Staff Selections


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.


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.


Meet Me at the Museum
Anne Youngson

This quiet, beautifully written book is an exchange of letters between an English farmer's wife and a widowed museum curator in Denmark that opens as a conversation about bog bodies and transforms into a deep friendship and philosophical dialogue. This book is perfect for readers of Major Pettigrew, Our Souls at Night, and The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry.


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.



Pachinko, a sprawling historic novel set in 20th century Korea and Japan, follows four generations of the Baeks, a Korean family.  Occupied in their homeland, unwelcome in the land of their occupiers, they struggle with war, discrimination and poverty as zainichi, chiefly in the slums of Osaka. Disenfranchisement, sexuality, ambition and cultural beliefs form their fates, and the clash between national directives and personal needs plays out in the iniquitous relations between the Japanese and Koreans.  A page-turner for fans of family sagas.


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!


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.



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.


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.


Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?
Ina Garten

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


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.