*That weren't published in 2023.
Rachel's pick: Fleishman Is in Trouble is a feat of point-of-view like no other book I've read. What starts out seeming like a "guy's" book (no strings internet sex and dating post-divorce) gradually hints that not all is what it seems here—namely, why is Toby Fleishman's old friend Libby telling the story of his divorce and newfound dating life? Whose story is this, and who gets to tell it? I was surprisingly moved—even gut punched—by this brilliantly constructed novel.
Jason's pick: The trope of the young male writer roaming through Paris is a well-worn one. Robertson gives us the feminist take in this remarkable semi-autobiographical novel touching on art, philosophy, fashion, and literary theory as tools to look at the underexamined concept of girlhood. The narrative moves back and forth between a middle aged woman and her younger self as she wanders through experiences—both lived and read—that shape her development as a writer. Robertson is a poet and an essayist and she brings those skill to her debut work of fiction. I wanted to applaud every beautifully crafted sentence and stamp my feet with approval at every delightful digression.
Alex's pick: This book asks important questions in straightforward language that anyone can understand. I appreciated how the author used her own personal experiences to apprehend her complicity in larger political conflicts without pretending to know everything or be perfect.
Ben's pick: Of course these cards are beautiful, they were made by a wildly talented artist, but the weight and size of them is gorgeous also. Hefty enough for daily use but flexible and thin enough to shuffle them in one go. The book is carefully put together and easy to use. It lays out the identity of the mythological person/creature in the artwork, the meaning of the card itself and the reversal. I have a few decks and have seen many come through the store and this one remains one of the finest I’ve seen, for a super reasonable price. Great for beginners and a unique addition to any practice. Don’t forget a journal! A useful book is cool, but your reflections are what makes the whole thing worth doing.
Eddy's pick: It feels like something you'd find in the dirty slush and snow. Like you took it home and rinsed off its opalescent oil slick coating, like you scratched at the hard parts with a safety pin until you got to the hurting red wet tender underneath. This nasty, sexy, violent fright of a book. It's pretty, too.
Kat's pick: When I walk down the streets of Chicago or sit at home in my messy apartment, I often find myself wondering how future archaeologists will interpret the objects around me. What will they make of municipal mailboxes? My laptop? My toothbrush? My Funko Pops? Reading, too, can satisfy this urge to time travel. When we read, we are conversing with the past. When we write, we signal to the future. In Cloud Cuckoo Land, Anthony Doerr intertwines stories from different epochs, spanning from the fall of Constantinople to humanity’s flight from earth on a space station, whose characters are connected by their hunt for an Ancient Greek comedy. With enveloping style, Doerr creates lovable, warm characters, while also exploring big questions of free will, morality, and the fabric of reality itself. This book is ambitious, intricate, and vastly satisfying. I hope historians find it 2,000 years from now and conclude that we were pretty cool.
Lynda's pick: There are reasons that this first ever, true courtroom procedural—a genre I don't care for—has never been out of print, but it came as a surprise to me that one of them is that it's such a joy to read. Yes, it is long, and contains the attitudes and prejudices of its time, but it is also wonderfully written, with wit, verve, a passion for the Machiavellian truths of the legal profession as well as a Romantic's eye for the natural beauties of its Upper Michigan setting. Put on your favorite jazz album, pour yourself a coffee, and get pulled in to this genre classic.
Nick's pick: Sometimes A Great Notion is a masterpiece of a novel. I can't put it much better than that. At its base, the plot follows the bookish Leland Stamper as he returns to his Oregon home, hellbent on vengeance against the backwoods logging family—especially Hank, his hulk of an older brother—who so violently scarred the years of his youth (or so he believes). Bound with a beautiful tapestry of characters and voices, Sometimes A Great Notion is a novel that deconstructs masculinity, a novel that sheds light on our desires for revenge, a novel that makes us question what life means when there's nothing left to fight for.
Patrick's pick: Once or maybe twice a year, I kick back and enjoy the fiery sounds of Stokley Carmichael's riveting 1966 UC Berkeley speech in its entirety. Reading this fulfilling biography was like being able to physically grab hold of that brilliant oration and unfold it to reveal a tapestry of affirmations and contradictions which illustrate a portrait of an imperfect, but undeniably important figure. One whose mostly unsung contributions to the radical ideation of mid 20th century America have played a central role in shaping Black identity, making his journey as worthy of acknowledgment as the more familiar juggernauts of the civil rights movement.