Ravenna

Latest Staff Picks

Kent Haruf is one of my most treasured writers. His quartet of novels Plainsong, Eventide, Benediction and Our Souls at Night are as close to perfect as any books I have read. Haruf tells the stories of ordinary people, lives where not much happens yet everything that matters happens. In Our Souls at Night, Haruf tells the story of a widow, Addie Moore who makes an unusual proposition to her neighbor Louis Waters. How this relationship develops, the impact it has on their families and townsfolk makes for a touching, honest and unforgettable story.

Picked by Michael

It's shortly after the Civil War and fifteen-year-old Gabriel Lynch is not ready to settle down with his mother and new stepfather on a hardscrabble farm in Kansas. Instead he joins up with a group of cowboys headed for Texas. It is then trial by fire for Gabriel as he grows up on the road, witnessing the horrors and violence of the old west. This debut novel from Durham is a coming-of-age tale with elements of Blood Meridian and Lonesome Dove except with an African-American cast of characters. I read this book fifteen years ago, and scenes are still burned into my memory. Take a wild ride with Gabriel Lynch.

Picked by Mark B.

If you think your landlord is screwing you, they are. Evicted shows how. The book itself is a novelistic account of the lives of people often ignored by literature, and Desmond is such a great writer that this falls in the realm of Between the World and Me, non-fiction that is unignorable on the level of craft. During this election cycle we have bemoaned the decisions we believe are made by people in trailer parks, without any deeper understanding of their plight. Republicans use violence in impoverished communities as a knee-jerk response to questions of gun control, without rhetorically attaching that violence to the the poverty endemic in these neighborhoods. Evicted is a plea for empathy with the impoverished. It may feel difficult to read about subjects like this right now, but refusing to do so comes at a real human cost.

Picked by James

Natasha's family immigrated to New York illegall from Jamaica. Daniel's family immigrated legally from South Korea. Natasha likes science, Daniel likes poetry. Natasha doesn't believe in love, but Daniel believes in it more than anything. They meet by chance on the most important day of Natasha's life: she's about to be deported. Nominated for the National Book Award in 2016, this topical book packs a punch. Natasha's plight is a reality people face every day. I was also completely swept into her relationship with Daniel. If you're looking for quality contemporary YA, you won't be disappointed.

Picked by Halley

Do you care about Axl Rose? I do not. Yet somehow, John Jeremiah Sullivan, in his brilliant essay, The Final Comeback of Axl Rose, made the beleaguered Guns n Roses frontman seem like the most fascinating character of all time. He did the same for Michael Jackson, an overly considered icon that Sullivan still somehow found a new angle on. But what really drew me in was the opening essay on Sullivan's trip to Creation Fest, a massive Christian music festival, which I myself attended as a teen. Sullivan avoids the low hanging fruit and comes away with a new appreciation for the Christian fanboys he meets. This is an essay collection not to be missed.

Picked by J.P.

Like many women of a certain age I read Women Who Run With the Wolves when it came out, before I was a mother. While I can't say I cracked it open as I struggled to balance caring for myself with caring for an infant, I know what I absorbed from this book helped me listen to my wild nature, helped me survive the inundation of motherhood. Now my daughter is 22 and reading Clarissa Pinkola Estés book herself, and reading parts aloud to me. If ever there was a time to remind ourselves to listen to our intuition, to stay free, to honor the wild in us, it is now.

Picked by Dana

This a comprehensive survey of the history of Asian immigration to the Americas, the growth of Asian American communities, and the complex entanglement of American immigration policies and American identity. Lee's book is broad in scope but it also dives into all the detail a serious scholar is capable of when illuminating a lesser-known facet of history. It's really readable and will be very useful to anyone looking to better understand our country's long record of exclusionary, racist immigration policy, and the centrality of Asians to American history.

Picked by Christina

Fun. This book is fun. As though Chambers distilled every TV space opera series (Farscape, Lexx, Red Dwarf etc.)into their essences and bound them up in a single volume. Chambers writes a refreshing, non-dystopian, Sci-fi adventure with big ideas and memorable one-liners. The characters are gold, the universe shiny, and the navigators suitably saucy and scaled.

Picked by Alex

This has got to be the sweetest book I've read. My son and I have been working our way through it at bedtime and each story is incredible. The kindness, acceptance, and friendship portrayed was invaluable to see and a wonderful reminder of how to be in the world. Besides being super cute with amazing photos, this book caused my son and I to giggle and wonder at these beautiful animals. Kids often have difficulty socializing and this book offered a shift in thinking about what it means to be a friend. Sometimes that's all it takes to make a new friend.

Picked by Patti H.