All Staff Book of the Year - This has been the most talked about book behind the counter this year. It made the rounds to just about everyone, and all who read it loved it and couldn't stop talking about it--once they picked their jaw up off the floor. Bookseller Patrick writes: "An explosive collection that opens with a provocative bang and drags you gasping and laughing through bizarre tales that shine an absurdist light on Black identity with assured inventiveness. This is Black Mirror meets Atlanta - surrealist satire that gives way to outstanding social commentary, complete with an entry that will give cause to those with retail experience to grin in solidarity. A seriously impressive debut."
Jason's Book of the Year - This book is for those of us that are skeptical that billionaires and their philanthropic activities are as altruistic as they seem. It does a fantastic job of pointing out the endless hypocrisies of the 1% lobbying against changes that would help society as a whole while promoting their pet projects that would be paid for 100,000 times over if they would stop lobbying for their own self-interest. It exposes the myth that philanthropic capitalism can cure sociey's ails.
Rachel's Book of the Year - Design nerds rejoice! This lavish cloth-bound production will look great on anyone's coffee table, but it is also the definitive, and long-awaited only (!) book-length examination of Chicago's many contributions to the Art Deco movement, covering architecture, graphic design, and product design. This volume's beauty will be sure to please the aesthete, but it is also academically rigorous enough to satisfy the scholar--a serious work that was worth waiting for.
Bethany's Book of the Year - Poole's book is as breathtaking as it is sensitive. The backdrop of bloodshed that is the Great War is almost its own character in Poole's writing. The format with the early lives and war experiences of each man lends itself so well to the dissection of the works produced by those who returned but never really came back. The hunger for horror, the almost compulsive need to relive and re-experience the trauma, and the irrevocable mark on the landscape of our psychology and pop culture: Poole is dead-on with sharp analysis and drinkable prose.
Bianca's Book of the Year - Butch Heroes is a book of portraits in the style of Catholic holy cards, accompanied by a concise history of the person depicted. Brodell, as they note in the introduction, tells the stories of people who, “were assigned female at birth, had documented relationships with women, and whose gender presentation was more masculine than feminine.” Holy cards have historically served as tangible gateways to past struggles, to remember and rely on humans whose trials both lift them to divinity and ground them in humanity.
Despite every effort to burn the roots of our family tree, queer people exist and we study and make art and love each other. Always have. In Butch Heroes there is proof, in that proof is validation.
ATTN ALL QUEER FAM: BEST GIFT FOR THE BOOKISH BUTCH BABES IN YOUR LIFE
Christian's Book of the Year - Brilliant in form and content, this is a coming of age story that uses the format of an alphabetical index to illustrate the way that our adolescent and young adult minds try to make sense of the world: we categorize and define, put feelings and inanimate objects on equal footing, and do our best to make sense of the chaos around us the way that text books and encyclopedias have taught. References from one entry to another mimic the links between our memories that seem to make our lives a continuum, rather than a series of isolated incidents. Life doesn't occur in alphabetical order, but there's no reason your story can't be told that way. This is a book that trusts you to connect the dots yourself, because really that's half the fun, isn't it?
Eddy's Book of the Year - Maryse Meijer's Northwood is incredible. It's a gorgeous object with white text on black pages all the way through. It appears at first as strong poetry-- and if broken up, the individual pieces do stand on their own as potent poems-- but as I read through the novella I saw that it was a cohesive story. The whole thing throws its middle fingers up at form, flirting with elements of fairy tale, poetry, and novella. A gorgeous horror about lust, violence, attachment, and love. The most horrifying part of the book is how relatable it is. Chances are you've had a relationship like the one in Northwood, and chances are you find it a difficult place to revisit. With Northwood breaking convention as well feeling like a modern myth, Maryse Meijer sits with greats like Anne Carson and Maggie Nelson with this one.
Javier's Book of the Year - This is one of those books that will ruin the fate of whatever's next on your to-be-read pile. The structure, well drawn characters, style and writing (oh the writing!) combine to make this a singular reading experience you'll want to hold onto long after the you've turned the last page. Telling the story through the eyes of multiple narrators creates a pastiche of voices that give it a fevered momentum, holding the reader like grim death throughout. Good luck attempting not to read this in one sitting.
Patrick's Book of the Year - An eerie, melancholy tale of an insulated, seemingly retrograded community and the elusive outsider who settles into, and eventually abandons it. Through a trio of unique accounts that detail life in "the territory", we piece together the puzzle that is Billie Jean Fontaine, a figure with a curious presence that harbors many secrets, and whose abrupt departure teases consequential revelations. Ill-fated bonds, familial twists and a setting saturated in a bizarre tapestry of 1980s nostalgia make this an odd, though incredibly magnetic story of love, belonging, and self-actualization.
Honorable Mention: All Staff Book of the Year - Another oft-discussed, much loved book by the staff this year--and by the literary world at large. This stunning debut novel-in-stories is the rare Native American novel to leave the reservation--quite literally--by telling the story of 12 unforgettable urban Indians living in Oakland, California. We feel we would be remiss if we didn't mention this book on our list of favorites for 2018.