Ravenna

Latest Staff Picks

Beautifully-written, heart-breaking, suspenseful, impossible to put down. Hisham Matar's The Return follows the author's quest to find out the fate of his father -- a vocal critic of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, taken from his home with the cooperation of Egyptian police. Although this story has strains of political intrigue, it will resonate personally with anyone who has experienced grief. This book, like few others, really does have something for everyone.

Picked by James

This is a totally captivating debut novel about a string quartet. Henry, Jana, Brit, and Daniel all have different reasons for not pursuing a more lucrative and rewarding solo career - they're drawn to something they can only find (or create) inside the tense, closed structure of the quartet. The behind the scenes look (Gabel was a professional cellist herself) into the ruthless world of high-level classical musicians and the physical toll of constant performance is fascinating for the curious reader, but as their relationships and careers grow and change over the years, The Ensemble's surprising focus is the amount of emotional work it takes to maintain a stable relationship between four people. The truly compelling interplay is what happens inside the theater of interpersonal dynamics between each member of the quartet, something that becomes just as practiced and just as necessary to the quartet's survival as what happens on stage.

Picked by Christina

I waited to read S.P.Q.R. because I did not want to read yet another history of Rome. Not for the first time, I find myself in error. Mary Beard interrogates our marbled vision of Rome, re-examines the historical record, and writes with wit that warms my Classicist heart.

Picked by Alex

Rachel Ingalls's 1983 novel Mrs. Caliban is an absolute gem that deserves to be read and reread. The story follows Dorothy, a woman whose suburban life and stagnating marriage are defined by boredom and touched by tragedy, who enters into an affair with an amphibious, humanoid sea creature recently escaped from a shady government institute. (The sadistic researchers call him Aquarius the Monsterman, but Dorothy renames him Larry.) What ensues is a cutting referendum on the sexist milieu of American life, couched in a unique blend of science fiction and suburban drama. Don't let the book's slim profile and unassuming prose style fool you; it's weirder, wiser, funnier and more crushingly sad than it first lets on. It's a quick read that will linger in your thoughts long after you put it down

Picked by Theo

The wonderful novel, loosely a sequel to The Spaces Between Us, The Secrets Between Us is the rich, moving story of an amazing friendship, one that under the old restrictions of India would never have occurred and in the new India feels its tentative way. The lives of Bhima and Parvati are ones of unbelievable poverty and struggle and the dignity and richness that their friendship manifests took my breath away. A bit Dickensian in the best ways this novel had me tears several times and these women are two I will not soon forget.

Picked by Michael

During a tumulutous time in my life a few years ago, I picked Anne of Green Gables up to revisit the Prince Edward Island of my childhood and all its wonderful inhabitants. I didn't expect Anne and her story to resonate so profoundly with me but it did. I've reread this book multiple times since. I mean...Is it possible to love something more the more times you read it? The writing is rich and the characters are unforgettable. These books are full of depth and rich with thoughts shared by young and old. I think it's the perfect read

Picked by Halley

This book is somewhere between an essay collection and a memoir. It examines the criss-crossing lines of politics, literature, and art, and shares writing and financial advice (especially germane to writers!). It also shares, with profound generosity, a lot from Alexander Chee's life. As a writer, Chee is interested in the constructed self, how identity can be a mask that conceals and also reveals. His self-reflection on how his own identities have served, protected, and hindered him is also an persistent, gentle invitation to the reader to remember that "the ways you are human are not always visible to yourself." There's a lot to encounter within these pages, written in Chee's easy and luminous way, but if that seems like a message you need to hear I can't recommend this book enough. I read it in the way you drink a glass of water from the bathroom tap late at night - thirstily, greedily, and with need.

Picked by Christina

It was getting late and I promised myself that I would just read a few more chapters. The next thing I knew, I was burning through the rest of She Rides Shotgun without pause. I just couldn’t stop. Jordan Harper’s debut novel lives up to the promise he showed in his short story collection, Love and Other Wounds. This thriller is rife with bad guys, but the main character is eleven-year old Polly, whose dad has just been released from prison and is already on the run, with Polly, riding shotgun.

Picked by Mark B.

Imagine a country after the gaslighting tyrant has been removed. Are citizens healed overnight? How does the new head of state work toward building a healthy country? How does a young girl find her balance when her father was the tyrant, and killed her mother. These are the questions Lady Queen Bitterblue must face as the new Queen of Monsea, with help from her extraordinary group of friends. (And here I was thinking I was taking a break from serious content by picking up a young adult novel...) Enjoy!

Picked by Dana