Rebecca

Thinking about my reading habits, I'm really not sure what draws me to a particular book--just a gut sense that we'll get along. Lately I've been drawn to narrative nonfiction and short stories. I like novels with a strong voice and some humor.

Books: 
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Two Dogs By Ian Falconer, Ian Falconer (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Ian Falconer, Ian Falconer (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062954473
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Michael di Capua Books - June 28th, 2022

This is one of those rare picture books that does something with the picture-book format that feels new and fresh, while remaining kid-friendly and age-appropriate. Ian Falconer takes the close siblings/opposite personalities trope--always a winner--and runs with it in this story of two Dachshunds left alone for the day. The illustrations are an interesting combination of pastel or colored pencil and photo collage. I want to buy this for all of my friends' kids.


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Lizzy and the Cloud By Terry Fan, Eric Fan, Terry Fan (Illustrator), Eric Fan (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Terry Fan, Eric Fan, Terry Fan (Illustrator), Eric Fan (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781534483170
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - May 3rd, 2022

A lovely parable about growing and letting go that might just cause parents to shed a tear at storytime. Lizzy adopts a cloud, names him Milo, and waters him lovingly...but clouds aren't meant to be confined. As with all of the Fan Brothers' books, there's a ton to look at on every page--I really like the urban setting--and the story sometimes advances through illustration alone. Another winner from this duo!


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Bathe the Cat By Alice B. McGinty, David Roberts (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Alice B. McGinty, David Roberts (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781452142708
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Chronicle Books - February 8th, 2022

This picture book has been passed from bookseller to bookseller here at Wellesley Books, to the delight of us all. Absurdist, musical rhymes that are SO much fun to read aloud, and awesome illustrations from the artist behind the Iggy Peck/Rosie Revere series. Give this to any kid who loves Josh Funk and Chris Van Dusen!


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Invisible Child: Poverty, Survival & Hope in an American City (Pulitzer Prize Winner) By Andrea Elliott Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780812986952
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - May 17th, 2022

In 2013, journalist Andrea Elliott wrote an arresting series for The New York Times about a young homeless girl in New York City, Dasani Coates. I've occasionally thought about Dasani ever since. It transpired that Andrea had been following Dasani and her family for close to a decade--trailing them through virtually all manner of place, from homeless shelter, to the school Dasani must leave her family to attend, to party--and the result is this book. It is unmissable, particularly if you care about breaking the cycle of multi-generational poverty, access to housing in the United States, powerful long-form journalism, or just if you're a human being who reads.


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Best Friend in the Whole World By Sandra Salsbury Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781682632505
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Peachtree - March 2nd, 2021

This picture book has everything: humor, drama, pathos, pine cones. Roland the rabbit lives deep in the woods, all by himself, and is generally content...but sometimes he longs for a friend. Along comes Milton, a pine cone who happens to enjoy all of the same activities as Roland. But what if Milton is already someone else's Best Friend? As with Not Quite Narwhal, this is a charming book that also touches on some pretty elemental childhood concerns!


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Two Many Birds By Cindy Derby, Cindy Derby (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Cindy Derby, Cindy Derby (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250232540
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Roaring Brook Press - November 10th, 2020

This is the best picture book ever and Cindy Derby is a mad genius. Okay, that's hyperbole, but don't miss it if you like rule-breakers, detailed full-page illustrations, divine silliness, and birds. You can look at this book again and again & find new jokes every time. PS Make sure to look at the endpapers too!


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Arlo & Pips: King of the Birds By Elise Gravel, Elise Gravel (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Elise Gravel, Elise Gravel (Illustrator)
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062982223
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: HarperAlley - October 6th, 2020

This early reader, done in graphic-novel style, is a delight for the budding corvid enthusiast! Crows may not be the prettiest birds, or have the loveliest voices, but Elise Gravel makes a convincing case that they're truly king of all birds: they can count, have big brains and can imitate almost anything. Arlo the crow and his songbird friend Pips take on the big city and the beach together, and the reader picks up delightful crow facts along the way (much like Arlo collects shiny objects).


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All Together Now (Eagle Rock Series #2) By Hope Larson, Hope Larson (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Hope Larson, Hope Larson (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780374313654
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - August 4th, 2020

In this sweet and beautifully-drawn follow-up to All Summer Long, eighth-grade guitarist Bina is finally in a real band, but a budding romance between her keyboard-playing friend Darcy and the band's new drummer threatens to ruin everything. Meanwhile, Bina's long-time best friend Austin has broken up with his summer-camp girlfriend and is suddenly acting weird around Bina. She's not sure what to do about either of these tricky situations and eventually needs to deal with the fallout of some not-so-great choices. Set in an idyllic Los Angeles, this story will make you wish you were this cool in middle school!


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Wow, No Thank You.: Essays By Samantha Irby Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780525563488
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Vintage - March 31st, 2020

I don't know if Samantha Irby had any idea how brutal 2020 was going to be when she decided to publish another essay collection this spring, but I'm thankful for her foresight. "Sure, sex is fun, but have you ever changed out of one cozy shirt into an even cozier shirt" is an appropriate epitaph for the entire month of April. If your head's going in a million different directions right now, making novels feel like a chore, and you like a good voice and a sense of humor that's hiding some pretty sharp cultural commentary, treat yourself to this book.


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The Bug Girl: A True Story By Sophia Spencer, Margaret McNamara, Kerascoët (Illustrator) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780525645931
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Schwartz & Wade - February 11th, 2020

Sophia Spencer is a seven-year-old girl who became fascinated with bugs when she was only two. Like a lot of kids with passionate interests, though, she was teased by other kids--to the point where she stopped sharing her love of insects altogether, until she met a community of supportive adult entomologists. This book reassures you that it's okay to love something that other people think is weird, and that you can find your people as long as you reach out to them.


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Chirp By Kate Messner Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9781547605705
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Bloomsbury Children's Books - March 9th, 2021

After Mia's grandmother suffers a stroke, Mia moves from Boston to Vermont with a broken arm and a secret. Could it have something to do with why she has suddenly lost interest in gymnastics, even though she was a rising star back home? As Mia's grandmother recovers, the Vermont cricket farm suffers a series of bizarre mishaps, which Mia investigates with the help of her new summer-camp friends. Once again, Kate Messner crafts a kid-friendly plot and characters and sensitively explores a difficult subject--though there are literal crickets, they become a metaphor too--in a middle-grade-appropriate way. This book hits the Judy Blume spot!


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The List of Things That Will Not Change By Rebecca Stead Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781101938126
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Yearling - April 5th, 2022

Oh, Rebecca Stead--queen of the perfect detail! Middle schooler Bea looks back on a time of transition--her parents divorce, amicably, then her dad comes out and brings a new partner and possible stepsister into Bea's life--in a way that perfectly depicts how it feels to be quirky, emotional, anxiety-prone and twelve-ish. The story is subtly suspenseful and the characters are so real, you root for them all. This might just be Rebecca Stead's best one yet.


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The Midwife's Apprentice By Karen Cushman Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9781328631121
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Clarion Books - July 30th, 2019

This is the book that jump-started my love of all things medieval!


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Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion By Jia Tolentino Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780525510567
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - July 14th, 2020

Jia Tolentino's verbose, neurotic style is perfect for 2019. She likes to worry away at cultural issues from all angles in a way that might be polarizing, but that I, personally, find charming. (If all that worrying leads to nothing conclusive, well, that feels appropriate for 2019, too.) Subjects include modern-day scams (social media, Nasty Gal, student debt), the cultural imperative to "optimize," the Rolling Stone University of Virginia story, and the sudden glut of feminist writing about "difficult" women. If you took David Foster Wallace in reporter mode, but made him grow up as a teenage girl with a Livejournal, you might end up with writing like this.


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Turtle Diary By Russell Hoban, Ed Park (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Russell Hoban, Ed Park (Introduction by)
$19.66
ISBN: 9781590176467
Availability: Currently out of stock. Please call or e-mail the store for more info.
Published: NYRB Classics - June 11th, 2013

I probably won't get anyone too psyched on a novel by describing at as perfectly faithful to the actual, emotional experience of adult loneliess. (Nobody in this book is a loveable curmudgeon, thank God.) But we've all felt lonely sometimes, and it's nice to see the condition described without there being an immediate narrative impulse to correct it. One of the two lonely middle-aged characters works at a bookstore; he sometimes says aloud what most booksellers try not to. The other character, like Russel Hoban, is an author of children's books. The two meet at a turtle tank in a London aquarium and conspire to free the sea turtles. This book is awesome and I'm glad Russell Hoban exists.


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Manhattan: Mapping the Story of an Island By Jennifer Thermes Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781419736551
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Abrams Books for Young Readers - August 6th, 2019

This beautifully-illustrated nonfiction book is a feast for the curious kid. Jennifer Thermes explores the uglier and sometimes hidden parts of the island's history, serves up a lot of quirky NYC lore (what might be buried under Central Park?), and all the famous landmarks make an appearance too. She also looks to the post-Hurricane Sandy, climate change future. This would make a great gift and is a school-library essential!


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How To Walk An Ant By Cindy Derby, Cindy Derby (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Cindy Derby, Cindy Derby (Illustrator)
$20.87
This title is currently unavailable to order. Please check back, as stock may become available in the future.
ISBN: 9781250162625
Published: Roaring Brook Press - March 26th, 2019

An instant quirky-kid picture book classic in the vein of Frog Belly Rat Bone, with a visual nod to Ralph Steadman. Amariyah gives you step-by-step instructions for finding, befriending and walking ants, and you'll learn some ant facts too. I would have been sointo this book if someone had given it to me when I was six or seven.


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Sing to It: Stories By Amy Hempel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781982109127
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Scribner - November 12th, 2019

This collection is only 146 pages long (plus notes) and there are no bad sentences in it. The shortest of these stories, including the title story, achieve a prose poem-like compression, but the amazing thing is that none of them feel overworked--and they're funny. If you can get through the one about people who work in a New York City dog shelter without crying, you're tougher than I am. This is a book to sit with and to savor.


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What Doesn't Kill You Makes You Blacker: A Memoir in Essays By Damon Young Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062684318
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Ecco - January 14th, 2020

Damon Young is a co-founder of verysmartbrothas.com. You might be thinking that lots of people write personal-political essays, so what makes this collection stand out? It's all about the voice. Every single one of these essays, even when addressing the hardest stuff, contains a bunch of witty aperçus that will forever change how you see certain people and things. (There are several politicians who I'll forever associate with their Youngian nicknames.) Young's riffs on things he particularly dislikes, where he really lets it rip, bring me a lot of joy. 


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Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland By Patrick Radden Keefe Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307279286
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Anchor - February 25th, 2020

This extremely readable book is half true-crime story, half history of the conflict in Northern Ireland. The main narrative concerns a horrifying crime: a mother of ten was taken from her apartment in a Belfast public housing complex that served as a flashpoint during the height of the Troubles and never heard from again. The stories of several prominent Provisional IRA families are also told in detail.  (Check out the massive "notes" section to understand the depth of research that went into this book).  Patrick Radden Keefe is a New Yorker staff writer and this reads like a New Yorker article in the best possible way. 


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My Sister, the Serial Killer: A Novel By Oyinkan Braithwaite Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525564201
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Anchor - July 30th, 2019

This short, sharp satirical novel might be for you if, like me, you're so over earnest realism right now.  Korede, the plain, responsible one, is compelled to clean up the literal and figurative messes left by her beautiful, murderous sister Ayoola (who has a social media addiction that undermines her half-hearted attempts to present herself as the grieving girlfriend of her deceased boyfriends).  I don't have a sibling, but I loved how the author explores the bond between sisters.


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Tipping the Velvet: A Novel By Sarah Waters Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781573227889
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Riverhead Books - May 1st, 2000

Escape to the music-hall stages of turn-of-the-century England with Sarah Waters' fast-paced, racy debut novel. Waters plays it loose with history--she has described this book as being set in a sort of 1990s version of Victorian times--but you will absolutely fall for Nan King, an oyster girl from Whitstable, as she transforms a from shy provincial girl to a worldly Londoner, and learns a lot about herself and the wider world along the way. She's interesting even when she's acting like a jerk. Outlandish, absorbing and bursting with first-novel enthusiasm.


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Beastie Boys Book By Michael Diamond, Adam Horovitz Cover Image
$50.00
ISBN: 9780812995541
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Random House - October 30th, 2018

A delightful, endlessly browseable history that explores the culture that the Beastie Boys came from as well as their creations and legacy.  It's mostly written by Mike Diamond and Adam Horovitz -- the loss of Adam Yauch in 2012 and the surviving members' evident love for him lend this project weight and poignancy -- with some excellent contributions from pals & associates including Luc Sante, Amy Poehler and Andre Leon Talley (who hilariously eviscerates the group's many "interesting" fashion moments). 


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Heavy: An American Memoir By Kiese Laymon Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781501125669
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Scribner - March 5th, 2019

This is a complicated, intense reckoning with family and personal history by one of the sharpest writers out there.  Of his mother, Laymon writes: "You gave me a black southern laboratory to work with words.  In that space, I learned how to assemble memory and imagination when I most wanted to die." 


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The Friend: A Novel By Sigrid Nunez Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735219458
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Riverhead Books - February 5th, 2019

The protagonist -- a writing teacher and a cat person -- inherits a Great Dane after the death of her friend and mentor with whom she shares a long and complicated history.  Fans of pared-down writing and sensitive explorations of human/animal (and human/human) bonds will love this novel.  It has also been nominated for a National Book Award. 


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How to Be Famous: A Novel By Caitlin Moran Cover Image
$19.71
ISBN: 9780062433787
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Harper Perennial - July 2nd, 2019

Reading How to be Famous is like lingering in the pub with your smartest friend and getting buzzed off of the conversation as much as whatever's in your pint glasses.  This is a sequel of sorts to How to Build a Girl, but the story's more polished and the politics feel more urgent.  Queue up the Britpop playlist and throw this one in your beach bag. 


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There There By Tommy Orange Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780525436140
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Vintage - May 7th, 2019

It's been years since I've been this excited about a new novel. Tommy Orange weaves together the stories of many individuals meeting at a large Oakland pow-wow, examining what it means to be an "Urban Indian" (his term) existing off the reservation. Whenever something gets pre-publication comparisons to both Gertrude Stein and George Saunders, the seasoned bookseller might be forgiven for rolling his or her eyes, but the comparison turns out to be weirdly appropriate in this case--though neither reference prepares you for the emotional experience of reading this novel. 


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The Pisces: A Novel By Melissa Broder Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781524761561
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Hogarth - February 5th, 2019

This is sort of the anti-Shape of Water. A woman, adrift in her late 30s, falls in love with a merman who seems like an appealing contrast to the human world of demeaning sex and bad Tinder dates. Deadpan, funny and kinda gross.


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Baby Monkey, Private Eye By Brian Selznick, Brian Selznick (Illustrator), Mr. David Serlin Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781338180619
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Scholastic Press - February 27th, 2018

Man, is this book weird -- my kind of weird.  Beautiful illustrations pair with loopy text about a literal baby monkey-turned-detective whose only shortcoming as a private eye is his inability to get dressed properly.  (Let's face it, putting on your pants is kind of the worst.)  Great for beginning readers who want a big-kid book.


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Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut By Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (Illustrator)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781572842243
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Agate Bolden - October 10th, 2017

I love the art; I love the text, and I need to quote another reviewer who called it "the ultimate black boy joy book."  Whether going to the barbershop is a regular feature of their lives or not, kids everywhere will love the fun, heart and sense of pride in this book.


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Eileen: A Novel By Ottessa Moshfegh Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143128755
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Penguin Books - August 16th, 2016

This immediately appealing New England noir is set in a small coastal Massachusetts town in the sleepy, early 1960s.  With shades of Patricia Highsmith, Ottessa Moshfegh takes us into the mind of a repressed, self-effacing young woman who is ready to snap.
 


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The Face: A Time Code By Ruth Ozeki Cover Image
$12.99
ISBN: 9781632060525
Availability: Currently out of stock. Please call or e-mail the store for more info.
Published: Restless Books - March 1st, 2016

As an experiment in "immersive attention," Ruth Ozeki observes her face for three hours while recording her thoughts and feelings.  This probably sounds pretentious, but she brings to this project her knowledge of Zen Buddhism, Japanese-American history, and her general curiosity and brilliance.  A chapter on the effort involved in creating Noh theater masks is particularly delightful.  A gem!


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Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City By Matthew Desmond Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780553447453
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Crown - February 28th, 2017

Matthew Desmond tells an urgent story of landlords and renters in several present-day Milwaukee neighborhoods.  He follows families over the course of multiple forced moves, often from bad apartments to even worse ones, while analyzing the complicated relationship between poverty and eviction. This is a complex tale of anguish, ingenuity, and sacrifices made of necessity.


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My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609450786
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Europa Editions - September 25th, 2012

Prepare to become totally immersed in the story of two best friends, Lila and Elena, growing up in a provincial 1950s Naples neighborhood.  The children of "the neighborhood" experience hardship; there's a pretty high body count for a relatively quiet book.  Stasis reigns; one family's departure from the neighborhood later becomes mythic.  Electricity flows between the two girls as they recognize in each other an intelligence that is underappreciated by everyone else.  Elena studies and wins praise from from her teachers; Lila must leave school to work at her father's shoe factory, but meanwhile she's devising her own plan of escape, so she hopes.  This is the first of four books.  (yay!)


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Barbara the Slut and Other People By Lauren Holmes Cover Image
$18.56
ISBN: 9780399576034
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Riverhead Books - August 2nd, 2016

These ten stories are funny, plain-spoken tales about people out of their depth. My favorites are "Pearl and the Swiss Guy Fall in Love".and "Desert Hearts," but they're all good!


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Clever Girl: A Novel By Tessa Hadley Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062282880
Availability: Usually ships to store in 4-6 days.
Published: Harper Perennial - January 21st, 2020

Detail by detail, slowly and patiently, Tessa Hadley builds a life so rich and so ordinary, it's easy to forget you're reading fiction.   The protagonist, Stella, observes everything at a calm remove, even when she's describing chaos.  The result feels like a kind of reckoning with how much control we really have over our lives.  Subtly different from anything else I've read.


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Tenth of December: Stories By George Saunders Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812984255
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - January 7th, 2014

These laugh-out-loud funny stories are mostly set in a disquieting future that isn't so different from our present.  Pretty much any adjectives you can think of to describe these stories sound po-faced ("surreal," "deadpan," etc.) so I'll just say that his writing is sort of your-brain-but-smarter.  Saunders also has a real knack for satirical brand names.


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The Round House: A Novel By Louise Erdrich Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780062065254
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Harper Perennial - September 24th, 2013

This is one of the best novels I'll read this year - it has the dark pull of a really great mystery and a raunchy, heartbreaking narrator in 13-year-old Joe Coutts, who's growing up on an Ojibwe reservation in the 1980s. Joe's mother survives a violent assault on her way to work at the tribal offices. Her subsequent depression renders her unable to help the police investigation, and the other adults seem frustratingly ineffectual, so Joe decides to pursue justice on his own.


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This Is How You Lose Her By Junot Díaz Cover Image
$16.00
This title is currently unavailable to order. Please check back, as stock may become available in the future.
ISBN: 9781594631771
Published: Riverhead Books - September 3rd, 2013

Junot Diaz returns to writing about his character Yunior from Drown and The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.  This time his themes are machismo, the legacy of racial/colonial violence and the possibility of finding what he calls "decolonial love."  Because this is Junot Diaz, though, the delightful writing manages to carry all this heavy stuff lightly.  This story collection is quieter than Oscar Wao and a little more unified than Drown - but, like Drown, has an amazing final story that seems to sum up the rest of the book while going beyond.


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The Robber Bride By Margaret Atwood Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780385491037
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: Anchor - January 20th, 1998

Margaret Atwood really takes you for a ride with this book, but in a good way.  The lives of three women are revealed through their interactions with a mysterious fourth woman who acts as a transformative force.   I love the structure of this novel, with all of its layers and echoes. Why didn't I read this sooner?!


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The Go-Between By L.P. Hartley, Colm Toibin (Introduction by) Cover Image
By L.P. Hartley, Colm Toibin (Introduction by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780940322998
Availability: On our shelves now.
Published: NYRB Classics - March 31st, 2002

This novel requires a bit of patience at first, but give it time: beautiful writing, full of readable detail; layers of psychological complication; and slow building tension. Leo, who is the young narrator of the book, spends the summer of 1900 at his upper-class school friend's estate. He becomes smitten with both his friend's older sister and the man she loves, who works nearby as a tenant farmer. This is, of course, a socially unacceptable love, which naive Leo unwittingly facilitates by serving as a secret "go-between"for the couple. This is a quiet novel that sneaks up on you with its emotional impact.