Staff Picks Archive

The staff here at Sundance Books and Music is made up of a colorful cast of characters, but we all share a common passion for reading, listening and discovering. One of the best things about being a member of the Sundance staff is the conversations we get to have with our amazing customers every day. We love hearing about the books and music that you're excited about, and getting to offer some recommendations of our own too. These exchanges broaden our horizons and help to cultivate the feeling of community that we hold so dear. Be sure to check back regularly to find out about the books and music that our staff can't wait to share with you.

Mother's Day 2017


My mother read to me The Lost World: Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton, twice, even though she didn't like it.
She was enthusiastic though, and she got through it.


In ancient times older women were the keepers of primal mysteries and were revered for their special wisdom: today there is a feeling that our culture is reawakening to the power of our elders. Joyce Tenneson presents 80 portraits of women aged 65 to 100, who comment on their experiences of ageing.



Plant Whatever Brings You Joy: Blessed Wisdom from the Garden in which Kathryn Hall draws on her decades of gardening experience to share 52 wise lessons from the garden, each illustrated with a heartwarming story guaranteed to spark the reader’s imagination.

We hope all of you wonderful moms out there have the best day being celebrated, loved, and supported--all the things you do for your loved ones every day! Happy Mother's Day!

Late 2016

Stephanie   Leslie Odom Jr.

Simply Christmas, by Leslie Odom Jr. (of Hamilton fame) showcases Odom's velvety, sweet and beautiful voice while inspiring holiday cheer. Why would you not want to have this album playing at all times?

Danny  The trial

 "Kafkaesque" is a word synonymous with nightmare, often associated with Kafka's The Metamorphosis. But The Trial holds true to form. As one travels deeper into this book, it's not the dystopia looming over its inhabitants, but the panick-fear of uncertainty that resonates with its readers. Kafka speaks gently to us about the things which make us scream. A great winter read.

Christine Grief is the thing with Feathers

Grief is the Thing with Feathers is an innovative combination of narrative and poetry that explores the loss of a matriarch. In this beautiful novel, a father and his two sons grapple with death as a crow comes to symbolize grief itself. 

MackenzieMrs. Dalloway

Mrs. Dalloway's emotive narrative follows the intertwining lives of Londoners over the course of a single summer day. Though the story is centered on early 20th-century society, the characters and emotions are timeless. Virginai Woolf continues to be an all-time favorite.

November 2016

Philip   Image result for please enjoy your happiness

Please Enjoy Your Happiness joins, for me, an elite group of low key self told tales in which I include J.R. Moehringer's The Tender Bar and Pete Hammill's A Drinking Life. These three share no resemblance to each other aside from their powerful circumstances and entrancing, beautifully written narratives. Please Enjoy Your Happiness is exquisite. I recommend, highly, all of the above.

Danny  Image result for be frank with me

Be Frank with Me is an exciting and very important book. This is a testament to how children can forever change and touch our lives.

Stephanie  Image result for swimming studies

Swimming Studies: Leanne Shapton writes about the reverberation through her adult life of her competitive swimming career, long after she stops swimming seriously, and of all of the pieces and parts that we take with us when we seriously devote ourselves to a discipline. It also convinced me that I need vintage swimwear for recreational swimming!

Casey Image result for liars and saints

Liars and Saints is a beautifully crafted novel told from multiple points of view. Through several generations, the book explores one family's secrecy, faith, love, loss and hope.

Troy Image result for even more rock family trees

Even More Rock Family Trees is an entertaining and informative look at the passing to and fro of band members of some of the classic groups of the 60s, 70s and 80s.

Christine Image result for american pastoral

American Pastoral is a masterful examiniation of the icons we create and tear down. Roth weaves together the personal and the public, multiple generation family dynamics, and a deep understanding of history and culture in this beautiful, and profoundly educational novel.

October 2016

Philip   Image result for small town talk bob dylan

Small Town Talk by Barney Hoskyns: An unabashedly gossipy tale. Well written and engaging. I came away with a new disrespect for some of my '60s and '70s heroes. If you love these folks, read it.
Lorna   Image result for the girl with all the gifts book

The Girl with all the Gifts by M.R. Carey: This book shows so well what it is to be human (even if you aren't!) and it kept me interested with wonderful imagery and language.


Molly Image result for “The Vanishing Season” by Jodi Lynn Anderson


The Vanishing Season by Jodi Lynn Anderson: This haunting and beautiful novel has a surprise twist that I didn't see coming. If you're looking for a fast-paced page turner, this is your next book!
Danny  Image result for Everybody Behaves Badly: The True Story Behind Hemingway's Masterpiece the Sun Also Rises (Hardcover)

Everybody Behaves Badly by Lesley M.M. Blume: This book offers a glimpse into a small portion in Hemmingway's larger than life existence. This is a great narrative and a fresh take on his formative years as a novelist.

Stephanie Image result for the tsar of love and techno

The Tsar of Love and Techno by Anthony Marra: Everyone should read this book. These interlocking short stories, composed as a mix tape with tracks and sides, explore the ways that history erases humans, subsumes them, and how other people pull them back and give them meaning.

September 2016

This week, take a look at some hand-picked selections from our very own Christine, Danny, Lorna, Mackenzie and Molly!


Sam Maloof: 36 Views of a Master Woodworker by Fred Setterberg: This beautifully written book explores the mind of one of the great masters of mid-century modern furniture. We get perspectives from family, friends, and members of Maloof's community arts scene to gain a better understanding of this inspirational artist.


Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë: This book set the bar for the tragic love story. It's a classic that takes the human condition to its furthest extreme.


What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty: Moriarty paints complex and deep characters, which allow for an intimate view into what it means to become an adult.


The Hundred-Year House by Rebecca Makkai: Makkai writes prose that reads like poetry. I think of this book often.


A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett: I remember loving this book and movie as a child. I'm revisiting the classics, and seeing this beautiful book in a whole new light.



August 2016


The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel: "This is a beautiful, suspenseful narrative of a man trying to leave behind his grifting family and find a new life."


Game of Thrones Series by George R.R. Martin: "This series has it all: complex storylines and multi-dimensional characters in a fantasy setting worthy of Tolkien."

Truth and Beauty by Ann Patchett: "This memoir is a beautiful depiction of female friendship. It's a nonfiction account of the bond between two powerful artists, as they grapple with their craft and their lives."


Finding Your Way Without Map of Compass by Harold Gatty: "This book defines navigation in the broadest sense possible. It's a fantastic read for anyone seeking direction and self-reliance in life, and it's also a practical guidebook for backpackers."

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fitzgerald: "I fell in love with Fitzgerald after reading The Great Gatsby, and this book came highly recommended by a friend. There's some very interesting controversy over its history and authorship, and the prose is absolutely beautiful." 

July 2016


Styx & Stone by James W. Ziskin: This mystery thriller follows the fearless Ellie Stone as she navigates through the 1960s New York. Stone investigates a double murder while careening into the modern world and demanding her rightful place.


The Drunken Botanist: The Plants that Create the World's Great Drinks by Amy Stewart: This fascinating read explores the intersection of botany and booze. In addition to lessons in biology, chemistry, history, culture, etymology and mixology, you'll find over fifty drink recipes and gardening tips. Cheers! 

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet by David Mitchell: Set in Japan at the turn of the 19th Century, this historical novel follows the travels of Jacob de Zoet, a clerk stationed on a Dutch outpost. With lush descriptions and vivid dialogue, Mitchell immerses readers entirely in a world of danger and adventure.   

The Ink Dark Moon by Ono no Komachi and Izumi Shikibu: This poetry collection was written over a thousand years ago by two powerful women of the Heian court of Japan. The poems provide an intimate glimpse into their sexuality, spirituality and passion, delivering a rich experience of the past.


Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy: Blood Meridian is based on the historical events of the 1850s along the Texas-Mexico border. It follows the Kid, a teenage Tennessean who encounters a strange and nightmarish world where the Indian scalp market is thriving.


Literary Publishing in the Twenty-First Century by Travis Kurowski, Wayne Miller and Kevin Prufer: The literary landscape is undergoing serious transitions. This collection of essays offers a wide range of perspectives from industry veterans, writers, editors, and digital mavericks, giving meaningful insight on how to navigate this rapidly changing terrain.

June 2016

A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara: "I cannot stop thinking about this book--I just want to read it again and again."

5,000 KM per Second by Manuele Fior: "I'm not usually interested in graphic novels, but I'm really enjoying this book. It's a French love story with gorgeous illustrations." 

The Turtle Diary by Russell Hoban: "I know Russell Hoban from his children's books ('Bedtime for Frances,' in particular), and was surprised to discover his novels. This is a deeply moving story about loneliness and strange, intertwining fates. I feel such a strong connection to Hoban since he's had a powerful impact on me as a child and an adult.

Nightfall by Peter Kujawinski and Jake Halpern "I've been meaning to check this book out for a while, and I'm really enjoying it so far. It's a fast-paced young adult thriller, and I'd highly recommend it for any fans of Neil Gaiman." 


Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides: "This is the first Jeffrey Eugenidies book I've read, and it's fantastic. It has a really strong narrative, and the story is just downright weird, which I love. I can't wait to check out his other work."


Stammered Songbook: A Mother's Book of Hours by Erwin Mortier: "This is a beautiful, heart-breaking account of a man losing his mother to Alzheimer's. It's an accurate description of the mother's gradual decline, and the son's experience of shifting identity as he watches her diminish. There's comfort and hope in this truthful portrayal." 

May 2016



Ready Player One by Ernest Cline: "I couldn't put this book down! It's a really fun and interesting exploration of nerd culture, virtual reality, and 80's pop culture. I was also impressed that this was Cline's first novel."

Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel: "I'm not usually drawn to post-apocalyptic fiction, but I really loved this book. It follows a group of traveling artists who perform Shakespeare for camps made up of pandemic survivors. Even for non-zombie lovers, this book is a must read."


The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish by Linda Przybyszewski: "This is a really fascinating look at the influential women who informed our country's style. It's a great commentary on the history of dress, looking at it from an economical, personal and cultural angle. It's also a critique of how disconnected we are from our clothes today. Because clothing and fabric have become so disposable and consumable, we've lost touch with fit and a personal connection to what we wear."


Battleborn by Claire Vaye Watkins: "This haunting collection of short stories delivers gritty, too-real depictions of life. As a relatively new resident of Reno, I really enjoyed the strong sense of place in these stories. I've been curious about Watkins' work for some time, and was sold when I saw that Joy Williams wrote one of her blurbs. This book is expertly crafted and downright magical."

There is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith: "With beautiful illustrations and playful use of language, this book is a celebration of nature, childhood and curiosity." 


Bad English: A History of Linguistic Aggravation by Ammon Shea: "I'm not usually a non-fiction person, but this book has really grabbed my attention. Anyone who identifies as an English nerd will absolutely love it. The book examines all the things I love about language--how it's constantly morphing and changing. For example, it discusses words that our culture initially rejected and had a hard time incorporating into daily language. Apparently there was a big uproar about the word 'hopefully.'"


Devil in the White City by Erik Larson: "This is an amazing story of American culture, science, development, economics and power brokers. It's informative, well written and impossible to put down."

Then Come Back: The Lost Neruda by Pablo Neruda: "These recently recovered poems from Neruda's archive are rendered with wit and heart, and remind us why he remains one of the most important poets of our time."