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.


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.


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 Nickel Boys
Coleson Whitehead

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, Coleson Whitehead’s most hard-hitting narrative to date, and perhaps his most fundamental. The story rings especially true because of recent national attention on present-day racial cruelty and violence; the happenstance of Elwood Curtis’s turn of fate, and his experience of a Florida black boys’ reform school in the ‘60s is all the more powerful for its plausibility. Most skillfully, the author’s deft, fluid exposition of atrocities committed upon the boys in this story cuts like a knife.  Whitehead doesn’t freight the profound nature of his novel’s situation with a rescuing sentiment, so the reader feels the real weight of the events for its subjects. After reading this unforgettable story, you may feel compelled to exhume more buried bodies of our shared racial past, and also read more of the memorable fiction by Colson Whitehead.


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.



America's War for the Greater Middle East
Andrew J. Bacevich

This is the saddest and most maddening critical history I have read since Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee.  If you want to understand why, and how, we are still mired in the Middle East, this is the book to read.


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.