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Staff Pick

Mutant Project: Inside the Global Race to Genetically Modify Humans

Nirksey, Eben
$28.99
What Are You Going Through

What Are You Going Through

Nunez, Sigrid
$17.00
NAMED A BEST BOOK OF 2020 BY NPR, PEOPLE, AND O, THE OPRAH MAGAZINE

A NEW YORK TIMES CRITICS' TOP BOOK OF 2020

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

"As good as The Friend, if not better." --The New York Times

"Impossible to put down . . . leavened with wit and tenderness." --People

"I was dazed by the novel's grace."

--The New Yorker

The New York Times-bestselling, National Book Award-winning author of The Friend brings her singular voice to a story about the meaning of life and death, and the value of companionship

A woman describes a series of encounters she has with various people in the ordinary course of her life: an ex she runs into by chance at a public forum, an Airbnb owner unsure how to interact with her guests, a stranger who seeks help comforting his elderly mother, a friend of her youth now hospitalized with terminal cancer. In each of these people the woman finds a common need: the urge to talk about themselves and to have an audience to their experiences. The narrator orchestrates this chorus of voices for the most part as a passive listener, until one of them makes an extraordinary request, drawing her into an intense and transformative experience of her own.

In What Are You Going Through, Nunez brings wisdom, humor, and insight to a novel about human connection and the changing nature of relationships in our times. A surprising story about empathy and the unusual ways one person can help another through hardship, her book offers a moving and provocative portrait of the way we live now.

Andrea says:  Such an interesting novel. A woman is dying, she asks her friend (the narrator) to be with her when she purposefully ends her life. But the dying woman plays second-string to the narrator. She holds our interest while the woman fades away in the background. Life, death, love, literature, it's all there.

House on Vesper Sands

House on Vesper Sands

O'Donnell, Paraic
$26.95

London, 1893: high up in a house on a dark, snowy night, a lone seamstress stands by a window. So begins the swirling, serpentine world of Paraic O'Donnell's Victorian-inspired mystery, the story of a city cloaked in shadow, but burning with questions: why does the seamstress jump from the window? Why is a cryptic message stitched into her skin? And how is she connected to a rash of missing girls, all of whom seem to have disappeared under similar circumstances?

On the case is Inspector Cutter, a detective as sharp and committed to his work as he is wryly hilarious. Gideon Bliss, a Cambridge dropout in love with one of the missing girls, stumbles into a role as Cutter's sidekick. And clever young journalist Octavia Hillingdon sees the case as a chance to tell a story that matters--despite her employer's preference that she stick to a women's society column. As Inspector Cutter peels back the mystery layer by layer, he leads them all, at last, to the secrets that lie hidden at the house on Vesper Sands.

By turns smart, surprising, and impossible to put down, The House on Vesper Sands offers a glimpse into the strange undertow of late nineteenth-century London and the secrets we all hold inside us.

House on Vesper Sands

House on Vesper Sands

O'Donnell, Paraic
$17.95

London, 1893: high up in a house on a dark, snowy night, a lone seamstress stands by a window. So begins the swirling, serpentine world of Paraic O'Donnell's Victorian-inspired mystery, the story of a city cloaked in shadow, but burning with questions: why does the seamstress jump from the window? Why is a cryptic message stitched into her skin? And how is she connected to a rash of missing girls, all of whom seem to have disappeared under similar circumstances?

On the case is Inspector Cutter, a detective as sharp and committed to his work as he is wryly hilarious. Gideon Bliss, a Cambridge dropout in love with one of the missing girls, stumbles into a role as Cutter's sidekick. And clever young journalist Octavia Hillingdon sees the case as a chance to tell a story that matters--despite her employer's preference that she stick to a women's society column. As Inspector Cutter peels back the mystery layer by layer, he leads them all, at last, to the secrets that lie hidden at the house on Vesper Sands.

By turns smart, surprising, and impossible to put down, The House on Vesper Sands offers a glimpse into the strange undertow of late nineteenth-century London and the secrets we all hold inside us.

Hamnet

Hamnet

O'Farrell, Maggie
$16.95
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD

"Of all the stories that argue and speculate about Shakespeare's life ... here is a novel ... so gorgeously written that it transports you. --The Boston Globe

England, 1580: The Black Death creeps across the land, an ever-present threat, infecting the healthy, the sick, the old and the young alike. The end of days is near, but life always goes on. A young Latin tutor--penniless and bullied by a violent father--falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman. Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family's land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon, she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is just taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.

Melanie Says: Hamnet is an extraordinary work of historical fiction. But never fear if you are Shakespeare-challenged as this novel is primarily about Anne, or Agnes as she is known. O’Farrell’s brilliant writing with themes of love, family and grief make for an absorbing read. Enjoy!

Hamnet

Hamnet

O'Farrell, Maggie
$26.95
NEW YORK TIMES BEST SELLER - WINNER OF THE NATIONAL BOOK CRITICS CIRCLE AWARD

"Of all the stories that argue and speculate about Shakespeare's life... here is a novel ... so gorgeously written that it transports you. --The Boston Globe

In 1580's England, during the Black Plague a young Latin tutor falls in love with an extraordinary, eccentric young woman in this "exceptional historical novel" (The New Yorker) and best-selling winner of the Women's Prize for Fiction.

Agnes is a wild creature who walks her family's land with a falcon on her glove and is known throughout the countryside for her unusual gifts as a healer, understanding plants and potions better than she does people. Once she settles with her husband on Henley Street in Stratford-upon-Avon she becomes a fiercely protective mother and a steadfast, centrifugal force in the life of her young husband, whose career on the London stage is taking off when his beloved young son succumbs to sudden fever.

A luminous portrait of a marriage, a shattering evocation of a family ravaged by grief and loss, and a tender and unforgettable re-imagining of a boy whose life has been all but forgotten, and whose name was given to one of the most celebrated plays of all time, Hamnet is mesmerizing, seductive, impossible to put down--a magnificent leap forward from one of our most gifted novelists.

Melanie Says: Hamnet is an extraordinary work of historical fiction. But never fear if you are Shakespeare-challenged as this novel is primarily about Anne, or Agnes as she is known. O’Farrell’s brilliant writing with themes of love, family and grief make for an absorbing read. Enjoy!

Last Night at the Lobster

Last Night at the Lobster

O'Nan, Stewart
$16.00

A frank and funny yet emotionally resonant tale set within a vivid work day world, from the author of Emily, Alone and Henry, Himself--named a Best Book of the Year by The Washington Post, the San Francisco Chronicle, and Entertainment Weekly

A Finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize

 

Perched in the far corner of a run-down New England mall, the Red Lobster hasn't been making its numbers and headquarters has pulled the plug. But manager Manny DeLeon still needs to navigate a tricky last shift--just four days before Christmas and in the midst of a fierce blizzard--with a near-mutinous staff and the final onslaught of hungry retirees, lunatics, and holiday office parties. All the while, he's wondering how to handle the waitress he's still in love with, his pregnant girlfriend, and where to find the present that will make everything better.

 

Stewart O'Nan has been called the bard of the working class, and Last Night at the Lobster is a poignant yet redemptive look at what a man does when he discovers that his best might not be good enough.

Andrea says: A sweet little read. The book takes us through the final shift of a small town Red Lobster on the night it closes forever. There are some flare-ups with staff, some theft, some regret of love gone awry, but on the whole, it's a slice of life, that is real, if a little melancholy. A good read nonetheless.

American Melancholy

American Melancholy

Oates, Joyce Carol
$26.99

A new collection of poetry from an American literary legend, her first in twenty-five years

Joyce Carol Oates is one of our most insightful observers of the human heart and mind, and, with her acute social consciousness, one of the most insistent and inspired witnesses of a shared American history.

Oates is perhaps best known for her prodigious output of novels and short stories, many of which have become contemporary classics. However, Oates has also always been a faithful writer of poetry. American Melancholy showcases some of her finest work of the last few decades.

Covering subjects big and small, and written in an immediate and engaging style, this collection touches on both the personal and political. Loss, love, and memory are investigated, along with the upheavals of our modern age, the reality of our current predicaments, and the ravages of poverty, racism, and social unrest. Oates skillfully writes characters ranging from a former doctor at a Chinese People's Liberation Army hospital to Little Albert, a six-month-old infant who took part in a famous study that revealed evidence of classical conditioning in human beings.

Doug says: Has she always written poems this good? Once upon a time I read her Love and Its Derangements and The Fabulous  Beasts, but I don't remember the poems in those collections well enough to say.  Extraordinarily good poems—unfortunately for poet poseurs like myself, one might throw their pen  down and say, "How am I going to write anything else after reading American Melancholy!"

Promised Land

Promised Land

Obama, Barack
$45.00
A riveting, deeply personal account of history in the making--from the president who inspired us to believe in the power of democracy

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - NAACP IMAGE AWARD NOMINEE - NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY The Washington Post - Jennifer Szalai, The New York Times - NPR - The Guardian - Marie Claire

In the stirring, highly anticipated first volume of his presidential memoirs, Barack Obama tells the story of his improbable odyssey from young man searching for his identity to leader of the free world, describing in strikingly personal detail both his political education and the landmark moments of the first term of his historic presidency--a time of dramatic transformation and turmoil.

Obama takes readers on a compelling journey from his earliest political aspirations to the pivotal Iowa caucus victory that demonstrated the power of grassroots activism to the watershed night of November 4, 2008, when he was elected 44th president of the United States, becoming the first African American to hold the nation's highest office.

Reflecting on the presidency, he offers a unique and thoughtful exploration of both the awesome reach and the limits of presidential power, as well as singular insights into the dynamics of U.S. partisan politics and international diplomacy. Obama brings readers inside the Oval Office and the White House Situation Room, and to Moscow, Cairo, Beijing, and points beyond. We are privy to his thoughts as he assembles his cabinet, wrestles with a global financial crisis, takes the measure of Vladimir Putin, overcomes seemingly insurmountable odds to secure passage of the Affordable Care Act, clashes with generals about U.S. strategy in Afghanistan, tackles Wall Street reform, responds to the devastating Deepwater Horizon blowout, and authorizes Operation Neptune's Spear, which leads to the death of Osama bin Laden.

A Promised Land is extraordinarily intimate and introspective--the story of one man's bet with history, the faith of a community organizer tested on the world stage. Obama is candid about the balancing act of running for office as a Black American, bearing the expectations of a generation buoyed by messages of "hope and change," and meeting the moral challenges of high-stakes decision-making. He is frank about the forces that opposed him at home and abroad, open about how living in the White House affected his wife and daughters, and unafraid to reveal self-doubt and disappointment. Yet he never wavers from his belief that inside the great, ongoing American experiment, progress is always possible.

This beautifully written and powerful book captures Barack Obama's conviction that democracy is not a gift from on high but something founded on empathy and common understanding and built together, day by day.

Elsie says: An elegant writer and an insightful look behind the curtain, you have to believe.

Dept. of Speculation

Dept. of Speculation

Offill, Jenny
$15.95

From the acclaimed author of Weather comes a slim, stunning portrait of a marriage--a beguiling rumination on the mysteries of intimacy, trust, faith, knowledge, and the condition of universal shipwreck that unites us all.

 

ONE OF THE 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR - THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

 

A Best Book of the Year: The New Yorker, The Boston Globe, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Vogue.com, Electric Literature, Buzzfeed

 

In the beginning, it was easy to imagine their future. They were young and giddy, sure of themselves and of their love for each other. “Dept. of Speculation” was their code name for all the thrilling uncertainties that lay ahead. Then they got married, had a child and navigated the familiar calamities of family life—a colicky baby, a faltering relationship, stalled ambitions.

 

When their marriage reaches a sudden breaking point, the wife tries to retrace the steps that have led them to this place, invoking everything from Kafka to the Stoics to doomed Russian cosmonauts as she analyzes what is lost and what remains. In language that shimmers with rage and longing and wit, Offill has created a brilliantly suspenseful love story—a novel to read in one sitting, even as its piercing meditations linger long after the last page.