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Our Paperback Picks

A handpicked selection of our favourite recent paperback books.


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Via Negativa

- by Daniel Hornsby

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A heartfelt, daring, divinely hilarious debut novel about a priest who embarks on a fateful journey with a pistol in his pocket and an injured coyote in his backseat.

"A beautiful and meditative exploration of shattered faith." --Brit Bennett, author of The Vanishing Half


Father Dan is homeless. Dismissed by his conservative diocese for eccentricity and insubordination, he's made his exile into a kind of pilgrimage, transforming his Toyota Camry into a mobile monk's cell. Then he sees a minivan sideswipe a coyote. Unable to suppress his Franciscan impulses, he takes the injured animal in.

With his unexpected canine companion in the backseat, Dan makes his way west, encountering other offbeat travelers and stopping to take in the occasional roadside novelty (MARTIN'S HOLE TO HELL, WORLD-FAMOUS BOTTOMLESS PIT NEXT EXIT!). But the coyote is far from the only oddity fate has delivered into this churchless priest's care: it has also given him a bone-handled pistol, a box of bullets, and a letter from an estranged friend. By the time Dan gets to where he's going, he'll be forced to reckon once and for all with the great mistakes of his past, and he will have to decide: is penance better paid with revenge, or with redemption?

Transcendent Kingdom

- by Yaa Gyasi

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INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
 
FINALIST FOR THE 2021 WOMEN'S PRIZE FOR FICTION
 
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2021 PEN/FAULKNER AWARD FOR FICTION
 
Yaa Gyasi's stunning follow-up to her acclaimed national bestseller Homegoing is a powerful, raw, intimate, deeply layered novel about a Ghanaian family in Alabama.


Gifty is a sixth-year PhD candidate in neuroscience at the Stanford University School of Medicine studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the neural circuits of depression and addiction. Her brother, Nana, was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after an ankle injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal mother is living in her bed. Gifty is determined to discover the scientific basis for the suffering she sees all around her. But even as she turns to the hard sciences to unlock the mystery of her family's loss, she finds herself hungering for her childhood faith and grappling with the evangelical church in which she was raised, whose promise of salvation remains as tantalizing as it is elusive.

Transcendent Kingdom is a deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief--a novel about faith, science, religion, love. Exquisitely written, emotionally searing, this is an exceptionally powerful follow-up to Gyasi's phenomenal debut.

Out of Darkness, Shining Light

- by Petina Gappah

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"Engrossing, beautiful, and deeply imaginative" (Yaa Gyasi, author of Homegoing), this epic novel about the explorer David Livingstone and the extraordinary group of Africans who carry his body across impossible terrain "illuminates the agonies of colonialism and blind loyalty" (O, The Oprah Magazine).

"This is how we carried out of Africa the poor broken body of...David Livingstone, so that he could be borne across the sea and buried in his own land."

So begins Petina Gappah's "searing...poignant" (Star Tribune, Minneapolis) novel of exploration and adventure in 19th-century Africa--the captivating story of the African men and women who carried explorer and missionary Dr. Livingstone's body, papers, and maps, fifteen hundred miles across the continent of Africa, so his remains could be returned home to England and his work preserved there. Narrated by Halima, the doctor's sharp-tongued cook, and Jacob Wainwright, his rigidly pious secretary, this is a "powerful novel, beautifully told" (Jesmyn Ward, author of Sing, Unburied, Sing) that encompasses all of the hypocrisy of slavery and colonization--the hypocrisy of humanity--while celebrating resilience, loyalty, and love.

You Exist Too Much

- by Zaina Arafat

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A "provocative and seductive debut" of desire and doubleness that follows the life of a young Palestinian American woman caught between cultural, religious, and sexual identities as she endeavors to lead an authentic life (O, The Oprah Magazine).

On a hot day in Bethlehem, a 12-year-old Palestinian-American girl is yelled at by a group of men outside the Church of the Nativity. She has exposed her legs in a biblical city, an act they deem forbidden, and their judgement will echo on through her adolescence. When our narrator finally admits to her mother that she is queer, her mother's response only intensifies a sense of shame: "You exist too much," she tells her daughter.

Told in vignettes that flash between the U.S. and the Middle East--from New York to Jordan, Lebanon, and Palestine--Zaina Arafat's debut novel traces her protagonist's progress from blushing teen to sought-after DJ and aspiring writer. In Brooklyn, she moves into an apartment with her first serious girlfriend and tries to content herself with their comfortable relationship. But soon her longings, so closely hidden during her teenage years, explode out into reckless romantic encounters and obsessions with other people. Her desire to thwart her own destructive impulses will eventually lead her to The Ledge, an unconventional treatment center that identifies her affliction as "love addiction." In this strange, enclosed society she will start to consider the unnerving similarities between her own internal traumas and divisions and those of the places that have formed her.

Opening up the fantasies and desires of one young woman caught between cultural, religious, and sexual identities, You Exist Too Much is a captivating story charting two of our most intense longings--for love, and a place to call home.

Mexican Gothic

- by Silvi Moreno-garcia

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER o "It's Lovecraft meets the Brontës in Latin America, and after a slow-burn start Mexican Gothic gets seriously weird."--The Guardian
 
IN DEVELOPMENT AS A HULU ORIGINAL LIMITED SERIES PRODUCED BY KELLY RIPA AND MARK CONSUELOS o WINNER OF THE LOCUS AWARD o  NOMINATED FOR THE BRAM STOKER AWARD o NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New Yorker o Vanity Fair o NPR o The Washington Post o Tordotcom o Marie Claire o Vox o Mashable o Men's Health o Library Journal o Book Riot o LibraryReads
 
An isolated mansion. A chillingly charismatic aristocrat. And a brave socialite drawn to expose their treacherous secrets. . . . From the author of Gods of Jade and Shadow comes "a terrifying twist on classic gothic horror" (Kirkus Reviews) set in glamorous 1950s Mexico.

After receiving a frantic letter from her newly-wed cousin begging for someone to save her from a mysterious doom, Noemí Taboada heads to High Place, a distant house in the Mexican countryside. She's not sure what she will find--her cousin's husband, a handsome Englishman, is a stranger, and Noemí knows little about the region.   
 
Noemí is also an unlikely rescuer: She's a glamorous debutante, and her chic gowns and perfect red lipstick are more suited for cocktail parties than amateur sleuthing. But she's also tough and smart, with an indomitable will, and she is not afraid: Not of her cousin's new husband, who is both menacing and alluring; not of his father, the ancient patriarch who seems to be fascinated by Noemí; and not even of the house itself, which begins to invade Noemi's dreams with visions of blood and doom.
 
Her only ally in this inhospitable abode is the family's youngest son. Shy and gentle, he seems to want to help Noemí, but might also be hiding dark knowledge of his family's past. For there are many secrets behind the walls of High Place. The family's once colossal wealth and faded mining empire kept them from prying eyes, but as Noemí digs deeper she unearths stories of violence and madness. 
 
And Noemí, mesmerized by the terrifying yet seductive world of High Place, may soon find it impossible to ever leave this enigmatic house behind.

"It's as if a supernatural power compels us to turn the pages of the gripping Mexican Gothic."--The Washington Post

"Mexican Gothic is the perfect summer horror read, and marks Moreno-Garcia with her hypnotic and engaging prose as one of the genre's most exciting talents."--Nerdist

"A period thriller as rich in suspense as it is in lush '50s atmosphere."--Entertainment Weekly

A Burning

- by Megha Majumdar

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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER and NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

LONGLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK AWARD
 
SHORTLISTED FOR THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE JOHN LEONARD AWARD FOR BEST FIRST BOOK
 
FINALIST FOR THE ANDREW CARNEGIE MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE IN FICTION

For readers of Tommy Orange, Yaa Gyasi, and Jhumpa Lahiri, an electrifying debut novel about three unforgettable characters who seek to rise--to the middle class, to politcal power, to fame in the movies--and find their lives entangled in the wake of a catastrophe in contemporary India.


Jivan is a Muslim girl from the slums, determined to move up in life, who is accused of executing a terrorist attack on a train because of a careless comment on Facebook. PT Sir is an opportunistic gym teacher who hitches his aspirations to a right-wing political party, and finds that his own ascent becomes linked to Jivan's fall. Lovely--an irresistible outcast whose exuberant voice and dreams of glory fill the novel with warmth and hope and humour--has the alibi that can set Jivan free, but it will cost her everything she holds dear.

Taut, symphonic, propulsive, and riveting from its opening lines, A Burning has the force of an epic while being so masterfully compressed it can be read in a single sitting. Majumdar writes with dazzling assurance at a breakneck pace on complex themes that read here as the components of a thriller: class, fate, corruption, justice, and what it feels like to face profound obstacles and yet nurture big dreams in a country spinning toward extremism. This novel is a debut of exceptional power and urgency, haunting and beautiful, brutal, vibrant, impossible to forget.

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! 

The Biggest Bluff

- by Maria Konnikova

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The New York Times bestseller!

A New York Times Notable Book

"The tale of how Konnikova followed a story about poker players and wound up becoming a story herself will have you riveted, first as you learn about her big winnings, and then as she conveys the lessons she learned both about human nature and herself." --The Washington Post

It's true that Maria Konnikova had never actually played poker before and didn't even know the rules when she approached Erik Seidel, Poker Hall of Fame inductee and winner of tens of millions of dollars in earnings, and convinced him to be her mentor. But she knew her man: a famously thoughtful and broad-minded player, he was intrigued by her pitch that she wasn't interested in making money so much as learning about life. She had faced a stretch of personal bad luck, and her reflections on the role of chance had led her to a giant of game theory, who pointed her to poker as the ultimate master class in learning to distinguish between what can be controlled and what can't. And she certainly brought something to the table, including a Ph.D. in psychology and an acclaimed and growing body of work on human behavior and how to hack it. So Seidel was in, and soon she was down the rabbit hole with him, into the wild, fiercely competitive, overwhelmingly masculine world of high-stakes Texas Hold'em, their initial end point the following year's World Series of Poker.

But then something extraordinary happened. Under Seidel's guidance, Konnikova did have many epiphanies about life that derived from her new pursuit, including how to better read, not just her opponents but far more importantly herself; how to identify what tilted her into an emotional state that got in the way of good decisions; and how to get to a place where she could accept luck for what it was, and what it wasn't. But she also began to win. And win. In a little over a year, she began making earnest money from tournaments, ultimately totaling hundreds of thousands of dollars.  She won a major title, got a sponsor, and got used to being on television, and to headlines like "How one writer's book deal turned her into a professional poker player." She even learned to like Las Vegas.

But in the end, Maria Konnikova is a writer and student of human behavior, and ultimately the point was to render her incredible journey into a container for its invaluable lessons. The biggest bluff of all, she learned, is that skill is enough. Bad cards will come our way, but keeping our focus on how we play them and not on the outcome will keep us moving through many a dark patch, until the luck once again breaks our way.

The Lost Gutenberg

- by Margaret Lesl Davis

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"A lively tale of historical innovation, the thrill of the bibliophile's hunt, greed and betrayal." - The New York Times Book Review

"An addictive and engaging look at the 'competitive, catty and slightly angst-ridden' heart of the world of book collecting." - The Houston Chronicle 

The never-before-told story of one extremely rare copy of the Gutenberg Bible, and its impact on the lives of the fanatical few who were lucky enough to own it.


For rare-book collectors, an original copy of the Gutenberg Bible--of which there are fewer than 50 in existence--represents the ultimate prize. Here, Margaret Leslie Davis recounts five centuries in the life of one copy, from its creation by Johannes Gutenberg, through the hands of monks, an earl, the Worcestershire sauce king, and a nuclear physicist to its ultimate resting place, in a steel vault in Tokyo. Estelle Doheny, the first woman collector to add the book to her library and its last private owner, tipped the Bible onto a trajectory that forever changed our understanding of the first mechanically printed book.

The Lost Gutenberg draws readers into this incredible saga, immersing them in the lust for beauty, prestige, and knowledge that this rarest of books sparked in its owners. Exploring books as objects of obsession across centuries, this is a must-read for history buffs, book collectors, seekers of hidden treasures, and anyone who has ever craved a remarkable book--and its untold stories.

Latitudes of Longing

- by Shubhangi Swarup

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A sweeping, lyrical debut about the love and longing between humanity and the earth itself, by a major new literary talent from India

"A marvel of magical realism."--O: The Oprah Magazine

A spellbinding work of literature, Latitudes of Longing follows the interconnected lives of characters searching for true intimacy. The novel sweeps across India, from an island, to a valley, a city, and a snow desert, to tell a love story of epic proportions. We follow a scientist who studies trees and a clairvoyant who speaks to them; a geologist working to end futile wars over a glacier; octogenarian lovers; a mother struggling to free her revolutionary son; a yeti who seeks human companionship; a turtle who transforms first into a boat and then a woman; and the ghost of an evaporated ocean as restless as the continents. Binding them all together is a vision of life as vast as the universe itself. 

A young writer awarded one of the most prestigious prizes in India for this novel, Shubhangi Swarup is a storyteller of extraordinary talent and insight. Richly imaginative and wryly perceptive, Latitudes of Longing offers a soaring view of humanity: our beauty and ugliness, our capacity to harm and love one another, and our mysterious and sacred relationship with nature.

Longlisted for the DSC Prize for South Asian Literature o Shortlisted for the JCB Prize for Literature o Longlisted for the International Dublin Literary Award o Winner of the Sushila Devi Literature Award for the Best Book of Fiction Written by a Woman o Winner of the Tata Literature Live! First Book Award for Fiction

The Abstainer

- by Ian Mcguire

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"This is Dickens in the present tense, Dickens for the twenty-first century."--Roddy Doyle, The New York Times Book Review

An Irishman in nineteenth-century England is forced to take sides when his nephew joins the bloody underground movement for independence in this propulsive novel from the acclaimed author of The North Water.
 
NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY CHICAGO TRIBUNE AND ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The New York Times o The New York Public Library o New Statesman o Publishers Weekly

Manchester, England, 1867. The rebels will be hanged at dawn, and their brotherhood is already plotting its revenge. 
 
Stephen Doyle, an Irish-American veteran of the Civil War, arrives in Manchester from New York with a thirst for blood. He has joined the Fenians, a secret society intent on ending British rule in Ireland by any means necessary. Head Constable James O'Connor has fled grief and drink in Dublin for a sober start in Manchester. His job is to discover and thwart the Fenians' plans whatever they might be. When a long-lost nephew arrives on O'Connor's doorstep looking for work, he cannot foresee the way his fragile new life will be imperiled--and how his and Doyle's fates will become fatally intertwined.
 
In this propulsive tale of the underground war for Irish independence, the author of The North Water once again transports readers to a time when blood begot blood. Moving from the dirt and uproar of industrial Manchester to the quiet hills of rural Pennsylvania, The Abstainer is a searing novel in which two men, haunted by their pasts and driven forward by the need for justice and retribution, must fight for life and legacy.

Tokyo Ueno Station

- by Yu Miri

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WINNER OF THE 2020 NATIONAL BOOK AWARD IN TRANSLATED LITERATURE

A NEW YORK TIMES NOTABLE BOOK OF THE YEAR

A surreal, devastating story of a homeless ghost who haunts one of Tokyo's busiest train stations.


Kazu is dead. Born in Fukushima in 1933, the same year as the Japanese Emperor, his life is tied by a series of coincidences to the Imperial family and has been shaped at every turn by modern Japanese history. But his life story is also marked by bad luck, and now, in death, he is unable to rest, doomed to haunt the park near Ueno Station in Tokyo.

Kazu's life in the city began and ended in that park; he arrived there to work as a laborer in the preparations for the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and ended his days living in the vast homeless village in the park, traumatized by the destruction of the 2011 tsunami and shattered by the announcement of the 2020 Olympics.

Through Kazu's eyes, we see daily life in Tokyo buzz around him and learn the intimate details of his personal story, how loss and society's inequalities and constrictions spiraled towards this ghostly fate, with moments of beauty and grace just out of reach. A powerful masterwork from one of Japan's most brilliant outsider writers, Tokyo Ueno Station is a book for our times and a look into a marginalized existence in a shiny global megapolis.

A Girl Is A Body of Water

- by J Nansubuga Makumbi

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"Makumbi is such an honest, truthful writer. . . . I loved every single page." --Tayari Jones, author of An American Marriage

A Best Book of the Year at TIMEThe Washington PostO, the Oprah Magazine; BBC

Winner of the Jhalak Prize

In her thirteenth year, Kirabo confronts a piercing question: who is my mother? Kirabo has been raised by women in the small Ugandan village of Nattetta--her grandmother, her best friend, and her many aunts--but the absence of her mother follows her like a shadow. Seeking answers from Nsuuta, the local witch, Kirabo learns about the woman who birthed her, who she discovers is alive but not ready to meet. Nsuuta also helps Kirabo understand the emergence of a mysterious second self, a headstrong and confusing force inside her--this, says Nsuuta, is a streak of the "first woman": an independent, original state that has been all but lost to women. Kirabo's journey to reconcile these feelings, alongside her desire to reconnect with her mother and to honor her family's expectations, is rich in the folklore of Uganda and an arresting exploration of what it means to be a modern girl in a world that seems determined to silence women. Jennifer Nansubuga Makumbi's A Girl is a Body of Water is an unforgettable, sweeping testament to the true and lasting connections between history, tradition, family, friends, and the promise of a different future.

Black Sun

- by Rebecca Roanhorse

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From the New York Times bestselling author of Star Wars: Resistance Reborn comes the "engrossing and vibrant" (Tochi Onyebuchi, author of Riot Baby) first book in the Between Earth and Sky trilogy inspired by the civilizations of the Pre-Columbian Americas and woven into a tale of celestial prophecies, political intrigue, and forbidden magic.

A god will return
When the earth and sky converge
Under the black sun

In the holy city of Tova, the winter solstice is usually a time for celebration and renewal, but this year it coincides with a solar eclipse, a rare celestial even proscribed by the Sun Priest as an unbalancing of the world.

Meanwhile, a ship launches from a distant city bound for Tova and set to arrive on the solstice. The captain of the ship, Xiala, is a disgraced Teek whose song can calm the waters around her as easily as it can warp a man's mind. Her ship carries one passenger. Described as harmless, the passenger, Serapio is a young man, blind, scarred, and cloaked in destiny. As Xiala well knows, when a man is described as harmless, he usually ends up being a villain.

Crafted with unforgettable characters, Rebecca Roanhorse has created a "brilliant world that shows the full panoply of human grace and depravity" (Ken Liu, award-winning author of The Grace of Kings). This epic adventure explores the decadence of power amidst the weight of history and the struggle of individuals swimming against the confines of society and their broken pasts in this "absolutely tremendous" (S.A. Chakraborty, nationally bestselling author of The City of Brass) and most original series debut of the decade.

Fresh Water for Flowers

- by Valerie Perrin

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AWALL STREET JOURNAL BEST BOOK OF SUMMER 2021
A 2020 INDIES INTRODUCE & INDIE NEXT LIST PICK

A #1 best-seller in France and in Italy, where it was dubbed Italy's favorite "lockdown novel,"Fresh Water for Flowers is an intimately told story about a woman who defiantly believes in happiness, despite it all.

Violette Toussaint is the caretaker at a cemetery in a small town in Bourgogne. Her life is lived to the predictable rhythms of the often funny, always moving confidences that casual mourners, regular visitors, and sundry colleagues share with her. Violette's routine is disrupted one day by the arrival of Julien Sole--local police chief--who has come to scatter the ashes of his recently deceased mother on the gravesite of a complete stranger. It soon becomes clear that Julien's inexplicable gesture is intertwined with Violette's own complicated past.

"Melancholic and yet ebullient... An appealing indulgence in nature, food and drink, and, above all, friendships."--The Guardian

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