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Staff Pick

Desert Solitaire

Abbey, Edward
$17.99
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

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
$20.00
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.

Friday Black

Friday Black

Adjei-Brenyah, Nana Kwame
$18.99

Bryn says: If you like Childish Gambino's "This is America," you'll love "Friday Black." Using fantastical elements and fierce humor, these stories confront the painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day. You'll see that the truth is what's most disturbing.

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER. A piercingly raw debut story collection from a young writer with an explosive voice; a treacherously surreal, and, at times, heartbreakingly satirical look at what it’s like to be young and black in America.

From the start of this extraordinary debut, Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah’s writing will grab you, haunt you, enrage and invigorate you. By placing ordinary characters in extraordinary situations, Adjei-Brenyah reveals the violence, injustice, and painful absurdities that black men and women contend with every day in this country.

These stories tackle urgent instances of racism and cultural unrest, and explore the many ways we fight for humanity in an unforgiving world. In “The Finkelstein Five,” Adjei-Brenyah gives us an unforgettable reckoning of the brutal prejudice of our justice system. In “Zimmer Land,” we see a far-too-easy-to-believe imagining of racism as sport. And “Friday Black” and “How to Sell a Jacket as Told by IceMan” show the horrors of consumerism and the toll it takes on us all.

Entirely fresh in its style and perspective, and sure to appeal to fans of Colson Whitehead, Marlon James, and George Saunders, Friday Black confronts readers with a complicated, insistent, wrenching chorus of emotions, the final note of which, remarkably, is hope.

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
$18.99
The "intimate and expansive" (Time) memoir of "one of the most important artists working in the world today" (Financial Times), telling a remarkable history of China over the last hundred years while also illuminating his artistic process

"Poignant . . . An illuminating through-line emerges in the many parallels Ai traces between his life and his father's."--The New York Times Book Review (Editors' Choice)

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR: Time, BookPage, Booklist, Kirkus Reviews

Once a close associate 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 and the artworks of Marcel Duchamp. 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.

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)

One of Barack Obama's Summer Favorites

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 * InStyle * The New Yorker * AARP * Publisher's Lunch * LitHub * Book Marks * Electric Literature * Brooklyn Based * The Boston Globe

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.


Little Liar

Little Liar

Albom, Mitch
$26.99

An instant New York Times Bestseller

Beloved bestselling author Mitch Albom returns with a powerful novel of hope and forgiveness that moves from a coastal Greek city during WWII to America in the golden age of Hollywood, as the intertwined lives of three young survivors are forever changed by the perils of deception and the grace of redemption.

Eleven-year-old Nico Krispis has never told a lie. His schoolmate, Fannie, loves him because of it. Nico's older brother Sebastian resents him for both these facts. When their young lives are torn apart during the war, it will take them decades to find each other again.

Nico's innocence and goodness is used against his tightly knit community when a German officer barters Nico's reputation for honesty into a promise to save his loved ones. When Nico realizes the consequences of the betrayal, he can never tell the truth again. He will spend the rest of this life changing names, changing locations and identities, desperate to find a way to forgiveness--for himself and from the people he loves most.

Albom's extraordinary storytelling is at its powerful best in his first novel to confront the destruction that lying can wreak both on the world stage as well as on the individual lives that get caught up in it. As The Stranger in the Lifeboat spoke to belief, The Little Liar speaks to hope, in a breathless page-turner that will break your heart open and fill it with the power of the human spirit and the goodness that lies within us all.

Narrated by the voice of Truth itself, The Little Liar is a timeless story about the power of love to ultimately redeem us, no matter how deeply we blame ourselves for our mistakes.

Doug says: Val handed me this book when she finished, "You will like this one." After the last page I'm comfortable saying, this is my choice for novel of the year!