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Recommended Reading

A selection of our favourite books, handpicked by our booksellers for readers of all interests.

Order these titles here on our website, or by visiting or calling your nearest McNally Robinson bookstore.

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Seven Games

- Oliver Roeder

Hardcover $35.95
Reader Reward Price: $32.36

A group biography of seven enduring and beloved games, and the story of why--and how--we play them.


Checkers, backgammon, chess, and Go. Poker, Scrabble, and bridge. These seven games, ancient and modern, fascinate millions of people worldwide. In Seven Games, Oliver Roeder charts their origins and historical importance, the delightful arcana of their rules, and the ways their design makes them pleasurable.

Roeder introduces thrilling competitors, such as evangelical minister Marion Tinsley, who across forty years lost only three games of checkers; Shusai, the Master, the last Go champion of imperial Japan, defending tradition against "modern rationalism"; and an IBM engineer who created a backgammon program so capable at self-learning that NASA used it on the space shuttle. He delves into the history and lore of each game: backgammon boards in ancient Egypt, the Indian origins of chess, how certain shells from a particular beach in Japan make the finest white Go stones.

Beyond the cultural and personal stories, Roeder explores why games, seemingly trivial pastimes, speak so deeply to the human soul. He introduces an early philosopher of games, the aptly named Bernard Suits, and visits an Oxford cosmologist who has perfected a computer that can effectively play bridge, a game as complicated as human language itself.

Throughout, Roeder tells the compelling story of how humans, pursuing scientific glory and competitive advantage, have invented AI programs better than any human player, and what that means for the games--and for us. Funny, fascinating, and profound, Seven Games is a story of obsession, psychology, history, and how play makes us human.

Act of Oblivion

- Robert Harris

Trade paperback $25.00
Reader Reward Price: $22.50

INTERNATIONAL BESTSELLER

From the bestselling author of Fatherland, The Ghostwriter, Munich, and Conclave comes this spellbinding historical novel that brilliantly imagines one of the greatest manhunts in history: the search for two Englishmen, charged in the killing of King Charles I, by the implacable foe on their trail--an epic journey into the wilds of seventeenth-century New England, and a chase like no other.


"From what is it they run?"
He took a while to reply. By the time he spoke the men had gone inside. He said quietly, "They killed the King."

1660. General Edward Whalley and his son-in-law Colonel William Goffe board a ship in London bound for the New World and an uncertain future in exile. They are wanted for the 1649 murder of King Charles I - a brazen execution that marked the culmination of the English Civil War, in which parliamentarians successfully battled royalists for control. But ten years after Charles' beheading, the royalists returned to power. Under the provisions of the Act of Oblivion, the fifty-nine men who signed the king's death warrant have been found guilty in absentia of high treason. Some parliamentarians, including Oliver Cromwell, are dead; others have been captured, hung, drawn, and quartered. A few are imprisoned for life. But Whalley and Goffe escaped to New England. In London, Richard Nayler, secretary of the regicide committee of the Privy Council, is charged with bringing the traitors back home to justice and will stop at nothing to find them. A substantial bounty hangs over their heads for their capture - dead or alive. Encompassing a period of tremendous upheaval in English history the novel brings alive pivotal moments including the Black Death and the Great Fire of London as Nayler closes in on the exiles. Act of Oblivion is an epic story of religion, vengeance, and of power - and the costs to those who wield it.

All the Lovers in the Night

- Mieko Kawakami, Sam Bett, David Boyd

Hardcover $37.95
Reader Reward Price: $34.16

FINALIST for the 2022 National Book Critics Circle Award for Fiction

A BEST BOOK OF 2022
Oprah Daily?TIME Magazine?Washington Post?Publishers Weekly?Lit Hub

Bestselling author of Breasts and Eggs Mieko Kawakami invites readers back into her immediately recognizable fictional world with this new, extraordinary novel and demonstrates yet again why she is one of today's most uncategorizable, insightful, and talented novelists. 

Fuyuko Irie is a freelance copy editor in her mid-thirties. Working and living alone in a city where it is not easy to form new relationships, she has little regular contact with anyone other than her editor, Hijiri, a woman of the same age but with a very different disposition. When Fuyuko stops one day on a Tokyo street and notices her reflection in a storefront window, what she sees is a drab, awkward, and spiritless woman who has lacked the strength to change her life and decides to do something about it.

As the long overdue change occurs, however, painful episodes from Fuyuko's past surface and her behavior slips further and further beyond the pale. All the Lovers in the Night is acute and insightful, entertaining and engaging; it will make readers laugh, and it will make them cry, but it will also remind them, as only the best books do, that sometimes the pain is worth it.

"In the skilled hands of Bett and Boyd, Kawakami's prose is instantly recognizable--immediate, incisive, and unfailingly honest."--Katie Kitamura, Entertainment Weekly (A Most Anticipated Book of 2022)

All the Seas of the World

- Guy Gavriel Kay

Hardcover $36.00
Reader Reward Price: $32.40

"This is an immersive reading experience; readers will taste the dust in their mouths, see the high seas from the deck of a merchant ship, feel the bustle of the city market. What results is necessary sustenance for the starving reader. A masterpiece from a master of the craft." --Booklist (starred review)
 
Returning triumphantly to the brilliantly evoked near-Renaissance world of A Brightness Long Ago and Children of Earth and Sky, international bestselling author Guy Gavriel Kay deploys his signature 'quarter turn to the fantastic' to tell a story of vengeance, power, and love.

On a dark night, along a lonely stretch of coast, a small merchant ship sends two people ashore: their purpose is assassination. They have been hired by two of the most dangerous men alive to alter the balance of power in the world. The consequences of that act will affect the destinies of empires as well as lives both great and small.
 
One of those arriving on that stony strand is a young woman who had been abducted by corsairs as a child and sold into years of servitude far from her home. Having escaped, she is trying to chart her own course--and is bent upon revenge. The man who will bring the others out from the city on his ship--if they survive their mission--still remembers being exiled as a boy with his family, for their faith; it is a moment that never leaves him. In what follows, through a story both intimate and epic, unforgettable characters are immersed in the fierce and deadly struggles that define their time.

All the Seas of the World is a stand-alone page-turning drama that also offers moving reflections on memory, fate, and the random events that can shape our lives--in the past, and today.

Art Is Life

- Jerry Saltz

Hardcover $41.00
Reader Reward Price: $36.90

From the Pulitzer Prize winner and bestselling author of How to Be an Artist: a deliciously readable survey of the art world in turbulent times

Jerry Saltz is one of our most-watched writers about art and artists, and a passionate champion of the importance of art in our shared cultural life. Since the 1990s he has been an indispensable cultural voice: witty and provocative, he has attracted contemporary readers to fine art as few critics have. An early champion of forgotten and overlooked women artists, he has also celebrated the pioneering work of African American, LGBTQ+, and other long-marginalized creators. Sotheby's Institute of Art has called him, simply, "the art critic." 
 
Now, in Art Is Life, Jerry Saltz draws on two decades of work to offer a real-time survey of contemporary art as a barometer of our times. Chronicling a period punctuated by dramatic turning points--from the cultural reset of 9/11 to the rolling social crises of today--Saltz traces how visionary artists have both documented and challenged the culture. Art Is Life offers Saltz's eye-opening appraisals of trailblazers like Kara Walker, David Wojnarowicz, Hilma af Klint, and Jasper Johns; provocateurs like Jeff Koons, Richard Prince, and Marina Abramovic; and visionaries like Jackson Pollock, Bill Traylor, and Willem de Kooning. Saltz celebrates landmarks like the Obama portraits by Kehinde Wiley and Amy Sherald, writes searchingly about disturbing moments such as the Ankara gallery assassination, and offers surprising takes on figures from Thomas Kinkade to Kim Kardashian. And he shares stories of his own haunted childhood, his time as a "failed artist," and his epiphanies upon beholding work by Botticelli, Delacroix, and the cave painters of Niaux. 
 
With his signature blend of candor and conviction, Jerry Saltz argues in Art Is Life for the importance of the fearless artist--reminding us that art is a kind of channeled voice of human experience, a necessary window onto our times. The result is an openhearted and irresistibly readable appraisal by one of our most important cultural observers.

The Art of More

- Michael Brooks

Hardcover $37.00
Reader Reward Price: $33.30

An illuminating, millennia-spanning history of the impact mathematics has had on the world, and the fascinating people who have mastered its inherent power
 
Counting is not innate to our nature, and without education humans can rarely count past three -- beyond that, it's just "more." But once harnessed by our ancestors, the power of numbers allowed humanity to flourish in ways that continue to lead to discoveries and enrich our lives today.
 
Ancient tax collectors used basic numeracy to fuel the growth of early civilization, navigators used clever geometrical tricks to engage in trade and connect people across vast distances, astronomers used logarithms to unlock the secrets of the heavens, and their descendants put them to use to land us on the moon. In every case, mathematics has proved to be a greatly underappreciated engine of human progress.
 
In this captivating, sweeping history, Michael Brooks acts as our guide through the ages. He makes the case that mathematics was one of the foundational innovations that catapulted humanity from a nomadic existence to civilization, and that it has since then been instrumental in every great leap of humankind. Here are ancient Egyptian priests, Babylonian bureaucrats, medieval architects, dueling Swiss brothers, renaissance painters, and an eccentric professor who invented the infrastructure of the online world. Their stories clearly demonstrate that the invention of mathematics was every bit as important to the human species as was the discovery of fire. From first page to last, The Art of More brings mathematics back into the heart of what it means to be human.

A Book of Days

- Patti Smith

Hardcover $37.00
Reader Reward Price: $33.30

A deeply moving and brilliantly idiosyncratic visual book of days by the National Book Award-winning author of Just Kids and M Train, featuring more than 365 images and reflections that chart Smith's singular aesthetic--inspired by her wildly popular Instagram.

 In 2018, without any plan or agenda for what might happen next, Patti Smith posted her first Instagram photo: her hand with the simple message "Hello Everybody!" Known for shooting with her beloved Land camera 250, Smith started posting images from her phone including portraits of her kids, her radiator, her boots, and her Abyssinian cat, Cairo. Followers felt an immediate affinity with these miniature windows into Smith's world, photographs of her daily coffee, the books she's reading, the graves of beloved heroes--William Blake, Dylan Thomas, Sylvia Plath, Simone Weil, Albert Camus. Over time, a coherent story of a life devoted to art took shape, and more than a million followers responded to Smith's unique aesthetic in images that chart her passions, devotions, obsessions, and whims. Original to this book are vintage photographs: anniversary pearls, a mother's keychain, and a husband's Mosrite guitar. Here, too, are never-before-seen photos of life on and off the road, train stations, obscure cafés, a notebook always nearby. In wide-ranging yet intimate daily notations, Smith shares dispatches from her travels around the world.

With over 365 photographs taking you through a single year, A Book of Days is a new way to experience the expansive mind of the visionary poet, writer, and performer. Hopeful, elegiac, playful--and complete with an introduction by Smith that explores her documentary process--A Book of Days is a timeless offering for deeply uncertain times, an inspirational map of an artist's life.

The Books of Jacob

- Olga Tokarczuk, Jennifer Croft

Hardcover $47.00
Reader Reward Price: $42.30

A NEW YORKER "ESSENTIAL READ"

"Just as awe-inspiring as the Nobel judges claimed." - The Washington Post


"Olga Tokarczuk is one of our greatest living fiction writers. . . This could well be a decade-defining book akin to Bolaño's 2666." -AV Club

"Sophisticated and ribald and brimming with folk wit. . . The comedy in this novel blends, as it does in life, with genuine tragedy." -Dwight Garner, The New York Times

LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, TIME, THE NEW YORKER, AND NPR

The Nobel Prize-winner's richest, most sweeping and ambitious novel yet follows the comet-like rise and fall of a mysterious, messianic religious leader as he blazes his way across eighteenth-century Europe.


In the mid-eighteenth century, as new ideas--and a new unrest--begin to sweep the Continent, a young Jew of mysterious origins arrives in a village in Poland. Before long, he has changed not only his name but his persona; visited by what seem to be ecstatic experiences, Jacob Frank casts a charismatic spell that attracts an increasingly fervent following. In the decade to come, Frank will traverse the Hapsburg and Ottoman empires with throngs of disciples in his thrall as he reinvents himself again and again, converts to Islam and then Catholicism, is pilloried as a heretic and revered as the Messiah, and wreaks havoc on the conventional order, Jewish and Christian alike, with scandalous rumors of his sect's secret rituals and the spread of his increasingly iconoclastic beliefs. The story of Frank--a real historical figure around whom mystery and controversy swirl to this day--is the perfect canvas for the genius and unparalleled reach of Olga Tokarczuk. Narrated through the perspectives of his contemporaries--those who revere him, those who revile him, the friend who betrays him, the lone woman who sees him for what he is--The Books of Jacob captures a world on the cusp of precipitous change, searching for certainty and longing for transcendence.

In a nod to books written in Hebrew, The Books of Jacob is paginated in reverse, beginning on p. 955 and ending on p. 1 - but read traditionally, front cover to back.

Broken Circle

- Theodore Niizhotay Fontaine

Trade paperback $24.95
Reader Reward Price: $22.46

A new commemorative edition of Theodore Fontaine's powerful, groundbreaking memoir of survival and healing after years of residential school abuse.

Originally published in 2010, Broken Circle: The Dark Legacy of Indian Residential Schools chronicles the impact of Theodore Fontaine's harrowing experiences at Fort Alexander and Assiniboia Indian Residential Schools, including psychological, emotional, and sexual abuse; disconnection from his language and culture; and the loss of his family and community. Told as remembrances infused with insights gained through his long healing process, Fontaine goes beyond the details of the abuse that he suffered to relate a unique understanding of why most residential school survivors have post-traumatic stress disorders and why succeeding generations of Indigenous children suffer from this dark chapter in history. With a new foreword by Andrew Woolford, professor of sociology and criminology at the University of Manitoba, this commemorative edition will continue to serve as a powerful testament to survival, self-discovery, and healing.

Caesar Country

- Aaron Harowitz , Zack Silverman

Hardcover $40.00
Reader Reward Price: $36.00

Caesar Country is a love letter to Canada by way of one cocktail--our cocktail--the Caesar.

In this stunning book, Aaron Harowitz and Zack Silverman--co-founders of Walter Craft Caesar--take you on a deep and detailed dive through the art and science of Caesar making. They share a compelling collection of cocktail and food recipes, including contributions from some of Canada's top bartenders and chefs, showcasing the countless ways to reinterpret the classic Caesar. Caesar Country is inspired by travels across Canada--the people met, places seen, drinks enjoyed--and seamlessly weaves together the Caesar's history, evolution,and the innovators behind it, to create a visual and culinary celebration of the country it calls home.
 

The Candy House

- Jennifer Egan

Hardcover $34.00
Reader Reward Price: $30.60

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

ONE of the TOP 10 BOOKS OF THE YEAR by THE NEW YORK TIMES * ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY * SLATE* THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER *

Also named one of the BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR by Vanity Fair, Time, NPR, The Guardian, Oprah Daily, Self, Vogue, The New Yorker, BBC, Vulture, and many more!

OLIVIA WILDE to direct A24's TV adaptation of THE CANDY HOUSE and A VISIT FROM THE GOON SQUAD!

From one of the most celebrated writers of our time comes an "inventive, effervescent" (Oprah Daily) novel about the memory and quest for authenticity and human connection.

The Candy House opens with the staggeringly brilliant Bix Bouton, whose company, Mandala, is so successful that he is "one of those tech demi-gods with whom we're all on a first name basis." Bix is forty, with four kids, restless, and desperate for a new idea, when he stumbles into a conversation group, mostly Columbia professors, one of whom is experimenting with downloading or "externalizing" memory. Within a decade, Bix's new technology, "Own Your Unconscious"--which allows you access to every memory you've ever had, and to share your memories in exchange for access to the memories of others--has seduced multitudes.

In the world of Egan's spectacular imagination, there are "counters" who track and exploit desires and there are "eluders," those who understand the price of taking a bite of the Candy House. Egan introduces these characters in an astonishing array of narrative styles--from omniscient to first person plural to a duet of voices, an epistolary chapter, and a chapter of tweets. Intellectually dazzling, The Candy House is also a moving testament to the tenacity and transcendence of human longing for connection, family, privacy, and love.

"A beautiful exploration of loss, memory, and history" (San Francisco Chronicle), "this is minimalist maximalism. It's as if Egan compressed a big 19th-century novel onto a flash drive" (The New York Times).

Case Study

- Graeme Macrae Burnet

Trade paperback $24.95
Reader Reward Price: $22.46

Shortlisted for the 2022 Gordon Burn Prize o Shortlisted for the 2022 Ned Kelly Awards o Longlisted for the 2022 Booker Prize o Longlisted for the 2022 HWA Gold Crown Award o Longlisted for the 2023 Dublin Literary Award

SELECTED BY NEW YORK TIMES AS ONE OF 100 NOTABLE BOOKS OF 2022

The Booker-shortlisted author of His Bloody Project blurs the lines between patient and therapist, fiction and documentation, and reality and dark imagination.

London, 1965. 'I have decided to write down everything that happens, because I feel, I suppose, I may be putting myself in danger,' writes an anonymous patient, a young woman investigating her sister's suicide. In the guise of a dynamic and troubled alter-ego named Rebecca Smyth, she makes an appointment with the notorious and roughly charismatic psychotherapist Collins Braithwaite, whom she believes is responsible for her sister's death. But in this world of beguilement and bamboozlement, neither she nor we can be certain of anything.

Case Study is a novel as slippery as it is riveting, as playful as it is sinister, a meditation on truth, sanity, and the instability of identity by one of the most inventive novelists of our time.

Checkout 19

- Claire-Louise Bennett

Hardcover $36.00
Reader Reward Price: $32.40

A NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR AND A NEW YORKER "ESSENTIAL READ"

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORKER AND VOGUE

"Bennett writes like no one else. She is a rare talent, and Checkout 19 is a masterful novel." -Karl Ove Knausgaard

From the author of the "dazzling. . . . and daring" Pond (O magazine), the adventures of a young woman discovering her own genius, through the people she meets-and dreams up-along the way.


In a working-class town in a county west of London, a schoolgirl scribbles stories in the back pages of her exercise book, intoxicated by the first sparks of her imagination.  As she grows, everything and everyone she encounters become fuel for a burning talent. The large Russian man in the ancient maroon car who careens around the grocery store where she works as a checkout clerk, and slips her a copy of Beyond Good and Evil. The growing heaps of other books in which she loses-and finds-herself. Even the derailing of a friendship, in a devastating violation. The thrill of learning to conjure characters and scenarios in her head is matched by the exhilaration of forging her own way in the world, the two kinds of ingenuity kindling to a brilliant conflagration.

Exceeding the extraordinary promise of Bennett's mold-shattering debut, Checkout 19 is a radical affirmation of the power of the imagination and the magic escape those who master it open to us all.

A Daytripper's Guide To Manitoba

- Bartley Kives

Trade paperback $31.95
Reader Reward Price: $28.76

Sandwiched between North Dakota and Nunavut, Manitoba has never been the busiest chunk of tourism real estate in North America. To independent travellers, this is a good thing: Canada's undiscovered province offers uncrowded beaches, innumerable lakes and unlikely cultural attractions, especially in the gritty/cool capital, Winnipeg. A Daytripper's Guide to Manitoba is the only comprehensive travel handbook to the -province and an indispensable tool for visitors from abroad, Canadians passing through and Manitobans who want to get to know their own backyard. This fourth edition is packed with new attractions such as Winnipeg's Inuit Art Gallery and cool new accommodations from Wasagaming to Winnipeg Beach. And since you've been cooped up a little more than usual as of late, this new edition has even more information about hiking, paddling and camping. Get the straight goods on cities, towns and natural attractions in every corner of the province and northwestern Ontario, compiled by one of Manitoba's most tenacious independent travellers, journalist Bartley Kives. Stuff your face with a fat boy, Winnipeg's famous burger. Eyeball turn-of-the-last-century architecture. Commune with nature in wild areas that still feel wild. And forget what you think you know about the Canadian prairies - the only thing flat about Manitoba is the Trans-Canada Highway.

Death and the Conjuror

- Tom Mead

Hardcover $34.95
Reader Reward Price: $31.46

A Publishers Weekly Top 10 Best Mysteries of 2022 Selection

In this "sharply-drawn period piece" (New York Times), a magician-turned-sleuth in pre-war London solves three impossible crimes




In 1930s London, celebrity psychiatrist Anselm Rees is discovered dead in his locked study, and there seems to be no way that a killer could have escaped unseen. There are no clues, no witnesses, and no evidence of the murder weapon. Stumped by the confounding scene, the Scotland Yard detective on the case calls on retired stage magician-turned-part-time sleuth Joseph Spector. For who better to make sense of the impossible than one who traffics in illusions?

Spector has a knack for explaining the inexplicable, but even he finds that there is more to this mystery than meets the eye. As he and the Inspector interview the colorful cast of suspects among the psychiatrist's patients and household, they uncover no shortage of dark secrets--or motives for murder. When the investigation dovetails into that of an apparently-impossible theft, the detectives consider the possibility that the two transgressions are related. And when a second murder occurs, this time in an impenetrable elevator, they realize that the crime wave will become even more deadly unless they can catch the culprit soon. 

A tribute to the classic golden-age whodunnit, when crime fiction was a battle of wits between writer and reader, Death and the Conjuror joins its macabre atmosphere, period detail, and vividly-drawn characters with a meticulously-constructed fair play puzzle. Its baffling plot will enthrall readers of mystery icons such as Agatha Christie and John Dickson Carr, modern masters like Anthony Horowitz and Elly Griffiths, or anyone who appreciates a good mystery.

This is a selection of our current Recommended Reading titles. To find other titles or authors, or just to browse, please use the search box.

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