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New York Times Top 10 of 2022

The ten best books of 2022 as selected by The New York Times Book Review.


The Candy House

- Jennifer Egan

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* Named a Top Ten Best Book of 2022 by The New York Times Book Review, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Slate * Named a Best Book of 2022 by The New Yorker, NPR, Oprah Daily, Time, Harper's Bazaar, Entertainment Weekly, Esquire, Vogue, and many more! *

"A compelling read that showcases Egan's masterful storytelling." --Time
"Dazzling." --Vogue
"Radiant, exhilarating." --Slate
"Mesmerizing...A thought-provoking examination of how and why we change." --People


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).

Checkout 19

- Claire-Louise Bennett

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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.

Demon Copperhead

- Barbara Kingsolver

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"Kingsolver is a writer who can help us understand and navigate the chaos of these times." --Minneapolis Star Tribune

From the New York Times bestselling author of Unsheltered and Flight Behavior, a brilliant novel which enthralls, compels, and captures the heart as it evokes a young hero's unforgettable journey to maturity.

"Anyone will tell you the born of this world are marked from the get-out, win or lose."

Demon Copperhead is set in the mountains of southern Appalachia. It's the story of a boy born to a teenaged single mother in a single-wide trailer, with no assets beyond his dead father's good looks and copper-colored hair, a caustic wit, and a fierce talent for survival. In a plot that never pauses for breath, relayed in his own unsparing voice, he braves the modern perils of foster care, child labor, derelict schools, athletic success, addiction, disastrous loves, and crushing losses. Through all of it, he reckons with his own invisibility in a popular culture where even the superheroes have abandoned rural people in favor of cities.

Many generations ago, Charles Dickens wrote David Copperfield from his experience as a survivor of institutional poverty and its damages to children in his society. Those problems have yet to be solved in ours. Dickens is not a prerequisite for readers of this novel, but he provided its inspiration. In transposing a Victorian epic novel to the contemporary American South, Barbara Kingsolver enlists Dickens' anger and compassion, and above all, his faith in the transformative powers of a good story. Demon Copperhead speaks for a new generation of lost boys, and all those born into beautiful, cursed places they can't imagine leaving behind.

The Furrows

- Namwali Serpell

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ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New York Times, Publishers Weekly
ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The New Yorker, Oprah Daily, Time, The Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, The Guardian, Esquire, Vulture, Ms. Magazine, Vox, Mental Floss, BookPage, Kirkus Reviews

 
"A triumph."--New York Magazine
"Breathtaking."--Esquire
"Surreal and magical."--Financial Times

From one of the most celebrated new voices in American literature, a brilliantly inventive and "enthralling" (Oprah Daily) novel about the eternal bonds of family and the mysteries of love and loss--"already earning its author comparisons to Toni Morrison . . . destined to end up on every Best of the Year list" (Lit Hub).

Finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award o Longlisted for the Joyce Carol Oates Prize

I don't want to tell you what happened. I want to tell you how it felt.

Cassandra Williams is twelve; her little brother, Wayne, is seven. One day, when they're alone together, there is an accident and Wayne is lost forever. His body is never recovered. The missing boy cleaves the family with doubt. Their father leaves, starts another family elsewhere. But their mother can't give up hope and launches an organization dedicated to missing children. 

As C grows older, she sees her brother everywhere: in bistros, airplane aisles, subway cars. Here is her brother's face, the light in his eyes, the way he seems to recognize her, too. But it can't be, of course. Or can it? Then one day, in another accident, C meets a man both mysterious and familiar, a man who is also searching for someone and for his own place in the world. His name is Wayne. 

Namwali Serpell's remarkable new novel captures the uncanny experience of grief, the way the past breaks over the present like waves in the sea. The Furrows is a bold exploration of memory and mourning that twists unexpectedly into a story of mistaken identity, double consciousness, and the wishful--and sometimes willful--longing for reunion with those we've lost.

Trust

- Hernan Diaz

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A NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOKS OF 2022
ONE OF THE WASHINGTON POST TOP TEN BOOKS OF 2022
ONE OF BARACK OBAMA'S FAVORITE BOOKS OF 2022
LONGLISTED FOR THE 2022 BOOKER PRIZE
WINNER OF THE 2022 KIRKUS PRIZE
And named one of the BEST BOOKS OF 2022 by The New Yorker, Vogue, Time, NPR, Oprah Daily, Esquire, BookPage, and more


"Buzzy and enthralling ...A glorious novel about empires and erasures, husbands and wives, staggering fortunes and unspeakable misery...Fun as hell to read." --Oprah Daily


"A genre-bending, time-skipping story about New York City's elite in the roaring '20s and Great Depression."--Vanity Fair

"A riveting story of class, capitalism, and greed." --Esquire

"Captivating."--NPR

"Exhilarating." --New York Times

An unparalleled novel about money, power, intimacy, and perception


Even through the roar and effervescence of the 1920s, everyone in New York has heard of Benjamin and Helen Rask. He is a legendary Wall Street tycoon; she is the daughter of eccentric aristocrats. Together, they have risen to the very top of a world of seemingly endless wealth--all as a decade of excess and speculation draws to an end. But at what cost have they acquired their immense fortune? This is the mystery at the center of Bonds, a successful 1937 novel that all of New York seems to have read. Yet there are other versions of this tale of privilege and deceit.
    Hernan Diaz's TRUST elegantly puts these competing narratives into conversation with one another--and in tension with the perspective of one woman bent on disentangling fact from fiction. The result is a novel that spans over a century and becomes more exhilarating with each new revelation.
    At once an immersive story and a brilliant literary puzzle, TRUST engages the reader in a quest for the truth while confronting the deceptions that often live at the heart of personal relationships, the reality-warping force of capital, and the ease with which power can manipulate facts.

An Immense World

- Ed Yong

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

A "thrilling" (The New York Times), "dazzling" (The Wall Street Journal) tour of the radically different ways that animals perceive the world that will fill you with wonder and forever alter your perspective, by Pulitzer Prize-winning science journalist Ed Yong

"One of this year's finest works of narrative nonfiction."--Oprah Daily

ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Time, People, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Slate, Reader's Digest, Publishers Weekly, BookPage


ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: The Globe and Mail, The New Yorker, Oprah Daily, The Washington Post, The Guardian, Smithsonian Magazine, Kirkus Reviews, Library Journal


The Earth teems with sights and textures, sounds and vibrations, smells and tastes, electric and magnetic fields. In An Immense World, Ed Yong coaxes us beyond the confines of our own senses to encounter beetles that are drawn to fires, turtles that can track the Earth's magnetic fields, fish that fill rivers with electrical messages, and even humans who wield sonar like bats. We discover that a crocodile's scaly face is as sensitive as a lover's fingertips, that the eyes of a giant squid evolved to see sparkling whales, that plants thrum with the inaudible songs of courting bugs, and that even simple scallops have complex vision. We learn what bees see in flowers, what songbirds hear in their tunes, and what dogs smell on the street. We listen to stories of pivotal discoveries in the field, while looking ahead at the many mysteries that remain unsolved. 

Funny, rigorous, and suffused with the joy of discovery, An Immense World takes us on what Marcel Proust called "the only true voyage . . . not to visit strange lands, but to possess other eyes."

Stay True

- Hua Hsu

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A NEW YORK TIMES TOP TEN BOOK OF THE YEAR o A gripping memoir on friendship, grief, the search for self, and the solace that can be found through art, by the New Yorker staff writer Hua Hsu

"This book is exquisite and excruciating and I will be thinking about it for years and years to come." --Rachel Kushner, New York Times bestselling author of The Flamethrowers and The Mars Room


In the eyes of eighteen-year-old Hua Hsu, the problem with Ken--with his passion for Dave Matthews, Abercrombie & Fitch, and his fraternity--is that he is exactly like everyone else. Ken, whose Japanese American family has been in the United States for generations, is mainstream; for Hua, the son of Taiwanese immigrants, who makes 'zines and haunts Bay Area record shops, Ken represents all that he defines himself in opposition to. The only thing Hua and Ken have in common is that, however they engage with it, American culture doesn't seem to have a place for either of them.

But despite his first impressions, Hua and Ken become friends, a friendship built on late-night conversations over cigarettes, long drives along the California coast, and the successes and humiliations of everyday college life. And then violently, senselessly, Ken is gone, killed in a carjacking, not even three years after the day they first meet.

Determined to hold on to all that was left of one of his closest friends--his memories--Hua turned to writing. Stay True is the book he's been working on ever since. A coming-of-age story that details both the ordinary and extraordinary, Stay True is a bracing memoir about growing up, and about moving through the world in search of meaning and belonging.

Strangers to Ourselves

- Rachel Aviv

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A New York Times, Vulture, and Wall Street Journal Ten Best Books of the Year
An Indigo Best Book of the Year


The acclaimed, award-winning New Yorker writer Rachel Aviv offers a groundbreaking exploration of mental illness and the mind, and illuminates the startling connections between diagnosis and identity.

In Strangers to Ourselves, a powerful and gripping debut, Rachel Aviv raises fundamental questions about how we understand ourselves in periods of crisis and distress. Drawing on deep, original reporting as well as unpublished journals and memoirs, Aviv writes about people who have come up against the limits of psychiatric explanations for who they are. She follows an Indian woman, celebrated as a saint, who lives in healing temples in Kerala; an incarcerated mother vying for her children's forgiveness after recovering from psychosis; a man who devotes his life to seeking revenge upon his psychoanalysts; and an affluent young woman who, after a decade of defining herself through her diagnosis, decides to go off her meds because she doesn't know who she is without them. Animated by a profound sense of empathy, Aviv's exploration is refracted through her own account of living in a hospital ward at the age of six and meeting a fellow patient with whom her life runs parallel--until it no longer does.

Aviv asks how the stories we tell about mental disorders shape their course in our lives. Challenging the way we understand and talk about illness, her account is a testament to the porousness and resilience of the mind.

Under the Skin

- Linda Villarosa

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A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BOOK OF THE YEAR o "A stunning exposé of why Black people in our society 'live sicker and die quicker'--an eye-opening game changer."--Oprah Daily

From an award-winning writer at the New York Times Magazine and a contributor to the 1619 Project comes a landmark book that tells the full story of racial health disparities in America, revealing the toll racism takes on individuals and the health of our nation.

In 2018, Linda Villarosa's New York Times Magazine article on maternal and infant mortality among black mothers and babies in America caused an awakening. Hundreds of studies had previously established a link between racial discrimination and the health of Black Americans, with little progress toward solutions. But Villarosa's article exposing that a Black woman with a college education is as likely to die or nearly die in childbirth as a white woman with an eighth grade education made racial disparities in health care impossible to ignore.

Now, in Under the Skin, Linda Villarosa lays bare the forces in the American health-care system and in American society that cause Black people to "live sicker and die quicker" compared to their white counterparts. Today's medical texts and instruments still carry fallacious slavery-era assumptions that Black bodies are fundamentally different from white bodies. Study after study of medical settings show worse treatment and outcomes for Black patients. Black people live in dirtier, more polluted communities due to environmental racism and neglect from all levels of government. And, most powerfully, Villarosa describes the new understanding that coping with the daily scourge of racism ages Black people prematurely. Anchored by unforgettable human stories and offering incontrovertible proof, Under the Skin is dramatic, tragic, and necessary reading.

We Don't Know Ourselves

- Fintan O'Toole

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Fintan O'Toole was born in the year the revolution began. It was 1958, and the Irish government--in despair, because all the young people were leaving--opened the country to foreign investment and popular culture. So began a decades-long, ongoing experiment with Irish national identity. In We Don't Know Ourselves, O'Toole, one of the Anglophone world's most consummate stylists, weaves his own experiences into Irish social, cultural, and economic change, showing how Ireland, in just one lifetime, has gone from a reactionary "backwater" to an almost totally open society--perhaps the most astonishing national transformation in modern history. Born to a working-class family in the Dublin suburbs, O'Toole served as an altar boy and attended a Christian Brothers school, much as his forebears did. He was enthralled by American Westerns suddenly appearing on Irish television, which were not that far from his own experience, given that Ireland's main export was beef and it was still not unknown for herds of cattle to clatter down Dublin's streets. Yet the Westerns were a sign of what was to come. O'Toole narrates the once unthinkable collapse of the all-powerful Catholic Church, brought down by scandal and by the activism of ordinary Irish, women in particular. He relates the horrific violence of the Troubles in Northern Ireland, which led most Irish to reject violent nationalism. In O'Toole's telling, America became a lodestar, from John F. Kennedy's 1963 visit, when the soon-to-be martyred American president was welcomed as a native son, to the emergence of the Irish technology sector in the late 1990s, driven by American corporations, which set Ireland on the path toward particular disaster during the 2008 financial crisis. A remarkably compassionate yet exacting observer, O'Toole in coruscating prose captures the peculiar Irish habit of "deliberate unknowing," which allowed myths of national greatness to persist even as the foundations were crumbling. Forty years in the making, We Don't Know Ourselves is a landmark work, a memoir and a national history that ultimately reveals how the two modes are entwined for all of us.