The Book Table's Best Books of 2019

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The Need Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982113162
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Simon & Schuster - July 9th, 2019

Rachel's Pick

To tell you too much about the plot of this book is to ruin it. In fact, even the jacket copy is somewhat misleading so as to not give away too much. So rather than talk about what this book is about, I’ll tell you something about the experience. Reading The Need is not unlike watching a good knife throwing act. The tension is almost suffocating; each gorgeous sentence is as dazzling as it is chilling. I already loved Helen Phillips because of her stunning little literary dystopia, The Beautiful Bureaucrat; The Need shows a writer who has not only grown, but who perhaps has no limits. I can’t wait to see what she does next.

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The Topeka School: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374277789
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 1st, 2019

Jason's Pick

I have read and loved every single book Ben Lerner has ever written, and his latest novel, a portrait of adolescence, masculinity, and cultural dysfunction in middle America in the 1990s (and essentially holding a mirror to today's societal ills), shows an author at the top of his game. Every sentence he writes is amazing and gorgeous, and his storytelling abilities here are unmatched.

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Sun Cycle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780914946090
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Cleveland State University Poetry Center - September 10th, 2019

Alex's Pick

High-stakes writing that imagines an outside to empire while trapped inside its blinding glow. Attending to the connections between subjecthood and state terror, the text continually circles back on itself as if to put theories of fugitivity into practice via poetic form. (What the hell is form? is among the questions the collection ponders.) A riotous book that refuses available representational paradigms, never content to accept the conditions of appearance that colonizers take as the given reality.

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A Quick & Easy Guide to Queer & Trans Identities Cover Image
By Mady G. (Illustrator), J.R. Zuckerberg (Illustrator), Mady G. , J.R. Zuckerberg
ISBN: 9781620105863
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Limerence Press - April 23rd, 2019

Ben's Pick

Coming out as gender nonconforming (or anything, really) often includes explaining what that is—along with what it means for you—to friends and family that have never encountered GNC people or vernacular. Unfortunately, one who realizes they are queer is not then magically imbued with the knowledge and teaching skills to educate everyone they interact with. Usually, we’re trying to define what it is we need to communicate. The snails and Sproutlings in this book can help. This gentle & informative guide is written for: concerned family, queer folk in need of an update, people preparing to come out, allies, and everyone else.

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Hollow Kingdom Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538745823
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Grand Central Publishing - August 6th, 2019

Christian's Pick

Mostly told by a pet crow, (though parts narrated by a cat threaten to steal the show, as cats often do) this zombie story asks “if humans all became zombies, how would our pets survive?” Thrilling action and riotous humor combine beautifully in this hero’s journey of a crow who thinks he’s human and his faithful dog companion.

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Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest Cover Image
ISBN: 9781477316481
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: University of Texas Press - February 1st, 2019

Eddy's Pick

Go Ahead in the Rain is a different book to everyone I’ve spoken to who has read it. To some, it’s a book of essays on A Tribe Called Quest. To others, it’s a book of chunky poems written to the beat of old hip-hop records. To me it’s a time machine made up of lyrical prose instead of gears and wires and science fiction. A book that took me through my own childhood and adolescence by the tune of my old Sony headphones. Everyone I know who has picked it up, or even just heard an excerpt, calls it moving. Hanif Abdurraqib’s personal essays are so much more than pieces about music. He talks about violence, and youth, and sugar, and love, and a time and place that you’d swear you knew just by his words. Go Ahead in the Rain is a thing of magic. What will it be to you?

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Mythos: (Ancient Greek Mythology Book for Adults, Modern Telling of Classical Greek Myths Book) Cover Image
By Stephen Fry (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781452178912
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Chronicle Books - August 27th, 2019

Lynda's Pick

Ever since I took D’aulaire’s Greek Myths out of the library as a child—and hid it so I wouldn’t have to return it in what would be a Hermes approved move—I have been a sucker for these stories.  It is no surprise that Stephen Fry feels the same way, albeit it in a more erudite and hilarious way. These retellings of the lives of the arrogant gods and their human lovers, dupes, and victims, are wonderfully funny, delightfully footnoted, and perfect for anyone from a classics scholar to someone who can’t tell the difference between Ganymede and Gaea. This beautiful volume would make a perfect gift for someone you think is special. So do what Apollo would do and buy one for you. 

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The New Me Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143133605
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Penguin Books - March 5th, 2019

Patrick's Pick

A quite definitive mantra of youthful precarity, Butler's sophomore novel will be most accessible to those who've found themselves in the purgatorial stasis between accomplishment and contentment. It harbors a satirical, though accurately ominous take on the existential crisis that is the millennial self image, and handily captures the essence of an emotional conflict that may seem as ambiguous as whatever the hell we're actually supposed to call this past decade, but will speak with clarity to worriers of a certain generation. 

The Book Table's Best Books of the Decade (2010-2019)

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

Chosen by Rachel

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 may be the weirdest, wildest, best thing you’ll ever read.

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780770436421
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Hogarth - February 4th, 2014

Chosen by Jason

This is an incredibly impressive debut novel which takes place during the Chechen conflict of the 1990s. In a landscape where war has layered upon war upon war, Marra beautifully illustrates the stratification of trauma in the lives of his characters. Both lyrical and harrowing, it is one of the best novels I have ever read.

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The Uprising: On Poetry and Finance (Semiotext(e) Intervention (Numbered) #14) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781584351122
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Semiotext(e) - October 19th, 2012

Chosen by Alex

This 2012 book, galvanized by the Occupy movement, looks at the abstraction of life under finance capital and analyzes this in relation to the slippage between sign and referent that occurs in poetry. Unlike finance, which alienates people and subjects language itself to an increasingly mechanized role in society, poetry “reactivates the social body” and makes possible new forms of relationality outside of those prescribed by capital. Funny, weird and sweet, you could easily knock this out in a single sitting. See the 2018 sequel of sorts, Breathing, for a more freewheeling elaboration of the book’s ideas.

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

Chosen by Ben

Ferris has created the Sistine Chapel of notebook doodles and it is queer, horror-themed, and set in 60’s Chicago. Protagonist Karen Reyes senses her otherness—the book opens with her recurring nightmare, an angry mob outside her window as she painfully turns into a werewolf in her room. In her waking life, she keeps the hairy fanged presentation as her own, a disguise that is true to her. When a neighbor dies under mysterious circumstances, Karen adds a trench coat and aims to solve what the cops deem a suicide. What she discovers becomes a haunting story within Karen’s coming-of-age story. While this could very easily be a book of both fine and horror art to love, it is also an immersive and rich work of fiction, every character presenting multiple intersecting truths.

While I of course want more in the form of a second volume, I invite those with impatient feelings to sit with how much Ferris has done here, that to rush this kind of labor is the best way to kill it, and mention that it is My Favorite Thing to reread this Monster.    

Staff Pick Badge
The Murderer's Ape Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101931752
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Delacorte Press - January 24th, 2017

Chosen by Christian

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.

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Stephen Florida Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566895163
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Coffee House Press - June 12th, 2018

Chosen by Eddy

I’ve met Stephen Florida. I didn’t like him. At all. He’s violent, spiteful, and constantly slouching into depravity. He’s the most disturbed character I’ve read since American Psycho’s Patrick Bateman. Only, Stephen is entirely believable, and if you’ve ever cared about anything, ever obsessed over a goal at all, you’ll find yourself identifying with him. Cheering him on. Gabe Habash explores dangerous and frightening obsession in his masterwork of storytelling, form, and voice. Read Stephen Florida slowly. Read it twice. It’s quite likely the best book I’ve read that was published in the last decade.

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Rain: A Natural and Cultural History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804137119
Availability: Not in Stock. Estimated Order Time 1-5 days.
Published: Broadway Books - April 5th, 2016

Chosen by Lynda

Once, when the world was a ball of fire all of its water—every drop that is now on the earth, from the oceans to your coffee cup—hung in the air above it. Then, for one moment the temperature dropped. Just one degree, most likely, but that was all that was needed. And then it rained for a thousand years, and that rain created the world that we know. I think about that all of the time since first reading Barnett's timeless, yet timely, and deeply lyrical history and meditation on that most romantic form of weather, rain.

Staff Pick Badge
Between the World and Me Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: In Stock (but it is always wise to call ahead to confirm!)
Published: Spiegel & Grau - July 14th, 2015

Chosen by Patrick

The bond between what will likely be Coates' definitive contribution to the literary world, and this peculiar decade from which it helms, is one of symbiosis. I cannot imagine a present in which its near fatalistic tone is not integral to contemporary Black consciousness, and I doubt the book would be exactly what it is outside the context of a Black presidency that, for better or worse, helped birth it. A retrospective look reveals further poignancy, as this mid-decade National Book Award winner predates the rampant literary inquisitions into how a Trump presidency happened, posing a more important and chillingly preemptive question: How could it not?


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