staff picks

A friend to read is a friend indeed!

The Reactive Cover Image
ISBN: 9781937512439
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Dollar Radio - May 31st, 2016

This gritty yet compassionate debut novel from Masande Ntshanga is a powerful story of drug use and emotional redemption, set in Cape Town. What could have been a cliché cat-and-mouse tale in lesser hands, Ntshanga keeps things fresh with simmering prose, his ability to de-familiarize the familiar, and his decision to focus more on the emotional journey of his protagonist than on plot. Moving meditations on class disparities and the pervasive effects of colonialism in South Africa also propel this lyrical and brazen novel that relishes its own complexities. Shane recommends!

So Big Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061859984
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - June 15th, 2010

Why don’t more people read Edna Ferber?? This captivating novel follows Selina DeJong, the gritty and charismatic daughter of a smooth grafter who forges a new life for himself in a Dutch farming community outside of Chicago. Though Selina suffers numerous setbacks, she never loses her curiosity and joie de vivre. Her character develops in stark contrast with that of her son, Dick (nicknamed “So Big”), a lackluster architect and self-absorbed boor. This is a big, robust American novel and a fascinating portrait of Chicago at the turn of the 20th century! Katharine loves!

An Ember in the Ashes Cover Image
ISBN: 9781595148049
Availability: Not in stock: Please call the store to order. Usually only takes a few days.
Published: Razorbill - February 9th, 2016

AN EMBER IN THE ASHES is the very definition of un-put-downable! Sabaa Tahir's fast-paced, well-structured story of an orphan fighting for her family and the Soldier fighting for his freedom in the face of violence and oppression has it all: a heart-pounding story of love & loss, an original and wonderfully detailed fantasy world, a villain that makes Dolores Umbridge look like an amateur, an addictive plot that’s a spectacular page-turner full of political intrigue and supernatural forces. A must-read for YA Fantasy fans! Ianni loved!

The Miner Cover Image
By Natsume Soseki, Haruki Murakami (Introduction by), Jay Rubin (Translator)
ISBN: 9781910709023
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Aardvark Bureau - April 12th, 2016

This is such an exhilaratingly strange book that really toys with your expectations of what a novel could or even should be. At the novel’s core, this is a story of a young man running away from the mess he’s made of his life. It takes very little to convince him to become a miner, but this isn’t your typical coming-of-age story (or one at all). This book isn’t even really about being a miner (although there are great details of that world). What’s so special about this book then? Sōseki brilliantly delves into his main character’s thoughts, as he questions his identity and his very personality in sharp, engaging prose. Jay Rubin gives a great translation here, and a fascinating afterword (that gives proper context and history to the novel). You want more? Haruki Murakami himself provides the introduction! What more could you ask for? Tim recommends!

Astragal Cover Image
By Albertine Sarrazin, Patsy Southgate (Translator), Patti Smith (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780811220736
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - April 26th, 2013

“Albertine, the petite saint of maverick writers.  How swiftly I was swept into her world- ready to scribble through the night, down pots of scalding coffee, and pause just long enough to reline the eyes with maybelline.  Her youthful mantra was wholeheartedly embraced, my malleable spirit infused.” -Patti Smith

ASTRAGAL is a semi-autobiographical novel penned by Albertine Sarrazin, a French author of Algerian descent whose literary star was rising in the 1960s before her life was cut short at age 30.  This fiercely anti-authoritarian tale follows Anne, a 19-year-old delinquent who escapes incarceration by jumping over the prison wall.  During the fall Anne’s ankle is broken, creating a new set of claustrophobic restraints to overcome as she navigates life on the lam.  Originally published in 1965, ASTRAGAL was reprinted by New Directions in 2013 at the behest of Sarrazin superfan Patti Smith, who contributed an effusive introduction.  Employing temporal jumps reminiscent of Godard, Sarrazin imparts a compelling glimpse of France’s 1960s counter-culture rich with urgency and dynamism.  Katharine recommends this forgotten gem!

Satantango Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811220897
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - December 10th, 2013

Krasznahorkai’s debut novel, SATANTANGO, concerns the daily happenings of a group of people who futz around their rainy little village.  Victims of their own delusions and avoidances, their lives are inert and miserable until the mysterious return of an inhabitant previously thought of as dead.  The seemingly simple premise will trick readers in for the ride, but the apocalyptic dread and unwavering bleakness of the fractured narrative will leave you gasping for air.  SATANTANGO is a disorienting existential allegory, a strangely hypnotic and wickedly smart book that is the perfect entry point into Krasznzhorkai’s wonderful and nightmarish literary world.  Shane recommends!

Still Life with Oysters and Lemon: On Objects and Intimacy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807066096
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beacon Press - January 19th, 2002

“That there can never be too much of reality; that the attempt to draw nearer to it – which will fail – will not fail entirely, as it will give us not the fact of lemons and oysters but this, which is its own fact, its own brave assay toward what is.”

I haven’t yet found a word out of place in any of Mark Doty’s books.  There is an intimacy and immediacy to his writing, a singular fineness, an unparalleled attention to sound and clarity.  This is an achingly beautiful book, astonishing in its warmth and lucidity.

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