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.


Here I Am!
Pauline Holdstock

I LOVE the distinctly written, very British characters who fill out the plotline of Here I Am! The plot unfolds around the discovery of a death, and although the tale is told mostly by a resourceful six year old, short interludes told by adults ground the story in the starkly mundane facts of mortality. The profound beauty, refreshing delight in small things, and stark realities are balanced in a way that creates a riveting, dynamic, and at times very funny read.


I Hold a Wolf by the Ears: Stories
Laura van den Berg

The women in these eleven stories live on the margins of society: a woman creates her own profession, becoming an impersonator of deceased spouses for hire. An illustrator paints murals of ballet-dancing animals and hides them behind her furniture.  A young wife finds herself slowly drugged into submission by her husband in league with other sadistic husbands. Even as some of these women could be viewed as victims, they all seem to be cogent agents of their own fates somehow, seeking self-actualization in an overbearing world. Van den Berg’s social conscience and surrealistic humor create the field for these portraits, and her seductive descriptive skills and unique plot inventions keep readers riveted.  Though the stories have the rich contextual reach of poetry, I addictively read this collection quickly, and will definitely reread it. A tour de force.

How to Resist Amazon and Why
Danny Caine

II want to give this book to everyone I’ve ever met! We knew things were bad, but in this short zine-turned-book, Danny Caine, owner of Lawrence, Kansas’ The Raven Bookstore, accessibly delineates the problems and harms caused by Amazon. Moreover, he successfully argues why it actually does matter if the individual cancels her Prime membership and gives up overnight shipping for good. Interspersed throughout this well-researched, concise book are anecdotes from Caine’s own experience as an independent bookstore owner. Great for those scared of, angry at, or fed up with Amazon’s harmful practices and independent bookstore patrons alike (granted, there’s a great overlap here, especially if you’re reading this).    


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.



Bad Blood
John Carreyrou

Carreyrou was the first journalist to cast a critical eye on Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos.  Here he fleshes out the story, not only of deceit but also willing suspension of disbelief.  Holmes remains an enigma, but he writes compellingly about the employers, investors, Board of Directors, and CEOs of partner corporations whose fear of missing out and desperate desire to believe in the technology overrode due diligence and just plain common sense.  Perhaps saddest is the account of George P. Schultz, whose family was torn apart by his refusal to believe, despite evidence, his own whistleblower grandson.  A cautionary tale and necessary antidote to Silicon Valley fairy tales.



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.


Beneath the Stairs
Jennifer Fawcett

A sleepy town in upstate New York.  A house deep in the woods surrounded by rumor, legend and superstition.  Twenty years ago, Clare and her best friend Abby, along with two other girls, dared themselves to go inside the Octagon House the summer before they began high school.  Now, Abby is in a coma and Clare has returned to her hometown to unlock what happened that night so long ago, and why it changed their friendship so dramatically.  A graduate of The University of Iowa's Playwright Workshop, Ms. Fawcett's novel has incredible dialogue, a truly creepy house and layers upon layers of small town secrets and histories.  But what's so interesting about this book is its exploration of the aftermath of a supernatural experience, and its power to change one forever.


Barefoot Contessa: How Easy Is That?
Ina Garten

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


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.


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.


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.


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!