Staff Picks by Tag

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Ghost Wall: A Novel By Sarah Moss Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250234957
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Picador - December 31st, 2019

A reenactment of a romanticized past becomes an inescapable descent into the ugliest and most primitive side of humanity. Succinct in its suspense, you won't realize you've been holding your breath until the very last page. Good thing it's a short book... 

Review by Sarah C.

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Solitary: A Biography (National Book Award Finalist; Pulitzer Prize Finalist) By Albert Woodfox Cover Image
Unavailable at this time.
ISBN: 9780802129086
Published: Grove Press - March 5th, 2019

In 2016, Albert Woodfox was released from prison after years of campaigning by activists, judges, politicians, and members of the Angola Three support network. Framed for the murder of a prison guard along with two other Black Panther Party members, he'd been kept in solitary confinement for over 40 years due to a system of falsified accusations and sabotaged appeals involving collusion at high levels of government and judiciary. Radicalized in prison, Woodfox drew immense strength and determination from the principles of the Black Panther Party; in every cell block, he worked to eradicate violence, materially improve conditions, practice liberation, and call for change. In these pages, his goal is not just to tell his incredible story, but to educate us about the many ways mass incarceration and police brutality are used as a weapon against Black communities.

Review by Christina

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Roadside Picnic (Rediscovered Classics #16) By Arkady Strugatsky, Boris Strugatsky, Ursula K. Le Guin (Foreword by), Olena Bormashenko (Translated by) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781613743416
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Chicago Review Press - May 1st, 2012

The aliens have already packed up and left as Roadside Picnic begins, but their brief and apparently pointless visit has left the earth irrevocably altered. And in writing this brief, beguiling novel of first contact, the Strugatsky brothers forever altered the terrain of science fiction; their book has gone on to inspire successive generations of artists and writers, most famously Andrei Tarkovsky and Jeff VanderMeer.

In my mind, the thing that really makes this edition essential for science fiction readers is the forward provided by another pillar of the genre, Ursula K. Le Guin. In a few short, pithy pages, Le Guin uses the numerous possible readings of Roadside Picnic--a parable of Soviet failure? a referendum on human intelligence?--to prompt a much broader meditation on the possibilities of the genre.

Review by Theo

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Tales of Mr. Keuner (The German List) By Bertolt Brecht, James Reidel (Translated by), Ulf K. (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Bertolt Brecht, James Reidel (Translated by), Ulf K. (Illustrator)
Unavailable at this time.
ISBN: 9780857424716
Published: Seagull Books - April 15th, 2019

These are the class-war comics you didn't know you needed! A wry and thought-provoking collection of short comics based on the writings of Bertolt Brecht. You might not laugh, but you'll think about how life is terrible.

Review by Stephen

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Off Season By James Sturm Cover Image
Unavailable at this time.
ISBN: 9781770463318
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - February 5th, 2019

The 2016 election haunts this story of a man's (actually a dog's) reactions to his failing marriage, but in this and so many other ways the delicately balanced storytelling avoids simplistic dichotomies and easy answers. The result is an empathetic portrayal of characters who hurt each other and themselves without understanding why, which ends on a note of ambiguous hopefulness.

Review by Stephen

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The Best of Richard Matheson By Richard Matheson, Victor LaValle (Editor), Victor LaValle (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Richard Matheson, Victor LaValle (Editor), Victor LaValle (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143130178
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Penguin Classics - October 10th, 2017

Do you like the Twilight Zone? Of course you do. But you might not know Richard Matheson. And you should, because arguably the most iconic episodes were adapted from his masterfully-written short fiction. Each story is so tightly crafted as to border on pulp, each ending twists with a stinger that demands your return. If I'm on a plane: 1) I have a Richard Matheson collection in my carry on and 2) I'm not going to look at the wing of the plane. Yeah. He wrote that. 

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We Set the Dark on Fire By Tehlor Kay Mejia Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062691323
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - January 14th, 2020

Latinx culture. Near-future fantasy island. Espionage and arranged marriage. Queer romance.

In short, a gripping feminist story with excellent stakes, world-building, and character development that ends in a cliff-hanger. Let's just say I need book two of this duology immediately.

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Normal People: A Novel By Sally Rooney Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984822185
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Crown - February 18th, 2020

I first discovered Sally Rooney after reading her first book, Conversations With Friends, which I loved! So, of course, I rushed to read her second book, Normal People. On the surface, this sounds like another popular boy befriends awkward girl but this novel unfolds beautifully as you read. With a strong political undertone and exploration of social and economic status, Sally Rooney brings to light many issues worth discussing. But at the heart of the novel, Normal People is an exploration of those friendships we form when we're young that shape us and often times sets the tone of who and what we gravitate towards later in life. Nostalgia will loom over you while you read Normal People.

Review by Rosa

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Fire Logic: An Elemental Logic Novel By Laurie J. Marks Cover Image
ISBN: 9781618730886
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Small Beer Press - January 29th, 2019

I love almost everything put out by Small Beer Press, and when I got a copy of Fire Logic in the mail, I read it and immediately blazed through the rest of the series. Fire Logic is the first in an epic fantasy series about a brutal civil war where every character and plot point pivots around history, philosophy, and the aftermath of violence. It's gentler, in later books, and slower than series like Erika Johansen's Tearling books or Ann Leckie's Radch series (though if you like Kalr 5 and her tea cups, you'll also love Garland and his ladle). The questions these books ask repeatedly are, what systems are working to narrow our choices? And what kind of radical thinking will allow us to see another path?

Review by Christina

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You Know You Want This:
Unavailable at this time.
ISBN: 9781982101633
Published: Gallery/Scout Press - January 15th, 2019

Maybe you already know her short story "Cat Person," which captured a modern feeling—one that has barely begun to be put in print—so well I felt it in my body. There's more of those sickeningly visceral moments in this collection. The stories feel like urban legends stretched into something else, something you feel in the pit of your stomach and taste at the back of your mouth. 

Review by Kitri