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Staff Pick

Madness of Crowds

Madness of Crowds

Penny, Louise
$28.99

Instant #1 New York Times Bestseller
AARP The Magazine - Recommended Summer Reading
CNN - A Most Anticipated Book of August
Bustle - A Most Anticipated Book of August


Chief Inspector Armand Gamache returns to Three Pines in #1 New York Times bestseller Louise Penny's latest spellbinding novel

You're a coward.

Time and again, as the New Year approaches, that charge is leveled against Armand Gamache.

It starts innocently enough.

While the residents of the Québec village of Three Pines take advantage of the deep snow to ski and toboggan, to drink hot chocolate in the bistro and share meals together, the Chief Inspector finds his holiday with his family interrupted by a simple request.

He's asked to provide security for what promises to be a non-event. A visiting Professor of Statistics will be giving a lecture at the nearby university.

While he is perplexed as to why the head of homicide for the Sûreté du Québec would be assigned this task, it sounds easy enough. That is until Gamache starts looking into Professor Abigail Robinson and discovers an agenda so repulsive he begs the university to cancel the lecture.

They refuse, citing academic freedom, and accuse Gamache of censorship and intellectual cowardice. Before long, Professor Robinson's views start seeping into conversations. Spreading and infecting. So that truth and fact, reality and delusion are so confused it's near impossible to tell them apart.

Discussions become debates, debates become arguments, which turn into fights. As sides are declared, a madness takes hold.

Abigail Robinson promises that, if they follow her, ça va bien aller. All will be well. But not, Gamache and his team know, for everyone.

When a murder is committed it falls to Armand Gamache, his second-in-command Jean-Guy Beauvoir, and their team to investigate the crime as well as this extraordinary popular delusion.

And the madness of crowds.

Doug says: Late to her mysteries, but hooked--I must steal Elsie's line: "I LOVE THIS BOOK!" Chief Inspector Gamache is my new detective. Next? All the Three Pines' stories I missed. What characters! What an unraveling! 

Detransition, Baby

Detransition, Baby

Peters, Torrey
$18.00
NATIONAL BESTSELLER - The lives of three women--transgender and cisgender--collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires in "one of the most celebrated novels of the year" (Time)

"Reading this novel is like holding a live wire in your hand."--Vulture

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR--The New York Times Book Review, NPR, New York Public Library, Esquire, Marie Claire, and Kirkus Reviews - Longlisted for The Women's Prize - Roxane Gay's Audacious Book Club Pick - New York Times Editors' Choice

Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn't happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese--and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames's boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she's pregnant with his baby--and that she's not sure whether she wants to keep it--Ames wonders if this is the chance he's been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family--and raise the baby together?

This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can't reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.

Detransition, Baby

Detransition, Baby

Peters, Torrey
$27.00
NATIONAL BESTSELLER - The lives of three women--transgender and cisgender--collide after an unexpected pregnancy forces them to confront their deepest desires

ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2021 SO FAR . . .
Vulture "Reading this novel is like holding a live wire in your hand."
Time "One of the most celebrated novels of the year."
Marie Claire "You won't be able to put it down."
Bustle "The book everyone is talking about."

Longlisted for The Women's Prize - Roxane Gay's Audacious Book Club Pick - New York Times Editors' Choice


Reese almost had it all: a loving relationship with Amy, an apartment in New York City, a job she didn't hate. She had scraped together what previous generations of trans women could only dream of: a life of mundane, bourgeois comforts. The only thing missing was a child. But then her girlfriend, Amy, detransitioned and became Ames, and everything fell apart. Now Reese is caught in a self-destructive pattern: avoiding her loneliness by sleeping with married men.

Ames isn't happy either. He thought detransitioning to live as a man would make life easier, but that decision cost him his relationship with Reese--and losing her meant losing his only family. Even though their romance is over, he longs to find a way back to her. When Ames's boss and lover, Katrina, reveals that she's pregnant with his baby--and that she's not sure whether she wants to keep it--Ames wonders if this is the chance he's been waiting for. Could the three of them form some kind of unconventional family--and raise the baby together?

This provocative debut is about what happens at the emotional, messy, vulnerable corners of womanhood that platitudes and good intentions can't reach. Torrey Peters brilliantly and fearlessly navigates the most dangerous taboos around gender, sex, and relationships, gifting us a thrillingly original, witty, and deeply moving novel.

Katia says: “Detransition, Baby,” is another “difficult” read, in that it resists easy categorization, simple chronology, “likeable” characters, and satisfying answers. It is instead an example of a kind of chaotic storytelling that prizes messy experience. It mimics the way we tell and retell our own stories.


Disappearing Earth

Disappearing Earth

Phillips, Julia
$16.95
ONE OF THE NEW YORK TIMES 10 BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST

Finalist for The New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Award

One August afternoon, two sisters--Sophia, eight, and Alyona, eleven--go missing from a beach on the far-flung Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia. Taking us through the year that follows, Disappearing Earth enters the lives of women and girls in this tightly knit community who are connected by the crime: a witness, a neighbor, a detective, a mother. We are transported to vistas of rugged beauty--open expanses of tundra, soaring volcanoes, dense forests, the glassy seas that border Japan and Alaska--and into a region as complex as it is alluring, where social and ethnic tensions have long simmered, and where outsiders are often the first to be accused. In a story as propulsive as it is emotionally engaging, Julia Phillips's powerful novel brings us to a new understanding of the intricate bonds of family and community, in a Russia unlike any we have seen before.

Andrea says: Set in remote Northeastern Russia, the disappearance of two young girls sets the story in motion. A wealth of characters weave the story together. Great writing and lots of local color.

Bell Jar

Bell Jar

Plath, Sylvia
$17.00

Mia says: A fascinating look into a spiralling woman's mind. Absolutely dazzling writing.

A realistic and emotional look at a woman who falls into the grips of insanity written by the iconic American writer Sylvia Plath

“As clear and readable as it is witty and disturbing.”—New York Times

The Bell Jar chronicles the crack-up of Esther Greenwood: brilliant, beautiful, enormously talented, and successful, but slowly going under—maybe for the last time. Sylvia Plath masterfully draws the reader into Esther’s breakdown with such intensity that Esther’s insanity becomes completely real and even rational, as probable and accessible an experience as going to the movies. Such deep penetration into the dark and harrowing corners of the psyche is an extraordinary accomplishment and has made The Bell Jar a haunting American classic.

How to Change Your Mind

How to Change Your Mind

Pollan, Michael
$18.00
"Pollan keeps you turning the pages . . . cleareyed and assured." --New York Times

A #1 New York Times Bestseller, New York Times Book Review 10 Best Books of 2018, and

New York Times Notable Book

A brilliant and brave investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs--and the spellbinding story of his own life-changing psychedelic experiences

When Michael Pollan set out to research how LSD and psilocybin (the active ingredient in magic mushrooms) are being used to provide relief to people suffering from difficult-to-treat conditions such as depression, addiction and anxiety, he did not intend to write what is undoubtedly his most personal book. But upon discovering how these remarkable substances are improving the lives not only of the mentally ill but also of healthy people coming to grips with the challenges of everyday life, he decided to explore the landscape of the mind in the first person as well as the third. Thus began a singular adventure into various altered states of consciousness, along with a dive deep into both the latest brain science and the thriving underground community of psychedelic therapists. Pollan sifts the historical record to separate the truth about these mysterious drugs from the myths that have surrounded them since the 1960s, when a handful of psychedelic evangelists inadvertently catalyzed a powerful backlash against what was then a promising field of research.

A unique and elegant blend of science, memoir, travel writing, history, and medicine, How to Change Your Mind is a triumph of participatory journalism. By turns dazzling and edifying, it is the gripping account of a journey to an exciting and unexpected new frontier in our understanding of the mind, the self, and our place in the world. The true subject of Pollan's mental travelogue is not just psychedelic drugs but also the eternal puzzle of human consciousness and how, in a world that offers us both suffering and joy, we can do our best to be fully present and find meaning in our lives.

Scott says: A compelling account of the history and uses of psychoactive compounds and the responsible use of psychedelics in treating depression, addiction, and acute illness in light of new scientific research.

James says: Pollan gives great insight into possible methods that can assist those who are struggling.

This Is Your Mind on Plants

This Is Your Mind on Plants

Pollan, Michael
$28.00

The instant New York Times bestseller

 

"Expert storytelling . . . [Pollan] masterfully elevates a series of big questions about drugs, plants and humans that are likely to leave readers thinking in new ways."--New York Times Book Review

 

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Michael Pollan, a radical challenge to how we think about drugs, and an exploration into the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants--and the equally powerful taboos.

 

Of all the things humans rely on plants for--sustenance, beauty, medicine, fragrance, flavor, fiber--surely the most curious is our use of them to change consciousness: to stimulate or calm, fiddle with or completely alter, the qualities of our mental experience. Take coffee and tea: People around the world rely on caffeine to sharpen their minds. But we do not usually think of caffeine as a drug, or our daily use as an addiction, because it is legal and socially acceptable. So, then, what is a "drug"? And why, for example, is making tea from the leaves of a tea plant acceptable, but making tea from a seed head of an opium poppy a federal crime?

 

In This Is Your Mind on Plants, Michael Pollan dives deep into three plant drugs--opium, caffeine, and mescaline--and throws the fundamental strangeness, and arbitrariness, of our thinking about them into sharp relief. Exploring and participating in the cultures that have grown up around these drugs while consuming (or, in the case of caffeine, trying notto consume) them, Pollan reckons with the powerful human attraction to psychoactive plants. Why do we go to such great lengths to seek these shifts in consciousness, and then why do we fence that universal desire with laws and customs and fraught feelings?

 

In this unique blend of history, science, and memoir, as well as participatory journalism, Pollan examines and experiences these plants from several very different angles and contexts, and shines a fresh light on a subject that is all too often treated reductively--as a drug, whether licit or illicit. But that is one of the least interesting things you can say about these plants, Pollan shows, for when we take them into our bodies and let them change our minds, we are engaging with nature in one of the most profound ways we can. Based in part on an essay published almost twenty-five years ago, this groundbreaking and singular consideration of psychoactive plants, and our attraction to them through time, holds up a mirror to our fundamental human needs and aspirations, the operations of our minds, and our entanglement with the natural world.

James says: This book helps illustrate ways in which the proper uses of plants that are designed to help us, are not recognized properly in our society.

Brood

Brood

Polzin, Jackie
$24.00
Longlisted for the Center for Fiction's 2021 First Novel Prize - An exquisite new literary voice--wryly funny, nakedly honest, beautifully observational, in the vein of Jenny Offill and Elizabeth Strout--depicts one woman's attempt to keep her four chickens alive while reflecting on a recent loss.

"Full of nuance and humor and strangeness...[Polzin] writes beautifully about everything." --The New York Times

Over the course of a single year, our nameless narrator heroically tries to keep her small brood of four chickens alive despite the seemingly endless challenges that caring for another creature entails. From the forty-below nights of a brutal Minnesota winter to a sweltering summer which brings a surprise tornado, she battles predators, bad luck, and the uncertainty of a future that may not look anything like the one she always imagined.

Intimate and startlingly original, this slender novel is filled with wisdom, sorrow and joy. As the year unfolds, we come to know the small band of loved ones who comprise the narrator's circumscribed life at this moment. Her mother, a flinty former home-ec teacher who may have to take over the chickens; her best friend, a real estate agent with a burgeoning family of her own; and her husband whose own coping mechanisms for dealing with the miscarriage that haunts his wife are more than a little unfathomable to her.

A stunning and brilliantly insightful meditation on life and longing that will stand beside such modern classics as H is for Hawk and Gilead, Brood rewards its readers with the richness of reflection and unrelenting hope.

Katia says: "Brood" is a novel about being alive. Not the grand arc of a life, but the true, clumsy day-by-day of it. This book is perfect for many of us who have been knee deep in the mess of our own lives since early 2020, and need a push to appreciate the preciousness of the day to day.


River Within

River Within

Powell, Karen
$24.00

A novel about infatuation, class, and obligation, The River Within will take its place as a classic in a tradition of English fiction that takes in Thomas Hardy, Graham Swift, and Helen Dunmore.

It is the summer of 1955. The body of Danny Masters is found by three of his friends in the river that runs through Starome, a village on the Richmond estate in North Yorkshire.

Alexander, one of the three friends that found Danny and the sole heir to Richmond Hall, has always been unpredictable but lately he has grown elusive, his behaviour becoming increasingly erratic. His mother, Lady Venetia Richmond, is newly widowed and too busy trying to keep the sprawling family estate together to worry about Alexander, though she could use his help.

A second friend, Lennie Fairweather, "child of nature" and daughter of the late Sir Angus Richmond's private secretary, has other things on her mind too. In love with Alexander, she longs to escape life with her over-protective father and domineering brother, Tom, who was also there when Danny's body was discovered.

In the weeks that follow the tragic drowning, the river begins to give up its secrets. As the circumstances surrounding Danny's death emerge, other stories surface that threaten to disrupt everybody's plans and to destroy an entire way of life.

Georgia says: The loves and losses of two related women--one does her loving in pre-World War II England, the other in the decade after the war. Lovely and sad. The cover blurb said it's reminiscent of Thomas Hardy (a good thing as far as I'm concerned) and I agree with that assessment.


Overstory

Overstory

Powers, Richard
$18.95

The Overstory, winner of the 2019 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction, is a sweeping, impassioned work of activism and resistance that is also a stunning evocation of--and paean to--the natural world. From the roots to the crown and back to the seeds, Richard Powers's twelfth novel unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fables that range from antebellum New York to the late twentieth-century Timber Wars of the Pacific Northwest and beyond. There is a world alongside ours--vast, slow, interconnected, resourceful, magnificently inventive, and almost invisible to us. This is the story of a handful of people who learn how to see that world and who are drawn up into its unfolding catastrophe.

Roxanne says: A poignant family, jaw dropping beginning, epic tales each with a tree motif braided in -- genius!