Christian's Picks

The Wild Book (Yonder) Cover Image
By Juan Villoro, Lawrence Schimel (Translator)
$14.39
ISBN: 9781632061478
Availability: Backordered
Published: Restless Books - November 14th, 2017

Juan's uncle Tito has a giant mysterious library in his house, and he needs Juan's help to find a missing book- the wild book. It moves on it's own, and will only show itself to a worthy reader. Juan's search for the book leads down numerous scary, funny, and magical paths full of books that change as you read them and of course, books that change you. Book lovers of any age will love this story. 


Kiss Me Someone: Stories Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941040751
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Tin House Books - September 12th, 2017

Stories just this side of brutal, primarily focusing on women and girls in the modern world. Relationships, race, family, and privilege all figure, but not at the expense of beautifully complex characters. They certainly aren't the most pleasant of situations, but the clarity and tough truth of the writing make it a joy to read. 


The First Rule of Punk Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9780425290408
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - August 22nd, 2017

7th grade isn't starting out well for Malu- she had to move to a new city (Chicago), far away from her dad's record store in Florida, and into a school of strangers who surely don't know the first thing about punk! She loves punk music and spends her spare time making zines (some of which are reproduced here) to express herself and figure things out. Learning about Mexican-American punk bands from a local coffee shop owner helps her on a journey to embrace her own roots and find her people, ultimately starting her own band for the talent show. A great book for anyone who's ever felt like an outsider or a weirdo.


Reincarnation Blues Cover Image
$21.60
ISBN: 9780399178481
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Del Rey Books - August 22nd, 2017

In a world that gives 1,000 chances at reincarnation to acheive perfection, our hero Milo has five chances left. He frankly might not care, but his girlfriend Death (or Suzie as she prefers to be called) wants him to succeed so that they can be together for eternity. Over a series of lives we see Milo in the past and the future- a series of short stories touching on sci-fi, historical fiction, adventure, and romance. And unavoidably discussions of religion and philosophy that are equally irreverent and thoughtful. A fun read with moments of silliness and beauty throughout.


Fierce Kingdom Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780735224278
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Viking - July 25th, 2017

Joan and her four year old son are hurrying to get out of the zoo before closing when gunmen enter the zoo and start shooting. The book all takes place over the next four hours and is thrilling and gripping. I'm not a big action adventure type guy, but I was totally caught up and read it in 24 hours. The exploration of parent/motherhood was just as exciting and powerful as the men with the guns.  Certainly one of those times when a book promises something on the back, does just exactly what it said it would, and is completely engaging and entertaining all the way through.


Arbitrary Stupid Goal Cover Image
$21.60
ISBN: 9780374105860
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: MCD - July 18th, 2017

I'm a big fan of stories about small towns of weirdo characters and their shenanigans, and this is a really good one, it just happens that this small town full of weirdos is Greenwich Village in the 70's and 80's. Growing up in her family's neighborhood restaurant exposed Tamara Shopsin to all kinds of characters, not the least of them being her own father and his best friend Willie. A series of unrelated anecdotes, stories, and neighborhood lore add up to a funny and fascinating portrait of a time and place that isn't coming back. Shopsin's writing is straight-forward and irreverent, but touching too, and a great reminder to value all the stories and characters in our own little corners of the world. 


No One Told Me Not to Do This: Selected Screenprints, 2009-2015 Cover Image
By Jay Ryan (Artist)
$18.36
ISBN: 9781617754951
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Akashic Books - December 6th, 2016

Chicago artist and musician Jay Ryan has been making his distinctive screen print posters for a few decades now. Posters and art prints full of mischevious small animals and beautiful landscapes that advertise Wilco, your local library, or just the joy of shenanigans. If you're a fan of modern rock, cute animals, or just awesome art, this book is for you.


Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI Cover Image
$23.16
ISBN: 9780385534246
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Doubleday Books - April 18th, 2017

In the early 20th century the rocky barren land that the people of the Osage tribe had been forced onto proved to be oil rich and therefore extremely valuable. Inexplicably, the U.S. government refrained from just stealing the land outright, and actually payed the Osage people, making them very wealthy. As you can guess, the ensuing murders of the title have more than a little to do with that money. Grann deftly investigates the murders, as well as the racist society that facilitated them, and the role of the then new FBI in the story. His excellent writing makes this book read like a page turning mystery.


My Favorite Thing Is Monsters Cover Image
$31.99
ISBN: 9781606999592
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Fantagraphics Books - February 14th, 2017

Karen Reyes is a ten year old growing up in Chicago's Uptown neighborhood in the late sixties. She loves monsters, good ones and bad ones, and dreams of becoming one. When her upstairs neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances, Karen declares herself a detective and begins learning about the monsters all around us- Nazis, hippies, child abusers, bullies, etc. There's darkness, but also some real beauty and happiness here, particuarly trips with her older brother Deez to the Art Institute where the joy and magic is nearly unbearable. Ferris' storytelling is exciting and emotional, but the illustration is what I cannot get enough of. Beauty on every page. 


All Our Wrong Todays Cover Image
$20.80
ISBN: 9781101985137
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Dutton Books - February 7th, 2017

A fun and funny time-travel-adventure-mystery-romance debut novel. Tom Barren lives in a 2016 where flying cars exist, and technology has eradicated hunger and inequality and even bad avacados. But Tom is a bit of a bumbler, and when he travels back in time to witness the birth of this modern utopia, he messes things up and finds himself waking up in the same screwed up 2016 that we all experienced. What follows is Tom's journey to try and right his wrong and get back to his real home, and you know, save the world. 


The Murderer's Ape Cover Image
$14.39
ISBN: 9781101931752
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Delacorte Press - January 24th, 2017

Sally Jones is the mechanic on a steam boat and when her best friend the captain is wrongly accused of murder, she dedicates herself to proving his innocence. She also happens to be an Ape, which complicates things. A magical adventure and mystery that travels from Lisbon to India and finds Sally becoming friends with a Fado singer, an accordian repairman, and a Raja. An outsider's journey full of danger, joy, and the ingenuity and love of one remarkable ape. 


Homesick for Another World: Stories Cover Image
$20.80
ISBN: 9780399562884
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Penguin Press - January 17th, 2017

Moshfegh's lovely and concise writing makes what could be harrowing stories of lost and damaged people actually kind of fun? Her writing is unemotional, which helps, and full of enough surprises to keep you on your toes. The humor is dark, but definitely there and helps keep the character's plights from becoming just too much. Beautiful, gripping and illuminating. 


Whatever Happened to Interracial Love?: Stories Cover Image
$12.79
ISBN: 9780062484154
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Ecco Press - December 6th, 2016

Kathleen Collins was a civil rights activist and pioneering filmmaker who apparently also had the time and talent (during her brief 46 years) to write the never before published short stories collected here. Striking and contemporary feeling, she writes about political activism and love, but also about the personal and underlying emotions, desires, and moral decisions that lead to both. Her writing is beautiful and serious, but also beaming with light. Sometimes experimental, definitely playful, simply lovely.


The Matchstick Castle Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9781101996225
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - January 10th, 2017

The summer between 5th and 6th grade was going to be great, until Brian finds out that he has to spend it at his uncle's house testing educational programs. Oh yeah, in the town of Boring, Illinois. But when Brian and his cousin Nora wander into the woods one day, they stumble on the amazing and confounding Matchstick Castle- the home of the Van Dash family of explorers and adventurers. Soon they're embroiled in numerous adventures with the Van Dashes all over the mysterious house. A thrilling and funny book and the perfect summer adventure.


Moonglow Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9780062225566
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Harper Perennial - September 19th, 2017

An epic yarn spun by a master storyteller, Chabon translates his grandfather's life story into an enthralling novel. Usually a man of few words, but prompted to open up by it's impending end, Grandfather reveals his life story at last, full of adventure, secrets, and answers to family mysteries. A Nazi Rocket scientist, a demonic ghost horse, a late night horror movie host, and a prison escape all find their way into a book that ranges across decades, but has an affectionately intimate tone. Moonglow is tragic, touching, funny and thrilling. 


The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780307451071
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Broadway Books - October 11th, 2016

After the horrible loss of life that was the first World War, the world was full of ghosts. Spiritualists, who could connect you with your dearly departed via séances, became the celebrities of the day. In the early 20s, Scientific American magazine held a contest designed to prove contact with the dead and put together a panel of judges featuring noted magician and skeptic Harry Houdini. With all of the backstage drama of today's best reality shows - romance, backstabbing, and breakdowns, the contest made celebrities of the participants, most notably a high class Boston doctor's wife who dubbed herself "Margery." Most of the fun of this book is the vivid descriptions of the spooky goings on at the séances, and the ingenious tricks used by the mediums to manifest their spirits. But from today's perspective it's hard not to also be fascinated and appalled at the sexism and class issues that played out in the ghostly voices and darkened parlors of postwar society. A fun, enthralling and spooky book. 


Hundred Percent Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9781452138909
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Chronicle Books - August 9th, 2016

Hundred Percent is the story of Tink's six grade year. Yes, her name is Tink. Well that's one of at least three names that she goes by, because figuring out what you want to be called is only one of the tough decisions of her age. There are also crushes and best friends and cool kids and bras and jokes and jokes. My favorite character is the class clown, Bushwack, whose jokes are at least as funny as his ridiculous name, and who saves the day in the climactic lip-sync battle. This book is  funny, touching, and a realistic look at the joys and pains of sixth grade. 


Stories of Your Life and Others Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9781101972120
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage - June 14th, 2016

A great collection of short stories that does what sci-fi does best: challenge your conception of the world through compellingly plotted stories. Chiang's day job as a technical writer really adds to the stories with impressively readable details. The writing is precise and beautiful like a complex math equation but soulful and emotional too. 


Soft in the Head Cover Image
By Marie-Sabine Roger, Frank Wynne (Translator)
$13.46
ISBN: 9781782271581
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Pushkin Press - June 28th, 2016

This charming, funny, and touching story follows the blossoming friendship of an elderly retiree and the dim but loveable construction worker that she meets on "his" bench in the park. They bond over the pigeons and the books that she reads to him, fostering a late blooming love of literature that is inspiring. A great reminder of how falling in love with reading feels, and how sometimes talking to random strangers in the park can be just what you need. 


She: Fiction Cover Image
$12.76
ISBN: 9780393354164
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 30th, 2017

This hybrid novel/short story collection begins with a young girl running away from her abusive home and arriving by bus in Los Angeles. The book follows her first day of wandering the streets looking for work and shelter, alternating with short stories focusing on the inner lives of other women living in the city and creating a multifaceted view of today's L.A. woman. As sun dappled, frustrating and breezy as any average day in the city of angels.


Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9780679743460
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage - March 2nd, 1993

My personal favorite of Murakami's many great novels, this book combines a great sci-fi gangster story with a pastoral fable to explore deep urban catacombs and small country villages. A fun and compelling read.


The History of Rock 'n' Roll in Ten Songs Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9780300216929
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Yale University Press - September 15th, 2015

Greil Marcus is a scholar and historian of music, but it's his enthusiasm that I love. When he's writing about a song that you love, he viscerally evokes the exhilaration and amazement you felt the first time you heard it, and when it's a song you're unfamiliar with (or better yet one that you'd dismissed) he sends you running to hear what you've missed. This book of short essays does just what it says in the title, partly through facts and dates, but mostly through the poetry and energy of everything that can be called rock 'n roll.


The House on Mango Street Cover Image
$9.56
ISBN: 9780679734772
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage Books USA - April 3rd, 1991

Based on her own life growing up in the Humboldt Park neighborhood of Chicago, Sandra Cisneros' classic book is a joy of poetic storytelling. Episodes from a child's perspective, some fleetingly brief, some a bit more involved, and all with a relatable mix of wonder, joy, and fear that we can all recognize from our own childhood. Great to share with your kids, or your parents!


My Kind of Sound: The Secret History of Chicago Music Cover Image
By Steve Krakow, Jc Gabel (Editor), Jim DeRogatis (Afterword by)
$19.96
ISBN: 9781940430614
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Curbside Splendor Publishing - January 5th, 2016

Do you like your cultural history with a healthy dose of comic art? Love learning about the unsung & obscure artists of our world? Chicago's own Plastic Crimewave has got what you need, from only slightly obscure acts like The Five Stairsteps & Baby Huey, to the cultist cult bands you've never heard of. With a focus on the styles that Chicago is famous for- Blues, Soul, Punk, and Garage it's fun way to learn about some worthwhile musicians as well as the history of our region. 


Something Will Happen, You'll See Cover Image
$16.20
ISBN: 9780914671350
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Archipelago Books - March 15th, 2016

In working class areas around Athens the effects of the Greek financial collapse ripple and crash through lives young and old. The neighborhood stories we share in times of crisis that become our modern fables, the tragedy on the next block that makes us shake our heads in wonder, and the comfort and inspiration of our neighbors perserverance are so wonderfully displayed by Ikonomou's short story collection. Beautiful language, moments of grace amid tragedy, and the brilliant insights of people on the street corner. 


This One Summer Cover Image
By Jillian Tamaki (Illustrator), Mariko Tamaki
$15.19
ISBN: 9781596437746
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: First Second - May 6th, 2014

Touching, sad, funny & beautiful, the coming of age story about This One Summer that Rose spends with her family at the shore, the same way they do every summer. Or maybe not quite the same. With her summer friend Windy at here side Rose learns some family secrets and secrets about life while also watching horror movies and dancing around the kitchen like a fool. As lovely a book as any summer vacation I've ever had.


Waiting for Godot Cover Image
$11.20
ISBN: 9780802144423
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Grove Press - May 17th, 2011

It's not every great play that makes for great reading, but Waiting for Godot is exceptional in many ways. A tragicomedy that's equally tragic & hilarious. Trying to figure out just what is going on can be fun, but isn't exactly necessary. The humor and language seem like a bridge between Shakespeare and Monty Python with just as much meaning of life hidden in the gibberish as either. One of the best bar conversations you've ever eavesdropped on. You might as well, at least while you're waiting...


Watchmen Cover Image
By Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons (Illustrator)
$15.99
ISBN: 9781401245252
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: DC Comics - May 13th, 2014

This book is important. It played a major role in making the graphic novel a valid and respected art form. But being important is never a good reason to read something. You should read Watchmen because it's a fun and captivating story: super heroes, mysteries, romance, time travel, it's all in here. I have read this book at least a dozen times and find something new each time. A delight of design and storytelling.


Winesburg, Ohio Cover Image
By Sherwood Anderson, Malcolm Cowley (Introduction by)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780140186550
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Penguin Books - September 1st, 1992

The classic mid-century American short story starts here. A wonderful collection of intertwined short stories about the citizens of this fictional mid-western town. The dark underbelly of small town America, the gossip and legends, and the loves and resentments that make a society. As a short story lover, Anderson is one of my favorites.


Winter in the Blood Cover Image
By James Welch, Louise Erdrich (Introduction by)
$12.00
ISBN: 9780143105220
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Penguin Books - August 1st, 2008

Like Raymond Chandler on the plains the narrator of this classic from James Welch spends the novel drunkenly stumbling from one sad predicament to another. The way the West can be sparse and complicated, and the way snow and ice can leave you dry, Welch brings to life the tragic echoes of America's past in the mundane present.