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Staff Pick

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel

Beautiful Ruins: A Novel

Walter, Jess
$16.99

The #1 New York Times bestseller--Jess Walter's "absolute masterpiece" (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author): the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962 and resurfaces fifty years later in contemporary Hollywood.

The acclaimed, award-winning author of the national bestseller The Financial Lives of the Poets returns with his funniest, most romantic, and most purely enjoyable novel yet. Hailed by critics and loved by readers of literary and historical fiction, Beautiful Ruins is the story of an almost-love affair that begins on the Italian coast in 1962...and is rekindled in Hollywood fifty years later.

Andrea says: An Italian resort, and aging Hollywood star, an almost love affair. I laughed a lot and cried a little.

Cold Millions

Cold Millions

Walter, Jess
$28.99

"One of the most captivating novels of the year." - Washington Post

NATIONAL BESTSELLER

A Best Book of the Year: Bloomberg Boston GlobeChicago Public Library Chicago Tribune Esquire Kirkus New York Public Library New York Times Book Review (Historical Fiction) NPR's Fresh Air O Magazine Washington Post Publishers Weekly Seattle Times USA Today

A Library Reads Pick An Indie Next Pick

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of Beautiful Ruins comes another "literary miracle" (NPR)--a propulsive, richly entertaining novel about two brothers swept up in the turbulent class warfare of the early twentieth century.

An intimate story of brotherhood, love, sacrifice, and betrayal set against the panoramic backdrop of an early twentieth-century America that eerily echoes our own time, The Cold Millions offers a kaleidoscopic portrait of a nation grappling with the chasm between rich and poor, between harsh realities and simple dreams.

The Dolans live by their wits, jumping freight trains and lining up for day work at crooked job agencies. While sixteen-year-old Rye yearns for a steady job and a home, his older brother, Gig, dreams of a better world, fighting alongside other union men for fair pay and decent treatment. Enter Ursula the Great, a vaudeville singer who performs with a live cougar and introduces the brothers to a far more dangerous creature: a mining magnate determined to keep his wealth and his hold on Ursula.

Dubious of Gig's idealism, Rye finds himself drawn to a fearless nineteen-year-old activist and feminist named Elizabeth Gurley Flynn. But a storm is coming, threatening to overwhelm them all, and Rye will be forced to decide where he stands. Is it enough to win the occasional battle, even if you cannot win the war?

Featuring an unforgettable cast of cops and tramps, suffragists and socialists, madams and murderers, The Cold Millions is a tour de force from a "writer who has planted himself firmly in the first rank of American authors" (Boston Globe).

A staff pick from Andrea and Roxanne. Andrea says: A mix of real historical figures and fiction. Rye is an engaging and complicated main character. I learned a lot about union building out West, a part of history I knew little about...a great read.


Salvage the Bones: A Novel

Salvage the Bones: A Novel

Ward, Jesmyn
$17.00

Winner of the National Book Award

Jesmyn Ward, two-time National Book Award winner and author of Sing, Unburied, Sing, delivers a gritty but tender novel about family and poverty in the days leading up to Hurricane Katrina.

A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting.

As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family--motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce--pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, Salvage the Bones is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.

Andrea says: A  powerful novel of family honor, loneliness and poverty that is still full of love...mixed with a devastating hurricane.

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Sing, Unburied, Sing

Ward, Jesmyn
$17.00
WINNER of the NATIONAL BOOK AWARD and A NEW YORK TIMES TOP 10 BEST BOOK OF THE YEAR

A finalist for the Kirkus Prize, Andrew Carnegie Medal, Aspen Words Literary Prize, and a New York Times bestseller, this majestic, stirring, and widely praised novel from two-time National Book Award winner Jesmyn Ward, the story of a family on a journey through rural Mississippi, is a "tour de force" (O, The Oprah Magazine) and a timeless work of fiction that is destined to become a classic.

Jesmyn Ward's historic second National Book Award-winner is "perfectly poised for the moment" (The New York Times), an intimate portrait of three generations of a family and an epic tale of hope and struggle. "Ward's writing throbs with life, grief, and love... this book is the kind that makes you ache to return to it" (Buzzfeed).

Jojo is thirteen years old and trying to understand what it means to be a man. He doesn't lack in fathers to study, chief among them his Black grandfather, Pop. But there are other men who complicate his understanding: his absent White father, Michael, who is being released from prison; his absent White grandfather, Big Joseph, who won't acknowledge his existence; and the memories of his dead uncle, Given, who died as a teenager.

His mother, Leonie, is an inconsistent presence in his and his toddler sister's lives. She is an imperfect mother in constant conflict with herself and those around her. She is Black and her children's father is White. She wants to be a better mother but can't put her children above her own needs, especially her drug use. Simultaneously tormented and comforted by visions of her dead brother, which only come to her when she's high, Leonie is embattled in ways that reflect the brutal reality of her circumstances.

When the children's father is released from prison, Leonie packs her kids and a friend into her car and drives north to the heart of Mississippi and Parchman Farm, the State Penitentiary. At Parchman, there is another thirteen-year-old boy, the ghost of a dead inmate who carries all of the ugly history of the South with him in his wandering. He too has something to teach Jojo about fathers and sons, about legacies, about violence, about love.

Rich with Ward's distinctive, lyrical language, Sing, Unburied, Sing is a majestic and unforgettable family story and "an odyssey through rural Mississippi's past and present" (The Philadelphia Inquirer).

Andrea says: A beautifully written and profound tale of a families’ bonds and struggles. Memorable.

End of Loneliness

End of Loneliness

Wells, Benedict
$16.00

Nora says: A European bestseller, compellingly and fluidly written...a powerful coming-of-age.

From internationally bestselling author Benedict Wells, a sweeping novel of love and loss, and of the lives we never get to live 

“[D]azzling storytelling...The End of Loneliness is both affecting and accomplished -- and eternal.”—John Irving

Jules Moreau’s childhood is shattered after the sudden death of his parents. Enrolled in boarding school where he and his siblings, Marty and Liz, are forced to live apart, the once vivacious and fearless Jules retreats inward, preferring to live within his memories – until he meets Alva, a kindred soul caught in her own grief. Fifteen years pass and the siblings remain strangers to one another, bound by tragedy and struggling to recover the family they once were. Jules, still adrift, is anchored only by his desires to be a writer and to reunite with Alva, who turned her back on their friendship on the precipice of it becoming more. But, just as it seems they can make amends for time wasted, invisible forces – whether fate or chance – intervene.

A kaleidoscopic family saga told through the fractured lives of the three Moreau siblings, alongside a faltering, recovering love story, The End of Loneliness is a stunning meditation on the power of our memories, of what can be lost and what can never be let go. With inimitable compassion and luminous, affecting prose, Benedict Wells contends with what it means to find a way through life, while never giving up hope you will find someone to go with you.

Leaves of Grass: The First 1855 Edition (Anniversary)

Leaves of Grass: The First 1855 Edition (Anniversary)

Whitman, Walt
$18.00
A deluxe edition of Whitman's crowning achievement, with an introductory essay by Harold Bloom

I celebrate myself, and sing myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

When Walt Whitman self-published his Leaves of Grass in July 1855, he altered the course of literary history. One of the greatest masterpieces of American literature, it redefined the rules of poetry while describing the soul of the American character. Throughout his great career, Whitman continuously revised, expanded, and republished Leaves of Grass, but as Harold Bloom reminds us, the book that matters most is the 1855 original. In celebration of the poem's 150th anniversary, Penguin Classics proudly presents the 1855 text in its original and complete form, with a specially commissioned introductory essay by Harold Bloom.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Doug says: One of the greatest masterpieces of American literature, it redefined the rules of poetry while describing the soul of the American character.

Stoner

Stoner

Williams, John Edward; McGaher
$14.95

Discover an American masterpiece. This unassuming story about the life of a quiet English professor has earned the admiration of readers all over the globe.

William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar's life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known. And yet as the years pass, Stoner encounters a succession of disappointments: marriage into a "proper" family estranges him from his parents; his career is stymied; his wife and daughter turn coldly away from him; a transforming experience of new love ends under threat of scandal. Driven ever deeper within himself, Stoner rediscovers the stoic silence of his forebears and confronts an essential solitude.

John Williams's luminous and deeply moving novel is a work of quiet perfection. William Stoner emerges from it not only as an archetypal American, but as an unlikely existential hero, standing, like a figure in a painting by Edward Hopper, in stark relief against an unforgiving world.

Kate says: A quiet, intense novel of a life not fully lived. Bill Stoner will tug at your heart. Moving, courageous and full of truth.

Language of Butterflies

Language of Butterflies

Williams, Wendy
$26.00

In this fascinating book from the New York Times bestselling author of The Horse, Wendy Williams explores the lives of one of the world's most resilient creatures--the butterfly--shedding light on the role that they play in our ecosystem and in our human lives.

 

Butterflies are one of the world's most beloved insects. From butterfly gardens to zoo exhibitions, they are one of the few insects we've encouraged to infiltrate our lives. Yet, what has drawn us to these creatures in the first place? And what are their lives really like? In this groundbreaking book, New York Times bestselling author and science journalist Wendy Williams reveals the inner lives of these "flying flowers"--creatures far more intelligent and tougher than we give them credit for.

 

Monarch butterflies migrate thousands of miles each year from Canada to Mexico. Other species have learned how to fool ants into taking care of them. Butterflies' scales are inspiring researchers to create new life-saving medical technology. Williams takes readers to butterfly habitats across the globe and introduces us to not only various species, but to the scientists who have dedicated their lives to studying them.

 

Coupled with years of research and knowledge gained from experts in the field, this accessible "butterfly biography" explores the ancient partnership between these special creatures and humans, and why they continue to fascinate us today. Touching, eye-opening, and incredibly profound, The Language of Butterflies reveals the critical role they play in our world.

Doug says: "The Language of Butterflies" is a work of art. 

Origins of Creativity

Origins of Creativity

Wilson, Edward O.
$16.95

In this profound and lyrical book, one of our most celebrated biologists offers a sweeping examination of the relationship between the humanities and the sciences: what they offer to each other, how they can be united, and where they still fall short. Both endeavours, Edward O. Wilson reveals, have their roots in human creativity--the defining trait of our species.

Reflecting on the deepest origins of language, storytelling, and art, Wilson demonstrates how creativity began not ten thousand years ago, as we have long assumed, but over one hundred thousand years ago in the Paleolithic age. Chronicling this evolution of creativity from primate ancestors to humans, The Origins of Creativity shows how the humanities, spurred on by the invention of language, have played a largely unexamined role in defining our species. And in doing so, Wilson explores what we can learn about human nature from a surprising range of creative endeavors--the instinct to create gardens, the use of metaphors and irony in speech, and the power of music and song.

Our achievements in science and the humanities, Wilson notes, make us uniquely advanced as a species, but also give us the potential to be supremely dangerous, most worryingly in our abuse of the planet. The humanities in particular suffer from a kind of anthropomorphism, encumbered by a belief that we are the only species among millions that seem to matter, yet Wilson optimistically reveals how researchers will have to address this parlous situation by pushing further into the realm of science, especially fields such as evolutionary biology, neuroscience, and anthropology.

With eloquence and humanity, Wilson calls for a transformational "Third Enlightenment," in which the blending of these endeavors will give us a deeper understanding of the human condition and our crucial relationship with the natural world.

Doug says: An astonishing capstone for a life lived to give us greater clarity about science. Continues his ideas about science and art touched on in Consilience 20 years ago.

Learn to Play Chess Like a Boss

Learn to Play Chess Like a Boss

Wolff, Patrick
$22.99
Stop playing like a pawn and start playing like the king

You already know just how enjoyable--and and challenging--the game of chess can be. For those who play, chess leads to a lifetime of fun. But how do you make the first move to learn the rules and transform from a pawn to a king?

The path to a perfect checkmate is in your hands! In the pages of this book, you'll find an introduction to all the chess pieces including their strengths and weaknesses, tips on how to protect your pieces and prevent their capture, and guidance on when to attack and defend like a boss. You'll also find a bonus tear-out card to take your new tactics on the go!