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Recent Staff Picks

Our staff reads and recommends a diverse world of books. Here are some of our recent favorites.

You can discover more of our staff's individual favorites here.

For children's and teen picks, click here

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Friday Black Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781328911247
Availability: Coming Soon - PREORDER NOW!
Published: Mariner Books - October 23rd, 2018

I don’t read any Stephen King now, but his story collections Different Seasons and The Bachman Books remain some of the most memorable reading I’ve ever done. I was reminded of what was so compelling about the King short stories when I read Friday Black (Mariner $14.99) by Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah. People are pawns, forced to behave in humiliating ways for entertainment or financial gain. The state of race relations is a recurrent theme. One of the most haunting of the stories is “The Lion and the Spider,” which weaves an African fable into the story line. I’m hopeful we’ll be seeing more of this very talented young writer. --Mamie


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The Heart's Invisible Furies: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781524760793
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - March 6th, 2018

We first meet Cyril Avery in 1945 as he tells the story of his 16-year-old pregnant mother being denounced from the altar by the parish priest and kicked out of her rural Irish hometown. From his birth in Dublin, we experience Cyril’s life in seven year increments for the next 70 years. Cyril discovers that he is gay early in his life, and must endure the cruelty and hypocrisy of a society dominated by the Catholic Church.  And while the book has plenty of tragedy and heartbreak, it is also one of the funniest books I have ever read. After enjoying his company for over 500 pages, I was truly sorry to say goodbye to Cyril. --Tony


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The Sadness of Beautiful Things: Stories Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143133049
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - October 2nd, 2018

The hallmark of Simon Van Booy's writing is its precision. There is not a superfluous word in his work, yet he is able to convey the deepest emotion; the details of a landscape, the nuanced import of a sideways glance. If you've never read his work, I urge you to read this. And if you like it, please read his novel Everything Beautiful Began After - a brilliant work of literary fiction. P.S. He was one of Nancy Olsen's favorite authors. --Samantha


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Virgil Wander Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780802128782
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 2nd, 2018

Reading Leif Erickson's Virgil Wander was pure pleasure for me. I loved his debut, Peace Like a River, and am happy to say that 17 years later he still has the same touch: humorous, yet also poignant and complex, with a memorable cast of characters in a richly detailed Minnesota setting. Virgil is a low-achiever who runs the local old-time movie house in a small declining city on the banks of Lake Superior. Rune Arledge, a kite-flying transplant from Norway, and Galen Pea, a 10-year-old obsessed with catching the 200-pound sturgeon he blames for his father's death, are two more resilient characters in a marvelous cast I quickly grew to love. Classic and modern movies are a recurring theme, along with a robust plot involving a local hero, a malevolent movie maker, and an upcoming town festival. Virgil Wander is one of those novels you are eager to return to, are loathe to finish, and keep thinking about long after the last page is turned --Sarah


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The Reservoir Tapes Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781936787913
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - August 7th, 2018

Becky Shaw is the main character of The Reservoir Tapes (Catapult $22), but she is not one of the narrators of this novel by Jon McGregor. The atmosphere is sinister. A good many of the people in the village, including Becky, seem to be harboring a secret. Thefirst chapter is in the form of questions from a reporter who is investigating Becky’s disappearance while on a trip with her parents. We get to know all twelve narrators through their association with Becky, but it is Becky we know the best when the novel ends. The story is not tied up in a pretty bow; and I’m still trying to puzzle out what it all meant, which makes it great for a book club discussion. (I’ve also ordered Reservoir 13, the winner of the 2017 Costa Award, which is set in the same village. I want more of Jon McGregor’s storytelling.) --Mamie


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French Exit: A Novel Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780062846921
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - August 28th, 2018

In these nerve racking times, I was searching for a book that is, simply, fun. This is it! It is subtly satirical, irreverent, not particularly deep (my apologies to Mr. DeWitt if it was meant to be).  Let me put it this way: As Hurricane Florence blew through and the power went out, this was my stalwart companion. I loved it! --Sam


The Museum of Modern Love Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781616208523
Availability: Coming Soon - PREORDER NOW!
Published: Algonquin Books - November 27th, 2018

In 2010, performance artist Marina Abramovic began a 75 day "exhibit" at the Museum of Modern Art. She sat, silent, at a small table. Any visitor was welcomed to sit across from her for as long as he or she wished. This book is a fictionalized consideration of the impact of this exhibit and, indeed, of art in general on those who experience it. This is also a story of love - complicated, inconvenient, inevitable love. I found myself underlining passage after passage of Rose's gorgeous prose. After reading this book, watch the youtube video of the visit to Marina's table by her former lover Ulay. It provides a visual exclamation point to a powerful novel. --Samantha


The Great Believers Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780735223523
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - June 19th, 2018

I was a young adult in the early years of the AIDS epidemic. Friends and a family member died terrible, humiliating deaths. My gay friends, only tentatively “out” and navigating a still unwelcoming environment, watched their circle of friends ravaged by the illness. Rebecca Makkai has captured the horror and fear of that time perfectly in her novel, The Great Believers. Alternating between the ‘80s and the present, Makkai shows how AIDS altered the gay population in ways that reverberate even today. I saw my fear about visiting my sick friends—a fear borne of ignorance because there were so many untruths circulating at that time—reflected in some of the characters in the novel. Makkai’s book will stand with the great writing about the AIDS epidemic, including Abraham Verghese’s memoir, My Own Country, and And the Band Played On: Politics, People, and the AIDS Epidemic by Randy Schilts. --Mamie


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The Enchanted Life: Unlocking the Magic of the Everyday Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781487004071
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ambrosia - August 7th, 2018

Sharon Blackie explores the philosophical and psychological history of disenchantment, and how Western society came to be so thoroughly and determinedly disenchanted with the world. In the face of the trauma this has caused (in the form of increasing rates of depression, anxiety, and physical manifestations of stress), she offers up an alternative: enchantment, or falling in love with the world and all its complexities. Don't underestimate this work. Blackie has a strong background in neuroscience and doesn't hesitate to dive into academic texts spanning psychology, philosophy, and folklore. --Kaley


Waiting for Eden: A novel Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9781101947395
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - September 25th, 2018

Obvious comparisons will be made between Waiting for Eden and Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo, but aside from the fact that they are about soldiers severely incapacitated by their war injuries, they are very different. The narrator is a soldier friend who died when Eden was injured. His omniscient point of view brings us deep into the psyche of all the characters. A great deal of the conflict in the novel is experienced by Eden’s wife, Mary. Difficulty in conceiving a child was a source of great bitterness in the marriage, and once the child is born, Mary must make decisions about how to involve the child in her father’s horrible situation. Mary is also tasked with making end-of-life decisions for Eden, a decision made more burdensome by his ability to communicate with the people in the hospital room. I read this book in one day, overtaken by a morbid fascination. It reinforces my feelings that wars are about people, not principles. --Mamie


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Been So Long: My Life and Music Cover Image
By Jorma Kaukonen, Grace Slick (Foreword by)
$29.99
ISBN: 9781250125484
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - August 28th, 2018

This most personable of rock biographies reveals Jorma to have been one of the more sensible members of Jefferson Airplane (or that he'd like to be thought of as such). It's not the best-written of its ilk, but it's comprehensive and diary-based, so if it happened, here it is: no picking and choosing. The years of Hot Tuna are covered extensively, as is his recent life, and I'm surprised at the clarity with which the entire affair is recalled. Includes extensive lyrics and photos. -Matt


Notes from the Fog: Stories Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781101947456
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - August 21st, 2018

 My favorite book of this year so far. I've read critiques calling this book "fun". I can't roll with that, exactly--I certainly grasp the anxiety-raising roller coaster feel, but this coaster wants to jump the tracks. It's terrifying! Even the simplest stories here start from a place of fundamental altered reality, throwing me seriously off balance. Given limited space, I simply must praise psychopharmacological first-person nightmare "The Trees of Sawtooth Park" to the highest; it's vivid and deeply upsetting. I bet the adventurous among you can handle it. --Matt


1,000 Books to Read Before You Die: A Life-Changing List Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9781523504459
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Workman Publishing Company - October 2nd, 2018

If you’re a reader this is a book you will keep handy and pick up when you have a few minutes to spare and then end up missing appointments, skipping meals, not hearing your phone, and scribbling lists on whatever scraps of paper you have at hand. Richard Mustich has put together a collection of must-read books, both whimsical and serious, and written a charming description about each book and author. He writes with so much respect, appreciation, and humor that this should be the 1001st title to add to the list. His selections include fiction (from classics to contemporary genre), nonfiction, and children’s books and are accompanied by delightful illustrations. No surprise that Mustich is a bookseller: 1000 Books is like the best of bookstores where discovery lies on every page. --Sarah


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The Dream Daughter: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250087300
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - October 2nd, 2018

 It's 1970. A pregnant Carly grieves for her husband, killed in Viet Nam. Now she learns that her unborn daughter has a heart condition that will be fatal upon birth. If only it were a few decades later, the concept of fetal surgery might be a reality that could save her baby. Upon that premise, Diane Chamberlain will take you on the ride of your life!  She weaves a complex, totally believable plot made spell binding by her ability to create vivid characters and to communicate the depths of human emotion. I began reading Dream Daughter late one night. I finished it at 5 a.m. the next morning.  When I say I couldn't put it down, it's no cliché. Literally, I could not put it down. --Samantha


Ohio Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781501174476
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - August 21st, 2018

 I love to post great lines from books I’m reading on Facebook. And that’s what I started doing as I read the opening pages of Ohio. It wasn’t long before I realized that my friends would soon tire of my posts, because almost every line of this book is quotable! Markley can write! And the story, of friends returning as adults to the town of New Canaan, Ohio, where they grew up, is a gut-clenching, fast-paced one. These men and women are the same age as my daughters, products of 9/11, the senseless wars in the Middle East, and the deteriorating foundation of many industrial centers in our country. Markley looks on their challenges with an unflinching eye. This book is gritty and hard to digest, but it has given me a deeper understanding of my children’s generation. --Mamie


The Line That Held Us Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780399574221
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - August 14th, 2018

Raw, unflinching and at times graphic, The Line That Held Us is a riveting story that held me spellbound knowing that hope rarely prevails over mistakes, no matter how unintentional. But maybe this time . . . . A terrible mistake that he cannot undo sends Darl Moody to Calvin Hooper, his best friend since childhood, for help. The two men devise a plan they hope will minimize the fall-out to themselves and those closest to them. But consequences soon manifest and threaten not only the two men but a widening circle of unsuspecting family, friends and their North Carolina mountain community. The characters in this gripping story are forced to ask themselves how far they will go to protect those they care about most; and if they fail, what effect will that have on them? The author's talent for vivid descriptions and his precisely effective prose pulled me into the characters' desperate circumstances, as they yearned for relief from their fear and pain. --Belinda


Where the Crawdads Sing Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735219090
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - August 14th, 2018

 An achingly beautiful novel, Where the Crawdads Sing  tells how Kya Clark was abandoned by her family and shunned by townspeople yet has managed to survive, and even thrive. Against all odds she finds beauty and comfort among the wildlife of the North Carolina coastal marshlands and, with help from the kind owner of a bait shop and the sporadic instruction of a boy from town, flourishes among the flora and fauna. She is content until the outside world crashes into her wildlife haven and she is arrested for murder. A beautiful story of an indomitable spirit, I was enchanted by Kya’s optimism and resilience to overcome the cruelties that life waged and to seek out and celebrate beauty in her harsh world. --Belinda


Kill the Farm Boy: The Tales of Pell Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781524797744
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey - July 17th, 2018

Kill the Farm Boy was pretty much everything I was promised and hoping for: Princess Bride meets Monty Python with all the crudeness and social commentary. If you enjoy picking out the pop culture and fairy tale trope references, this will be a ton of fun for you. Even though this could definitely be a standalone, I'm excited to hear that there will be more tales in Pell! --Amber


Dragon Teeth: A Novel Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780062473363
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - November 28th, 2017

 

Get ready for a gripping journey through the 1870's American West as Michael Crichton takes you on a search for "fossil bones." Crichton will have you wondering what is fact and what is fiction as he takes you through twists and turns involving outlaws, gunfights, Indians, and of course, fossil hunts. You'll expect to see tumbleweed when you finally manage to put it down! -Cam


Next Line, Please: Prompts to Inspire Poets and Writers Cover Image
By David Lehman (Editor), Angela Ball (With), Robert Wilson (Foreword by)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781501715006
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Cornell University Press - March 15th, 2018

 Next Line, Please: Prompts to Inspire Poets and Writers edited by David Lehman, with Angela Ball (Cornell $18.95). Editor and poet David Lehman invited online readers of his American Scholarcolumn to submit a line each week to produce together a sonnet, a haiku, a tanka, and other poetic works. The poems collected in Next Line, Please are collaborations the better for the many hands involved. Lehman, series editor of Best American Poetry, delivers generous and insightful critiques for each week's entries while teaching the mechanics and history of poetry. The reader is given a graduate-level class with an open invitation to join in. Pick up your pencil! -Susan


Reasons to Stay Alive Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143128724
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - February 23rd, 2016

Reasons to Stay Alive is told in lists and vignettes, where Matt Haig not only discusses his own experience with mental illness, but gives thoughtful, practical advice to others in a similar situation. He tackles issues of panic attacks, suicidal thoughts, and the double standard of thinking many have with mental illness versus physical illness. Haig also delves into what depression is, both personally and scientifically, but without any confusing psychobabble. He shares his reasons for living, encourages depressives to read, to challenge themselves, and to cling to the love in their lives without ever giving up. I’m thankful to be in an upswing from my own depression, but reading this book was still a great comfort, and I hope it can bring others that same comfort. Poignant and incredibly important – If you feel the need to seek reasons to stay alive, please please pick up this book. --Amber