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I have always read only exactly what I want which made me a very poor student but is also why I have a decent working knowledge of the French Revolution, the very dramatic and tumultuous backstage stories from "The Wizard of Oz" ("The Munchkins Remember" by Stephen Cox - sadly out of print but well worth a purchase if you see one,) and the US cycling team Tour de France blood doping scandal (how much did Sheryl Crow know?? When will we get the made for tv movie we deserve?!) I like to read about the collapse of empire, music, movies, mystery novels where someone is getting murdered in a fancy English manor, art history, television, poetry, novels where things are normal seeming & then go completely off the rails when a character begins to turn themselves into a steel chair... you know. Everything!

Beloved (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400033416
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 8th, 2004

Whatever you might have heard, BELOVED is the great American novel. Just like it's author, this book simply has no parallel.

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The Unwomanly Face of War: An Oral History of Women in World War II Cover Image
By Svetlana Alexievich, Richard Pevear (Translated by), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780399588747
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - April 3rd, 2018

Easily the most disturbing, crucial, amazing, gut wrenching, unbelievably powerful history book I've ever read. Stares unflinchingly at the horror of war and makes a mockery of it's pageantry. Literally breathless while reading this, I often had to set the book down and sit with what I'd just read, which is in and of itself a near impossible task... humans weren't meant to comprehend such things, nor were we meant to be experience them. And yet. If you've never read Alexievich before, start here. If you know a military history lover, put down the Grant, Churchill and Patton bios and do them the tremendous favor of buying them this instead.


The Leopard: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375714795
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - November 6th, 2007

Pairs so well with the Burt Lancaster movie and a glass of cold beer, perhaps some cured meats, a few hard cheeses, maybe a fig slice or three and a strong, sugary espresso to finish. But don't let me tell you how to live! Lord knows it didn't work out so well for the Sicilian aristocracy......... do give this ridiculously good book a read and we'll see you at the next meeting of the I Had No Idea I Would Love A 19th Century Sicilian Novel Written By a Discontented, Last of His Lineage Prince So Very Much! You can bring the cheeses. 


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The Radiance of the King Cover Image
By Camara Laye, James Kirkup (Translated by), Toni Morrison (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590174555
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - August 16th, 2011

Strange, wonderful, dizzying and very funny, this book is a gem.  "THE RADIANCE OF THE KING" follows Clarence, a white man from England with no real skills except losing money in card games, as he arrives in Africa with the goal of doing some unknown, un-asked for "work for the king," hoping his whiteness will provide whatever access he needs. It does not. The story follows him, his long suffering guide, and two young dancers as they all make their way through a wilderness of land and mind, circling ever closer to the shining glory of the king. Find and replace "HEART OF DARKNESS" with this and never look back. 

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The Buried Giant (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307455796
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 5th, 2016

This book has it all! 

  • a crone killing rabbits
  • an emotionally tortured boatman
  • a damp, suspicious labyrinth
  • potentially truly evil monks
  • romance, adventure, a fog that causes amnesia.... 

It's so very good.

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You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062388681
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - August 9th, 2016

This book confounds me in the best way. It is about:

  • the claustrophobic horrible/wonderful closeness of being constantly with another woman, with any human
  • oranges
  • cults
  • the fruitless quest for purification
  • what we feed our bodies and our minds; what it means to eat
  • advertising
  • dystopic capitalism
  • chain grocery stores, the kind where all the food is fake and you are watched by a hidden, silent mascot while you shop
  • violence of all sorts; what it means to die
  • a game show called "That's My Partner!"
  • Kandy Kakes

Just try it. You'll like it.

Such a Fun Age Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525541905
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - December 31st, 2019

To me, reading this book felt like a very exensive, very cold shot of vodka with a Coca Cola chaser - a headrush, deliciously cloying warmth that spreads in your middle, feels better and better, then the taste of acrid reality cutting back through to say "are you REALLY sure about this?" Kiley Reid makes it look easy, but don't be deceived. Get in before the sure to be majorly hyped and well cast screen adaptation, forthcoming from Lena Waithe. 

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I'm with the Band: Confessions of a Groupie Cover Image
By Pamela Des Barres, Dave Navarro (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781556525896
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chicago Review Press - October 28th, 2005

The inimitable Miss Pamela! A bright, bouncy, gloriously juicy read from a rock and roll cultural icon. You're with the band? No Miss Pamela, they are with YOU! If you've ever read a rock & roll bio written by or about men that left a bad feeling, let this be the antidote. 

The Summer Book Cover Image
By Tove Jansson, Kathryn Davis (Introduction by), Thomas Teal (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781590172681
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - May 20th, 2008

I have a hard time selling this because it is so dear to me... it feels like a secret I should protect, the spot no one knows about with plenty of sunshine and deep, cool water .... a little gorgeous thing just for me. BUT! I do realize that's selfish, in matters of swimming holes and beautiful literature. So here- enjoy this perfect gem of a book. 

Auntie Poldi and the Sicilian Lions (An Auntie Poldi Adventure #1) Cover Image
By Mario Giordano, John Brownjohn (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781328588784
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - February 5th, 2019

 VIVA POLDI! Our newly 60 year old heroine simply wants to slowly (or at least medium-quickly) drink herself to oblivion on the Sicilian coast, lounging in a beautiful robe and looking gorgeous and full of ennui while thinking deep, sad thoughts about her life. But, as the narrator points out on page one, Sicily is complicated, you can't just die there - something always comes up. I love this series and highly recommend you pair with prosecco. 

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In Extremis: The Life and Death of the War Correspondent Marie Colvin Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250234841
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Published: Picador - November 12th, 2019

"It is important to tell people what really happens in wars." -Marie Colvin, 2001. So important to her, in fact, that in 2012 at age 50 this decorated war correspondent, this badass professional whose personal life tended to be more messy than not climbed on the back of a motorcycle, her arms circling someone she did not know, who would take her across the border to Syria, deep into the bombed and relentlessly besieged heart. She would not return. A brilliant, brave, complicated person. A hero. 

The Liars' Club: A Memoir (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Mary Karr, Lena Dunham (Foreword by), Brian Rea (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780143107798
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - November 10th, 2015

I first read this groundbreaking memoir when I was maybe 11 or so, which means Mary Karr has been blowing my mind consistently for two solid decades. She's a must read and this is the perfect place to start. 

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Blood Meridian: Or the Evening Redness in the West (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679728757
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 5th, 1992

Ever fall off your bike far from home as a kid, really scrape up your knee but you've still got to ride back, ride out the sting and in doing so you acheive a kind of beautiful adrenaline rush and the pain is still there but so is Everything Else? Well. That's this book.

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Made for Love: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062280596
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - July 3rd, 2018

I knew this book was for me after the first page, where Hazel (our recently displaced heroine) finds herself face to face with her father's (who also happens to be her current roommate) life like sex doll Diane but it's not so much Diane that has her attention, rather the crate she came in. Hazel wonders, could I fit in that? Not for, you know, death... but like, a nap. See, she's on the run from her billionaire tech mogul husband who wants to put a chip in her brain and sync their thoughts and she's just a little tired. This book is strange, dark, brilliantly funny and invites you to crawl right on inside. You'll fit.

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Tipping the Velvet: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781573227889
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - May 1st, 2000

From her childhood in the salty open air markets shucking shellfish, to her teen years in the vaudeville circuit as a male impersonator, to her lonely and lustful life as a kept woman to the toast of Victorian lesbian society, to ruin, to freedom, to true love at last. Every page was as luscious, layered and full of brine as an oyster on the half shell. 

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Geek Love: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375713347
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - June 11th, 2002

The Benewski parents have presided over a successful carnival for years, staffing it with their own delightfully deformed children. When their only son, Arturo the Aqua Boy Benewski gains a cult like following and becomes a self-proclaimed messiah, the family's facade of control begins to shift with disastrous results. Although on the surface this book is bizarre, even horrifying- just below is a story about happiness, belonging and love. You know, normal stuff.

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As I Lay Dying (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679732259
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 30th, 1991

A novel that made me utter the phrase (pardon me) "holy shit!" about a dozen times while reading this on the bus. Also worth noting: one of the most gutting, darkly hilarious final lines of anything I've read.  It's like seeing a grizzly bear up close- those things are POWERFUL and a little scary. Faulkner is the bear, here.

Cold Comfort Farm Cover Image
By Stella Gibbons, Lynne Truss (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780141441597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - November 25th, 2008

"I saw something NASTY in the woodshed." Aunt Ada Doom is possibly one of literature's all time great characters. Stop trying to make her DO stuff, she once saw something NASTY in the woodshed!! Deeply hilarious and fairly unhinged in the absolute best way. I read this age 12 which was maybe a little young for some of the references but I laughed out loud then and I still do now. It is also a lovely movie with Kate Beckinsale, and briefly, Maggie Smith! 

The Passion According to G.H. Cover Image
By Clarice Lispector, Caetano Veloso (Introduction by), Idra Novey (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811219686
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - June 13th, 2012

On the one hand, it's a book about a wealthy woman killing a bug and having an existential crisis. On the other hand, it's about birth & death, female autonomy, the body & mind as a desert we wander without reprieve... So you really can't go wrong! As GH says:  "I do not want beauty, I want idenity."

Euphoria Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802123701
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - April 14th, 2015

I absolutely devoured every part of this book in one afternoon, I sat on my couch and barely moved until it was through. EUPHORIA is very lush and very sexy and does not shrink from questions of morality or ethics, in matters of love and anthropology alike.

We're Going to Need More Wine: Stories That Are Funny, Complicated, and True Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062693990
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dey Street Books - January 15th, 2019

You likely know her from her vast filmography but I recommend you also get to know Gabrielle Union as a writer and an activist. From her perspective as a mover of culture, a young Black woman from Nebraska, a rape survivor, a step parent to young Black men, a partner to one of the most famous basketball players in the world, she offers a glimpse into her story that is equally heartbreaking, insightful, funny and very moving. I loved it. 

The Wind in the Willows: (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Kenneth Grahame, Gregory Maguire (Foreword by), Rachell Sumpter (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780143106647
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Published: Penguin Classics - April 24th, 2012

"What's inside it?" asked the Mole. "There's cold chicken inside it," replied the Rat briefly: "cold tongue cold ham cold beef pickled gherkins salad french rolls and widges potted meat ginger beer lemonade soda water-" "Oh stop, stop!" cried the Mole in ecstasies: "This is too much!"

Mole, you are absolutely right. What a glorious, special book this is.

Lament from Epirus: An Odyssey into Europe's Oldest Surviving Folk Music Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393248999
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 29th, 2018

The first time the author saw a 78 record, they were crammed in a tar paper shack which his grandfather had instructed him to burn down. From that moment in Mississippi, to delightfully record jumbled apartments and crowded markets of Turkey, famed collector, restorer and archivist Christopher C. King will make you share his passion for music recorded before industry and profit came calling, when people were making music only for themselves: their communities, their histories, their triumphs and losses, their Gods. This is such a beautiful clear wail of a book.

I am deeply obsessed with real estate. It is truly upsetting to me that I will never be able to see inside every home ever built in America, knock on the walls and learn how it was built; it USED to truly upset me that I didn't know the names for things adorning those homes, like what do you call all the little gingerbread siding on the Victorians and what's the difference between the scalloped shingles and the square? Well. This book changed all that for me. No, I can't access every single home ever built in America BUT I can name all their dormer styles and recite a timeline of home building tradtions from the early 19th century right on through to the so called "millenium mansions" and I am deply grateful to Virginia Savage McAlester for those gifts.