Ravenna

Latest Staff Picks

The River ebbs and pulls the reader along, sometimes ambling, sometimes with a violent force. On the surface, it's a survival story about college friends Jack and Wynn on a canoe trip who must race to safety while a raging forest fire follows in their wake. It's a surival story, but like all good stories, there's a deeper meaning behind Heller's surface narrative. It's about grief, it's about love, and it's about the relationships that make our time in this world worth fighting for. The River has a quiet grace only a seasoned author can provide. I'm looking forward to reading more from Peter Heller and I would strongly encourage you pick this one up.

Picked by Halley

Fred Riley has a problem: her girlfriend, Laura Dean? Terrible. A beautiful, terrible flake. Also, she keeps breaking up with Fred. But Fred loves Laura Dean because Laura Dean, impossibly, chose her. Fred struggles to balance the hurtful, manipulative things Laura Dean does with the depth of her love, knowing she's stuck in a vicious cycle but feeling powerless to break free. How can she ever stop loving Laura Dean? Valero-O'Connell's gorgeous, sherbet-colored art and Mariko Tamaki's writing, always true to the complex emotions of her characters, combine to make a beautiful queer coming of age story.

Picked by Christina

The complicated things are easy and the simple things are hard. This is a book of reminders that life is simple, that recognizing this is our practice, and that practice is hard to do. Written as a conversation and organized as essays, this is the book to dip into, pause, and notice our day.

Picked by Alex

Seattle-based cartoonist Simon Hanselmann’s Meg Mogg & Owl is as hilarious, moving, and as gleefully filthy as ever in this latest installment of the ultimate slacker soap opera. Bad Gateway further chronicles the squalid existences of a lovable cast of degenerates, who just happen to be a witch, a cat (dating the witch), a put-upon owl and a drug-dealing werewolf. Depravity abounds. I don’t know. Just try it.

Picked by Theo

Unfurling like an deliriously convoluted yet impeccably timed joke, Adam Ehrlich Sachs's first novel maps the conversations between a skeptical German polymath and a blind (and possibly insane) astronomer who, aided by an impossibly large telescope, accurately predicts a solar eclipse in 1666. If you yearn for the wiley, cerebral pranksterism of Pynchon a la The Crying of Lot 49, or if book-length comic riffs on epistemology are your bag, this book is for you.

Picked by Theo

My City shows that even the simplest errand can be full of discovery, if you aren't too busy to notice. Max is on a mission to deliver a letter, and every step of his journey reveals some small wonder: bright colors dancing in a laundromat window, the world mirrored in a puddle, the sky's shifting hues at sunset. Every time I open this book I find something new to marvel at, right alongside Max.

Picked by Theo

This is not your great aunt’s romance novel; this is as if Queer Eye did a makeover on the 2016 Presidential Election and the result is tender, funny, suspenseful, political, and super hot. I haven't read a romance in decades, so I wasn't sure I'd finish this book, much less stay up until 1 am to do it. I expected to blush, but I didn't expect that I’d also laugh out loud, cry, and at the end, feel more hopeful than I have in months. Give it a try. This is the light summer read you’ve been looking for.

Picked by Dana

I appreciate books that entertain me and require me to think hard about the world we live in. This book did both. Billie James has inherited a small cabin in the Mississippi Delta and a little money along with the mystery of how her famous poet/civil rights activist father died thirty years before. Soon after she and her dog arrive at the cabin, she becomes entangled in her own (lost) memories and begins asking questions that uncover dangerous small town secrets about race, family, and justice. Chanelle Benz writes the Mississippi Delta as a character to be reckoned with in the way Walter Mosley writes about Los Angeles and Attica Locke writes about Texas. If you like mysteries, books set in the south with a Southern Gothic feel, and great writing, this will satisfy your need for a great summer read.

Picked by Dana

Sara Collins has a gorgeous reading voice on the audio version of this book on www.libro.fm. Honestly, I would listen to her read anything, but Frannie Langton, on trial for murder in 1826 London, stole my heart. She can't remember what happened on the night in question, so she tells the whole story: her life as a slave on a sugar plantation in Jamaica, how the plantation master brought her to London and gave her away to a colleague, her romantic relationship with her mistress, and more. Her confessions begin, "My trial starts the way my life did: a squall of elbows and shoving and spit." By the time she's finished, Langton has detailed the brutally twisted wrongs of a world built to keep her down, and we bear witness.

Picked by Dana