Ravenna

Latest Staff Picks

The world Vanessa Veselka builds in her novel Zazen is a singular and astonishing literary creation: not-quite-satire, not-quite-dystopia, it's a world much like our own but viewed through a layer of unreality so subtle it's often indiscernible. Della, our protagonist, navigates a bleak and alienating urban landscape while two faceless, nameless wars (War A and War B) rage ominously in the background. Her friends, would-be revolutionaries of various radical stripes, have one by one begun to flee the country. Amidst all this, Della develops a habit for calling in phony bomb threats, a habit that threatens to become something far more dangerous. This slim novel is so many things at once: exhilarating, funny, frightening, beautiful.

Picked by Theo

This book made me crack up! Being the proud owner of 2 new kittens I could relate to the attitude this sweet, chubby little cat has. The big cats don't think he belongs but he is persistent and lets them know about all the things they share, not just what is different. Besides being sweet and funny this is a wonderful reminder to us all to see the common ground with others and not only what sets us apart. The adorable and lovely art work adds depth and humor to this new favorite book at home.

Picked by Patti H.

George Schuyler's Black No More is, above all, deeply funny. It can be read as political allegory, or social satire, or racial commentary, but Schuyler (a pioneering African-American journalist) set out to, and succeeded at, writing a book that is wickedly, mordantly funny. Set primarily in Harlem and Atlanta in the 1930s, Schuyler imagines a technology that allows black people to remove pigmentation from their skin and become white. Of course, this turns the American political system on its head, and reveals the fallacy behind the popular conception of 'whiteness'.

Picked by James

Eat the Apple is a fierce, gut-wrenching memoir of Young's years as a Marine surviving not two, but three tours in Iraq. Fresh out of high school and heading towards disaster, Young enlisted in the Marines and Eat the Apple is his account of those booze drenched amped up times. Told in short chapters, some in play form, others in first person, others in third person, some accompanied by crude drawings his story is by turns gripping, hilarious, appalling and often heartbreaking. The toll of unending, senseless war is devastating. This is an incredibly honest and unforgettable book.

Picked by Michael

I'm not sure whether this is a book of short stories or long jokes. Then again, maybe it's an art book with very extensive captions. Whatever label applies, I am totally enamored of Samuel Ligon's Wonderland. There are many passages to savor and worthy of reading aloud to friends and foe alike. And it's so nicely packaged too!

Picked by Mark B.

In Ketterdam, there's a saying: No mourners, no funerals.

I read Six of Crows back in 2015 and I'm still in love with it. Six teens all with their own unique skills come together to perform the most impossible heist of their criminal careers. Led and hand-picked by the ruthless Kaz Brekker (known as Dirtyhands), this unlikely outcast group must break a dangerous criminal out of a high security prison and collect the substantial reward all without turning on each other. This is not a fluffy read. Each member of Kaz's team is self-motivated. Their moral compasses don't always point north which makes their group dynamic complex and fun.

Picked by Halley

Growing up in the Sixties and Seventies off-the-grid, I learned to milk a cow, bake bread, fill and clean kerosene lamps, sew and mend clothes, and knit. I worked painting houses, doing construction, and gardening. In place of pay, I experienced a deep sense of satisfaction in doing a good job just for the love of it. In Shop Class as Soulcraft, Matthew Crawford explains why this kind of doing and making brings such satisfaction, how our inherent need for meaningful work has been manufactured out of (most of) our daily lives, and what we can do about it. Sure, the book came out almost 10 years ago, but the concepts are timeless. Give it a read!

Picked by Dana

Ambition always has a price - and if you're Xifeng, who's heard over and over from her aunt's dark fortunetelling cards that one day, her incredible beauty will lead her to become Empress, you aren't sure it's a price you want to pay. So with her boyfriend Wei, she runs away from her fear and her aunt's cruelties towards the capital city. She's smart, determined, and to her surprise, she has a knack for getting ahead when others fail. But something inhuman, magical, and very, very old begins to whisper in Xifeng's ear. How far can she rise? And sacrifice - does she have to be the one to make it? Or...can someone else take her place? Julie Dao's book is a must-read for fans of Kendare Blake, Marie Lu, and Laini Taylor.

Picked by Christina

Murakami should have been an investigative reporter. What happens when no one talks about the Sarin-Gas-Attack in the subway? Murakami gleans answers through interviews; in what is said and unsaid. As Murakami writes: "The sad fact is that language and logic cut off from reality have a far greater power than the language and logic of reality ... unable to comprehend each other's words, we'd part, each going our separate ways." Underground is a critique, a dialogue, a warning, and a reminder for communities to think critically and respond commonly.

Picked by Alex