Rachel's Picks

Rachel is co-owner of the store with her husband, Jason.

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Stuck Cover Image
By Oliver Jeffers, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)
$14.39
ISBN: 9780399257377
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Philomel Books - November 10th, 2011

What we have here is a little-old-lady-who-swallowed-a-fly situation, but with getting things stuck in trees. It starts with a kite. So he thows a shoe to dislodge a kite. Now the shoe is stuck. So he throws his cat. Now the cat is stuck, so he throws a...well, let's not add any unnecessary spoilers, shall we? Let's just say, it gets awesomely ridiculous, and then even more so.


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The Changeling Cover Image
$22.40
ISBN: 9780812995947
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Spiegel & Grau - June 13th, 2017

"This fairy tale begins in 1968 during a garbage strike." With those words, Victor Lavalle launches into quite the fairy tale indeed--but a singularly modern one--complete with trolls of both the cave-dwelling and internet-lurking variety. Its morals, too, echo with the peculiar issues of the moment: men's rights activism, the alt-right, modern fatherhood, social media, and the technology of surveillance. As usual, Victor LaValle is able to seamlessly layer his story-telling genius with social issues to take you on an equally entertaining and thought-provoking journey.


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The Awkward Thoughts of W. Kamau Bell: Tales of a 6' 4,
$22.40
ISBN: 9781101985878
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Dutton Books - May 2nd, 2017

So, I'm Totally Biased (see what I did there?) but this book is great. I'm biased because Kamau was the best man at my wedding. Seriously. The Jason that is my husband and co-owner of this bookstore is also the best friend mentioned in this book: on pages 65-69, pages 100-106, so many places. 

 

I know, I know--enough bragging that I know the famous guy. But what I'm really bragging about is that I know this smart, funny, SWEET guy who has been a rock in my husband's life and vice versa. Two straight guys that aren't afraid to give each other big bear hugs and say "I love you" to each other. Their love for each other makes me love both of them more. 

 

But this is a book review. And as I said--I'm biased. But really, I already know all these stories, right? So this should be the most boring book in the world to me. But it's not. I couldn't freaking put it down. I read it in a 24-hour period. It's funny. It's brutally self-aware in a no-bullshit kind of way. And it makes you want to be more self aware. It makes you want to excavate the bullshit. They're great stories, mostly stories I already know, but they're so well-told it was like hearing them for the first time. A great joke teller is a great story-teller: he has to sell you on the premise, keep you interested in the build-up, and drive you home for the punchline. Kamau is a great joke teller, and a great storyteller. And this is a great book, no bullshit.


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White Tears Cover Image
$21.56
ISBN: 9780451493699
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - March 14th, 2017

This visceral, chilling novel is a sort of literary horror story centered around Seth and Carter, two young white audiophiles whose obsession with blues music and "authentic" black culture turns into a cautionary tale of racial appropriation and privilege. When they try to pass off a haunting recording they made of a street musician as a newly discovered 1920s masterpiece by an artist they invent, an eccentric old man hears the recording and insists that the artist was real and that he had heard the record many years before. They have little chance to dismiss his claims as delusional before their own lives begin to spiral out of control. What ensues is a terrifying journey into the deep south, the spectre of racism past and present, and the American heart of darkness. A page-turning, enthralling book, particularly for fans of Victor LaValle and Mat Johnson. 


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Ill Will Cover Image
$22.40
ISBN: 9780345476043
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Ballantine Books - March 7th, 2017

Usually when people say "literary suspense," that's "literary" with a lower case "l," shorthand for a novel that won't make you lose all your brain cells while you read about salacious subjects. That's not the case here. Dan Chaon is the master of Literary Suspense: capital L, capital S, neither element sacrificing the quality of the other. His novel Await Your Reply easily makes my top 5 list of favorite novels of all time. Ill Will isn't quite so perfect, but it's still brilliant by most metrics. Here Chaon weaves another darkly insightful tale of past and present crimes, of splintered families, and splintering selves. A novel that is worth clearing your schedule for. 


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Zami: A New Spelling of My Name: A Biomythography Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9780895941220
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Crossing Press - January 1982

 

I imagine most book people like me have that one book that they think of more as an old friend than a book: that wiser, creative, outgoing friend who taught you how to live life and become you. This is that book for me. Zami is a moving and intensely powerful coming of age memoir that I promise, no matter how old you are, still has plenty to teach you. Audre Lorde would come to describe herself as "black, lesbian, mother, warrior, poet." The strength and beauty of this book will certainly emphasize the "warrior" and "poet" in equal measure. 


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Sister Outsider: Essays and Speeches Cover Image
By Audre Lorde, Cheryl Clarke (Foreword by)
$13.59
ISBN: 9781580911863
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Crossing Press - August 2007

If you are a woman, if you are a person of color, if you are LGBTQ, you are not complete until you have read Audre Lorde. And if you are none of the above, but you love anyone in one of those categories, or want to understand them, you need to read Audre Lorde. Start here, and when your brain is finished expanding by 1000%, take a deep breath, and then read her amazing memoir--or "biomythography" as she calls it--Zami: A New Spelling of My Name. She is my hero. She will be your hero too. 


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Collected Poems: 1950-2012 Cover Image
By Adrienne Rich, Claudia Rankine (Introduction by)
$39.99
ISBN: 9780393285116
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - June 21st, 2016

It may seem like cheating, calling the collected poems of Adrienne Rich--who passed away in 2012--the best book of 2016. But I would argue that you would be cheating yourself to overlook it, that in fact we need Adrienne Rich more urgently now than ever. One of the first poets to truly embody the concept that the personal is political, Rich's poetry--and essays--have always been a solace and a guidepost to me ever since I first began to develop a political consciousness. Since the election, I have found myself to be ravenous for her work like never before. Her words will console you, they will rally you, they will feed you, and they will haunt you.

 

I've walked there picking mushrooms at the edge of dread, but don't be fooled, this isn't a Russian poem,

this is not somewhere else but here, our country moving closer to its own truth and dread,

its own ways of making people disappear.

-from "What Kind of Times Are These" (p.755)


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Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper & Arsenic in the Nineteenth-Century Home Cover Image
$35.99
ISBN: 9780500518380
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Thames & Hudson - October 11th, 2016

A book about deadly poison and decorative arts? This avid mystery reader and design buff must be in heaven. The packaging of this high-concept book is pretty high-concept itself. Interspersed between full-bleed pages of wallpaper reproductions are bound-in pamphlet-sized essays on everything from historical scientific debate on the effects of arsenic to murder and madness. The wallpapers reprinted herein are high-quality reproductions of actual historical wallpaper samples that have tested positive for arsenic, including patterns by Christopher Dresser and William Morris. This book is a truly delightful oddity.


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Shrill Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9780316348461
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Hachette Books - February 28th, 2017

Shrill is a must read for all women, and maybe an even more urgent read for men. Lindy West's writing is the very picture of why Social Justice Warrior should be the highest compliment you can give rather than a lazy hashtagged insult. Through intensely personal anecdotes, Lindy smashes taboos as surely as beer bottles in a bar brawl. Her career started under Dan Savage's wing at The Stranger, and like Savage, her writing is funny, fierce, and utterly fearless.


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The Ballad of Black Tom Cover Image
$10.39
ISBN: 9780765387868
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Tor.com - February 16th, 2016

If Malcolm X were to write a horror story, it might turn out something like The Ballad of Black Tom. Not the diplomatic, post-Mecca Malcolm X, but rather the "chickens coming home to roost" Malcolm X. Or, more to the point, Cthulhu coming home to roost, because in fact, Victor LaValle wrote this novella in direct response to H.P. Lovecraft: specifically the short story, "The Horror at Red Hook." LaValle was a fan of Lovecraft's work in his teens, but gradually became conscious of the overt racism and xenophobia in his work. This novella is a masterful and gratifying response to an insidious flaw in the work of horror's crowned master. 


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You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine Cover Image
$12.79
ISBN: 9780062388681
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Harper Perennial - August 9th, 2016

VOTED THE BEST BOOK OF 2015 BY THE STAFF OF THE BOOK TABLE! You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine is the most fun you'll ever have reading about the alienation of contemporary culture. Set in a much weirder version of our world of aggressive marketing, chemically created food, talk show freak shows, and reality TV, you'll go back and forth between thinking, "this is so weird!" and thinking, "but is it really any weirder than the way we live now?" Simultaneously creepy, hilarious, and mindblowingly brilliant, this book is the weirdest, wildest, best thing you'll read this year.


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The Beautiful Bureaucrat Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9781250103758
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Picador USA - May 10th, 2016

Picking up this taut novella is not unlike asking to borrow a magician's handkerchief. My expectations--which were high, frankly, given that several of my favorite authors blurbed it--were exceeded many times over. At its core, The Beautiful Bureaucrat may simply be the story of a young couple trying to build a life together against the odds, but this sometimes sobering, often charming romance has been fed through the prismatic lens of a Kafka story. It is at once a gripping mystery and an existential meditation on a dystopian future. It is funny, it is elegiac, and it is unforgettable. Though this slim volume could easily be read in one sitting, it will continue to haunt you for a long time to come.


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Loving Day Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9780812983661
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Spiegel & Grau - September 6th, 2016

Mat Johnson books should come with a warning label, something to the effect of: "Wickedly sharp and caustically funny. Reading this book may lead to shattering your worldview." At some point in most writers' careers, for better or worse, something known as the semi-autobiographical novel rears its head. But no one other than Mat Johnson could write one quite like this: the story of a passing-for-white, overcompensating-as-black, mixed-race man mourning the death of his white dad while learning he has a teenage daughter who has never known she might be anything other than white and Jewish. More to the point, no one other than Mat Johnson would turn a semi-autobiographical novel into a ghost story centered around a utopian mixed-race cult, ending in arson and riots. All of this, filtered through Johnson's acerbic wit and tack-sharp prose makes for a novel that tells the truth about the construct of race in ways few others dare.


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Boy, Snow, Bird Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9781594633409
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Riverhead Books - March 3rd, 2015

Boy, Snow, Bird is a far more straightforward novel than the dazzling Mr. Fox, but that makes it no less daring. Taking the framework of the classic Snow White story--and then dismantling it piece by piece--Oyeyemi tells the story of a black family who passes for white in the middle of the 20th century, until Boy--a white woman--marries into the family and gives birth to a dark-skinned child named Bird. What follows is a constantly surprising story that examines the various ways in which we internalize race and gender in our culture.


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Bellweather Rhapsody Cover Image
$11.95
ISBN: 9780544483910
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Mariner Books - June 2nd, 2015

What makes Bellweather Rhapsody a spectacularly charming summer read? First, there are the sly nods to popular fiction, from The Shining, to The Westing Game, to a cast of characters straight out of a modern day Agatha Christie novel (all of whom have something to hide, of course.) But Racculia has written a novel with far more depth than the average mystery novel or horror story. The pleasure in this book is not just in how the pieces of the mystery come together, but in watching how this cast of colorful strangers come together in ways that are constantly surprising--to themselves as much as to the reader.


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Alex Cover Image
By Pierre Lemaitre, Frank Wynne (Translator)
$11.99
ISBN: 9781623651244
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Maclehose Press Quercus - August 5th, 2014

We all know that the central question to every mystery novel is, quite simply, "whodunit?" But Alex is anything but simple. In fact, this is possibly the least interesting question here. First there are the crimes: gruesome, unthinkable crimes--but each time you think that you understand the central investigation, the novel tilts the mirror ever so slightly until you realize the core is really something else entirely. These layers of funhouse mirrors subtly shift the narrative from one direction to the next, until you finally realize that the more interesting question is not "whodunit" but who is the victim? No, not even that--what makes a victim? This is a gripping, disturbing, and surprising book that constantly reinvents itself.


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The Pigman Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062272447
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Harper Teen - January 7th, 2014

Before John Green, before Rainbow Rowell, there was a writer named Paul Zindel, and thank heavens for that. As a result, I survived my teenage years despite having grown up in the dark ages.


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Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781451666175
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Touchstone Books - October 29th, 2013

Allie Brosh's Hyperbole and a Half is full of humor and heart. Where else can you find yourself laughing yourself to tears over the trials and tribulations of traveling cross-country with dogs one moment, and the next moment nodding along at one of the most profound and accurate portrayals of clinical depression you've ever read?


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Eleanor & Park Cover Image
$15.19
ISBN: 9781250012579
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - February 26th, 2013

Have you ever read a book where your connection to it is so deeply personal, so emotional, that to recommend it to anyone feels like oversharing? Luckily, I have little compunction when it comes to TMI. When I say a book made me cry, what I mean is: tears silently fell down my cheeks for a moment or two. When I say Eleanor & Park made me cry, I mean that I had one of the most prolonged, sobbing, full-bodied, carthartic cries of the last decade. Eleanor is a perfect composite of me and my friends at that age. She's also a perfect portrayal of what it is to be young and poor, young and different, young and afraid—afraid to feel, to love, to deserve something good.

Also, Eleanor & Park is the sweetest, most adorable love story ever, set to the soundtrack of my youth—The Smiths, The Cure, Joy Divison, and all of the rest of the wonderful-awful 80s.


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The Devotion of Suspect X Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9781250002693
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Minotaur Books - February 28th, 2012

Even though the answer to "whodunit" comes in the first 20 pages of The Devotion of Suspect X, what keeps you reading is what happens next. When an argument with her abusive ex-husband goes horribly wrong, Yasuko's neighbor-come-stalker embraces the chance to insert himself into her life, taking it upon himself to cover up the crime. The new questions become: How does he do it? Why? Will they be caught? Will his devotion remain steadfast, even as it becomes clear that his love is not reciprocated? The game of cat and mouse that ensues between a mathematician, a physics professor, a single mother, and a police detective is constantly witty and surprising, with a twist ending that will all but blindside you. The Devotion of Suspect X is a thoroughly modern twist on the classic puzzle mystery.


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The Fault in Our Stars Cover Image
By John Green, Kate Rudd (Read by)
$7.99
ISBN: 9781491510704
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Brilliance Audio - April 8th, 2014

1. This is not the book that you think it is.

2. It is exactly the book you think it is.

3. You--yes you--should read it for exactly those reasons.

It's a teen novel written at a level adults will understand; it's a coming of age story about dying young; it's a laugh-out-loud funny book about cancer; it's a self-aware romance novel; it's a tragedy without voyeurism; it's quite possibly the most life-affirming book about dying ever written.

That's why you should read this book—why you should listen to this book (even if you already read it) is because of Kate Rudd's amazing performance. Her sentences turn on a dime from sarcasm to sadness with a heartbreaking ease. It is a stunning high-wire act of a performance of a stunning high-wire act of a book.


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Will Oldham on Bonnie
By Will Oldham, Alan Licht (Editor)
$13.50
ISBN: 9780393344332
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 17th, 2012

It's no secret among those who know me that if "groupie" were a viable career choice, I would drop this whole bookselling gig in a heartbeat to follow Will Oldham around for the rest of my life. Instead, this book may be the closest I'll ever get to the elusive and brilliant singer-songwriter who mostly performs under the moniker, Bonnie 'Prince' Billy. Find out why this oddball indie folk-rocker considers both Bugs Bunny and R. Kelly to be major influences to his work. Come on, you know you want to.


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Pym Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9780812981766
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Spiegel & Grau - September 4th, 2012

Part slave narrative, part Gulliver's Travels, this strange book is an important new addition to the literary contextualization of race in America, not to mention a funny page-turning adventure. The novel is largely structured in the slave narrative tradition, but add to that the fact that it is also partly a fictional academic study by a scholar (footnotes and all), and what you have is a an ingeniously self-aware book that performs a high-wire act between the bounds of fiction and literary criticism. A cerebral, fantastical, and thoroughly clever book that had me nodding my head, laughing, and gasping along the way.


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The Boy in the Suitcase Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781616954918
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Soho Crime - January 13th, 2015

This is a great wear-your-pjs-and-read-all-day book. Marilyn Stasio of the New York Times Book Review sums it up best: "Here's something you don't often see in Nordic noir fiction--a novel written by two women about the criminal mistreatment of women and children, compassionately told from a feminist perspective and featuring female characters you can believe in."


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Mr. Fox Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9781594486180
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Riverhead Books - November 6th, 2012

Helen Oyeyemi is the jazz soloist of storytelling. Each chapter is a surprising, original new riff on the same motifs: men and women, love and violence, creativity and creation, all told through the somewhat distorted lens of the fairy tale. At turns funny, disturbing, and heartbreaking, Mr. Fox is so good that as I read it, I simultaneously wanted to race to the end, pause to savor every word, and flip back to reread from the beginning.


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Turn of Mind Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9780802145901
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Grove Press - March 27th, 2012

Turn of Mind is that rare literary gem that also happens to be a gripping, compulsive, page-turning read. Like Room by Emma Donoghue, it is a remarkable feat of point-of-view, in this case chronicling the inner workings of a once-brilliant orthopedic surgeon whose mind is slowly--and then rapidly--faltering in the grip of Alzheimer's. Central is the question of whether or not she might have murdered her best friend and neighbor, but the murder-mystery premise is housed in a thoroughly original framework, and just as compelling--and heartbreaking--are the gymnastic leaps and turns of the narrator's thought processes as she degenerates further into illness.


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Day for Night Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9780316077576
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Reagan Arthur Books - April 27th, 2011

Though each chapter of this brilliant novel is written from a different point of view, it's impossible not to become instantly absorbed in each character's story. Indeed, this is a story about storytelling, and Reiken is clearly a master of it. Near the end of the novel, one of our narrators writes, "Perhaps the meaning of the story is that you must look deep rather than far if you want to unlock any of the secrets of the universe, that once unlocked a secret loses its power unless a part of it is withheld." So goes the storytelling in Day for Night, the secrets slowly being unveiled as each narrator contributes his or her small, inward-looking piece of it, some willfully withholding parts, others incapable of looking deep enough to see all of the parts. Eventually, most of the parts of this story about trauma, family, and rebirth do fall into place, though not without ambiguities. But according to another narrator, "You must learn to trust these ambiguities. This is perhaps the most important thing I know."


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The Tiger's Wife Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780385343848
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Random House Trade - November 1st, 2011

I don't often read books just because of buzz, and when I do, I generally give myself permission to stop at any time if I'm not feeling it. This book didn't sound like "my kind of book" and through about two-thirds of it, while I agreed it was a great book, I still wasn't fully converted. Then, in the final third of the book, it was like I joined a cult. And 24 hours after finishing the book, I have no desire to leave that cult. Honestly, I think I could read this book 10 times and still find something new that I missed before, and I have in fact, spent the last 24 hours going over it in my head, finding parallels in the text that I had missed. This book has one of the most powerful, complex, and bittersweet endings I have ever read. I still don't really know how to describe what it is that Téa Obreht does in this book, just that at the end, I was bursting with energy and amazement at her breathtaking creation.


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The Giant's House: A Romance Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9780385340892
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Dial Press - October 30th, 2007

The sweetest, strangest, and saddest love story ever written. Quirky, funny, and filled with brilliant observations--the sort that make you elbow your nearest neighbor every five minutes to read out loud to them. It's one of the only books I've ever read that gave me the urge to turn back to the beginning and read it again as soon as I finished it. This is quite possibly my favorite book of all time. 


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A Gate at the Stairs Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9780375708466
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage Books USA - August 24th, 2010

This book had me laughing unreasonably just minutes before making me sob, just minutes before suffocating me with the weight of grief, before slowly lifting me back on my feet again, and finally even laughing again. And that was just in the last 50 pages. Aside from the mood swings at the end, this book contains the most delightfully astute, clever, gorgeous writing I think I have ever seen. You can feel a playfulness in the language, through Moore's character's quips and linguistic foibles and gorgeously detailed descriptions. This book feels so real, its characters so accurate, you're sure you've not only met them before, but have known them all along.


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Never Let Me Go Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9781400078776
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage Books USA - March 14th, 2006

Ishiguro is a rare magician of a writer, whose prose is so deceptively simple and yet haunting. This book broke me and made me sob at the end. In a good way.


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Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic Cover Image
$11.95
ISBN: 9780618871711
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Mariner Books - June 2007

Forget that this is a graphic novel if that's not your thing. This is some of the best writing period that you'll ever read.


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Await Your Reply Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780345476036
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Ballantine Books - June 1st, 2010

Dan Chaon is pure evil genius. Await Your Reply is an intense, gorgeously written novel about becoming unmoored from one's identity in the modern age--but as if that weren't enough--it has possibly the most mind-bending and twisty plotline I have ever encountered. I dare you not to be consumed, and ultimately bowled over by this book.


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The Unnamed Cover Image
By Ferris
$11.99
ISBN: 9780316034005
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Reagan Arthur Books - September 14th, 2010

In just over 300 pages, Joshua Ferris manages to write a story both epic in scope and microscopic in detail. A marvelously executed, heartbreaking love story.


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Big Machine Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780385527996
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Spiegel & Grau - March 9th, 2010

To preface this review, I'll just say that I'm not good with the supernatural. I never read fantasy, sci-fi or horror novels, and I'm also an atheist. However, the fact that I still wanted to pick up this book after reading the description, and the fact that I can't stop thinking about it now that I've read it says a lot in my book. LaValle is doing a lot of different things here, from urban realism to allegory, from philosophical novel to mystical fantasy, and I would say that LaValle is about 95% successful. And those parts he's successful at?--he's 200% successful. I've mostly broken my college habit of marking up my books, but it was very hard to resist the urge with this one. There's so much to chew on here, and if I were a college English professor, I would go out of my way to build a course around this book. I particularly love the way the book looks at faith and doubt, not as opposites, but as a system of checks and balances to keep religious fanaticism at bay.


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Mr. Peanut Cover Image
$12.80
ISBN: 9780307454904
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage Books - April 19th, 2011

You know that feeling when, in the middle of the day, you remember something that recently happened, only to realize that it was just a dream you had the night before? That's how reading this book feels. It's rife with moments when you are overcome with deja vu, like going in and out of a dream state. I was blown away by the subtle, clever craftsmanship of this novel and its raw emotional impact. By a mile the best book I've read so far this year.


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The Paul Chowder Chronicles: The Anthologist Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780399172595
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Blue Rider Press - October 9th, 2014

The narrator of these two novellas is by turns funny, vulnerable, frustrating, charming, haughty, brilliant, and pathetic. In other words, he may be the most lovable, authentic character ever to appear in American literature. This book continues to jangle around in your head for weeks after reading it, much the way a particularly catchy metered stanza might.


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The Dream Songs Cover Image
By John Berryman, Daniel Swift (Editor), Michael Hofmann (Introduction by)
$15.20
ISBN: 9780374534554
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - October 21st, 2014

Berryman occupies a special place in my brain. He is quite simply one of the most startlingly original poets of the 20th century, and the fact that he isn't taught right up front in literature classes alongside T. S. Eliot and Sylvia Plath makes me terribly sad.


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White Teeth Cover Image
$13.56
ISBN: 9780375703867
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage Books USA - June 12th, 2001

Rarely is a book so entertaining and hilarious, and yet dense and sprawling enough that you could write your dissertation on it. This book is simply brilliant.


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Borkmann's Point Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9781400030323
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage Books USA - March 13th, 2007

I hate to say it, but Inspector Van Veeteren kind of leaves my beloved Kurt Wallander in the dust. This book is plotted to within an inch of its life, dense with clues to puzzle over. And Nesser doesn't sacrifice character development or good writing to move the plot forward. The characters are vividly painted without adding too many overwrought side plots the way so many mystery writers do. Nesser puts the mystery front and center, but manages with very little padding to develop a cast of funny, likeable, and wholly believable characters. Hakan Nesser has, with this book, put himself front and center in my lineup of favorite mystery writers.


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Land of the Blind Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9780061712845
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Harper Perennial - September 2009

Ostensibly, this is a police procedural, but it's unlike any other procedural or mystery novel that you will ever read. For one thing, the writing. The writing is incredible. This book has all of the depth and breadth that you would demand of a literary novel--indeed, Walter has gone on to write many critically acclaimed works of literary fiction since. This just so happens to also be a mystery novel. He avoids all of the trappings of the genre while still writing a fully absorbing and suspenseful story. I am completely stunned. This is the second of a series, but it doesn't feel like a series book. I read them out of order, and the first one, Over Tumbled Graves, is a more traditionally structured mystery, but also excellent.


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The Last Detective Cover Image
By Peter Lovesey, Louise Penny (Introduction by)
$7.99
ISBN: 9781616955304
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Soho Crime - August 19th, 2014

Peter Lovesey is my favorite living British mystery writer. The series featuring Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond of the Bath Police Department has the wit and style of the great Golden Age writers, and they are also perfectly crafted puzzle mysteries. Though they are set in contemporary Bath, England, Lovesey uses to great effect elements from the city's deep historical roots. One book (The Last Detective, which is the first in the series) involves missing Jane Austen letters; another (The Vault) centers around skeletal remains found in what was once Mary Shelley's cellar. My personal favorite, and a particular treat for avid mystery readers, is The Bloodhounds, which centers around an oddball group of crime fiction aficionados who, while caught in the middle of a real locked room mystery, are busy arguing over who wrote the best locked room mystery.


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Still Life Cover Image
$13.59
ISBN: 9780312541538
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Griffin - September 30th, 2008

Though I do like a good traditional English mystery in the vein of Agatha Christie, I don't really consider myself a reader of the "cozy" subset of the genre. This series, however, really stands out from the rest. They take place in a tiny village in Quebec, and the eccentric characters and local color are exceptionally well-drawn. The mysteries themselves are perfectly plotted with plenty of texture and nuance. Louise Penny has swept up numerous awards for this series, and it becomes clear pretty quickly why. My only complaint would be that she gets a bit too sentimental for me at times, but the writing is good enough that I give her a pass.

(Note: I am normally not a stickler for this, but here I must insist that you read these books in order. There are continuing story lines that are just as suspenseful as the primary mystery, and you do not want to ruin them for yourself.)


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Don't Look Back Cover Image
By Karin Fossum, Felicity David (Translator)
$11.96
ISBN: 9780156031363
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Harvest Books - June 2005

This magnificent Norwegian series is full of dark atmospherics, vivid characters, and complex mysteries that develop at just the right pace. I tend to gobble Fossum's books up in a day or two. They leave you guessing right up to the last page . . . sometimes even beyond.


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Gone Girl Cover Image
$11.99
ISBN: 9780307588371
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Broadway Books - April 22nd, 2014

If you're a fan of Alfred Hitchcock or Patricia Highsmith, you must read this book. The dark, twisty storyline and cynical depiction of a marriage gone very, very wrong, is guaranteed to send a chill or two down your spine.


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Generation Loss Cover Image
$16.10
ISBN: 9780156031349
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Harvest Books - February 21st, 2013

This is, by far, the most beautifully written suspense novel I have ever read. Generation Loss is less genre fiction that it is a novel about artistic vision, creative block, and redemption. The references to the 70s punk scene are pitch-perfect; the descriptions of photography--both real-world and fictionalized--are vivid and haunting. A chilling, page-turning book.


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The Likeness Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780143115625
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Penguin Books - May 2009

If you like mysteries with nice and tidy solutions, skip these. But if you like great writing, and books populated with characters and mysteries as messy as real life, these are the books for you. This is stay-up-all-night reading, and the people and places of these books will stick with you.


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Midnight's Children Cover Image
$14.40
ISBN: 9780812976533
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Random House Trade - April 4th, 2006

The most difficult, rewarding, and funny book I have ever read. A surreal history of the birth of modern India.


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Atmospheric Disturbances Cover Image
$13.60
ISBN: 9780312428433
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Picador USA - April 28th, 2009

This is a dazzling little puzzle of a book. Wonderfully written, clever, and intellectually stimulating. Emotionally, this book keeps you somewhat at arm's length, but the concept is intriguing, the characters beguiling, and the philosophical puzzle kept me completely enthralled.


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The Brief History of the Dead Cover Image
$12.76
ISBN: 9781400095957
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Vintage Books USA - January 9th, 2007

This deeply absorbing novel alternates between several fascinating premises: a woman on a corporate-funded expedition to Antarctica finds herself stranded; a holding-city for the dead where they reside as long as they are remembered by someone on earth; and a global pandemic that threatens to wipe out the earth's population. Brockmeier artfully pieces these stories together through alternating points of view. This is a book of big ideas, but Brockmeier doesn't let that get in the way of telling a good story, and telling it well. If this all sounds to sci-fi to you, I urge you to reconsider, as I am not at all a science fiction reader. This is a bit of a literary genre-bender, and it is exceptionally well done.


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The Chalk-Circle Man Cover Image
By Fred Vargas, Sian Reynolds (Translator)
$11.99
ISBN: 9780143115953
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Penguin Books - June 2009

The Commissaire Adamsberg series by Fred Vargas is delightfully odd. The characters are magnificent and quirky by their own rights, but the plots are where things truly get weird. Vargas is an academic and an archaeologist by trade, and despite the contemporary Paris setting, she manages to apply medieval elements to most of her books -- town criers, the Black Plague, headless horsemen -- to offbeat and almost surreal results. One of the few mystery series that I will drop everything to read each time a new one is translated from the French. 


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The Dogs Who Found Me: What I've Learned from Pets Who Were Left Behind Cover Image
$11.95
ISBN: 9781493017676
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Lyons Press - August 2016

This is the moving memoir of a man and the dogs he has rescued, how he has looked after them, and how they in turn looked out for him. Starting with his first dog who got him through 9/11 in Lower Manhattan, to the various strays that one at a time wandered into his life, all the way through to how he and his three dogs survived Katrina in New Orleans in 2005. Some of the dogs were his to keep, some he just helped along the way to new homes, but all of the dogs' stories will make you laugh, cry, or both.


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Frank O'Hara: Selected Poems Cover Image
By Frank O'Hara, Mark Ford (Editor)
$15.96
ISBN: 9780375711480
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 8th, 2009

Frank O'Hara's poems have a sort of an urgent easiness to them. Is that a contradiction? Perfect. O'Hara's poetry is full of contradictions: it's a constant collision of comedy and tragedy in every absurd and earnest (earnestly absurd? absurdly earnest?) stanza.


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The Collected Poems of Theodore Roethke Cover Image
$13.56
ISBN: 9780385086011
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Anchor Books - December 10th, 1974

Never have office supplies been so melancholy, so lyrical. "I have known the inexorable sadness of pencils..." Roethke is one of those magical poets that makes you see everything as if for the first time, that makes you hear every word as if you never knew what it meant until that moment.


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The Incognito Lounge Cover Image
$13.56
ISBN: 9780887484735
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Carnegie-Mellon University Press - February 2007

Denis Johnson is like a mad scientist of metaphor. He creates the most incredible, absurd, surreal metaphors that jolt you like an electric shock. He may be more known for his fiction, but his poetry has all of that power in concentrated form.


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The Ghost Notebooks Cover Image
$20.76
ISBN: 9781101871096
Availability: Not Yet Published
Published: Pantheon Books - February 13th, 2018

A good ghost story haunts you, chills you with its dark atmospherics, fills you with the dread and horror of the unknown. In real life, our choices are what haunt us: past mistakes, fear of the unknown consequence. Failed relationships. Failed careers. In The Ghost Notebooks, Ben Golnick seamlessly weaves between the two to create a tale of horror of both the psychological and supernatural variety. The writing is gorgeous and perceptive, and the twists are gutting. It's the most riveting ghost story I have read since David Mitchell's Slade House.