Ravenna

Latest Staff Picks

To Survive On This Shore is a book that has impacted a number of people in my life very deeply, a book full of wisdom and humanity. It shares from the experiences of older transgender adults across the United States, told in their own words and with vivid full-page portraits that draw you into each person's narrative.

Picked by Nata

Open up to the first poem in this collection, "to the fig tree on 9th & christian". With just the right mix of details-- smells, textures, sounds-- Ross Gay places you there beneath the fig tree with him, stuffing his pockets with ripening fruit from a neighbor's tree, reaching to pick the choicest fruits for passers-by. This book over-brims with beautifully glimpsed reflections on community life: neighbors sharing with neighbors, old friends sharing a meal together, the poet's experiences as a queer black man in relation to his city and his past. Read these poems and feel them create a warm, sacred space within you.

Picked by Nata

I was surprised to learn so much from this book-- about the life of Araminta Ross, who would later be known as Harriet Tubman; about the history of the Underground Railroad and its conductors; and about the many ways that Black folks have always resisted slavery and inequity. Nathan Hale's deeply expressive illustrations draw the reader into the odyssey of Tubman's life and offer an informative, age-appropriate look at the institution of slavery here in the United States.

Picked by Nata

Finally, a book about menopause that doesn't fill me with rage. Instead I am soothed by Darcey Steinke's focus on naming the visceral reality of menopause minus the pathological viewpoint. I'm inspired by her dedication to researching what she finds herself curious about, by how she follows her whims. Menopause has been denigrated as a "deficiency disease," by (primarily) male doctors who have pressed hormone pills into our sweaty palms, promising they're the ticket to youth, good health (damn the statistics on increased breast cancer, etc.), and being loved. This book offers a vision of traversing "the change" unmedicated: as an adventure, a leap of faith, a transformation to explore.

Picked by Dana

In this memoir, the one and only Patti Smith invites us on a road trip. She weaves us into her dreams over coffee, shares intimate moments, and howls about the world as it is. This slim volume is a balm, a hand to hold, a wild, sweet song.

Picked by Dana

Readers who were transfixed by Ottessa Moshfegh's wry, acerbic voice in last year's My Year of Rest and Relaxation must, must read her previous novel, Eileen. It excels as both a slow-simmering crime thriller and a wonderfully grim character study. The titular Eileen is one of my favorite narrators I've met in a novel--although I hope never to meet her in person.

Picked by Theo

A book for people who love books. George Pelecanos is a master at writing crime novels peopled with flawed and yet endearing characters. Michael Hudson was a dedicated member of the prison book club, until he is released, and then he must battle to maintain his dignity and stay on the straight and narrow. Pelecanos has written for the television shows 'The Wire" and "The Deuce," and -- in my oh-so-humble opinion -- he's one of the most dependable writers working today.

Picked by Mark B.

To call Looker a compulsive read would be a massive understatement. The narrator of Looker is going through a painful breakup with her husband, after years of unsuccessfully trying to start a family. She has developed an unhealthy obsession with a neighbor on her block, who also happens to be a famous actress. There are many layers to this debut novel: Society's unhealthy preoccupation with the social media profiles of celebrities. The pressure on women to raise a family, while maintaining their youthful appearance. The lack of human connection between people, who live right next door. Looker made it onto my top ten list of books read in 2018. Maybe it will show up in your top ten list for 2019.

Picked by Mark B.

Do you have a dog? Do you love the comfort of home? Have you ever felt loved? Do you love beautiful art? Do you have a heart? Do you want it to grow three sizes?

Flip through this book. If your heart isn't aching by the end, you're a liar.

Picked by Halley