Staff Selections

Allana

How to Do Nothing
Jenny Odell

A book that came to me at just the right moment. Odell questions our conceptions of productivity in this thoughtful and well-researched book by delving into the history of those who fought for our right to participate in society not solely as mechanisms of production; from Epicurus to the Longshoremen Union of San Francisco. A fascinating analysis of the urgent need to reevaluate an economic system that suffers when the creative mind is allowed to reflect, rest, and restore. This book matters.

Jeffrey

Everybody's Fool
Richard Russo

The Pulitzer Prize-winning author returns to Bath, New York (the setting for his 1993 novel "Nobody's Fool") for this rollicking summer read. It's a hilarious novel about working people who you will come to love. There is a bit of a mystery, some infidelity, some violence, and even a loose cobra. Currently one of my favorite books.

Kathleen

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone
Lori Gottlieb

Former tv writer turned LA therapist Lori Gottlieb wrote Maybe You Should Talk to Someone after a bad breakup led her own friends to suggest "Maybe you should talk to someone..."    This book is about dealing with issues of life and death from both sides of the couch. Gottlieb's ability to entertain and elicit emotion kept me curious, amused, and reaching for the tissues.

 

Kelli

The Lonesome Bodybuilder
Yukiko Motoya, trns. by Asa Yoneda

This collection of grotesque domestic fiction is a strange mirror to our everyday lives. These stories carry the comedy, whimsy, and directness of a Shel Silverstein poem, but its application to the real and adult worlds gives them a disturbing strength. A good book if you're looking for a fast, strange time.

Mary

Six Seasons: A New Way with Vegetables
Joshua McFadden

This title has become a best-selling cookbook at Prairie Lights, and deservedly so.  Joshua McFadden seems to have distilled his knowledge from an impressive resume as chef and owner of great restaurants in Oregon, learning his skills in New York at Momofuku and Blue Hill, and working with Alice Waters in Rome and as manager of Four Season Farm in Maine.   Using the harvest of a season as a guideline, this book champions fresh produce and the recipes yield big flavor, sometimes with surprising simplicity.  My favorite part is its stocking suggestions, from cold brined raw vegetables to sauces and seasoned butters and dressings.  You will find yourself collaborating deliciously with this exciting approach.

Paul

The Life of Elves
Muriel Barbery

Muriel Barbery, author of The Elegance of the Hedgehog, has an extraordinary  new novel.  It is a very adult book focused on mythical Faerie and Elven culture, the equivalent of which exists in nearly every world culture.  Just to remind you again, there is nothing in this book to remind you of children’s literature.  It divulges a culture much as Ursula LeGuin does in the best of her books  DO NOT MISS THIS BOOK!

Robert

The Waitress Was New
Dominique Fabre

This is a brief, but beautiful little novel made from the simplest stuff. The narrator is a bartender in late middle age. The suburban bistro he works at is falling apart and over the course of a few days he tries to patch things together. In the process he ruminates over his position and life in general. This is Fabre’s ninth novel but the first in English translation.

Pages

Suzanne

The Water Knife
Paolo Bacigalupi

A near-future dystopian novel by the author of The Windup Girl.

Through his compelling characters, Bacigalupi explores the disparate effects income inequality has on technology, society and personal ethics in the face of changes brought about by climate change.  It deals with water rights and water privatization on the Colorado River in an arid American Southwest, making it a particularly timely “summer read”—but one that will leave you thinking about it past summer.

Terry

The Library at Mount Char
Scott Hawkins

I stayed up until 2:30 in the morning to finish this. It’s a hard one to categorize. By turns profoundly disturbing and hilarious and thought provoking, it’s one the most original books I’ve read in awhile.

Tim

Tales of Accidental Genius
Simon Van Booy

A new book by Simon Van Booy is always a cause to celebrate, and Tales of Accidental Genius is indeed celebratory.  With just a handful of short stories (and one long story to close the book blossoming out of the previous tale), Mr. Van Booy reminds the reader that no matter one's age, race, habitat or habits, we are all human, and are all attempting to connect -- or re-connect, I should say -- with the world around us and our place in it.  These stories are like beacons in the darkness, and Mr. Van Booy's incredible ability to deliver the most profound observances by way of the simplest of sentences is breathtaking.  Like any master of their craft, he makes it appear effortless.  You'll want to read these again and again -- Simon Van Booy's genius is no accident.

Deb

Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?
Ina Garten

A new Ina Garten! How great is that and just in time for the Holidays!

Liz

The Small Backs of Children
Lidia Yuknavitch

An extraordinary novel, one of the best I've read all year. The often brutal story centers around a girl orphaned in a war-torn Eastern European country, a writer suffering a deep depression after a stillbirth, and the writers' artist friends, who conspire to connect the two. The book's power resides in its stunning language, interesting formal experimentation, and daring exploration of war, art, motherhood, sex, and violence.