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Staff Pick

Fencing with the King

Fencing with the King

Abu-Jaber, Diana
$26.95

The King of Jordan is turning 60! How better to celebrate the occasion than with his favorite pastime--fencing--and with his favorite sparring partner, Gabriel Hamdan, who must be enticed back from America, where he lives with his wife and his daughter, Amani.

Amani, a divorced poet, jumps at the chance to accompany her father to his homeland for the King's birthday. Her father's past is a mystery to her--even more so since she found a poem on blue airmail paper slipped into one of his old Arabic books, written by his mother, a Palestinian refugee who arrived in Jordan during World War I. Her words hint at a long-kept family secret, carefully guarded by Uncle Hafez, an advisor to the King, who has quite personal reasons for inviting his brother to the birthday party. In a sibling rivalry that carries ancient echoes, the Hamdan brothers must face a reckoning, with themselves and with each other--one that almost costs Amani her life.

With sharp insight into modern politics and family dynamics, taboos around mental illness, and our inescapable relationship to the past, Fencing with the King asks how we contend with inheritance: familial and cultural, hidden and openly contested. Shot through with warmth and vitality, intelligence and spirit, it is absorbing and satisfying on every level, a wise and rare literary treat.

Georgia says: It's a lovely read. It's fiction, but based on stories passed down through Diana Abu-Jaber's family, who were politically well-connected in Jordan. It's the story of a young woman exploring her family's past and finding unexpected revelations

Bird Way

Bird Way

Ackerman, Jennifer
$18.00
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Genius of Birds, a radical investigation into the bird way of being, and the recent scientific research that is dramatically shifting our understanding of birds -- how they live and how they think.

"There is the mammal way and there is the bird way." But the bird way is much more than a unique pattern of brain wiring, and lately, scientists have taken a new look at bird behaviors they have, for years, dismissed as anomalies or mysteries -- What they are finding is upending the traditional view of how birds conduct their lives, how they communicate, forage, court, breed, survive. They are also revealing the remarkable intelligence underlying these activities, abilities we once considered uniquely our own: deception, manipulation, cheating, kidnapping, infanticide, but also ingenious communication between species, cooperation, collaboration, altruism, culture, and play.

Some of these extraordinary behaviors are biological conundrums that seem to push the edges of, well, birdness: a mother bird that kills her own infant sons, and another that selflessly tends to the young of other birds as if they were her own; a bird that collaborates in an extraordinary way with one species--ours--but parasitizes another in gruesome fashion; birds that give gifts and birds that steal; birds that dance or drum, that paint their creations or paint themselves; birds that build walls of sound to keep out intruders and birds that summon playmates with a special call--and may hold the secret to our own penchant for playfulness and the evolution of laughter.

Drawing on personal observations, the latest science, and her bird-related travel around the world, from the tropical rainforests of eastern Australia and the remote woodlands of northern Japan, to the rolling hills of lower Austria and the islands of Alaska's Kachemak Bay, Jennifer Ackerman shows there is clearly no single bird way of being. In every respect, in plumage, form, song, flight, lifestyle, niche, and behavior, birds vary. It is what we love about them. As E.O Wilson once said, when you have seen one bird, you have not seen them all.

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time

Turn Right at Machu Picchu: Rediscovering the Lost City One Step at a Time

Adams, Mark
$18.00

THE NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLING TRAVEL MEMOIR

 

What happens when an unadventurous adventure writer tries to re-create the original expedition to Machu Picchu?

 

In 1911, Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and "discovered" Machu Picchu. While history has recast Bingham as a villain who stole both priceless artifacts and credit for finding the great archeological site, Mark Adams set out to retrace the explorer's perilous path in search of the truth--except he'd written about adventure far more than he'd actually lived it. In fact, he'd never even slept in a tent.

 

Turn Right at Machu Picchu is Adams' fascinating and funny account of his journey through some of the world's most majestic, historic, and remote landscapes guided only by a hard-as-nails Australian survivalist and one nagging question: Just what was Machu Picchu?

Nora says this book is one of the greatest adventure books of all time.

Americanah

Americanah

Adichie, Chimamanda Ngozi
$16.95

NATIONAL BESTSELLER - From the award-winning author of We Should All Be Feminists and Half of a Yellow Sun--the story of two Nigerians making their way in the U.S. and the UK, raising universal questions of race, belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for identity and a home.

Ifemelu and Obinze are young and in love when they depart military-ruled Nigeria for the West. Beautiful, self-assured Ifemelu heads for America, where despite her academic success, she is forced to grapple with what it means to be black for the first time.

Quiet, thoughtful Obinze had hoped to join her, but with post-9/11 America closed to him, he instead plunges into a dangerous, undocumented life in London. Fifteen years later, they reunite in a newly democratic Nigeria, and reignite their passion--for each other and for their homeland.

Katia says: A poignant and complex love story; a sharp and sometimes heartbreaking exploration of identity, race and the immigrant experience. A beautiful read!

Death in the Family

Death in the Family

Agee, James; Earle, Steve (INT
$17.00
The classic American novel--winner of the 1958 Pulitzer Prize--now re-published for the 100th anniversary of James Agee's birth

One of Time's All-Time 100 Best Novels

A Penguin Classic

Published in 1957, two years after its author's death at the age of forty-five, A Death in the Family remains a near-perfect work of art, an autobiographical novel that contains one of the most evocative depictions of loss and grief ever written. As Jay Follet hurries back to his home in Knoxville, Tennessee, he is killed in a car accident--a tragedy that destroys not only a life, but also the domestic happiness and contentment of a young family. A novel of great courage, lyric force, and powerful emotion, A Death in the Family is a masterpiece of American literature.

Roxanne says: Published posthumously and awarded the Pulitzer Prize, Agee's ode to family and Southern living is both graceful and deeply resonant. 

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows

Ai WeiWei
$32.00
NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS' CHOICE - In Ai Weiwei's widely anticipated memoir, "one of the most important artists working in the world today" (Financial Times) tells a century-long epic tale of China through the story of his own extraordinary life and the legacy of his father, the nation's most celebrated poet.

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time, BookPage, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews - "With uncommon humanity, humbling scholarship, and poignant intimacy, Ai Weiwei recounts a life of courage, argument, defeat, and triumph. His is one of the great voices of our time."--Andrew Solomon

Hailed as "an eloquent and seemingly unsilenceable voice of freedom" by The New York Times, Ai Weiwei has written a sweeping memoir that presents a remarkable history of China over the last hundred years while also illuminating his artistic process.

Once an intimate of Mao Zedong and the nation's most celebrated poet, Ai Weiwei's father, Ai Qing, was branded a rightist during the Cultural Revolution, and he and his family were banished to a desolate place known as "Little Siberia," where Ai Qing was sentenced to hard labor cleaning public toilets. Ai Weiwei recounts his childhood in exile, and his difficult decision to leave his family to study art in America, where he befriended Allen Ginsberg and was inspired by Andy Warhol. With candor and wit, he details his return to China and his rise from artistic unknown to art world superstar and international human rights activist--and how his work has been shaped by living under a totalitarian regime.

Ai Weiwei's sculptures and installations have been viewed by millions around the globe, and his architectural achievements include helping to design the iconic Bird's Nest Olympic Stadium in Beijing. His political activism has long made him a target of the Chinese authorities, which culminated in months of secret detention without charge in 2011. Here, for the first time, Ai Weiwei explores the origins of his exceptional creativity and passionate political beliefs through his life story and that of his father, whose creativity was stifled.

At once ambitious and intimate, Ai Weiwei's 1000 Years of Joys and Sorrows offers a deep understanding of the myriad forces that have shaped modern China, and serves as a timely reminder of the urgent need to protect freedom of expression.

Roxanne says: Weiwei's memoir impetus was his two months in Chinese solitary confinement where he regretted so deeply his lack of empathy for his own father’s plight that he penned his backstory.  Thus, Weiwei’s memoir is his father's biography as much as his own memoir and reads similar to Laura Hillenbrand’s heroic and riveting biography Unbroken.


Akhmatova: Poems

Akhmatova: Poems

Akhmatova, Anna
$14.95

A legend in her own time both for her brilliant poetry and for her resistance to oppression, Anna Akhmatova--denounced by the Soviet regime for her "eroticism, mysticism, and political indifference"--is one of the greatest Russian poets of the twentieth century.

 

Before the revolution, Akhmatova was a wildly popular young poet who lived a bohemian life. She was one of the leaders of a movement of poets whose ideal was "beautiful clarity"--in her deeply personal work, themes of love and mourning are conveyed with passionate intensity and economy, her voice by turns tender and fierce. A vocal critic of Stalinism, she saw her work banned for many years and was expelled from the Writers' Union--condemned as "half nun, half harlot." Despite this censorship, her reputation continued to flourish underground, and she is still among Russia's most beloved poets.

 

Here are poems from all her major works--including the magnificent "Requiem" commemorating the victims of Stalin's terror--and some that have been newly translated for this edition.

Scott says: A legend in her own time both for her brilliant poetry and for her resistance to oppression, Anna Akhmatova—denounced by the Soviet regime for her “eroticism, mysticism, and political indifference”—is one of the greatest Russian poets of the twentieth century. 


Selected Poems

Akhmatova, Anna; Thomas, D. M.
$15.00
Leave the World Behind

Leave the World Behind

Alam, Rumaan
$27.99

A Read with Jenna Today Show Book Club Pick!

Finalist for the 2020 National Book Award (Fiction)

A Best Book of the Year From: The Washington Post * Time * NPR * Elle * Esquire * Kirkus * Library Journal * The Chicago Public Library * The New York Public Library * BookPage * The Globe and Mail * EW.com * The LA Times * USA Today

A magnetic novel about two families, strangers to each other, who are forced together on a long weekend gone terribly wrong.

From the bestselling author of Rich and Pretty comes a suspenseful and provocative novel keenly attuned to the complexities of parenthood, race, and class. Leave the World Behind explores how our closest bonds are reshaped--and unexpected new ones are forged--in moments of crisis.

Amanda and Clay head out to a remote corner of Long Island expecting a vacation: a quiet reprieve from life in New York City, quality time with their teenage son and daughter, and a taste of the good life in the luxurious home they've rented for the week. But a late-night knock on the door breaks the spell. Ruth and G. H. are an older couple--it's their house, and they've arrived in a panic. They bring the news that a sudden blackout has swept the city. But in this rural area--with the TV and internet now down, and no cell phone service--it's hard to know what to believe.

Should Amanda and Clay trust this couple--and vice versa? What happened back in New York? Is the vacation home, isolated from civilization, a truly safe place for their families? And are they safe from one other?

Andrea says: A dystopian novel involving privilege, race and maturity. Disturbing and timely.


Apropos of Nothing

Apropos of Nothing

Allen, Woody
$30.00
The Long-Awaited, Enormously Entertaining Memoir by One of the Great Artists of Our Time--Now a New York Times, USA Today,
Los Angeles Times
, and Publisher's Weekly
Bestseller.

In this candid and often hilarious memoir, the celebrated director, comedian, writer, and actor offers a comprehensive, personal look at his tumultuous life. Beginning with his Brooklyn childhood and his stint as a writer for the Sid Caesar variety show in the early days of television, working alongside comedy greats, Allen tells of his difficult early days doing standup before he achieved recognition and success. With his unique storytelling pizzazz, he recounts his departure into moviemaking, with such slapstick comedies as Take the Money and Run, and revisits his entire, sixty-year-long, and enormously productive career as a writer and director, from his classics Annie Hall, Manhattan, and Annie and Her Sisters to his most recent films, including Midnight in Paris. Along the way, he discusses his marriages, his romances and famous friendships, his jazz playing, and his books and plays. We learn about his demons, his mistakes, his successes, and those he loved, worked with, and learned from in equal measure.

This is a hugely entertaining, deeply honest, rich and brilliant self-portrait of a celebrated artist who is ranked among the greatest filmmakers of our time.

Roxanne says: Our world is round as should our ability to look at an issue. This is a witty love letter to NYC and writing, with the addition of Farrow vs. Allen facts to which anyone with a heart (and the previously mentioned world view) to child advocacy should be open to at least ponder.