Reading this book is much like watching one of the films it discusses--I can spend hours with it and still find something new when I come back to it again later. A potent mix of interview, illustration, movie stills, diagrams, and design excellence make it hard to put this book down, even if you're trying to avoid spoilers because you still haven't seen the end of "Moonrise Kingdom." It is truly the most in-depth film book I've ever had the pleasure to hold in my hands. This book is perfect for hardened Anderson fans like myself, but even a casual moviegoer will appreciate the thoughtfulness and attention to detail here.
Before Ratatouille, there was Anatole. What cold-hearted monster wouldn't love a book about a mouse who bikes around Paris in a tiny beret? In addition to being playful, imaginative, and easy to read, this book teaches pride in work and features illustrations that interweave with the plot rather than simply show a pretty picture. There is a whole series about this fascinating mouse, but this book was first and best.
While its focus is a bit Western, this is an excellent book for teaching children about...well, everything! Written in forty concise chapters that reach from the stone age to the atomic age, Gombrich's book is less about dates and places than the human experience. I began reading it to my daughter before her birth, continue reading her the occasional chapter now, and intend to tuck a copy into her bag when she heads off to school someday. This book is a history lover's perfect companion through childhood and into adulthood.
This novel somehow mixes baseball, the American civil war, and a giant of literature without actually being about any of those things. Instead, it follows a young man through his short time as a soldier and his long ordeal with what is now called PTSD. Though he cannot speak for most of the book, his rich inner life unfolds along with a series of events that left me questioning reality from the edge of my seat. McFarland's writing here is intricately detailed yet poetic, even when dealing with such weighty subjects as incest, moral ambiguity, and the meaning of "home." I consider it the perfect war novel for those who don't really like war novels (but if you do like war novels, try this one if only for the high degree of historical accuracy).
This collection of poetry includes "greatest hits" from the poet's career as well as some later works he wrote before passing in 2009. Among them is "Heart's Needle," a poem that becomes better and richer each time I revisit it. Snodgrass' style here is lyrical yet understated in a way that invites us to read between the lines of his perfect metaphors, while other poems are more direct. At turns bawdy, beautiful, and heart-wrenching, this collection offers a poem for any mood, season, or occasion.
A living master of the short story form, Ben Marcus fills this book with characters you find yourself thinking about days after you've finished reading about them. He uses bitterness and schadenfreude the way Rembrandt used oils, and he expertly reveals bits and pieces of exposition in a way that keeps you wondering as the stories unfold. These tales include the painfully real as well as the eerily surreal, passages that make your chest hurt as well as ones that induce giggle-snorts, and tried-and-true story forms along with experimental pieces. At the end of the book, I just wanted to find Ben Marcus and give him a hug.
If you want to read a contemporary novel set in Chicago, you can’t do much better than The Great Perhaps. Ordinary problems unfold into extraordinary events as the characters grapple with the limits of science and faith, mortality, love, politics, and a flirtation with anarcho-terrorism. There are some great lines in here, like, “Madeline decides Jonathan is an immature, selfish asshole and that she is never talking to him again,” and, “Please tear my limbs from their sockets and let the backseat and my older sister be totally covered with blood.” There are parts that make you laugh, parts that make you cry, and parts that make you want to break things. Read it if you like a book that makes you think and feel.
This is a funny, imaginative, well-illustrated book about unconditional love. My own little Stinky Face asks me to read it to her again and again. I recommend it to any parent who is tired of the same ABC books and wants something fun that will withstand repeated reading, as well as to any children who wonder if they would still be loveable if they were slimy swamp creatures.
Manto's keen eye fills these pages with unrelenting detail, showing you both the beauty and the grime of Bombay's streets. His picaresque stories might be considered bold now but were positively jaw-dropping in his time. Depending on how you feel about pimps and murderers, Manto will either make you glad to be safe on the streets of Oak Park or nostalgic for a place and time you never knew.
Looking for a strong female character for the Pre-K Set? Has your child watched Brave so many times you're desperate for something--anything!--else like it? Well, before Merida came along, the smart, resourceful, and daring Princess Elizabeth taught kids that you can kick butt and take names wearing nothing more than a paper bag. There's also an important lesson here about judging people based on their actions, not their appearance, along with a healthy dose of humor so it doesn't come off as preachy.
Pale Fire is an experiment in form told (or should I say annotated?) by one of literature's great unreliable narrators. Come for the 999-line poem; stay for the dark humor, the assassination plot, and the head-scratching work of determining what's really going on here. This is quintessential Nabakov, showcasing his ability to write a character with a distinctive voice while maintaing the incomparable writing style that suggests he could pen a microwave instruction manual and make it an enjoyable read.
If, like me, you're drawn to beautiful writing about ugly things, this book is for you. While this collection of short stories may be the saddest book I've ever read (I had to take breaks while reading it), I found myself re-reading passages or even whole stories as soon as I finished them. Hemenway's characters, including an intelligence analyst who waxes metaphysical on Dairy Queen and a young woman who is both survivor and left behind, are so rich and nuanced they make even the story set on another planet feel stingingly real. Hemenway's near-obsession with simulacra also sets these stories apart.
All Days Are Night may be the most accessible "deep" novel I've ever read. It grapples with concepts like gender performativity, the construction of identity, and creation through destruction, yet the weightless prose makes it easy reading. Stamm leaps between years and periods of the main characters' lives effortlessly, blending flashbacks into the present to link place and meaning in that special, voyeuristic way fans of his other work will instantly recognize. I recommend this novel both to anyone who has spent a significant amount of time questioning the reality of selfhood and anyone who has scrupulously avoided doing so.
This short story collection is entirely set in Pilsen, a Chicago neighborhood whose sense of place is here so strong that it becomes a character in its own right. It isn't, however, the Pilsen you can visit today but a combination of a Pilsen that once was (dark, gritty realism) and a Pilsen that could never be (whimsical magical realism). If you enjoy reading as a form of travel, take this trip! The people and places of the neighborhood will haunt you for weeks after you return home.
These nine tales showcase Atwood's dark humor, particularly the stories dealing with vengeance and comeuppance. I love them because the characters all feel fresh--there are no stock characters or tired tropes here--despite the fact that many of them are in the twilight of their lives. Atwood so skillfully crafts the unexpected that even when the title of a story gives away a plot twist, you still feel surprised. While three of the stories are intertwined and the same strange-but-true weather events re-occur throughout the book (remember the Polar Vortex?), each stands alone as a distinct piece of fiction. Prepare to be drawn into each little masterpiece and find yourself lost in these fantasy realms, noirish streetscapes, and gentrifying Toronto neighborhoods.
What is it to be a man? A husband? A father? How much more complicated is masculinity when you're a Native American raised on a reservation? Many of these poems address this, often through another question--what is it to be a person? This book tackles the whole hot, pulsing mess of life from birth to death and pins it down so readers can take a long look at everything between, using time-honored poetry forms like the sonnet as well as postmodern elements. Don't think, though, that these poems are more style than substance. The first poem, taken alone, was (moving, thoughtful, beautiful, intense, complex) enough to keep me up at night the first time I read it. Sherman Alexie is my favorite living poet, and Face will show you why.
This novel is a truly exceptional piece of genre writing. Appealing to both the naive and ironic audiences, it uses genre conventions to move the plot along while defying them with a strong female protagonist and references to philosophy (Bentham and Baudrillard), popular culture (Bravo and E!), and consumerism (it looks like an IKEA catalog). Its clever design allows it to work in a postmodern, metatextual space full of easter eggs, but those things don't interfere with the narrative structure. I recommend this to readers looking for a fun, quick, spooky read but also to readers looking to chew on something deeper.
Just when readers are beginning to think dystopian fiction is played out, Adcox comes along with this tale of a marriage failing or reviving (you decide) against the backdrop of a shadowy lumpen underground, far-reaching corporate conspiracies, and a government agent enforcing secret laws. References to current and recent events plus the slow creep of the outrageous into the quotidian make these frightening possibilities feel that much more possible. Yet, the simplicity and directness of the main characters’ problems makes the frightening future-world Adcox has constructed easy to accept. If you’ve ever wished a George Saunders or Donald Barthelme short story would just keep going until it became a novel, you might read this and think your wish has been granted.
If I were writing a recipe for this book, its ingredients would include one part Kafkaesque bureaucracy, one part Swiftian satire, and two parts Oscar Wilde-style wit in addition to a breed of shifting, unpredictable character that feels unique to Zink. As a bird lover, I enjoyed that the protagonists are bird watchers, but you don’t need to be a bird nerd to enjoy this novel. You will, however, like it better if you get a kick out of tragicomedy and smile at perversely clever one-liners like, “They carried on their courtships like hustlers at a church picnic,” “Albania is the West Virginia of Europe,” “I’ll be a force to be reckoned with, like Olaf or Batman,” and (after being told a colleague was a government informant), “That’s impossible. The guy never worked a day in his life!”
This book is light on text and heavy on pictures--fun, clever, creative pictures of dinosaurs making mischief. Brought to you by the geniuses behind the Dinovember internet phenomenon, it is the perfect gift for children (or adults) who love the Toy Story movies, kaiju flicks, or the book Tea Rex. Pair it with some plastic dinos from Pumpkin Moon for a less creepy alternative to Elf on the Shelf.
The title suits it—this book is both poetry and prose, two separate narratives that blend into a whole, a guide to finding the sacred in the mundane, and about characters who are two things at once. If you're an Ali Smith fan, you'll be pleased to find some elements of her previous work—links between death and memory, the overlap of high culture and pop culture, and witty wordplay—but it feels wholly original. If this will be your first experience with Ali Smith, cancel your meetings. Clear your schedule. Have dinner delivered. You won't want to put this down.
Froodle is a book for people who like birds, saying silly things, lovely full-color illustrations, and/or puns. Antoinette Portis demonstrates the value of trying something new both through the book's plot and by suddenly making you turn the book vertically mid-story. It's also amazing how much expression she packs into the eyes of the crow character--you can really feel his struggle adapting to change! After months of reading, it remains a favorite for me as well as my daughter.
Well-written, engaging, and aminently educational, Searching For Zion grabbed me and pulled me in a way few other nonfiction books have done. Armchair historians, reggae fans, people interested in tales of diaspora, and anyone who enjoys reading about how friendships expand our worlds should read this book!
With this novel, Claire Fuller becomes the mistress of the unexpected, the queen of foreshadowing without spoiling surprises, and the ace of seamlessly interwoven exposition. There is not one thing I'd change about this book. Not one! It's perfect and pretty amazing. Crack the spine, then prepare for your chest to ache and your breath to catch.
Did you know that the war on drugs started as a racist conspiracy against jazz singers? Or that Billie Holiday didn't die from a drug overdose, as you may have heard, but was basically murdered by the FBI? How about the fact that the racist, classist roots of the drug war influenced inhumane practices that are still taking lives today, including allowing prison administrators to bake a woman alive? Read this book, and you'll know...and then what will you do about it?
There's no other sci-fi novel like this on bookshelves today. There's no other novel like this, period. If you like Heinlein-style battle scenes, massive Russian novels, in-depth analyses of imagined cultures, alternate histories, retrofuturism, and characters with deep back stories, you will enjoy this. As you can see by its size, however, it is not for the faint of heart. Prepare for a complex, engaging read--not a beach book (unless you like getting sunburn).
While The Graduate is a rare case of the film being better than the book, most of the haters can spare no love for the novel because of the movie is so good--not because the book is bad. In fact, one of the highlights of the Mike Nichols adaptation are the characters' conversations, and they've been lifted almost directly from the page in every iconic scene. In fact, Webb so wonderfully captures the patterns of human speech that The Graduate could double as a how-to manual for writing dialog. While the film offers opulent settings and sumptuous sensory detail, Webb pares the prose down to sparer, Hemingwayesque descriptions. This is, however, entirely in service to the rapid-fire repartee, clever banter, and endlessly quotable lines. A perfect gift for recent grads, parents of moody college students, and cultural studies junkies alike, I hereby nominate this novel for the Best Book You Think You Know, But Don't award.
Between his knack for amazing first lines, his limitless creativity, and his complete disbelief in the constraints of genre, Rajaniemi's stories form not only one of the best and most consistent collections of sci-fi and fantasy writing I've had the pleasure of reading but one of the best collections of fiction of any kind published so far this century. From ghost dogs, digital dragons, and saucy demigodesses to bitcoin bankers, redstone cathedrals, and brain hacking, everything here feels at once mythical, timely, and of the (too, too near) future. If you like horror, fantasy, sci-fi, all of them put in a blender, and/ or just plain old good storytelling, read this book!
I promise you that if you read these stories, you will never forget the characters within them. You’ll also never think the same way about voodoo, the planet Venus, the history of Christianity in Japan, or the strictures of genre. Each of these short fictions is exceptional, as the author took the time to develop people and places that only novels get from some writers. Karen Joy Fowler is a national treasure, the first story alone made me wish I could have three of her babies, and you should read this book right now.
Part folk tale, part pint-size bildungsroman, this graphic novel (part of the Hilda series) makes a great bedtime story. The detail within the illustration and the character development both exceed expectations, and Pearson perfectly captures what it’s like to grow up an odd duck. At the same time, the supernatural elements and the mundane aspects of ordinary life balance perfectly, so the book is exciting without being too scary. Don’t be surprised to find your child in bed with the blanket pulled over their head, stealth-reading it with a flashlight.
Regardless of your child’s reading level, this book is a heap of visually interesting fun. My daughter can’t read anything but her name as yet, but she loves having this story read to her. More than that, she enjoys making up her own stories as she turns the page and watches the colors blend to create new animal shapes. This is the perfect choice for a creative child, but also for a child thirsting for examples of creativity.
This may be the weirdest of Vonnegut's weird, wonderful novels. I love everything I've read by him, but I recommend this in particular for those who found Slaughterhouse Five too serious, for those who especially enjoy his illustrations, and for those who might like peeking at Vonnegut's rejected ideas to see all the books he never wrote. It also includes a rather endearing introduction. Come for the funny pictures. Stay for the mentally unstable Pontiac dealer.
A group of very different characters narrate this novel through letters, chat logs, diary entries, and other forms of communication, and they speak to and of equally-interesting people, animals, and machines that may never hear them, let alone understand them. The link between intelligence and the desire to express one's thoughts and connect with other beings is at this novel's heart, but its manifold delights are less simple and harder to explain. Read this to feel more human; read this to question your humanity.
My first impulse is to blurb this book with a couple rows of heart emoji, but I know that would put off some people, and I would NEVER want to do anything to discourage anyone from reading Barthelme. "The School" alone is worth the price of this book--it may the best short story of the twentieth century--but Sixty Stories is chock full of great writing. Take it home, settle into your favorite reading spot, and put a pillow on your lap so you don't get bruises from all the times your jaw drops.
This novel about The American Dream is an excellent companion (counterpoint?) to The Great Gatsby. Lying your way into the upper echelons of society looks very different when you're a Nigerian immigrant in Nebraska. Iromuanya packs dark humor, a fascinating cast of characters, a twisting plot, and a thought-provoking ending into less than 300 pages. If you read Americanah and wondered about people without money for computers or the tech savvy to blog, you'll enjoy this startling tragicomedy.
Do not judge these books by their froufrou covers! The Neapolitan Quartet has organized crime, earthquakes, torrid affairs, political intrigue, complex explorations of social issues, questions about the importance of language and communication, and mind-blowing ideas about the formulations of identity and meaning. While this is the story of a lifelong friendship between two women, the complex web of interesting characters, each with a well-defined backstory, enriches and complicates every turn of events. In the end, Ferrante denies us clear resolutions and pat answers, so even after you finish the final page of the fourth book, Lila and Lenu will stay on your mind for days. (Somewhere in Italy, the mysterious Ferrante rubs her hands together and laughs like Mr. Burns from The Simpsons).
Book One: My Brilliant Friend
Book Two: The Story of a New Name
Book Three: Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay
Book Four: The Story of the Lost Child
Darker and more poetic then Meno's other work, this novel will make you wish you could see with this writer's eyes. They see the spent promise of an old bottle rocket sitting in a gutter, the language of a pensive horse's movements, and the suggestions of pattern in a faded motel carpet. What other novel this year is so hauntingly drenched in shadow yet dappled with light? Don't write this one off as just another western noir, just another road novel, or just another anything else--the title, in the end, is deliciously apt.
Neil Young says that only love can break your heart. Neil Young is wrong--so can this book. Is it a novel? Is it a book of connected short stories? I don' t know. I don't care! It's beautiful, it's brilliant, and if your heart doesn't shatter into a million pieces several times over while reading it, perhaps you have no heart left to break.
Did you enjoy reading The Bone Clocks? Then you'll love Slade House! You didn't read The Bone Clocks? That's fine. You can still read (and love) Slade House. From its nesting-doll structure and emphasis on storytelling to the rich and varied characters, I found this little haunted house story delightful, thoughtful, and perfectly creepy.
It's never too early to destroy toxic masculinity! This well-illustrated book teaches children that everybody has feelings, and that's okay. Clever, well-designed, and able to educate while it entertains, this is an ideal children's book.
I don't normally like books from this part of the store. They're too touchy-feely, they refer to a spiritual or religious practice I don't share, or they're one size fits all programs that make you feel like a failure if they don't, in fact, fit you. THIS BOOK IS NOT THOSE BOOKS. It doesn't matter what your f*cking problem is--this book can help you solve, manage, or accept it. Whatever f*cking works for you! A psychiatrist and his comedian daughter wrote it together, so it's also funny in addition to being 100% shrink approved.
Sooty terns. Victorian sex cults. Mummies. This book has it all. Vowell perfectly blends humor and history in this nonfiction tale of a road trip taken to learn more about the assassinations of US Presidents.
Esta es una cuento divertido en cualquier idioma. Tambien, ayuda a los niños a aprender a festejar con dragones segura. ¡No se olvide de buscar el perro lindo!
This is the first volume of the postmodern intersectional feminist comic series you didn't know you needed--or maybe you knew, but you didn't think anyone had the ovaries to create it. The clever "ads" are as interesting as the rich plot, skillful drawings, and attentive use of color. Buy it for yourself or as a valentine to your favorite noncompliant reader.
This is my go-to field guide. It's not the longest list of species or the book with the most information, but it's a color-coded, pocket-sized, easy-to-use book that covers most of the species you'll see around here. It's a good general use guide for most birders and perfect for those just starting.
¿Quien es mas divertido, el granjero o las vacas? Quiza el pato. Lo que sea, esto libro tiene una historia muy interesante y illustrationes expresivos.
Helen Oyeyemi’s stories are like hedge mazes. As soon as you begin to anticipate a direction, a destination, and an ending, there’s a turn, and another turn, then before you know it, the story is about someone or something else. What Is Not Yours Is Not Yours uses these labyrinthine structures to subvert folk tales and upend traditional narratives while filling its pages with memorable characters and fantastical situations.Reading this book will make you smile even as you realize your sense of direction is utterly wrecked.
Shirley Jackson unfolds terrible fates like no other writer. Creepy, unsettling, and ready to snap from anticipatory tension, the moments of Merricat Blackwood's life stretch across the pages and draw you with them into the depths of her mind. All of the deadly poisons, magical talismans, and sinister plots between these covers would make for a fascinating tale, but instead of letting those elements carry the story, Jackson wrote a book that is deeply psychological, suffused with banal evil, and rich with uneasiness. My favorite thing about it, though? Here is a haunted house story whose terror does not rely on the merely supernatural.
Rarely is a book of poetry full of small moments, in service to big ideas, and jammed with excellent writing all at once. Betts may be the best poet of his generation, and while his other books are good reads, it is this slim volume that will show you why. It's a must-read for fans of Claudia Rankine's Citizen and people who appreciate the way Dorianne Laux slices a scene into perfect words.
If you've read The Price of Salt or Strangers on a Train, you already know Patricia Highsmith wrote unforgettable novels, but did you know that her short stories are also excellent psychological thrillers built around spectacular characters? "A Mighty Nice Man" is a perfect example of Highsmith's badassery, but it's just one of the playfully creepy tales in this collection. Highsmith's soft spot for misfits and innocents brings a sweet tenderness to some of these shadowy stories, but they're always incisive, clever, and beautifully twisted.
Atmospheric and full of period detail (but never at the expense of plot or character), this is an excellent piece of historical fiction. It's haunting without being supernatural--the title quotes Anne Sexton to say something about womanhood, not witchcraft. It's a great choice for fans of Ron Rash, colorful phraseology, and novels that subtly remark upon the present by examining the past.