By Lília

Continuing with the celebration of our 52 years of existence, ABC’s Iris and Luke asked colleagues their book choices for the occasion. Most of them revolved around the lives of normal people in somewhat exceptional settings (reminiscent of ABC!), with overcoming adversity a prominent theme. No one chose it, but we all seem to be happily in sync.

With many Japanese authors currently being translated into English, Bob recommends Inspector Imanishi Investigates by Seicho Matsumoto, a classic 20th century Japanese author. According to the book’s publishers: “It’s a socially oriented detective and mystery fiction.”

Bob adds: “It’s a classic detective story: grizzly inspector works with a junior to solve an impossible case. The author is very specific while writing the details to open the case.”

You can find it at ABC in both general and crime fiction.

Bookshops & Bonedust, by Travis Baldree, is a prequel to Legends & Lattes and is Juno’s suggestion. As an archaeologist, Juno has always been interested in the history, archaeology and lives of regular folks. “I like to read fantasy, but I especially like to peek into the lives of normal people in a fantasy setting, like regular people in an irregular world. Reading about daily lives is very refreshing and one of the reasons these books attract so many readers.”

Martijn suggests A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles, which has just been made into a TV mini-series with Ewan McGregor playing the lead role. It tells the story of Russian aristocrat Count Alexander Rostov’s life between 1917 and 1960 as he watches history go by from the vantage point of a grand Moscow hotel across from the Kremlin, where he was placed under house arrest in 1922 instead of being executed.

According to Martijn, “it’s light, sometimes funny, with a bit of magic realism, and makes you want to research more about what really happened in that period in Russia.”

Iris adds: “The main character presents a very specific point of view. He’s a bystander, an observer of history since he cannot leave the hotel, and sees things happening through windows, without actively taking part in them. He’s stuck in this one place and observes how the hotel guests change with time, while life passes him by.”

As a fan of David Nicholls’ works, Simone suggests his new book You Are Here. It’s about a divorced man and a divorced woman who are invited by a mutual friend to join a big hiking trip from the east to the west coasts of the UK. The weather is terrible, all the participants cancel and, in the end, it’s only the two of them going on this hike, while sparks fly between the two divorcees.

Simone: “It’s a book with a great and rich usage of language, funny, and quite refreshing that the main characters are just sort of normal, middle-of-the-road people.”

Jeroen suggests How Migration Really Works by well-known Dutch sociologist Hein de Haas. The subtitle says it all: “A Factful Guide to the Most Divisive Issue in Politics.”

According to Jeroen, “the author understands the meaning of migration and its impact on Western countries.”

Emma V. recommends the graphic novel The Tea Dragon Society by K. O’Neill. Emma V. says: “In the mythical Tea Dragon Society, each member has a little dragon that grows plants on its head, from which tea can be made. Isn’t that cute? A young ogre girl finds a lost dragon and is taught by members of the Tea Dragon Society how to take care of dragons, something that takes time, energy and care. It’s a book about slow living, getting to know different types of people and making sacrifices to help each other.

“It reminds me of the life of a bookseller, where we also connect with different types of people while we’re trying and helping to create small moments of joy by finding the right book for them.”

Maria suggests Ascendant: Songs of Chaos Books One by Michael R. Miller, a fantasy book about dragons. It’s about the connection between a working-class boy—Holt—and a blind dragon. Dragons don’t tolerate weakness among their kin and kill the young they deem flawed. Holt defies this situation and rescues the doomed egg, becoming the blind dragon’s protector.

Maria says “it’s an easy read about friendship and normal people acting heroically, and it has a relaxing pace.”

Naomi recommends Old Flames and New Fortunes by Sarah Hogle and says: “Our lead character runs a shop with her sisters, where they sell witchy supplies, books in the basement, and she is a flora fortunist: she makes magical floral arrangements that suit her customers’ needs and help make their romantic desires come true. The shop’s creativity and the sisters’ freedom in how they run it reminds me a lot of working at ABC. It’s cozy and they do their very best to help customers achieve their dreams.”

Iris’ suggestion is a book by debut author and bookseller Rosie Talbot. Sixteen Souls was originally going to be self-published but ended up being picked up by Scholastic, a traditional publishing and education company. A cool and great development! And there’s already a sequel.

Iris says: “I liked the book. It’s a modern ghost story, YA, set in York and very spooky.

“I also made the connection to ABC and the whole concept of being stubbornly independent. As booksellers, we are in a position to bring certain titles to people. Because I follow this person on Instagram and read about her releasing her book, I talked to Sophie, who does the YA books in The Hague and Leidschendam, and she decided to order them. Now it’s on our shelves, and it’s such a cool thing to see. It feels very immediate and unique that we, as booksellers/buyers at ABC, can decide which books we will order for the store and can have some influence on showing customers authors and titles besides the bestsellers.

And it’s quite a good book!”