Park Hill Community Bookstore staff picks

Each week as part of SunLit — The Sun’s literature section — we feature staff recommendations from book stores across Colorado. This week, staff from Park Hill Community Bookstore in Denver recommend “Lessons in Chemistry,” “S.” and “The Man Who Broke Capitalism.”

Lessons in Chemistry

By Bonnie Garmus
Knopf Publishing Group (Penguin Random House)
$29 hardcover (list); PHCB Price: $3 PB/$5 HC if available
April 2022

Purchase: In store only

From the publisher: Chemist Elizabeth Zott is not your average woman. In fact, Elizabeth Zott would be the first to point out that there is no such thing as an average woman. But it’s the early 1960s and her all-male team at Hastings Research Institute takes a very unscientific view of equality. Except for one: Calvin Evans; the lonely, brilliant, Nobel–prize nominated grudge-holder who falls in love with—of all things—her mind. True chemistry results.

From Babette McQueen, Volunteer: This book should catapult to the top of your reading list. It’s timely, despite being set in the 1960s. Although many things have changed since then, some things remain a battle our society continues to fight. It’s funny, despite its topic (chemistry! discrimination!) and its events (tragedies!) being  quite serious. The author’s talent for weaving in humor makes the serious easier to endure.

It’s entertaining, with no pun intended towards the television show that provides the backbone for the unraveling of the story and the development of the characters. Garmus superbly intertwines the unbelievable (a dog who knows 648 words) and the cliché (the neighbor hooks up with the producer) with the depth and insight that makes this so readable and memorable.


By Doug Dorst, J.J. Abrams
Mulholland Books
Prices vary by seller; PHCB Price: $3 PB/$5 HC if available
October 2013

Purchase: In store only

From the publisher: The chronicle of two readers finding each other, and their deadly struggle with forces beyond their understanding — all within the margins of a book conceived by Star Wars director J.J. Abrams and written by award-winning novelist Doug Dorst.

The book: Ship of Theseus, the final novel by a prolific but enigmatic writer named V.M. Straka, in which a man with no past is shanghaied onto a strange ship with a monstrous crew and launched onto a disorienting and perilous journey.

The writer: Straka, the incendiary and secretive subject of one of the world’s greatest mysteries, a revolutionary about whom the world knows nothing apart from the words he wrote and the rumors that swirl around him.

The readers: Jennifer and Eric, a college senior and a disgraced grad student, both facing crucial decisions about who they are, who they might become, and how much they’re willing to trust another person with their passions, hurts, and fears.

From Babette McQueen, Volunteer: By far, S. is the most creative, innovative, non-mainstream novel I have ever read. If you want a reading adventure like no other, put S. on your reading list. You’ll enjoy a story within a story within a story. Put aside trying to figure it all out, suspend your disbelief, and just enjoy the incredible journey that the authors create as you travel between times, between stories, between relationships, and even between genres in one ingenious collaboration. Just don’t lose any of the inserts or you might miss an important detail. Or…you might not! 

The Man Who Broke Capitalism

By David Gelles
Simon & Schuster
Prices vary by seller; PHCB Price: $3 PB/$5 HC if available
May 2022

Purchase: In store only

From the publisher: In 1981, Jack Welch took over General Electric and quickly rose to fame as the first celebrity CEO. He golfed with presidents, mingled with movie stars, and was idolized for growing GE into the most valuable company in the world. But Welch’s achievements didn’t stem from some greater intelligence or business prowess. Rather, they were the result of a sustained effort to push GE’s stock price ever higher, often at the expense of workers, consumers, and innovation. In this captivating, revelatory book, David Gelles argues that Welch single-handedly ushered in a new, cutthroat era of American capitalism that continues to this day.

From Babette McQueen, Volunteer: Fiction is my main genre, and I have never worked for corporate America. When I came to this story, it was with a fresh perspective and a clean slate. I didn’t even know who Jack Welch was. You can feel empowered to read this controversial tome without prior experience or knowledge, and draw your own conclusions. You may agree or disagree with the author’s recommendations at the end, and you may be filled with hope or despair, but you will definitely come away from this read with new information and insight. 

And while it is quite an undertaking, it is very captivating and readable. I recommend this book for every single person, whether you are from the corporate world, you are/were a Welch protegee, or you, like me, know nothing of the topic. It will enlighten and challenge you to think in ways you might not have considered before.


Park Hill Community Bookstore

4620 E 23rd Ave, Denver

(303) 355-8508

As part of The Colorado Sun’s literature section — SunLit — we’re featuring staff picks from book stores across the state. Read more.

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