Staff Book Picks October '21

Ajayi Jones, Luvvie

With humor and honesty, and guided by the influence of her inspiring and professional troublemaking grandmother, Funmilayo Faloyin, Luvvie walks us through what we must get right within ourselves before we can do the things that scare us; how to use our voice for a greater good; and how to put movement to the voice we've been silencing--because truth-telling is a muscle. The point is not to be fearless. It is to know we are afraid and to charge forward regardless, to recognize the things we must do are more significant than the things we are afraid to do. This book shows you how she's done it, and how you can, too.

Akbar, Kaveh
Arsenault, Kerri

Kerri Arsenault grew up in the rural working class town of Mexico, Maine. For over 100 years the community orbited around a paper mill that employs most townspeople, including three generations of Arsenault's own family. Years after she moved away, Arsenault realized the price she paid for that seemingly secure childhood. The mill, while providing livelihoods for nearly everyone, also contributed to the destruction of the environment and the decline of the town's economic, moral, and emotional health in a slow-moving catastrophe, earning the area the nickname 'Cancer Valley.

Bailar, Schuyler

A coming-of-age story about transgender tween Obie, who didn't think being himself would cause such a splash.

Barbarisi, Daniel

A full-throttle, first-person account of the treasure hunt set in motion by Forest Fenn--an eccentric art dealer and, some would say, robber baron--in 2010 that lasted a full decade and became the stuff of contemporary legend. When Forest Fenn was told he was going to die, he hid a chest full of jewels and gold in the wilderness and published a poem that contained a series of clues about the treasure's secret location. But he didn't die, and he wouldn't reveal the location. The wild hunt went on for another ten years. Daniel Barbarisi first learned of Fenn's hunt in 2017 when a friend began decoding the poem and convinced Barbarisi to catalogue his search. What began as a great story documenting the history of Fenn's treasure hunt--the rumors, characters, and pitfalls--quickly turned into a personal quest, as Barbarisi found himself on a sometimes reckless and possibly dead-end path, despite having a family at home. Over the course of the next three years, several searchers would die, endless controversies would erupt, and one anonymous unknown would find the ultimate prize. Rich with mystery, danger, and break-neck action, Barbarisi's account of the imagination and drive of desire, of obsession, and of a particularly unbridled adventure is pure gold on the page.

Bradley, Regina N.

Chronicling Stankonia situates hip hop as an intervention in constructing post-Civil Rights black identities and cultural discourse. For southern blacks, the past is often restricted to three recognizable historical moments - the Antebellum Era, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights Movement. Aside from the deeply traumatic experience of these periods of history, they also serve as cornerstones of validating and recognizing southern blacks' experiences. However, the challenge for post-Civil Rights generations of southern blacks is speaking truth to power when their truths depart the trajectory of what was considered power in the past. Chronicling Stankonia updates the black South using hip hop as an agent to reflect multiple intersections of time, race, and southernness in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. Part of southern hip hop culture's truth remains attached to the past but its power is grounded in the fact that younger southerners use hip hop to embrace the possibility of multiple Souths, multiple narratives, and multiple entry points into contemporary southern black identities.

Card, Maisy

Centers on Abel and Vera Paisley, a working-class Jamaican couple striving to build a better life for their children. Abel travels to London in the early 1960s in search of fortune. Instead, he sees an opportunity to escape the drudgery of his life by faking his death and assuming a new identity. Vera, now a widow, is racked with guilt over her husband's "death" and takes out her grief on her children, Irene and Vincent. The effects of Abel's decision reverberate across generations. Ghosts follows the Paisleys over time and across continents, as they wrestle with the burdens of family lore and struggle to forge independent identities. Despite everything, Abel finds a second chance at love. Vincent follows his dream to move to New York. Irene also moves to New York but realizes you can never fully leave the past behind. Set in the United States and Jamaica, Card's debut incorporates elements of gothic fiction and Jamaican folklore to explore the immigrant experience, as told through the voices of these flawed, memorable characters. In luminous prose that announces the arrival of a new American talent, These Ghosts are Family inspects the weight of long-held secrets, the limits of forgiveness, and the complexities of family ties.

Cha, Frances

A debut novel set in contemporary Seoul, Korea, about four young women making their way in a world defined by impossible standards of beauty, after-hours room salons catering to wealthy men, ruthless social hierarchies, and K-pop mania.

Crouch, Blake

New York City cop Barry Sutton investigates the devastating phenomenon the media has dubbed False Memory Syndrome-- a mysterious affliction that drives its victims mad with memories of a life they never lived. Neuroscientist Helena Smith dedicated her life to creating a technology that will let us preserve our most precious moments of our pasts. If she succeeds, anyone will be able to re-experience a first kiss, the birth of a child, the final moment with a dying parent. Together they face a force that attacks not just our minds but the very fabric of the past. Memory makes reality-- and the force is beginning to unmake the world as we know it.

Edmondson, Lauren

After her father's involvement in a public scandal, Daisy must navigate the sale of the family home, her sister's inconvenient crush, and her best friend writing an expose, in a modern retelling of Jane Austen's classic Sense and Sensibility.

Fox, Michael J.

The actor shares personal stories and observations about illness and health, aging, the strength of family and friends, and how perceptions about time affect the consideration of mortality.

Fuller, Alexandra

From bestselling memoirist Alexandra Fuller, a debut novel. Lakota Oglala Sioux Nation, South Dakota. Two Native American cousins, Rick Overlooking Horse and You Choose Watson, though bound by blood and by land, find themselves at odds as they grapple with the implications of their shared heritage. When escalating anger towards the injustices, historical and current, inflicted upon the Lakota people by the federal government leads to tribal divisions and infighting, the cousins go in separate directions: Rick chooses the path of peace; You Choose, violence. Years pass, and as You Choose serves time in prison, Rick finds himself raising twin baby boys, orphaned at birth, in his meadow. As the twins mature from infants to young men, Rick immerses the boys within their ancestry, telling wonderful and terrible tales of how the whole world came to be, and affirming their place in the universe as the result of all who have come before and will come behind. But when You Choose returns to the reservation after three decades behind bars, his anger manifests, forever disrupting the lives of Rick and the boys. A complex tale that spans generations and geography, Quiet Until the Thaw conjures with the implications of an oppressed history, how we are bound not just to immediate family but to all who have come before and will come after us, and, most of all, to the notion that everything was always, and is always, connected. As Fuller writes, "The belief that we can be done with our past is a myth. The past is nudging at us constantly.

González, Betina

From award-winning novelist Betina González, a dizzying, luminous English-language debut about an American town overrun by a mysterious hallucinogen, forcing its citizens to confront the secrets of their past and rely on unexpected relationships.

Graff, Andrew J.

An instant classic, for fans of Huckleberry Finn, Peace Like a River, and Jim the Boy: when two hardscrabble young boys think they've committed a crime, they flee into the Northwoods of Wisconsin. Will the adults trying to find and protect them reach them before it's too late?"

Hoffman, Alice

In an unforgettable novel that traces a centuries-old curse to its source, beloved author Alice Hoffman unveils the story of Maria Owens, accused of witchcraft in Salem, and matriarch of a line of the amazing Owens women and men featured in Practical Magic and The Rules of Magic.

Junger, Alejandro

The air we breathe, the water we drink, the skin products we use, the medications we take and the foods we eat are loaded with toxic chemicals that cause all kinds of dysfunctions. Junger's seven-day program is based around the core principles of functional medicine, ayurvedic medicine, and Intermittent fasting. Each one of these practices alone can have positive and lasting effects, but when used together they propel the body to health, weight-loss, symptom-reversal, and restoration.

Karbo, Karen

Karen Karbo's hilarious feminist manifesto about swearing off self-improvement and owning and appreciating our flawed human selves.

Khakpour, Porochista

Brown Album is a stirring collection of essays, at times humorous and at times profound, drawn from more than a decade of Khakpour's work. Altogether, it reveals the tolls that immigrant life in this country can take on a person and the joys that life can give.

Kirkman, Robert

A decade ago 300,000 citizens of Philadelphia were suddenly lost in Oblivion. The government made every attempt to recover them, but after many years they gave up. Nathan Cole...won't. He makes daily trips, risking his life to try to rescue those lost, alone and afraid, living in the apocalyptic hellscape of Oblivion. But maybe---Nathan is looking for something else? Why can't he resist the siren call of the Oblivion Song?

Koh, EJ

After living in America for over a decade, Eun Ji's parents return to Korea for work, leaving fifteen-year-old Eun Ji and her brother behind in the family's new California home. Overnight, Eun Ji finds herself in a world made strange in her mother's absence. Her mother writes letters over the years seeking forgiveness and love-letters Eun Ji cannot understand until she finds them years later hidden in a box. The letters lay bare the impact of her mother's departure, as Eun Ji gets to know the woman who raised her and left her behind. Eun Ji is a student, a traveler, a dancer, a poet, and a daughter coming to terms not only with her parents' prolonged absence, but her family's history: her grandmother Jun's years as a lovesick wife in Daejeon, the horrors her grandmother Kumiko witnessed during the Jeju Island Massacre. Where, Koh asks, do the stories of our mothers and grandmothers end and ours begin? How do we find words-in Korean, Japanese, English, or any language-to articulate the profound ways that distance can shape love? The Magical Language of Others is a fearless and poetic mind grappling with forgiveness, reconciliation, legacy, and intergenerational trauma-conjuring an epic saga and love story between mothers and daughters spanning four generations.

Kuang, R. F.

A war orphan rises from her humble beginnings to become a powerful military commander, and perhaps her country's only hope for survival.

Kunzru, Hari

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--and soon begins to wonder if his writing has any value at all. Wannsee is a place 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." When some friends drag him to a party where he meets Anton, the creator of "Blue Lives," the narrator begins to believe that the two of them are involved in a cosmic battle, and that Anton is "red-pilling" his viewers--turning them towards an ugly, alt-rightish worldview--ultimately forcing the narrator to wonder if he is losing his mind.

Lahiri, Jhumpa

A woman wavers between stasis and movement, between the need to belong and the refusal to form lasting ties. The city she calls home, an engaging backdrop to her days, acts as a confidant: the sidewalks around her house, parks, bridges, piazzas, streets, stores, coffee bars. We follow her to the pool she frequents and to the train station that sometimes leads her to her mother, mired in a desperate solitude after her father's untimely death. In addition to colleagues at work, where she never quite feels at ease, she has girl friends, guy friends, and "him," a shadow who both consoles and unsettles her. But in the arc of a year, as one season gives way to the next, transformation awaits. One day at the sea, both overwhelmed and replenished by the sun's vital heat, her perspective will change. This is Jhumpa Lahiri's first novel she wrote in Italian and translated into English.

Lippman, Laura

Bedridden after a freak accident, a novelist begins to question his own sanity as he moves through dreamlike memories of his own fictional characters.

McQueen, LaTanya

More than a decade ago, Mira fled her segregated hometown of Kipsen, leaving behind her best friend, the white Celine, and Woodsman Plantation - rumored to be haunted by the spirits of slaves. Now, Mira is back in Kipsen for Celine's wedding weekend at that same plantation. Mira hopes to reconnect with her old friends, especially Jesse, the boy she secretly loved. Woodsman remains a monument to its racist history and the darkest elements of the plantation's past - that slaves were tortured mercilessly - have been carefully erased. As the weekend unfolds, Mira, Celine, and Jesse are forced to acknowledge their history together and to save themselves from what it to come.

Narvaez, Richie

A reluctant assassin is born. A con man tries to sell the Grand Central clock. A superhero is dying to lose her powers. In thirteen fast-moving stories, the author of Hipster Death Rattle explores the tragic world of noir fiction with a wide range of Latinx characters. These stories define noir as tales of people who fall not from great heights but from the stoop and the sidewalk. A follow-up to the author's Roachkiller and Other Stories, which received the Spinetingler Award for Best Anthology/Short Story Collection, this contains a sequel to that anthology's eponymous story. Praise for NOIRYORICAN: "With considerable style, poise, and humor Richie Narvaez's Noiryorican unpacks a world of grifters, street punks and hangers-on just trying to get by in the big city when the odds are stacked against them. At his street poet best Narvaez gives Jonathan Lethem and Junot Diaz a run for their money. I loved this collection."--Adrian McKinty, bestselling author of The Chain; "In this eclectic collection of noir stories, Narvaez takes the reader across the boroughs of New York City, Puerto Rico, LA, and Texas. Open this book and take this ride through the mazes of Narvaez's imagination."--Ivelisse Rodriguez, author of Love War Stories. -- Publisher's description.

Neill, Chloe

Kit Brightling, rescued as a foundling and raised in a home for talented girls, has worked hard to rise through the ranks of the Isles' Crown Command and become one of the few female captains in Queen Charlotte's fleet. Her ship is small, but she's fast--in part because of Kit's magical affinity to the sea. But the waters become perilous when the queen sends Kit on a special mission with a partner she never asked for.

Onwuachi, Kwame

As a boy Onwuachi was sent from the Bronx to rural Nigeria by his mother to 'learn respect.' Through food, he broke out of a dangerous downward spiral and embarked on a new beginning at the bottom of the culinary food chain before going on to train in the kitchens of some of the most acclaimed restaurants in the country and appearing as a contestant on Top Chef. His love of food and cooking was a constant, even when the road to success was riddled with potholes. Here he shares the pursuit of his passions, despite the odds. Each chapter includes one recipe.

Petersen, Todd Robert

Working at a remote national monument site on the Utah-Arizona border, anthropologist Sophia Shepard finds herself in the middle of shady dealings focused on monument land that may soon be opened to energy exploration.

Punke, Michael

In December 1866, tensions were rising in Wyoming, between the Native American tribes who had lived on the land for generations and the settlers who would destroy their home. Crazy Horse and his fellow Lakota hunters had been watching for months as Colonel Carrington and his army set up camp on one of the most crucial swaths of hunting ground in hundreds of miles, and began to build forts. More disconcertingly, the settlers had brought women and children, which meant they planned to stay. As the Lakota and neighboring tribes set forth with repeated attacks to discourage the settlers, Captain William J. Fetterman, anxious and arrogant, claimed that he could take offense and rid the area of Native American people with only a small army of 80 men. And he would--unless Crazy Horse could find a way to lure the army to their doom. A story of protection and betrayal, of courage, wit, and perseverance against unfathomable odds, Ridgeline grapples with essential questions about who owns land: those who are born on it, or those who would kill to claim it.

Stanley, Jessamyn

Remember Jessamyn Stanley? How could you not? She's the proudly fat, Black, queer yoga teacher and charismatic author of Every Body Yoga, who drops a lot more f-bombs than namastes and refuses to pray at the church of Lululemon. Now she's back, here to take us even further on a personal and provocative journey into what it means to "practice yoga." Where Every Body Yoga, with 59,000 copies in print, taught us how to do yoga, Yoke tells us why. In Yoke, which draws its name from a literal translation of the Sanskrit root "yuj," from which the word "yoga" derives, Jessamyn writes about what she calls the yoga of the everyday-a yoga that is not just about poses but about applying the hard lessons we learn on the mat to the even harder daily project of living. This yoga of the everyday is about finding within life's toughest moments the same flexibility, strength, grounding energy, and core awareness found in a headstand or Tadasana or cobra pose. In a series of deeply honest, funny, gritty, thoughtful, and largely autobiographical essays, Yoke explores issues of self-love, body-positivity, race, sex and sexuality, cannabis, and more, all through the lens of an authentic yoga practice. Every reader is invited to find this authentic spirit of yoga in their own lives and practice. To yoke.

Summers, Courtney

Sadie's been raising her sister Mattie in an isolated Colorado town, trying her best to provide a normal life and keep their heads above water. When Mattie is found dead, and the police investigation is botched, Sadie is determined to bring her sister's killer to justice. She hits the road following a few meager clues. When West McCray, a radio personality working on a segment about small, forgotten towns in America, hears Sadie's story, he becomes obsessed with finding the missing girl. He starts his own podcast as he tracks Sadie's journey, trying to figure out what happened, hoping to find her before it's too late.

Swann, Stacey

The Briscoe family is once again the talk of their small town when March returns to East Texas two years after he was caught having an affair with his brother's wife. His mother June hardly welcomes him back with open arms, and is no stranger to infidelity herself: she's tired of being the long-suffering wife thanks to her husband's many affairs. Within days of March's arrival, someone is dead, marriages are upended, and even the strongest of allies are divided.

Thompson, Tade

All is quiet in the city of Rosewater as it expands on the back of the gargantuan alien Wormwood. Those who know the truth of the invasion keep the secret.

Tyler, Anne

Micah Mortimer is a creature of habit. A self-employed tech expert, superintendent of his Baltimore apartment building, cautious to a fault behind the steering wheel, he seems content leading a steady, circumscribed life. But one day his routines are blown apart when his woman friend (he refuses to call anyone in her late thirties a 'girlfriend') tells him she's facing eviction, and a teenager shows up at Micah's door claiming to be his son. These surprises, and the ways they throw Micah's meticulously organized life off-kilter, risk changing him forever.

Yashere, Gina