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Book Club

Performance of Becoming Human

Performance of Becoming Human

Borzutzky, Daniel
$18.00
Wild Seed

Wild Seed

Butler, Octavia E.
$16.99
In an epic, game-changing, moving and brilliant story of love and hate, two immortals chase each other across continents and centuries, binding their fates together -- and changing the destiny of the human race (Viola Davis).

Doro knows no higher authority than himself. An ancient spirit with boundless powers, he possesses humans, killing without remorse as he jumps from body to body to sustain his own life. With a lonely eternity ahead of him, Doro breeds supernaturally gifted humans into empires that obey his every desire. He fears no one -- until he meets Anyanwu.

Anyanwu is an entity like Doro and yet different. She can heal with a bite and transform her own body, mending injuries and reversing aging. She uses her powers to cure her neighbors and birth entire tribes, surrounding herself with kindred who both fear and respect her. No one poses a true threat to Anyanwu -- until she meets Doro.

The moment Doro meets Anyanwu, he covets her; and from the villages of 17th-century Nigeria to 19th-century United States, their courtship becomes a power struggle that echoes through generations, irrevocably changing what it means to be human.

Obit

Obit

Chang, Victoria
$17.00
The New York Times 100 Notable Books of 2020

Time Magazine's 100 Must-Read Books of 2020

NPR's Best Books of 2020

National Book Award in Poetry, Longlist

Frank Sanchez Book Award

After her mother died, poet Victoria Chang refused to write elegies. Rather, she distilled her grief during a feverish two weeks by writing scores of poetic obituaries for all she lost in the world. In Obit, Chang writes of "the way memory gets up after someone has died and starts walking." These poems reinvent the form of newspaper obituary to both name what has died ("civility," "language," "the future," "Mother's blue dress") and the cultural impact of death on the living. Whereas elegy attempts to immortalize the dead, an obituary expresses loss, and the love for the dead becomes a conduit for self-expression. In this unflinching and lyrical book, Chang meets her grief and creates a powerful testament for the living.

When you lose someone you love, the world doesn't stop to let you mourn. Nor does it allow you to linger as you learn to live with a gaping hole in your heart. Indeed, this daily indifference to being left behind epitomizes the unique pain of grieving. Victoria Chang captures this visceral, heart-stopping ache in Obit, the book of poetry she wrote after the death of her mother. Although Chang initially balked at writing an obituary, she soon found herself writing eulogies for the small losses that preceded and followed her mother's death, each one an ode to her mother's life and influence. Chang also thoughtfully examines how she will be remembered by her own children in time.--Time Magazine

Bryn says: Chang, like most of us, is grieving personal losses that go beyond the deaths of her parents. She mourns Ambition, Friendships, and Memory in a way that is so full of life, and gives small moments the recognition they deserve. Chang doesn't look away and neither could I.


Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Collapse : How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed

Diamond, Jared
$22.00

In Jared Diamond's follow-up to the Pulitzer-Prize winning Guns, Germs and Steel, the author explores how climate change, the population explosion and political discord create the conditions for the collapse of civilization. Diamond is also the author of Upheaval: Turning Points for Nations in Crisis


Environmental damage, climate change, globalization, rapid population growth, and unwise political choices were all factors in the demise of societies around the world, but some found solutions and persisted. As in Guns, Germs, and Steel, Diamond traces the fundamental pattern of catastrophe, and weaves an all-encompassing global thesis through a series of fascinating historical-cultural narratives. Collapse moves from the Polynesian cultures on Easter Island to the flourishing American civilizations of the Anasazi and the Maya and finally to the doomed Viking colony on Greenland. Similar problems face us today and have already brought disaster to Rwanda and Haiti, even as China and Australia are trying to cope in innovative ways. Despite our own society's apparently inexhaustible wealth and unrivaled political power, ominous warning signs have begun to emerge even in ecologically robust areas like Montana.

Brilliant, illuminating, and immensely absorbing, Collapse is destined to take its place as one of the essential books of our time, raising the urgent question: How can our world best avoid committing ecological suicide?

James says: Fascinating insight and detail into the mystery and destruction of civilizations, and the similar misuse of the environment.

Turn Up the Ocean

Turn Up the Ocean

Hoagland, Tony
$16.00

The final book of poems by Tony Hoagland, "one of the most distinctive voices of our time" (Carl Dennis).

Over the course of his celebrated career, Tony Hoagland ventured fearlessly into the unlit alleys of emotion and experience. The poems in Turn Up the Ocean examine with an unflinching eye and mordant humor the reality of living and dying in a time and culture that conspire to erase our inner lives. Hoagland's signature wit and unparalleled observations take in long-standing injustices, the atrocities of American empire and consumerism, and our ongoing habit of looking away. In these poems, perseverance depends on a gymnastics of skepticism and comedy, a dogged quest for authentic connection, and the consolations of the natural world. Turn Up the Ocean is a remarkable and moving collection, a fitting testament to Hoagland's devotion to the capaciousness and art of poetry.

Doug says: Loved his work before he died, love it even more given this collection after his death. It's a safe bet that the works we choose for Poetry Book Club are must-reads for poetry lovers and aspiring poets. This one goes above and beyond. Hoagland inspires me to write the vivid real, convey with artful utterance things I resist saying in order to spare listeners, and expose my denial without excuse. The Afterword by his wife, Kathleen Lee, is a meaningful, personal and essential note.

Einstein

Isaacson, Walter
$19.99
Olio

Olio

Jess, Tyehimba
$25.00
Winner of the 2017 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry

Winner of the 2017 Anisfield-Wolf Book Award in Poetry

Winner of the 2017 Book Award from the Society of Midland Authors for Poetry

2016 National Book Critics Circle Award finalist for poetry

2017 PEN/Jean Stein Book Award finalist

2017 Kingsley Tufts Poetry Award finalist

Named a top poetry book of spring 2016 by Library Journal

Part fact, part fiction, Tyehimba Jess's much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.

So, while I lead this choir, I still find that
I'm being led...I'm a missionary
mending my faith in the midst of this flock...
I toil in their fields of praise. When folks see
these freedmen stand and sing, they hear their God
speak in tongues. These nine dark mouths sing shelter;
they echo a hymn's haven from slavery's weather.

Detroit native Tyehimba Jess' first book of poetry, leadbelly, was a winner of the 2004 National Poetry Series. Jess, a Cave Canem and NYU Alumni, has received fellowships from the Whiting Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts, Illinois Arts Council, and the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center. Jess is also a veteran of the 2000 and 2001 Green Mill Poetry Slam Team. He exhibited his poetry at the 2011 TEDxNashville Conference. Jess is an Associate Professor of English at College of Staten Island.

Foster

Foster

Keegan, Claire
$20.00
An international bestseller and one of The Times' "Top 50 Novels Published in the 21st Century," Claire Keegan's piercing contemporary classic Foster is a heartbreaking story of childhood, loss, and love; now released as a standalone book for the first time ever in the USIt is a hot summer in rural Ireland. A child is taken by her father to live with relatives on a farm, not knowing when or if she will be brought home again. In the Kinsellas' house, she finds an affection and warmth she has not known and slowly, in their care, begins to blossom. But there is something unspoken in this new household--where everything is so well tended to--and this summer must soon come to an end.Winner of the prestigious Davy Byrnes Award and published in an abridged version in the New Yorker, this internationally bestselling contemporary classic is now available for the first time in the US in a full, standalone edition. A story of astonishing emotional depth, Foster showcases Claire Keegan's great talent and secures her reputation as one of our most important storytellers.

Georgia says: It's a beautiful book of a child finding the family she needs and a good family finding a child to fill the hole in their hearts.

Poetry Home Repair Manual : Practical Advice for Beginning Poets PLAU

Poetry Home Repair Manual : Practical Advice for Beginning Poets PLAU

Kooser, Ted
$16.95
Ted Kooser has been writing and publishing poetry for more than forty years. In the pages of The Poetry Home Repair Manual, Kooser brings those decades of experience to bear. Here are tools and insights, the instructions (and warnings against instructions) that poets--aspiring or practicing--can use to hone their craft, perhaps into art. Using examples from his own rich literary oeuvre and from the work of a number of successful contemporary poets, the author schools us in the critical relationship between poet and reader, which is fundamental to what Kooser believes is poetry's ultimate purpose: to reach other people and touch their hearts. Much more than a guidebook to writing and revising poems, this manual has all the comforts and merits of a long and enlightening conversation with a wise and patient old friend--a friend who is willing to share everything he's learned about the art he's spent a lifetime learning to execute so well.
Stag's Leap: Poems Pulitzer 2012 3/16/14

Stag's Leap: Poems Pulitzer 2012 3/16/14

Olds, Sharon
$16.95
Stag's Leap is stunningly poignant sequence of poems that tells the story of a divorce, embracing strands of love, sex, sorrow, memory, and new freedom.

In this wise and intimate telling--which carries us through the seasons when her marriage was ending--Sharon Olds opens her heart to the reader, sharing the feeling of invisibility that comes when we are no longer standing in love's sight; the surprising physical bond that still exists between a couple during parting; the loss of everything from her husband's smile to the set of his hip. Olds is naked before us, curious and brave and even generous toward the man who was her mate for thirty years and who now loves another woman. As she writes in the remarkable "Stag's Leap," "When anyone escapes, my heart / leaps up. Even when it's I who am escaped from, / I am half on the side of the leaver." Olds's propulsive poetic line and the magic of her imagery are as lively as ever, and there is a new range to the music--sometimes headlong, sometimes contemplative and deep. Her unsparing approach to both pain and love makes this one of the finest, most powerful books of poetry Olds has yet given us.