This week's Ex Libris top ten comes from Hans Weyandt, whom we know from Micawber's Books in St. Paul, Minnesota. He tells us he likes smart shoes, good pitching and fiction that stretches boundaries.
1. Under the Black Flag by David Cordingly (Harvest Books, 1995).
"While the pirate craze was going on a few years ago I kept going back to this book. Fantastic history and cultural studies."
2. Collected Stories by Frank O'Connor (Vintage, 1982).
"I love Munro, Flannery and William Maxwell's stories dearly. But O'Connor, to me, takes the best of all of the masters and brings it together. Impossible to pick a single favorite."
3. Geek Love by Katherine Dunn (Vintage, 2002).
"The Binewskis, a carny family, travel the country. This novel tells stories about families of all stripes and questions things like social norms and what we love to hate."
4. Sleepwalking Land by Mia Couto (Serpent's Tail, 2002).
"There are great authors who are ignored by the reading public. Couto is one of them. This is a look into Mozambique and should not at all be considered a 'good African novel.' It's a damn good novel."
5. The Next American Essay edited by John D'Agata (Graywolf Press, 2003).
"A book to pick up and peruse on a whim. He has chosen one essay written in every year from 1975-2003 and it is a glorious ride. Fabio Morabito and Thalia Field were new discoveries for me from this book."
6. Sunflower by Gyula Krudy (New York Review of Books Classics, 1997).
"I love this entire series of books for bringing great classics back to life. I found this one through the writings of Sandor Marai and it has a singular tone that is refreshing. It sounds like nothing I've ever read."
7. Utopia Parkway by Deborah Solomon (Noonday Press, 1997; MFA Publications, 2004).
"People know Cornell's little boxes well and they seem to either love or despise his work. Without commenting on his art too much, I found this to be an insightful look into what makes an artist. What forms him? What scares him? What forces him to create?"
8. Touch The Earth compiled by T.C. McLuhan (Touchstone, 1971).
"This is one of those books that means so much due to my personal history. I was very into Native Americans when I was young and my dad bought this for me in Savran's Bookshop on the west bank in 1981. The photos and essays inside are haunting and a reminder of what can go so terribly wrong."
9. Maps of the Imagination by Peter Turchi (Trinity University Press, 2004).
"This is a book on cartography and there are lots of little gems in that category. Turchi goes one step beyond maps alone, folding in sections on fictional maps, maps of one's own interior mind and a simply mind-blowing piece on the nine rules involved with Chuck Jones' Road Runner series. A book for true book wonks."
10. Blackstock's Collections by Gregory L. Blackstock (Princeton Architectural Press, 2006).
"Blackstock is an outsider artist whose family thankfully pushed for his work to be seen by a larger audience. His work is one of lists and collections of drawings. Find his work and take a look."
Hans Weyandt is co-owner of Micawber's Books in St. Paul, MN, and has sold books in various stores in Mpls/St. Paul since 1999.