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Charlotte's Picks

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Autonomous Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765392077
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - September 19th, 2017

The best science fiction stretches our ingrained concepts of humanity and civilization into a series of questions that entrance and electrify its' readers both by the nature of the questions, and by the contextual reality the author has created.  Annalee Newitz shows her mastery of the genre with Autonomous, posing questions relating to ai, consciousness, and ownership, against the backdrop of Earth in 2144; where patent property law rules social order, and indentured people and bots are the new lower class. Autonomous follows Jack, a drug pirate desperately trying to fix a deadly mistake she made while racing against agents Eliasz (a temperamental military agent) and Paladin ( a newly conscious, indentured military bot).  The story unravels as it progresses, revisiting Jack's past to illustrate the evolution of her ideology, and showing a unique relationship blooming between Paladin and Eliasz. Newitz forces you to empathize with every character, while pondering the implications of each one of their choices.  Autonomous is a true masterpiece.

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The Fact of a Body: A Murder and a Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250080547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - May 16th, 2017

This book has its’ own center of gravity; one that reaches out and draws you closer into its orbit.  Of course, after reading it I understand why it has such a strong pull; in this fervently personal study of pedophilia in two families (one of which is her own),  Alexandria Marzano-Leznevich has entombed a gristly contradiction of family love and physical destruction.  That feat doesn’t just lie silently on a table, it hovers above it and beckons to be shared with others.  I was shaken, distraught, unsettled, and moved by The Fact of a Body. It might drown you, but will ultimately draw the water from your lungs and make you breathe anew.

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Priestdaddy: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594633737
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - May 2nd, 2017

I can state with absolute confidence that I have truly, never laughed as much while reading a book before.  Lockwood is an utter singularity, tangling ferocious humor together with bizarre and biting anecdotes of her life.  Lockwood drops you into her memoir amidst her and her husband Jason's, forced move back in with her parents.  Her parents are anomalies; her father is a Catholic priest, married to her mother, the wife of a Catholic priest.  Lockwood, as the product of a strikingly unique upbringing, provides a stunning, witty, and tearfully funny narrative of her life thus far.  Pristdaddy is remarkable.

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Autumn Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101870730
Availability: Backordered
Published: Pantheon Books - February 7th, 2017

I think Ali Smith might be made of magic.  This book moves; it dances to the arc of characters' recollected memories, it glides over penned autumn winds, it rises and falls with sleep-filled breaths.  Autumn tells the story of two friends, Elisabeth and George, who form a singularly special friendship when elementary-aged Elisabeth and her mother move in next door to George, an old (in his eighties) musician, full of passion for art from the sixties.  In her typical non-linear style, Smith narrates a fifty-year chunk of time in Britain, focusing especially on the juxtaposition of the then (empowered artists, hope-filled futures), and the now (horrifying nationalism, self-imposed isolation).  Smith will leave you clinging to the last page.

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The Chronology of Water: A Memoir Cover Image
By Lidia Yuknavitch, Chelsea Cain (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780979018831
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hawthorne Books - April 12th, 2011

You will open this book like any other, but it will open you too, drawing out dormant tears of your own that have collected in a pool in the middle of your chest.  Yuknavitch is a glimmering rarity- a woman who's life has been etched into water- and she treads through her past as it trickles through these pages.  She writes of her abusive childhood, swimming triumphs, sorrowful early adulthood, alcoholic relationships, and sexual presence with a beauty that held me in its' radiance for days.  The ebb and swell of this memoir is a wonder.  It will leave you changed; gently, quietly, but powerfully.

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The Moth Snowstorm: Nature and Joy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781681370408
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New York Review of Books - October 4th, 2016

Michael McCarthy saturates this collection of nature essays with evocative and compelling prose that made me close my eyes and recall my own childhood memories of nature.  As a child, McCarthy fell in love with the natural world that surrounded his home in Liverpool; the estuaries, fields, birds, butterflies, and moths.  McCarthy uses these formative experiences to argue for the importance and preservation of nature.  Amidst his lyrical joy, McCarthy details the environmental destruction he's witnessed in the last fify years.  Beautifull written, his message of desperation is clear, " Love what we have, protect it absolutely."

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How to Be Both Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307275257
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - October 13th, 2015

When was the last time you read something that took on another dimension?  In Ali Smith's "How to be Both," the story; characters, plot and world described, interact with each other in a way that allows the reader to conceptualize the story as shapes that materialize and solidify as the book unfolds.  The book has two parts; George is a 16-year-old living in modern day Cambridge and has just lost her mother.  Francesco is a Renaissance painter in the 1460's, who is remarkably talented and a bit of a social outsider.  Smith draws the stories of both their lives into a beautiful and harmonious web that subverts the expectation that storytelling has to be lineal.  Highly recommend!

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American War Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451493583
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - April 4th, 2017

This book has rendered me almost speechless.  I immediately fell into the story; El Akkad's writing is electric and thirst-quenching, and the narrative itself pulls you along with it until you are no longer able to differentiate your own thoughts from those of the narrator.  Set in the future, near the end of the 21st century, American War tells the story of the second American civil war, through the life and experiences of Sarat Chestnut, a woman who comes of age within that divisive and violent climate. El Akkad crafts a story that is horrifically terrifying, heart wrenching, and lovely.  This is a timely novel that has the potential to instill within its' audience a sense of foresight and understanding that we're all desperate for.

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Somebody with a Little Hammer: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307378224
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon Books - April 4th, 2017

Mary Gaitskill's new collection of essays allows you to wander, quite freely, around her head.  Gaitskill has distilled her best, quirkiest, most compelling essays from the last twenty (plus) years into one volume.  There's a little bit of everything in here -memoir, literary and art criticism, political editorials, music reviews- and Gaitskill has infused it all with her subjectie wisdom and incomparable observations.  The passion Gaitskill feels for her subjects is tangible, resulting in a wonderful and invigorating read.

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An Arrangement of Skin: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619028470
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - March 21st, 2017

Anna Journey's new collection of essays, An Arrangement of Skin, sews together the patchwork of her life into an ornately recursive narrative that will sink into you.  Journey explores skin as it relates to a shifting sense of self-awareness and identity.  Her words shimmer with multiple meanings as she layers the textures of her personal experiences in between broader reflections of the world that surrounds us.  An Arrangement of Skin is a wonderful study in introspection and self-awareness.

All the Birds in the Sky Cover Image
ISBN: 9780765379955
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor Books - April 11th, 2017

Charlie Jane Anders combines elements of fantasy and science fiction to create a glitteringly cautionary world that serves as the backdrop of this dystopic and imaginative book.  "All the Birds in the Sky" focuses on the lives of Patricia and Laurence, two brilliant child-outcasts who bond over their inability to make friends in primary school.  They fall out of touch while still young, and unexpectedly meet back up as twenty-somethings living in San Francisco.  From there, the fate of human civilization impendingly seems to be tied to their lives and connectedness.  I found this book to be unobtrusively captivating, and it is especially worth it if you're looking for a strange, enjoyable distraction.

Pretend We Are Lovely Cover Image
ISBN: 9781941040669
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - July 18th, 2017

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The Fifth Season Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316229296
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orbit - August 4th, 2015

The Obelisk Gate Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316229265
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Orbit - August 16th, 2016

Little Sister Cover Image
ISBN: 9781941040607
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - May 23rd, 2017