LIST: What Books Deserved More Attention in 2018? We Asked Chicago Bookstores

As the new year begins, The National asked Chicago booksellers to recommend books that should have gotten more recognition in 2018.

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The Book Cellar, Lincoln Square

Ohio by Stephen Markley (Simon & Schuster)

I didn't realize I was waiting for this novel until I started reading it. One summer night four former classmates, who graduated just after 9/11, inexplicably converge on their small Ohio town 10 years after leaving. There they are forced to confront the ghosts of their past , despite the uncertainty of their futures. (Kyle Curry) 

You Have Me To Love by Jaap Robben (World Editions)

The writing style is simple and stark, reflective of the island [somewhere between Scotland and Norway] that is the setting for this story.  When a person gives a little, then a little more, then a little more, suddenly this person is faced with a situation that is uncomfortable and inappropriate.  But would it have come to this point if the line was drawn sooner? (Suzy Takacs)

 The Philosopher's Flight by Tom Miller (Simon & Schuster)

This book is a magical and exciting adventure that takes place during World War I that kept me on my toes.  I was incredibly upset when it ended because I wanted more (but was then excited to learn that it's the first in a series).  (Portia Turner)

Women & Children First, Andersonville

The Reckonings by Lacy M. Johnson (Scribner)

This one received great reviews and appeared on a few big lists, but I do think that many readers are afraid/daunted by it. Right after the 2016 election our customers were hungry for nonfiction. But now we have finally reached a breaking point with readers; they are understandably exhausted by the news and are in search of escape, lightness, and levity. The Reckonings does not offer any of these things. Each of Johnson's essays in this collection is a reckoning with justice, mercy, and atonement. She combines personal experience as a sexual assault survivor with exemplary long-form journalism on a range of subjects including the BP oil spill and Hurricane Harvey. The surprise twist is her revelation that the search for justice is inseparable from a surfacing towards joy--or something close to it.   (Sarah Hollenbeck)

Seminary Co-op Bookstores, Hyde Park 

Ohio by Stephen Markley (Simon & Schuster) 

A novel by and for those of us whose childhoods pivoted on 9/11, and whose adulthoods have been rocked by recession, war, and drug epidemics. Uncannily familiar to anyone (like me) who grew up in small towns at the turn of the century, yet universal in its depiction of the many ways we're haunted by our pasts. (Alex Houston)

Seminary Co-op and 57th Street Books, Hyde Park

Red Channel in the Rupture by Amber Flora Thomas (Red Hen Press)

The latest collection by one of our finest poets -- one who has been writing astute, wise, and brilliant verse under the radar for a better part of two decades, one who is ripe for discovery and celebration, beginning
with this wonderful book. 

An Academic’s Life by Hanna Gray (Princeton University Press)

Witty, insightful, and timely without sacrificing its timelessness, Gray’s personal history explores the world of the intellectual refugees from the oppression of the burgeoning European regimes of the 30s and 40s, while telling her own unlikely story as a pioneering academic (Gray was the first
female president of a major U.S. university) whose brilliant leadership left its mark on the 20th century. There are fascinating cameos by T.S. Eliot, Hannah Arendt, Bob Hope, George H.W. Bush, as Gray takes her storied place among “the honorable company of scholars.”

Ghosts in the Schoolyard by Eve Ewing (University of Chicago Press)

Ghosts in the Schoolyard [an examination of racism in Chicago public schools] combines fine scholarship and urgent advocacy without compromising either. An important book, heralding a fresh,
compelling perspective – one that does not shy away from the personal in
pursuit of rigor and insight.

The Children’s Crusade by Marcel Schwob (Wakefield Press)

A stirring and profound book [a novella about the historic crusade of children to the Holy Land, first published in 1896] whose stylistic brilliance drew awed responses from Borges, Rilke, and Apollinaire.  (Jeff Deutsch)