Quarantine Reads: What KC’s independent booksellers recommend 

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Piles and piles. // Photo by Brock Wilbur

With Kansas City’s state of emergency in effect until May 15, it remains important to find both ways to stay entertained and to support local businesses. The Pitch caught up with owners and employees at a few of the city’s independent bookstores to hear their recommendations. Of course, they also shared the best methods for getting these reads from their store to your shelf. 

Dylan Pyles, manager at Wise Blood Booksellers in Westport

His stay-at-home reading recs: There’s a rich pandemic tradition in fiction, so anyone who wants to soak in the strangeness of this time through literature might check out Emily St. John Mandel’s ‘Station Eleven’ or Ling Ma’s ‘Severance. Don DeLillo’s ‘White Noise’ isn’t necessarily a pandemic book, but uses dark comedy to portray hysteria in a way that hits close to home right now.

Anyone who’s feeling the absence of baseball season might check out Emily Nemens’ new novel ‘The Cactus League’ or Wilfred Santiago’s graphic novel ‘21: The Story of Roberto Clemente.’

Lastly, since April was poetry month, I’d point people toward Mary Oliver’s work, and great new books of poetry from Traci Brimhall (‘Come the Slumberless to the Land of Nod’) and Victoria Chang (‘Obit’).

How to shop: “Special orders can be sent to wisebloodkc@gmail.com. We’re still placing orders on new books and shipping items out every day, with hopes to move back to a curbside pickup option soon. While our online store is still growing, customers can currently order gift certificates, t-shirts, and Boredom Bundles (a curated, surprise selection of books depending on your favorite genre) there 24/7. One of the easiest things folks can do to offer support right now is to buy a gift card for future use.”

Geoffrey Jennings, an employee at Rainy Day Books in Fairway

His shelf suggestions: Books like ‘Radical Kindness: The Life-Changing Power of Giving and Receiving’ by Angela Santomero, ‘Wherever You Go There You Are’ by Jon Kabat-Zinn, and other books that emphasize looking at the world and each day as an opportunity to do something special. These are highly recommended readings to stay positive and prepare for the road ahead.”

How to shop: “The very best way for our customers to order right now is on our website. That allows us to complete an order quickly and have all of the customer’s information readily available if we have any questions or issues filling it.”

Christian Overgaard, owner of Afterword Tavern & Shelves in Crossroads Arts District

His boredom busters“For anyone wanting a fantastical, literary read: ‘The Starless Sea’ by Erin Morgenstern, ‘Ninth House’ by Leigh Bardugo, ‘Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell’ by Susanna Clarke, ‘The House in the Cerulean Sea’ by T.J. Klune and ‘The City We Became’ by N.K. Jemison. 

If you’re wanting to brush up on wine, cooking, and cocktails: ‘Appetites: A Cookbook’ by Anthony Bourdain, ‘Tequila Mockingbird: Cocktails with a Literary Twist’ by Tom Federle, ‘Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over’ by Allison Roman, ‘Wine Folly: The Essential Guide to Wine’ by Justin Hammack and Madeline Puckette and ‘Liquid Science: The Art and Science of the Perfect Cocktail’ by David Arnold.

For anyone with small children: ‘Ada Twist, Scientist’ by Andrea Beaty, ‘The Bear, the Piano, the Dog and the Fiddle’ by David Litchfield and ‘Go the Fuck to Sleep’ by Adam Mansbach.

Lastly, we’re excited to get our hands on these new novels: ‘The Paris Hours’ by Alex George, ‘The Glass Hotel’ by Emily St. John Mandel, ‘Braised Pork’ by An Yu and ‘The Unseen’ by Ray Jacobson.”

How to shop: Via our online shop, hosted by Bookshop. If you are looking for something to read, you can either browse through our lists – including Afterword’s favorites and KC authors, as well as community picks from Mayor Quinton Lucas and Turn the Page KC – or search for any book of your choosing!

When you’re sipping a glass of wine or reading a great book, pause a moment and give our bartenders a shout on Venmo (Afterword Bartenders-ATS).

Happy reading! For extra encouragement and community, check out Made in KC’s new virtual book club offerings — register here.


Categories: Culture