
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth Press - August 23rd, 2016

This novel was originally published in Korea in three separate novellas then compiled into a novel. THE VEGETARIAN is a daring book that focuses on its central character from three different points of view. It begins when she forsakes meat, and the novel follows her descent into madness. You will have feelings of shock, unease, and wonder. It will grip you from the first page to the last.

The Natural Way of Things Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609453626
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - June 28th, 2016

There are novels that take you to places you don’t want to forget, as well as books that never leave you. THE NATURAL WAY OF THINGS is one such book. It takes the reader through a rural dystopia (the Australian outback) that leaves one in disbelief. Each female character has been kidnapped by two men. Imprisoned, they are marked for their own public scandal, a link that eventually binds them together. Scandal might link them in the beginning, but determination is the sole reason for their survival. When discussing this book with others who’ve read it, I’ve heard it rightly described as a mix of Margaret Atwood’s THE HANDMAID'S TALE and William Golding’s THE LORD OF THE FLIES.

American Housewife Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101970997
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Anchor Books - October 18th, 2016

I usually don’t read collections of short stories, but working in a bookstore, there are times that you see a book and find yourself picking it up over and over again. This was true of Helen Ellis’ collection of short stories, AMERICAN HOUSEWIVES. This collection is laugh-out-loud funny, packed with dark and twisted tales ranging from a reality show with celebrity antique hunters, to best bra fitter of the South, to a book club that is more (much more) than a book club. It is an commentary on the dark, at times unsettling, world of womanhood and domesticity.

Quiet Creature on the Corner Cover Image
By Joao Gilberto Noll, Adam Morris (Translator)
ISBN: 9781931883511
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Two Lines Press - May 10th, 2016

One of Brazil’s most celebrated author’s delivers a spare and surreal novel surrounding a young unemployed poet, Kurt, who, after being placed in jail for an unseeable act, is released into another kind of captivity. Is this new captivity better or worse than the earlier one? The poet is unsure what exactly is being asked of him. Moving through this novel, one wonders if we'll ever know why his new captors took him from jail, why Kurt is aging so quickly, and whether he will be lost forever in this new life.

Justine (Danish Women Writers) Cover Image
By Iben Mondrup, Kerri A. Pierce (Translator)
ISBN: 9781940953489
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Open Letter - November 15th, 2016

Isben Mondrup’s novel JUSTINE starts from the end while working its way to the beginning. The story unfolds in flashbacks and fragmented memories, focusing on her time at the Art Academy, her influential grandfather, friends, and lovers, both long-term and short term. Mondrup was trained as a visual artist at the Royal Academy of Art, and her take on the creative process, regardless of discipline, is illuminating. The feelings of having your work shown, as well as being a woman, carries a lot of weight in this novel. JUSTINE is dark, erotic and stunning; uneasy at times, but a book I was unable to put down.

SKU: LamyG

To say that I have a love for all things fountain pens would be an understatement. I’m the person who went out and purchased other pens just in case someone needed to borrow a pen from me. For the past year I have been on a quest to find a reasonably priced gold fountain pen and, to my surprise, just this year, Lamy released the Lamy LX with a matching anodized aluminium case. As with all Lamy pens, the German craftsmanship is impeccable. The Lamy LX has an aluminium anodized finish with a metal clip feature that is the same color as the fountain pen. 

SKU: 846680044251

Anything that can also hold something else always is a personal favorite. I first came across Poppin a year and half ago at the Las Vegas Summer Market, and we just began carrying their products this year. As metallics have gained more popularity over the past few years, we rarely find them in the darker tones, so I wanted to highlight this great color. One of the great features of Poppin’s pencil pouch is that is can be more than just a carrying case for your writing utensils. The interior is fully lined in cotton with a contrasting pop of color that brings an added touch of class to the pouch. The metallic exterior is durable and water-repellent. We also have the pencil pouches in gold and copper.

SKU: 4895169100809

I first fell in love with these recycled leather totes last year. At the time I wasn’t sure about carrying them in the store. Personally I love bags: handbags, tote bags, and really anything that can carrying something else. These totes are made from recycled leather, which is easier to clean and more durable. The leather is sturdy and stands on its own when placing your items in it, hence it won’t fold over on itself. It has a flat bottom which makes it great for carrying a laptop or paperwork. It has an interior zipper pocket along with a side pocket for storage of smaller items you might need to carry. This is definitely one of my favorite, if not very favorite, items of the year. Sadly, I still can’t figure out which one I want to add to my collection.

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