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Our Paperback Picks

A handpicked selection of our favourite recent paperback books.


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The Once and Future Witches

- by Alix E. Harrow

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"A gorgeous and thrilling paean to the ferocious power of women. The characters live, bleed, and roar. "-Laini Taylor, New York Times bestselling author

A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o Winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Fantasy Novel o Named One of the Best Books of the Year by NPR Books o Barnes and Noble o BookPage

In the late 1800s, three sisters use witchcraft to change the course of history in this powerful novel of magic, family, and the suffragette movement. 

In 1893, there's no such thing as witches. There used to be, in the wild, dark days before the burnings began, but now witching is nothing but tidy charms and nursery rhymes. If the modern woman wants any measure of power, she must find it at the ballot box.

But when the Eastwood sisters-James Juniper, Agnes Amaranth, and Beatrice Belladonna-join the suffragists of New Salem, they begin to pursue the forgotten words and ways that might turn the women's movement into the witch's movement. Stalked by shadows and sickness, hunted by forces who will not suffer a witch to vote-and perhaps not even to live-the sisters will need to delve into the oldest magics, draw new alliances, and heal the bond between them if they want to survive.

There's no such thing as witches. But there will be.

An homage to the indomitable power and persistence of women, The Once and Future Witches reimagines stories of revolution, motherhood, and women's suffrage--the lost ways are calling.

Praise for The Once and Future Witches:

"A glorious escape into a world where witchcraft has dwindled to a memory of women's magic, and three wild, sundered sisters hold the key to bring it back...A tale that will sweep you away."-Yangsze Choo, New York Times bestselling author 

"This book is an amazing bit of spellcraft and resistance so needed in our times, and a reminder that secret words and ways can never be truly and properly lost, as long as there are tongues to speak them and ears to listen."-P. Djèlí Clark, author The Black God's Drum

For more from Alix E. Harrow, check out The Ten Thousand Doors of January.

The Removed

- by Brandon Hobson

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"A haunted work, full of voices old and new. It is about a family's reckoning with loss and injustice, and it is about a people trying for the same. The journey of this family's way home is full--in equal measure--of melancholy and love."
--Tommy Orange, author of There There


A RECOMMENDED BOOK FROM
USA Today * O, the Oprah Magazine * Entertainment Weekly * Harper's Bazaar * Buzzfeed * Washington Post * Elle * Parade * San Francisco Chronicle * Good Housekeeping * Vulture * Refinery29 * AARP * Kirkus * PopSugar * Alma * Woman's Day * Chicago Review of Books * The Millions * Biblio Lifestyle * Library Journal * Publishers Weekly * LitHub 

Steeped in Cherokee myths and history, a novel about a fractured family reckoning with the tragic death of their son long ago--from National Book Award finalist Brandon Hobson

In the fifteen years since their teenage son, Ray-Ray, was killed in a police shooting, the Echota family has been suspended in private grief. The mother, Maria, increasingly struggles to manage the onset of Alzheimer's in her husband, Ernest. Their adult daughter, Sonja, leads a life of solitude, punctuated only by spells of dizzying romantic obsession. And their son, Edgar, fled home long ago, turning to drugs to mute his feelings of alienation.

With the family's annual bonfire approaching--an occasion marking both the Cherokee National Holiday and Ray-Ray's death, and a rare moment in which they openly talk about his memory--Maria attempts to call the family together from their physical and emotional distances once more. But as the bonfire draws near, each of them feels a strange blurring of the boundary between normal life and the spirit world. Maria and Ernest take in a foster child who seems to almost miraculously keep Ernest's mental fog at bay. Sonja becomes dangerously fixated on a man named Vin, despite--or perhaps because of--his ties to tragedy in her lifetime and lifetimes before. And in the wake of a suicide attempt, Edgar finds himself in the mysterious Darkening Land: a place between the living and the dead, where old atrocities echo. Drawing deeply on Cherokee folklore, The Removed seamlessly blends the real and spiritual to excavate the deep reverberations of trauma--a meditation on family, grief, home, and the power of stories on both a personal and ancestral level.

"The Removed is a marvel. With a few sly gestures, a humble array of piercingly real characters and an apparently effortless swing into the dire dreamlife, Brandon Hobson delivers an act of regeneration and solace. You won't forget it." --Jonathan Lethem, author of The Feral Detective

Detransition, Baby

- by Torrey Peters

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER o The lives of three women--transgender and cisgender--collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires
 
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2021 SO FAR . . .
Vulture: "Reading this novel is like holding a live wire in your hand."
Time: "One of the most celebrated novels of the year."
Marie Claire: "You won't be able to put it down."
Bustle: "The book everyone is talking about."
 
Named One of the Best Books of the Year by Esquire o Longlisted for The Women's Prize o Roxane Gay's Audacious Book Club Pick o New York Times Editors' Choice

Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn't happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese--and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames's boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she's pregnant with his baby--and that she's not sure whether she wants to keep it--Ames wonders if this is the chance he's been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family--and raise the baby together?

This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can't reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.

The Company

- by Stephen Bown

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NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A thrilling new telling of the story of modern Canada's origins.

The story of the Hudson's Bay Company, dramatic and adventurous and complex, is the story of modern Canada's creation. And yet it hasn't been told in a book for over thirty years, and never in such depth and vivid detail as in Stephen R. Bown's exciting new telling.

The Company started out small in 1670, trading practical manufactured goods for furs with the Indigenous inhabitants of inland subarctic Canada. Controlled by a handful of English aristocrats, it expanded into a powerful political force that ruled the lives of many thousands of people--from the lowlands south and west of Hudson Bay, to the tundra, the great plains, the Rocky Mountains and the Pacific northwest. It transformed the culture and economy of many Indigenous groups and ended up as the most important political and economic force in northern and western North America.

When the Company was faced with competition from French traders in the 1780s, the result was a bloody corporate battle, the coming of Governor George Simpson--one of the greatest villains in Canadian history--and the Company assuming political control and ruthless dominance. By the time its monopoly was rescinded after two hundred years, the Hudson's Bay Company had reworked the entire northern North American world.

Stephen R. Bown has a scholar's profound knowledge and understanding of the Company's history, but wears his learning lightly in a narrative as compelling, and rich in well-drawn characters, as a page-turning novel.

Memorial

- by Bryan Washington

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NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

A GOOD MORNING AMERICA BOOK CLUB PICK


Named a Best Book of the Year by The New York Times, The Washington Post, TIME, NPR, Entertainment Weekly, Vanity Fair, O, the Oprah Magazine, Esquire, Marie Claire, Harper's Bazaar, Good Housekeeping, Refinery29, Real Simple, Kirkus Reviews, Electric Literature, and Lit Hub

"A masterpiece." --NPR

"No other novel this year captures so gracefully the full palette of America." --The Washington Post

"Wryly funny, gently devastating." --Entertainment Weekly

A funny and profound story about family in all its strange forms, joyful and hard-won vulnerability, becoming who you're supposed to be, and the limits of love.
 
Benson and Mike are two young guys who live together in Houston. Mike is a Japanese American chef at a Mexican restaurant and Benson's a Black day care teacher, and they've been together for a few years--good years--but now they're not sure why they're still a couple. There's the sex, sure, and the meals Mike cooks for Benson, and, well, they love each other.

But when Mike finds out his estranged father is dying in Osaka just as his acerbic Japanese mother, Mitsuko, arrives in Texas for a visit, Mike picks up and flies across the world to say goodbye. In Japan he undergoes an extraordinary transformation, discovering the truth about his family and his past. Back home, Mitsuko and Benson are stuck living together as unconventional roommates, an absurd domestic situation that ends up meaning more to each of them than they ever could have predicted. Without Mike's immediate pull, Benson begins to push outwards, realizing he might just know what he wants out of life and have the goods to get it.

Both men will change in ways that will either make them stronger together, or fracture everything they've ever known. And just maybe they'll all be okay in the end.

Consent

- by Annabel Lyon

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LONGLISTED FOR THE SCOTIABANK GILLER PRIZE
LONGLISTED FOR THE WOMEN'S PRIZE
A FINALIST FOR THE ETHEL WILSON FICTION PRIZE
A GLOBE AND MAIL BEST BOOK
 
A sly, sensual, haunting novel about two sets of sisters whose lives collide when tragedy changes them forever.


Saskia and Jenny are twins alike in appearance only. Saskia is sober, earnest and buried in books. Jenny is glamorous, thrill-seeking and narcissisitic. Still, when Jenny is severely injured in a car crash, Saskia puts her life on hold to be with her sister.
     The differences between Sara and Mattie are even more stark. Mattie is affectionate, curious and intellectually disabled. Sara loves nothing more than fine wines, perfumes and expensive clothing, and leaves home at the first opportunity. But when their mother dies, Sara inherits the duty of caring for her sister. She moves Mattie in with her--but it's not long until tragedy strikes, and unleashes a cascade of devastating circumstances that bring these Saskia and Sara together in unexpected and destructive ways.
     Razor-sharp and profoundly moving, Consent is a thought-provoking exploration of the complexities of familial duty, and of how love can become entangled with guilt, resentment, and regret.

The Knowledge Machine

- by Michael Strevens

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o Why is science so powerful?
o Why did it take so long--two thousand years after the invention of philosophy and mathematics--for the human race to start using science to learn the secrets of the universe? In a groundbreaking work that blends science, philosophy, and history, leading philosopher of science Michael Strevens answers these challenging questions, showing how science came about only once thinkers stumbled upon the astonishing idea that scientific breakthroughs could be accomplished by breaking the rules of logical argument. Like such classic works as Karl Popper's The Logic of Scientific Discovery and Thomas Kuhn's The Structure of Scientific Revolutions, The Knowledge Machine grapples with the meaning and origins of science, using a plethora of vivid historical examples to demonstrate that scientists willfully ignore religion, theoretical beauty, and even philosophy to embrace a constricted code of argument whose very narrowness channels unprecedented energy into empirical observation and experimentation. Strevens calls this scientific code the iron rule of explanation, and reveals the way in which the rule, precisely because it is unreasonably close-minded, overcomes individual prejudices to lead humanity inexorably toward the secrets of nature. "With a mixture of philosophical and historical argument, and written in an engrossing style" (Alan Ryan), The Knowledge Machine provides captivating portraits of some of the greatest luminaries in science's history, including Isaac Newton, the chief architect of modern science and its foundational theories of motion and gravitation; William Whewell, perhaps the greatest philosopher-scientist of the early nineteenth century; and Murray Gell-Mann, discoverer of the quark. Today, Strevens argues, in the face of threats from a changing climate and global pandemics, the idiosyncratic but highly effective scientific knowledge machine must be protected from politicians, commercial interests, and even scientists themselves who seek to open it up, to make it less narrow and more rational--and thus to undermine its devotedly empirical search for truth. Rich with illuminating and often delightfully quirky illustrations, The Knowledge Machine, written in a winningly accessible style that belies the import of its revisionist and groundbreaking concepts, radically reframes much of what we thought we knew about the origins of the modern world.

Just Us

- by Claudia Rankine

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Now in paperback, Claudia Rankine's "skyscraper in the literature on racism" (Christian Science Monitor)


In Just Us, Claudia Rankine invites us into a necessary conversation about Whiteness in America. What would it take for us to breach the silence, guilt, and violence that arise from addressing Whiteness for what it is? What are the consequences if we keep avoiding this conversation? What might it look like if we step into it? "I learned early that being right pales next to staying in the room," she writes.


This brilliant assembly of essays, poems, documents, and images disrupts the false comfort of our culture's liminal and private spaces--the airport, the theater, the dinner party, the voting booth--where neutrality and politeness deflect true engagement in our shared problems. Rankine makes unprecedented art out of the actual voices and rebuttals of others: White men responding to, and with, their White male privilege; a friend clarifying her unexpected behavior at a play; and women on the street expressing the political currency of dyeing their hair blond, all running alongside fact-checked notes and commentary that complement Rankine's own text, complicating notions of authority and who gets the last word. Funny, vulnerable, and prescient, Just Us is Rankine's most intimate and urgent book, a crucial call to challenge our vexed reality.

The WEIRDest People in the World

- by Joseph Henrich

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A New York Times Notable Book of 2020
A Bloomberg Best Non-Fiction Book of 2020
A Behavioral Scientist Notable Book of 2020
A Human Behavior & Evolution Society Must-Read Popular Evolution Book of 2020

A bold, epic account of how the co-evolution of psychology and culture created the peculiar Western mind that has profoundly shaped the modern world.


Perhaps you are WEIRD: raised in a society that is Western, Educated, Industrialized, Rich, and Democratic. If so, you're rather psychologically peculiar.

Unlike much of the world today, and most people who have ever lived, WEIRD people are highly individualistic, self-obsessed, control-oriented, nonconformist, and analytical. They focus on themselves--their attributes, accomplishments, and aspirations--over their relationships and social roles. How did WEIRD populations become so psychologically distinct? What role did these psychological differences play in the industrial revolution and the global expansion of Europe during the last few centuries?

In The WEIRDest People in the World, Joseph Henrich draws on cutting-edge research in anthropology, psychology, economics, and evolutionary biology to explore these questions and more. He illuminates the origins and evolution of family structures, marriage, and religion, and the profound impact these cultural transformations had on human psychology. Mapping these shifts through ancient history and late antiquity, Henrich reveals that the most fundamental institutions of kinship and marriage changed dramatically under pressure from the Roman Catholic Church. It was these changes that gave rise to the WEIRD psychology that would coevolve with impersonal markets, occupational specialization, and free competition--laying the foundation for the modern world.

Provocative and engaging in both its broad scope and its surprising details, The WEIRDest People in the World explores how culture, institutions, and psychology shape one another, and explains what this means for both our most personal sense of who we are as individuals and also the large-scale social, political, and economic forces that drive human history.

Includes black-and-white illustrations.

The Human Cosmos

- by Jo Marchant

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A Best Book of 2020 (NPR)
A Best Book of 2020 (The Economist)
A Top Ten Best Science Book of 2020 (Smithsonian)
A Best Science and Technology Book of 2020 (Library Journal)
A Must-Read Book to Escape the Chaos of 2020 (Newsweek)
Starred review (Booklist)
Starred review (Publishers Weekly)


A historically unprecedented disconnect between humanity and the heavens has opened. Jo Marchant's book can begin to heal it.

For at least 20,000 years, we have led not just an earthly existence but a cosmic one. Celestial cycles drove every aspect of our daily lives. Our innate relationship with the stars shaped who we are--our art, religious beliefs, social status, scientific advances, and even our biology. But over the last few centuries we have separated ourselves from the universe that surrounds us. It's a disconnect with a dire cost.

Our relationship to the stars and planets has moved from one of awe, wonder and superstition to one where technology is king--the cosmos is now explored through data on our screens, not by the naked eye observing the natural world. Indeed, in most countries, modern light pollution obscures much of the night sky from view. Jo Marchant's spellbinding parade of the ways different cultures celebrated the majesty and mysteries of the night sky is a journey to the most awe-inspiring view you can ever see: looking up on a clear dark night. That experience and the thoughts it has engendered have radically shaped human civilization across millennia. The cosmos is the source of our greatest creativity in art, in science, in life.

To show us how, Jo Marchant takes us to the Hall of the Bulls in the caves at Lascaux in France, and to the summer solstice at a 5,000-year-old tomb at Newgrange, Ireland. We discover Chumash cosmology and visit medieval monks grappling with the nature of time and Tahitian sailors navigating by the stars. We discover how light reveals the chemical composition of the sun, and we are with Einstein as he works out that space and time are one and the same. A four-billion-year-old meteor inspires a search for extraterrestrial life. The cosmically liberating, summary revelation is that star-gazing made us human.


Having and Being Had

- by Eula Biss

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NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY TIME , NPR, INSTYLE, AND GOOD HOUSEKEEPING

"A sensational new book [that] tries to figure out whether it's possible to live an ethical life in a capitalist society. . . . The results are enthralling." --Associated Press 

A timely and arresting new look at affluence by the New York Times bestselling author, "one of the leading lights of the modern American essay." --Financial Times


"My adult life can be divided into two distinct parts," Eula Biss writes, "the time before I owned a washing machine and the time after." Having just purchased her first home, the poet and essayist now embarks on a provocative exploration of the value system she has bought into. Through a series of engaging exchanges--in libraries and laundromats, over barstools and backyard fences--she examines our assumptions about class and property and the ways we internalize the demands of capitalism. Described by the New York Times as a writer who "advances from all sides, like a chess player," Biss offers an uncommonly immersive and deeply revealing new portrait of work and luxury, of accumulation and consumption, of the value of time and how we spend it. Ranging from IKEA to Beyoncé to Pokemon, Biss asks, of both herself and her class, "In what have we invested?"

Must I Go

- by Yiyun Li

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"One of our major novelists" (Salman Rushdie) tells the story of a woman reflecting on her uncompromising life, and the life of a former lover, in this provocative novel.

"Yiyun Li is one of my favorite writers, and Must I Go is an extraordinary book."--Meg Wolitzer, New York Times bestselling author of The Female Persuasion and The Interestings

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY MARIE CLAIRE AND ESQUIRE

Lilia Liska has shrewdly outlived three husbands, raised five children, and seen the arrival of seventeen grandchildren. Now she has turned her keen attention to the diary of a long-forgotten man named Roland Bouley, with whom she once had a fleeting affair.

Increasingly obsessed with Roland's intimate history, Lilia begins to annotate the diary with her own rather different version of events, revealing the surprising, long-held secrets of her past. She returns inexorably to the memory of her daughter Lucy. This is a novel about life in all its messy glory, and of a life lived, by the extraordinary Lilia, absolutely on its own terms. With great candor and insight, Yiyun Li navigates the twin poles of grief and resilience, loss and rebirth, that compass a human heart.

The Bass Rock

- by Evie Wyld

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WINNER OF THE STELLA PRIZE o ONE OF VOGUE'S BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

The lives of three women weave together across centuries in this dazzling and empowering portrait of their resilience through the ages.

 
Surging out of the sea, the Bass Rock has always borne witness to the lives that pass under its shadow on the Scottish mainland. And across the centuries, the fates of three women are inextricably linked to this place and to one another: Sarah, accused of being a witch, is fleeing for her life; Ruth, in the aftermath of the Second World War, is navigating a new marriage and the strange waters of the local community; and six decades later, Viv, still mourning the death of her father, is cataloging Ruth's belongings in the now-empty house.

As each woman's story unfolds, it becomes increasingly clear that their choices are circumscribed, in ways big and small, by the men who seek to control them. But in sisterhood there is also the possibility of survival and a new way of life. Intricately crafted and compulsively readable, The Bass Rock burns bright with love and fury--a devastating indictment of violence against women and an empowering portrait of their resilience through the ages.

Sisters

- by Daisy Johnson

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A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

"[A] skillfully crafted gothic mystery . . . Johnson pulls off a great feat in this book." --Financial Times

"It reminded me, in its general refusal to play nice, of early Ian McEwan." --The New York Times Book Review

"Johnson crafts an aching thriller about the dangers of loving too intensely." --Time

From a Booker Prize finalist and international literary star: a blazing portrait of one darkly riveting sibling relationship, from the inside out.


"One of her generation's most intriguing authors" (Entertainment Weekly), Daisy Johnson is the youngest writer to have been shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize. Now she returns with Sisters, a haunting story about two sisters caught in a powerful emotional web and wrestling to understand where one ends and the other begins.

Born just ten months apart, July and September are thick as thieves, never needing anyone but each other. Now, following a case of school bullying, the teens have moved away with their single mother to a long-abandoned family home near the shore. In their new, isolated life, July finds that the deep bond she has always shared with September is shifting in ways she cannot entirely understand. A creeping sense of dread and unease descends inside the house. Meanwhile, outside, the sisters push boundaries of behavior--until a series of shocking encounters tests the limits of their shared experience, and forces shocking revelations about the girls' past and future.

Written with radically inventive language and imagery by an author whose work has been described as "entrancing" (The New Yorker), "a force of nature" (The New York Times Book Review), and "weird and wild and wonderfully unsettling" (Celeste Ng), Sisters is a one-two punch of wild fury and heartache--a taut, powerful, and deeply moving account of sibling love and what happens when two sisters must face each other's darkest impulses.

Red Pill

- by Hari Kunzru

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NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

A bold new novel about searching for order in a world that frames madness as truth from the widely acclaimed author of White Tears


After receiving a prestigious writing fellowship in Germany, the narrator of Red Pill arrives in the Berlin suburb of Wannsee and struggles to accomplish anything at all. Instead of working on the book he has proposed to write, he takes long walks and binge-watches Blue Lives, a violent cop show that becomes weirdly compelling in its bleak, Darwinian view of life. He soon begins to wonder if his writing has any value at all.
 
Wannsee is full of ghosts: Across the lake, the narrator can see the villa where the Nazis planned the Final Solution, and in his walks he passes the grave of the Romantic writer Heinrich von Kleist, who killed himself after deciding that "no happiness was possible here on earth." At a party, he meets the charismatic Anton, creator of Blue Lives, and the narrator begins to believe that the two of them are engaged in a cosmic battle. Anton is "red-pilling" his viewers--turning them toward an ugly, alt-rightish worldview, he thinks, as he starts to wonder if he is losing his mind.

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