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Our Paperback Picks

A handpicked selection of our favourite recent paperback books.


The Island of Missing Trees

- Elif Shafak

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A REESE'S BOOK CLUB PICK
Winner of the 2022 BookTube Silver Medal in Fiction * Shortlisted for the Women's Prize for Fiction

"A wise novel of love and grief, roots and branches, displacement and home, faith and belief. Balm for our bruised times." -David Mitchell, author of Utopia Avenue

A rich, magical new novel on belonging and identity, love and trauma, nature and renewal, from the Booker-shortlisted author of 10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World.

Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he's searching for lost love.

Years later a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited--- her only connection to her family's troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.

A moving, beautifully written, and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history, and eco-consciousness, The Island of Missing Trees is Elif Shafak's best work yet.

The Fortune Men

- Nadifa Mohamed

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Reader Reward Price: $20.70

BOOKER PRIZE FINALIST o Based on a true event, this novel is "a blues song cut straight from the heart ... about the unjust death of an innocent Black man caught up in a corrupt system" (Walter Mosley, best-selling author of Devil in a Blue Dress).

In Cardiff, Wales in 1952, Mahmood Mattan, a young Somali sailor, is accused of a crime he did not commit: the brutal killing of Violet Volacki, a shopkeeper from Tiger Bay. At first, Mahmood believes he can ignore the fingers pointing his way; he may be a gambler and a petty thief, but he is no murderer. He is a father of three, secure in his innocence and his belief in British justice.

But as the trial draws closer, his prospect for freedom dwindles. Now, Mahmood must stage a terrifying fight for his life, with all the chips stacked against him: a shoddy investigation, an inhumane legal system, and, most evidently, pervasive and deep-rooted racism at every step.

Under the shadow of the hangman's noose, Mahmood begins to realize that even the truth may not be enough to save him. A haunting tale of miscarried justice, this book offers a chilling look at the dark corners of our humanity.

The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven

- Nathaniel Ian Miller

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In this "briskly entertaining" (New York Times Book Review), "transporting and wholly original" (People Magazine) novel, one man banishes himself to a solitary life in the Arctic Circle, and is saved by good friends, a loyal dog, and a surprise visit that changes everything.

In 1916, Sven Ormson leaves a restless life in Stockholm to seek adventure in Svalbard, an Arctic archipelago where darkness reigns four months of the year and he might witness the splendor of the Northern Lights one night and be attacked by a polar bear the next. But his time as a miner ends when an avalanche nearly kills him, leaving him disfigured, and Sven flees even further, to an uninhabited fjord. There, with the company of a loyal dog, he builds a hut and lives alone, testing himself against the elements.

The teachings of a Finnish fur trapper, along with encouraging letters from his family and a Scottish geologist who befriended him in the mining camp, get him through his first winter. Years into his routine isolation, the arrival of an unlikely visitor salves his loneliness, sparking a chain of surprising events that will bring Sven into a family of fellow castoffs and determine the course of the rest of his life.

Written with wry humor and in prose as breathtaking as the stark landscape it evokes, The Memoirs of Stockholm Sven is a testament to the strength of our human bonds, reminding us that even in the most inhospitable conditions on the planet, we are not beyond the reach of love.

#1 Indie Next Pick

Finalist for the Vermont Book Award

Longlisted for the Center for Fiction First Novel Prize

I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness

- Claire Vaye Watkins

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Reader Reward Price: $20.70

NAMED A BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST, VOGUE, ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, NPR, ESQUIRE, AND KIRKUS

"There's some kind of genius sorcery in this novel. It's startlingly original, hilarious and harrowing by turns, finally transcendent. Watkins writes like an avenging angel. It's thrilling and terrifying to stand in her wake." --Jenny Offill, author of Dept. of Speculation and Weather

 
A darkly funny, soul-rending novel of love in an epoch of collapse--one woman's furious revisiting of family, marriage, work, sex, and motherhood.

Since my baby was born, I have been able to laugh and see the funny side of things. a) As much as I ever did. b) Not quite as much now. c) Not so much now. d) Not at all. Leaving behind her husband and their baby daughter, a writer gets on a flight for a speaking engagement in Reno, not carrying much besides a breast pump and a spiraling case of postpartum depression. Her temporary escape from domestic duties and an opportunity to reconnect with old friends mutates into an extended romp away from the confines of marriage and motherhood, and a seemingly bottomless descent into the past. Deep in the Mojave Desert where she grew up, she meets her ghosts at every turn: the first love whose self-destruction still haunts her; her father, a member of the most famous cult in American history; her mother, whose native spark gutters with every passing year. She can't go back in time to make any of it right, but what exactly is her way forward? Alone in the wilderness, at last she begins to make herself at home in the world.

Bold, tender, and often hilarious, I Love You but I've Chosen Darkness reaffirms Watkins as one of the signal writers of our time.

Water

- Giulio Boccaletti

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Reader Reward Price: $22.46

Spanning millennia and continents, here is a stunningly revealing history of how the distribution of water has shaped human civilization. Boccaletti, of The Nature Conservancy, "tackles the most important story of our time: our relationship with water in a world of looming scarcity" (Kelly McEvers, NPR Host).
 
Writing with authority and brio, Giulio Boc­caletti--honorary research associate at the Smith School of Enterprise and the Environment, Univer­sity of Oxford--shrewdly combines environmental and social history, beginning with the earliest civ­ilizations of sedentary farmers on the banks of the Nile, the Tigris, and the Euphrates Rivers. Even as he describes how these societies were made possible by sea-level changes from the last glacial melt, he incisively examines how this type of farming led to irrigation and multiple cropping, which, in turn, led to a population explosion and labor specialization.
 
We see with clarity how irrigation's structure informed social structure (inventions such as the calendar sprung from agricultural necessity); how in ancient Greece, the communal ownership of wells laid the groundwork for democracy; how the Greek and Roman experiences with water security resulted in systems of taxation; and how the modern world as we know it began with a legal framework for the development of water infrastructure.
 
Extraordinary for its monumental scope and piercing insightfulness, Water: A Biography richly enlarges our understanding of our relationship to--and fundamental reliance on--the most elemental substance on earth.