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Staff Pick

Sontag

Sontag

Moser, Benjamin
$22.00

WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE

Finalist for the Lambda Literary Award

Finalist for the PEN/Jacqueline Bograd Weld Award for Biography

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by: O Magazine, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Seattle Times

The definitive portrait of one of the American Century's most towering intellectuals: her writing and her radical thought, her public activism and her hidden private face

No writer is as emblematic of the American twentieth century as Susan Sontag. Mythologized and misunderstood, lauded and loathed, a girl from the suburbs who became a proud symbol of cosmopolitanism, Sontag left a legacy of writing on art and politics, feminism and homosexuality, celebrity and style, medicine and drugs, radicalism and Fascism and Freudianism and Communism and Americanism, that forms an indispensable key to modern culture. She was there when the Cuban Revolution began, and when the Berlin Wall came down; in Vietnam under American bombardment, in wartime Israel, in besieged Sarajevo. She was in New York when artists tried to resist the tug of money--and when many gave in. No writer negotiated as many worlds; no serious writer had as many glamorous lovers. Sontag tells these stories and examines the work upon which her reputation was based. It explores the agonizing insecurity behind the formidable public face: the broken relationships, the struggles with her sexuality, that animated--and undermined--her writing. And it shows her attempts to respond to the cruelties and absurdities of a country that had lost its way, and her conviction that fidelity to high culture was an activism of its own.

Utilizing hundreds of interviews conducted from Maui to Stockholm and from London to Sarajevo--and featuring nearly one hundred images--Sontag is the first book based on the writer's restricted archives, and on access to many people who have never before spoken about Sontag, including Annie Leibovitz. It is a definitive portrait--a great American novel in the form of a biography.

Nora says: Love her or loathe her, Susan Sontag was a towering American intellectual and a truly public figure of the twentieth century.  Moser’s engrossing and all encompassing biography examines the private as well as the public Sontag, a fascinating and not always likable force of nature.


My Year of Rest and Relaxation

My Year of Rest and Relaxation

Moshfegh, Ottessa
$16.00
Named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, Time, NPR, Amazon, Vice, Bustle, The New York Times, The Guardian, Kirkus Reviews, Entertainment Weekly, The AV Club, & Audible

A New York Times Bestseller

"One of the most compelling protagonists modern fiction has offered in years: a loopy, quietly furious pillhead whose Ambien ramblings and Xanaxed b*tcheries somehow wend their way through sad and funny and strange toward something genuinely profound." -- Entertainment Weekly

"Darkly hilarious . . . [Moshfegh's] the kind of provocateur who makes you laugh out loud while drawing blood." --Vogue

From one of our boldest, most celebrated new literary voices, a novel about a young woman's efforts to duck the ills of the world by embarking on an extended hibernation with the help of one of the worst psychiatrists in the annals of literature and the battery of medicines she prescribes.

Our narrator should be happy, shouldn't she? She's young, thin, pretty, a recent Columbia graduate, works an easy job at a hip art gallery, lives in an apartment on the Upper East Side of Manhattan paid for, like the rest of her needs, by her inheritance. But there is a dark and vacuous hole in her heart, and it isn't just the loss of her parents, or the way her Wall Street boyfriend treats her, or her sadomasochistic relationship with her best friend, Reva. It's the year 2000 in a city aglitter with wealth and possibility; what could be so terribly wrong?

My Year of Rest and Relaxation is a powerful answer to that question. Through the story of a year spent under the influence of a truly mad combination of drugs designed to heal our heroine from her alienation from this world, Moshfegh shows us how reasonable, even necessary, alienation can be. Both tender and blackly funny, merciless and compassionate, it is a showcase for the gifts of one of our major writers working at the height of her powers.

Andrea says: There is nothing really restful or relaxing about this book, but there is humor and a sense of the surreal. Quirky, well written and over the top.

Hell of a Book

Hell of a Book

Mott, Jason
$27.00

2021 National Book Award Longlist

 

A READ WITH JENNA TODAY SHOW BOOK CLUB PICK!

One of Entertainment Weekly's 15 Books you Need to Read This June On Entertainment Weekly's Must List One of The NY Post's Best Summer Reading books One of GMA's 27 Books for June One of USA Today's 5 Books Not to Miss One of Fortune's 21 Most Anticipated Books Coming out in the Second Half of 2021 One of The Root's PageTurners: It's Getting Hot in Here One of Real Simple's Best New Books to Read in 2021

An astounding work of fiction from a New York Timesbestselling author Jason Mott, always deeply honest, at times electrically funny, that goes to the heart of racism, police violence, and the hidden costs exacted upon Black Americans, and America as a whole

 

In Jason Mott's Hell of a Book, a Black author sets out on a cross-country publicity tour to promote his bestselling novel. That storyline drives Hell of a Bookand is the scaffolding of something much larger and urgent: since Mott's novel also tells the story of Soot, a young Black boy living in a rural town in the recent past, and The Kid, a possibly imaginary child who appears to the author on his tour.

 

As these characters' stories build and build and converge, they astonish. For while this heartbreaking and magical book entertains and is at once about family, love of parents and children, art and money, it's also about the nation's reckoning with a tragic police shooting playing over and over again on the news. And with what it can mean to be Black in America.

 

Who has been killed? Who is The Kid? Will the author finish his book tour, and what kind of world will he leave behind? Unforgettably told, with characters who burn into your mind and an electrifying plot ideal for book club discussion, Hell of a Book is the novel Mott has been writing in his head for the last ten years. And in its final twists it truly becomes its title.

Andrea says: Powerful, magical, sad and uplifting all at once. Racism is the main theme, as an unnamed Black author makes his way through the country on a book tour, but mental illness, family and childhood dreams and sorrow all play a role. The novel will have you laugh and cry, but not in the typical poignant way. It is much more meaningful than that. Written with a commanding use of metaphor, Hell of a Book lives up to its name. It left me shaken. 

Emperor of All Maladies : A Biography of Cancer Pulitzer 2011

Emperor of All Maladies : A Biography of Cancer Pulitzer 2011

Mukherjee, Siddhartha
$20.00
Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a documentary from Ken Burns on PBS, this New York Times bestseller is "an extraordinary achievement" (The New Yorker)--a magnificent, profoundly humane "biography" of cancer--from its first documented appearances thousands of years ago through the epic battles in the twentieth century to cure, control, and conquer it to a radical new understanding of its essence.

Physician, researcher, and award-winning science writer, Siddhartha Mukherjee examines cancer with a cellular biologist's precision, a historian's perspective, and a biographer's passion. The result is an astonishingly lucid and eloquent chronicle of a disease humans have lived with--and perished from--for more than five thousand years.

The story of cancer is a story of human ingenuity, resilience, and perseverance, but also of hubris, paternalism, and misperception. Mukherjee recounts centuries of discoveries, setbacks, victories, and deaths, told through the eyes of his predecessors and peers, training their wits against an infinitely resourceful adversary that, just three decades ago, was thought to be easily vanquished in an all-out "war against cancer." The book reads like a literary thriller with cancer as the protagonist.

Riveting, urgent, and surprising, The Emperor of All Maladies provides a fascinating glimpse into the future of cancer treatments. It is an illuminating book that provides hope and clarity to those seeking to demystify cancer.

Nora says: Superbly written fascinating “biography” of a ubiquitous disease.

We Had a Little Real Estate Problem

We Had a Little Real Estate Problem

Nesteroff, Kliph
$27.00
From Kliph Nesteroff, "the human encyclopedia of comedy" (VICE), comes the important and underappreciated story of Native Americans and comedy.

It was one of the most reliable jokes in Charlie Hill's stand-up routine: "My people are from Wisconsin. We used to be from New York. We had a little real estate problem."

In We Had a Little Real Estate Problem, acclaimed comedy historian Kliph Nesteroff focuses on one of comedy's most significant and little-known stories: how, despite having been denied representation in the entertainment industry, Native Americans have influenced and advanced the art form.

The account begins in the late 1880s, when Native Americans were forced to tour in wild west shows as an alternative to prison. (One modern comedian said it was as "if a Guantanamo detainee suddenly had to appear on X-Factor.") This is followed by a detailed look at the life and work of seminal figures such as Cherokee humorist Will Rogers and Hill, who in the 1970s was the first Native American comedian to appear The Tonight Show.

Also profiled are several contemporary comedians, including Jonny Roberts, a social worker from the Red Lake Nation who drives five hours to the closest comedy club to pursue his stand-up dreams; Kiowa-Apache comic Adrianne Chalepah, who formed the touring group the Native Ladies of Comedy; and the 1491s, a sketch troupe whose satire is smashing stereotypes to critical acclaim. As Ryan Red Corn, the Osage member of the 1491s, says: "The American narrative dictates that Indians are supposed to be sad. It's not really true and it's not indicative of the community experience itself...Laughter and joy is very much a part of Native culture."

Featuring dozens of original interviews and the exhaustive research that is Nesteroff's trademark, We Had a Little Real Estate Problem is a powerful tribute to a neglected legacy.

Roxanne says: Nesteroff judiciously chronicles the plights of several Native American comedians and entertainers. That’s the nutshell description of a well researched history lesson of how horrendously the indigenous have been treated across time. 


World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments

Nezhukumatathil, Aimee
$25.00
A New York Times Best Seller
Barnes & Noble 2020 Book of the Year
A Kirkus Prize Finalist for Nonfiction
A Southern Book Prize Finalist
An NPR Best Book of 2020
An Esquire Best Book of 2020
A BookPage Best Book of 2020
A New York Public Library Best Book of 2020
A Wall Street Journal Holiday Gift Pick for 2020
An Indie Next Pick, September 2019
A Publishers Weekly Big Indie Book of Fall 2020
A BuzzFeed Best Book of Fall 2020
A Literary Hub Most Anticipated Book of 2020
A Ralph Lauren Summer Reading Recommendation
A Garden & Gun Summer Reading Recommendation
A Bustle Best Book of Fall 2020
Named a Most Anticipated Book of 2020 by The Millions
An Alma Favorite Book for Fall 2020
A Literary Hub Recommended Climate Read for September 2020
A Mpls.St.Paul Magazine Reading Recommendation for Fall 2020

From beloved, award-winning poet Aimee Nezhukumatathil comes a debut work of nonfiction--a collection of essays about the natural world, and the way its inhabitants can teach, support, and inspire us.
As a child, Nezhukumatathil called many places home: the grounds of a Kansas mental institution, where her Filipina mother was a doctor; the open skies and tall mountains of Arizona, where she hiked with her Indian father; and the chillier climes of western New York and Ohio. But no matter where she was transplanted--no matter how awkward the fit or forbidding the landscape--she was able to turn to our world's fierce and funny creatures for guidance.
"What the peacock can do," she tells us, "is remind you of a home you will run away from and run back to all your life." The axolotl teaches us to smile, even in the face of unkindness; the touch-me-not plant shows us how to shake off unwanted advances; the narwhal demonstrates how to survive in hostile environments. Even in the strange and the unlovely, Nezhukumatathil finds beauty and kinship. For it is this way with wonder: it requires that we are curious enough to look past the distractions in order to fully appreciate the world's gifts.
Warm, lyrical, and gorgeously illustrated by Fumi Nakamura, World of Wonders is a book of sustenance and joy.

Georgia says: Part memoir, part elucidation about many of this world’s magical plants and animals, this is a book to come back to again and again. Beautiful prose composed by a fine poet. This should be required reading for all humans.


Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

Everything I Never Told You: A Novel

Ng, Celeste
$17.00
The acclaimed debut novel by the author of Little Fires Everywhere.

"A taut tale of ever deepening and quickening suspense." --O, the Oprah Magazine

"Explosive . . . Both a propulsive mystery and a profound examination of a mixed-race family." --Entertainment Weekly


"Lydia is dead. But they don't know this yet." So begins this exquisite novel about a Chinese American family living in 1970s small-town Ohio. Lydia is the favorite child of Marilyn and James Lee, and her parents are determined that she will fulfill the dreams they were unable to pursue. But when Lydia's body is found in the local lake, the delicate balancing act that has been keeping the Lee family together is destroyed, tumbling them into chaos. A profoundly moving story of family, secrets, and longing, Everything I Never Told You is both a gripping page-turner and a sensitive family portrait, uncovering the ways in which mothers and daughters, fathers and sons, and husbands and wives struggle, all their lives, to understand one another.

Andrea says: Here's what happens when a family never truly talks to each other. A fast, heart-wrenching read.

Committed

Committed

Nguyen, Viet Thanh
$27.00

The sequel to The Sympathizer, which won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction and went on to sell over a million copies worldwide, The Committed tells the story of "the man of two minds" as he comes as a refugee to France and turns his hand to capitalism.

The long-awaited new novel from one of America's most highly regarded contemporary writers, The Committed follows the unnamed Sympathizer as he arrives in Paris in the early 1980s with his blood brother Bon. The pair try to overcome their pasts and ensure their futures by engaging in capitalism in one of its purest forms: drug dealing.

Traumatized by his reeducation at the hands of his former best friend, Man, and struggling to assimilate into French culture, the Sympathizer finds Paris both seductive and disturbing. As he falls in with a group of left-wing intellectuals whom he meets at dinner parties given by his French Vietnamese "aunt," he finds stimulation for his mind but also customers for his narcotic merchandise. But the new life he is making has perils he has not foreseen, whether the self-torture of addiction, the authoritarianism of a state locked in a colonial mindset, or the seeming paradox of how to reunite his two closest friends whose worldviews put them in absolute opposition. The Sympathizer will need all his wits, resourcefulness, and moral flexibility if he is to prevail.

Both literary thriller and novel of ideas, The Committed is a blistering portrayal of commitment and betrayal that will cement Viet Thanh Nguyen's position in the firmament of American letters.

Andrea says: The Committed is a tour de force that is both exhausting and exhilarating. At times horrifying, at other times laugh out loud funny. It is a story of confusion, revolution, friendship, commitment, addiction, sanity, war, family and philosophy. As the sentences spun over pages, the story propelled forward through escapades, violence and mishap. Suspenseful and existential.

Sympathizer: A Novel

Sympathizer: A Novel

Nguyen, Viet Thanh
$17.00

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
Winner of the 2016 Edgar Award for Best First Novel
Winner of the 2016 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction

"[A] remarkable debut novel." --Philip Caputo, New York Times Book Review (cover review)

Winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize, a startling debut novel from a powerful new voice featuring one of the most remarkable narrators of recent fiction: a conflicted subversive and idealist working as a double agent in the aftermath of the Vietnam War.

The winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction, as well as seven other awards, The Sympathizer is the breakthrough novel of the year. With the pace and suspense of a thriller and prose that has been compared to Graham Greene and Saul Bellow, The Sympathizer is a sweeping epic of love and betrayal. The narrator, a communist double agent, is a "man of two minds," a half-French, half-Vietnamese army captain who arranges to come to America after the Fall of Saigon, and while building a new life with other Vietnamese refugees in Los Angeles is secretly reporting back to his communist superiors in Vietnam.

The Sympathizer is a blistering exploration of identity and America, a gripping espionage novel, and a powerful story of love and friendship.

Andrea says: An amazingly written story of duplicity. The sentences leap off the page!

Nala's World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe

Nala's World: One Man, His Rescue Cat, and a Bike Ride Around the Globe

Nicholson, Dean
$16.99
Discover the national bestseller and heartwarming true story of the life-changing friendship between a man and his rescue cat, Nala, as they adventure together on a bike journey around the world--now with a new Q&A from the author!
When Dean Nicholson left his life in Scotland to cycle around the world, he wanted to learn as much as he could about our troubled planet. Then, on a remote road in the Bosnian mountains, Dean came across an abandoned kitten. He couldn't leave the bedraggled creature, so he put her on his bike, smuggled her over the border to Montenegro, and nursed her back to health with the help of local vets. Dean hadn't bargained for this unlikely companion for his travels--or the lessons he would learn from her along the way.

Now Dean tells the full story of the incredible journey that changed both their lives, from the obstacles they overcame to the remarkable people they encountered, from the animals they rescued to the acts of kindness strangers extended to them. For Dean and Nala, this journey in friendship is proof that every great adventure needs a great companion.

Doug says: I love these guys and follow their travels In my  feed. It’s an extraordinary story where we get to observe a man and the animal that rescued him  create a life-story that helps countless others. Go Nala! Go Dean!