Into the Indie Bookstore: Authors We Want to Choose Our Next Reads

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S.W. Sondheimer

Staff Writer

When not prying Legos and gaming dice out of her feet, S.W. Sondheimer is a registered nurse at the Department of Therapeutic Misadventures, a herder of genetic descendants, cosplayer, and a fiction and (someday) comics writer. She is a Yinzer by way of New England and Oregon and lives in the glorious 'Burgh with her husband, 2 smaller people, 2 cats, a fish, and a snail. She occasionally tries to grow plants, drinks double-caffeine coffee, and has a habit of rooting for the underdog. It is possible she has a book/comic book problem but has no intention of doing anything about either. Twitter: @SWSondheimer

Happy small business Saturday, everyone! What are you planning on snagging from your favorite indie bookstore today? Uh huh. Cool, cool. Which of those are gifts and which are for you? Oh, they’re all for you? Nice. Mine too. Where are you headed to make those purchases? Planning on flying solo or do you have a shopping companion?

As much as I love wandering the intimate spaces of Nine Stories in Pittsburgh or the towering aisles Beckham’s Bookshop in New Orleans all by my lonesome and responsible to no one, there are times I prefer diving in to the shelves with friends; who knows what you might discover when working in tandem to search for that perfect next read?

Let’s move into fantasy-land for a moment though: if you could go book shopping with anyone, who would it be? Many of you, like many of us here at Book Riot, probably had a favorite author leap to mind. Because if they’re writing stuff you love, there’s a pretty decent probability they’d have some stellar recommendations for that giant TBR pile on the chair next to you that already teeters and slides if someone looks at it funny.

Here are our candidates:

S.W. SondheimerKareem Abdul-Jabbar

Even a brief email correspondence with Abdul-Jabbar, through a PR rep no less, introduced me to several new authors and I’ve enjoyed every one of the recommendations thus far. One was so far outside of my usual wheelhouse there’s no chance I would ever have found it on my own and yet, I adored it so I really can’t see any of Abdul-Jabbar’s recommendations going awry. Shared love of the Sherlock Holmes mythos doesn’t hurt either. Also, he can reach the stuff up on the way top shelves.

Leah Rachel von EssenNeil Gaiman

When I read The View from the Cheap Seats, I had to keep a running list of all the authors that it appeared, I needed to read. They felt like personal recommendations from Gaiman—the books that formed his own writing, the books that inspired him, the authors he loves. It would be way easier to catch up if Gaiman took me book shopping and just made me a pile to get me started.


Elizabeth AllenMary Roach

For someone who can barely do basic math and has no true grasp on scientific methods and theories, I love books about science. As my love for Mary Roach proves, I specifically love books about science that contain a human interest bent and center around a particular theme. I would love to wander around a bookstore with this quick-witted, intellectually curious woman and have her recommend to me what piques her interest.

Carina PereiraNeil Gaiman

I actually think I know exactly what Neil Gaiman would recommend me – a lot of science fiction and comics – and although neither make up my favourite kind of literature, it’s an author I would love to go bookshopping with and I would very likely read everything he recommended. Mostly, I really like listening to the man talk about his love for books, so I would come out of it with a huge TBR pile and a wonderful day filled with new knowledge and wisdom.

Patricia Elzie-TuttleJanet Mock

I imagine that book shopping with Janet Mock would be a life-altering experience. To be honest, I imagine that talking with Janet Mock for 10 minutes would also be a life-altering experience. She seems to be such a brilliant, honest person and I would love to go book shopping with her and hope to learn what books and authors have influenced her life and helped her become the amazing person she is. The books may not work the same for me, but I can dream.

Annika Barranti KleinRoxane Gay

Listen, Roxane Gay is just smarter than me. So much smarter than me. I don’t think our taste in fiction intersects that much, but I think she would probably do more to expand my horizons in a single bookstore trip than all of my best intentions could do in a year. Please tell me what to read, smart lady.



Sophia KhanStephanie Danler

I fell in love with Danler’s writing after reading her debut novel, Sweetbitter. After watching her in interviews and following her on Instagram, I am certain that book shopping with Stephanie would be comparable to a day at the spa. I think I would walk away with a stack full of books with beautiful prose, and a new appreciation for poetry.

Who’s taking you shopping this holiday season? Or, you know, next Tuesday?