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Staff Picks

Want to know what our booksellers read? Here are some of our handpicked recommendations.


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My Favorite Thing Is Monsters

- by Emil Ferris

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Set against the tumultuous political backdrop of late '60s Chicago, My Favorite Thing Is Monsters is the fictional graphic diary of 10-year-old Karen Reyes, filled with B-movie horror and pulp monster magazines iconography. Karen Reyes tries to solve the murder of her enigmatic upstairs neighbor, Anka Silverberg, a holocaust survivor, while the interconnected stories of those around her unfold. When Karen's investigation takes us back to Anka's life in Nazi Germany, the reader discovers how the personal, the political, the past, and the present converge.

Split Tooth

- by Tanya Tagaq

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Longlisted for the 2018 Scotiabank Giller Prize
Shortlisted for the 2019 Amazon First Novel Award
Shortlisted for the 2019 Kobo Emerging Writer Prize
Winner of the 2019 Indigenous Voices Award for Published Prose in English
Winner of the 2018 Alcuin Society Awards for Excellence in Book Design - Prose Fiction
Longlisted for the 2019 Sunburst Award

From the internationally acclaimed Inuit throat singer who has dazzled and enthralled the world with music it had never heard before, a fierce, tender, heartbreaking story unlike anything you've ever read.


Fact can be as strange as fiction. It can also be as dark, as violent, as rapturous. In the end, there may be no difference between them.

A girl grows up in Nunavut in the 1970s. She knows joy, and friendship, and parents' love. She knows boredom, and listlessness, and bullying. She knows the tedium of the everyday world, and the raw, amoral power of the ice and sky, the seductive energy of the animal world. She knows the ravages of alcohol, and violence at the hands of those she should be able to trust. She sees the spirits that surround her, and the immense power that dwarfs all of us.

When she becomes pregnant, she must navigate all this.

Veering back and forth between the grittiest features of a small arctic town, the electrifying proximity of the world of animals, and ravishing world of myth, Tanya Tagaq explores a world where the distinctions between good and evil, animal and human, victim and transgressor, real and imagined lose their meaning, but the guiding power of love remains.

Haunting, brooding, exhilarating, and tender all at once, Tagaq moves effortlessly between fiction and memoir, myth and reality, poetry and prose, and conjures a world and a heroine readers will never forget.

The First Day of Spring

- by Nancy Tucker

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"Tense, addictive and powered by an unforgettable narrative voice." - PAULA HAWKINS

"A stunning debut...Suspenseful? You bet. Heart-rending? From beginning to end."--The Washington Post
 
"Gripping...The voices of Chrissie and Julia reside deep in your skull: visceral and wicked, sad and wonderful, all at the same time." --The New York Times 

"Fans of Lisa Jewell and smart psychological suspense will eagerly await Tucker's next." --Publishers Weekly, STARRED review

"So that was all it took," I thought. "That was all it took for me to feel like I had all the power in the world. One morning, one moment, one yellow-haired boy. It wasn't so much after all."



Meet Chrissie...
 
Chrissie is eight and she has a secret: she has just killed a boy. The feeling made her belly fizz like soda pop. Her playmates are tearful and their mothers are terrified, keeping them locked indoors. But Chrissie rules the roost -- she's the best at wall-walking, she knows how to get free candy, and now she has a feeling of power that she never gets at home, where food is scarce and attention scarcer.

    Twenty years later, adult Chrissie is living in hiding under a changed name. A single mother, all she wants is for her daughter to have the childhood she herself was denied. That's why the threatening phone calls are so terrifying. People are looking for them, the past is catching up, and Chrissie fears losing the only thing in this world she cares about, her child.

     Nancy Tucker leaves the reader breathless as she inhabits her protagonist with a shocking authenticity that moves the reader from sympathy to humor to horror to heartbreak and back again.

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

- by Ocean Vuong

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An instant New York Times Bestseller! 

Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction, the Carnegie Medal in Fiction, the 2019 Aspen Words Literacy Prize, and the PEN/Hemingway Debut Novel Award

Shortlisted for the 2019 Center for Fiction First Novel Prize 

Winner of the 2019 New England Book Award for Fiction! 

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2019 by Vulture, Entertainment Weekly, Buzzfeed, Los Angeles Times, Boston Globe, Oprah.com, Huffington Post, The A.V. Club, Nylon, The Week, The Rumpus, The Millions, The Guardian, Publishers Weekly, and more.

"A lyrical work of self-discovery that's shockingly intimate and insistently universal...Not so much briefly gorgeous as permanently stunning." --Ron Charles, The Washington Post

Poet Ocean Vuong's debut novel is a shattering portrait of a family, a first love, and the redemptive power of storytelling


On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a letter from a son to a mother who cannot read. Written when the speaker, Little Dog, is in his late twenties, the letter unearths a family's history that began before he was born -- a history whose epicenter is rooted in Vietnam -- and serves as a doorway into parts of his life his mother has never known, all of it leading to an unforgettable revelation. At once a witness to the fraught yet undeniable love between a single mother and her son, it is also a brutally honest exploration of race, class, and masculinity. Asking questions central to our American moment, immersed as we are in addiction, violence, and trauma, but undergirded by compassion and tenderness, On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is as much about the power of telling one's own story as it is about the obliterating silence of not being heard.

With stunning urgency and grace, Ocean Vuong writes of people caught between disparate worlds, and asks how we heal and rescue one another without forsaking who we are. The question of how to survive, and how to make of it a kind of joy, powers the most important debut novel of many years.

Named a Best Book of the Year by: 
GQ, Kirkus Reviews, Booklist, Library Journal, TIME, Esquire, The Washington Post, Apple, Good Housekeeping, The New Yorker, The New York Public Library, Elle.com, The Guardian, The A.V. Club, NPR, Lithub, Entertainment Weekly, Vogue.com, The San Francisco Chronicle, Mother Jones, Vanity Fair, The Wall Street Journal Magazine and more! 

Her Body and Other Parties

- by Carmen M. Machado

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Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction

"[These stories] vibrate with originality, queerness, sensuality and the strange."--Roxane Gay

"In these formally brilliant and emotionally charged tales, Machado gives literal shape to women's memories and hunger and desire. I couldn't put it down."--Karen Russell

In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies.

A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naïvely assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgängers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.

Cultish

- by Amanda Montell

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The author of the widely praised Wordslut analyzes the social science of cult influence: how cultish groups from Jonestown and Scientology to SoulCycle and social media gurus use language as the ultimate form of power.

What makes "cults" so intriguing and frightening? What makes them powerful? The reason why so many of us binge Manson documentaries by the dozen and fall down rabbit holes researching suburban moms gone QAnon is because we're looking for a satisfying explanation for what causes people to join--and more importantly, stay in--extreme groups. We secretly want to know: could it happen to me? Amanda Montell's argument is that, on some level, it already has . . .

Our culture tends to provide pretty flimsy answers to questions of cult influence, mostly having to do with vague talk of "brainwashing." But the true answer has nothing to do with freaky mind-control wizardry or Kool-Aid. In Cultish, Montell argues that the key to manufacturing intense ideology, community, and us/them attitudes all comes down to language. In both positive ways and shadowy ones, cultish language is something we hear--and are influenced by--every single day.  

Through juicy storytelling and cutting original research, Montell exposes the verbal elements that make a wide spectrum of communities "cultish," revealing how they affect followers of groups as notorious as Heaven's Gate, but also how they pervade our modern start-ups, Peloton leaderboards, and Instagram feeds. Incisive and darkly funny, this enrapturing take on the curious social science of power and belief will make you hear the fanatical language of "cultish" everywhere.

They

- by Kay Dick

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"A masterwork of English pastoral horror." --Claire-Louise Bennett
"Creepily prescient . . . Insidiously horrifying!" --Margaret Atwood (via Twitter)
"I'm pretty wild about this paranoid, terrifying 1977 masterpiece." --Lauren Groff
"Lush, strange, hypnotic, compulsive." --Eimear McBride
"Crystalline . . . The signature of an enchantress." --Edna O'Brien
"A masterpiece of creeping dread." --Emily St John Mandel

Kay Dick's radical dystopian masterpiece, lost for forty years--with an introduction by Carmen Maria Machado.


   Published to some acclaim in 1977 but swiftly forgotten, Kay Dick's They follows a nameless, genderless narrator living along the lush but decimated English coast, where a loose cohort of cultural refugees live meditative, artistic, often polyamorous lives. But this rustic tranquility is punctuated by bursts of menace as they must continually flee a faceless oppressor, an organization known only as "They," whose supporters range the countryside destroying art and culture and brutalizing those who resist the purge. As the menacing "They" creep ever closer, a loosely connected band of dissidents attempt to evade the chilling mobs, but it's only a matter of time until their luck runs out.
    An electrifying literary artefact--a lost dystopian masterpiece and overlooked queer classic--They is an uncanny and prescient vision of a world hostile to beauty, emotion, and the individual.

Several People Are Typing

- by Calvin Kasulke

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A Good Morning America Book Club Pick! o A work-from-home comedy where WFH meets WTF.
 
"An absurd, hilarious romp through the haunted house of late-stage capitalism."--Carmen Maria Machado, author of In the Dream House

 
Told entirely through clever and captivating Slack messages, this irresistible, relatable satire of both virtual work and contemporary life is The Office for a new world.

Gerald, a mid-level employee of a New York-based public relations firm has been uploaded into the company's internal Slack channels--at least his consciousness has. His colleagues assume it's an elaborate gag to exploit the new work-from home policy, but now that Gerald's productivity is through the roof, his bosses are only too happy to let him work from . . . wherever he says he is.
 
Faced with the looming abyss of a disembodied life online, Gerald enlists his co-worker Pradeep to help him escape, and to find out what happened to his body. But the longer Gerald stays in the void, the more alluring and absurd his reality becomes.
 
Meanwhile, Gerald's colleagues have PR catastrophes of their own to handle in the real world. Their biggest client, a high-end dog food company, is in the midst of recalling a bad batch of food that's allegedly poisoning Pomeranians nationwide. And their CEO suspects someone is sabotaging his office furniture. And if Gerald gets to work from home all the time, why can't everyone? Is true love possible between two people, when one is just a line of text in an app? And what in the hell does the :dusty-stick: emoji mean?
 
In a time when office paranoia and politics have followed us home, Calvin Kasulke is here to capture the surprising, absurd, and fully-relatable factors attacking our collective sanity...and give us hope that we can still find a human connection.

The Guncle

- by Steven Rowley

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A National Bestseller
An NPR Book of the Year
Finalist for the 2021 Goodreads Choice Awards
 
From the bestselling author of Lily and the Octopus and The Editor comes a warm and deeply funny novel about a once-famous gay sitcom star whose unexpected family tragedy leaves him with his niece and nephew for the summer.

Patrick, or Gay Uncle Patrick (GUP, for short), has always loved his niece, Maisie, and nephew, Grant. That is, he loves spending time with them when they come out to Palm Springs for weeklong visits, or when he heads home to Connecticut for the holidays. So when tragedy strikes and Patrick finds himself suddenly taking on the role of primary guardian, he is, honestly, overwhelmed.
 
Patrick has no idea what to expect, having spent years barely holding on after the loss of his great love, a somewhat-stalled acting career, and a lifestyle not-so-suited to a six- and a nine-year-old. But when his waggish set of "Guncle Rules" no longer appease Maisie and Grant's parental void, Patrick's eyes are opened to a new sense of responsibility, and the realization that, sometimes, even being larger than life means you're unfailingly human.

How Sweet It Is

- by Dylan Newton

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What happens when the queen of romance falls for the king of horror--you get "a hilarious rom-com romp," perfect for fans of Beach Read. (Kirkus, starred review)

Event planner Kate Sweet is famous for creating the perfect happily-ever-after moment for her clients' dream weddings. So how is it that her best friend has roped her into planning a bestselling horror writer's book launch extravaganza? But the second Kate meets--or rather, accidentally maims--the drop-dead-hot Drake Matthews, her well-ordered life quickly transforms into an absolute nightmare.

Drake Matthews is tired of the spotlight and tired of his reputation as the Knight of Nightmares. He's really a nice guy! But he's not prepared for Kate, a fearless agent of chaos in steel-tipped stilettos, or for that sweet sting of attraction he feels for her. She's inspiring him to take his writing in a whole new direction--one that no one expects. Because now Kate and Drake are changing up the rules, and this plot twist might just surprise everyone . . . including themselves.

The Phlebotomist

- by Chris Panatier

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In a near future where citizens are subject to the mandatory blood draw, government phlebotomist Willa Wallace witnesses an event that makes her question her whole world...

To recover from a cataclysmic war, the Harvest was instituted to pass blood to those affected by radiation. But this charitable act has led to a society segregated entirely by blood type. Government blood contractor, Patriot, rewards your generous gift based on the compatibility of your donation, meaning that whoever can give the most, gets the most in return.

While working as a reaper taking collections for the Harvest, Willa chances upon an idea to resurrect an obsolete technique that could rebalance the city. But in her quest to set things into motion, she uncovers a horrifying secret that cuts to the heart of everything.

File Under: Dystopia [ Blood Will Out | This Might Hurt a Bit | Be positive | Bloody Nightmare ]

Sarahland

- by Sam Cohen

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"Queer, dirty, insightful, and so funny" (Andrea Lawlor), this coyly revolutionary debut story collection imagines new origins and futures for its cast of unforgettable protagonists--almost all of whom are named Sarah.

NAMED A MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK OF 2021 BY THE MILLIONS * OPRAH MAGAZINE * LAMBDA LITERARY * ELECTRIC LITERATURE * REFINERY29 * COSMO * THE ADVOCATE * ALMA * PAPERBACK PARIS * WRITE OR DIE TRIBE * READS RAINBOW


In Sarahland, Sam Cohen brilliantly and often hilariously explores the ways in which traditional stories have failed us, both demanding and thrillingly providing for its cast of Sarahs new origin stories, new ways to love the planet and those inhabiting it, and new possibilities for life itself. In one story, a Jewish college Sarah passively consents to a form-life in pursuit of an MRS degree and is swept into a culture of normalized sexual violence. Another reveals a version of Sarah finding pleasure--and a new set of problems--by playing dead for a wealthy necrophiliac. A Buffy-loving Sarah uses fan fiction to work through romantic obsession. As the collection progresses, Cohen explodes this search for self, insisting that we have more to resist and repair than our own personal narratives. Readers witness as the ever-evolving "Sarah" gets recast: as a bible-era trans woman, an aging lesbian literally growing roots, a being who transcends the earth as we know it. While Cohen presents a world that will clearly someday end, "Sarah" will continue.

In each Sarah's refusal to adhere to a single narrative, she potentially builds a better home for us all, a place to live that demands no fixity of self, no plague of consumerism, no bodily compromise, a place called Sarahland.

Darryl

- by Jackie Ess

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Darryl Cook is a man who seems to have everything: a quiet home in Western Oregon, a beautiful wife, and a lot of friends to fuck her while he watches. But as he explores the cuckolding lifestyle, he finds himself tugging at threads that threaten to unravel his marriage, his town, and himself. With empathy and humor, debut author Jackie Ess crafts a kaleidoscopic meditation on marriage, manhood, dreams, basketball, sobriety, and the secret lives of Oregonians.

The Stand-In

- by Lily Chu

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Featured in USA Today's "Best Rom-Coms" of May 2023 and one of the Washington Post's best romances of the year!

"The Stand-In is a charming, engaging rom com that drips in glamour and sparkles with banter. Chu's exploration of multi-racial identity was resonant and nuanced. The Stand-In is truly a stand out romance." -- USA Today bestselling author Andie J. Christopher

Gracie Reed was just fired by her overly "handsy" boss at the worst possible moment. She's been scraping together every extra dollar to get her mother into a top-notch memory care center. To make matters worse, a paparazzo has mistaken her for a famous Chinese actress in town for a new project and the resulting snapshot's gone viral. Gracie's barely holding it all together...until a mysterious SUV rolls up beside her on the street, and she's offered the opportunity of a lifetime.

Gracie can't believe what she's hearing: due to their uncanny resemblance, gorgeous actress Wei Fangli wants Gracie to be her stand-in. The catch? Gracie will have to be escorted by Sam Yao, the other half of Chinese cinema's infamous golden couple. Problem is, Sam is the most attractive--and infuriating--man Gracie's ever met.

But if it means getting the money she needs for her mother, Gracie's in. Soon Gracie moves into a world of luxury she never knew existed. But resisting her attraction to Sam, and playing the role of an elegant movie star, proves more difficult than she ever imagined--especially when she learns the real reason Fangli so desperately needs to step out of the spotlight. In the end all the effort in the world won't be able to help Gracie keep up this elaborate ruse without losing herself...and her heart.

Readers will delight in this glamourous, swoon worthy enemies-to-lovers romance that is as hilarious as it is heart-wrenching.

The Chosen and the Beautiful

- by Nghi Vo

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An Instant National Bestseller!
An Indie Next Pick!
A B&N Reads April Pick!

A Most Anticipated in 2021 Pick for Oprah Magazine | USA Today | Buzzfeed | Greatist | BookPage | PopSugar | Bustle | The Nerd Daily | Goodreads | Literary Hub | Ms. Magazine | Library Journal | Culturess | Book Riot | Parade Magazine | Kirkus | The Week | Book Bub | OverDrive | The Portalist | Publishers Weekly

A Best of Summer Pick for TIME Magazine | CNN | Book Riot | The Daily Beast | Lambda Literary | The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Goodreads | Bustle | Veranda Magazine | The Week | Bookish | St. Louis Post-Dispatch | Den of Geek | LGBTQ Reads | Pittsburgh City Paper | Bookstr | Tatler HK

A Best of 2021 Pick for NPR

"A vibrant and queer reinvention of F. Scott Fitzgerald's jazz age classic. . . . I was captivated from the first sentence."--NPR

"A sumptuous, decadent read."--The New York Times

"Vo has crafted a retelling that, in many ways, surpasses the original."--Kirkus Reviews, starred review

Immigrant. Socialite. Magician.

Jordan Baker grows up in the most rarefied circles of 1920s American society--she has money, education, a killer golf handicap, and invitations to some of the most exclusive parties of the Jazz Age. She's also queer and Asian, a Vietnamese adoptee treated as an exotic attraction by her peers, while the most important doors remain closed to her.

But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Nghi Vo's debut novel, The Chosen and the Beautiful, reinvents this classic of the American canon as a coming-of-age story full of magic, mystery, and glittering excess, and introduces a major new literary voice.

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