Brittni

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Paradise: By the Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature 2021 By Abdulrazak Gurnah Cover Image
$22.95
ISBN: 9781565841635
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - May 1st, 1995

This novel follows 12 year old Yusuf as he is taken from his home as collateral for his parents' debt to a wealthy merchant. As he grows, Yusuf journeys the African interior, dodges people attracted to his youth & beauty, and learns about faith, freedom, and love.

Taking place in pre-colonial eastern Africa, this historical novel provides breathtaking descriptions of the interior, gripping suspense & danger, and a thought-provoking discussion on human nature through a Koranic and non-European frame. This will be a book I come back to again and again.

-Brittni


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The Buried Giant (Vintage International) By Kazuo Ishiguro Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780307455796
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Published: Vintage - January 5th, 2016

This novel is currently #1 on my all-time favorites list, and I re-read it at least once a year. Ishiguro is masterful in general—but I argue this novel is his best. There is something in here for everyone: on the surface this is a story about an elderly Briton couple as they seek out their estranged son in another village in the years just after King Arthur's death. They meet all kinds of friends and foes and mst find the courage to help fight a dragon who curses the land.

On a deeper level, though, I think there is commentary here about colonization and the importance of facing history. The Saxons invaded the Britons and fought for many years until a peace settled. But the peace is deeply flawed and reliant upon people not being able to remember their past.

-Brittni


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The Sentence By Louise Erdrich Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062671127
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Harper - November 9th, 2021

How can you heal when you're still being haunted?

In a Minneapolis bookstore a ghost haunts a bookseller who already carries the burdens of her past. Buried history of colonialist traumas haunt her community—structures of power and violence haunt a country. With her loving and devastating prose Erdrich presents a portrait of 2019-2020 and winds her waya around grief and trauma, love, motherhood, isolation and community, and indigenous identity.

The things that always draw me to Erdrich's work are fully at work in this novel: her poetic interweaving of the natural and supernatural (like magical realism but organic), her characters so vivid you feel that you recognize them from somewhere, her sentences so beautifully full and sharp they hurt.

-Brittni


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No Country for Old Men (Vintage International) By Cormac McCarthy Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780375706677
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Published: Vintage - July 11th, 2006

McCarthy is my favorite author, and this is the novel that introduced me to him. If you're looking for a way to read McCarthy and get a feel for his themes but without his particular brand of violence and horror, this is a good place to start (some of his other novels get real weird). 

What I enjoy most about this novel is its concern about morality. You have three main characters who fall somewhere on a moral spectrum: 1) the true center (neither good nor evil) is a ma who found some money, 2) the true evil (who does not believe in his own evilness) who is chasing him to get the money back, and 3) the true good who follows in the wake of the destruction and is dismayed by what he sees. Packed with action, moral and historical philosophy, and McCarthy's raw style, this novel is sure to please.

-Brittni


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The Wild Iris By Louise Gluck Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780880013345
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Published: Ecco - November 1st, 1993

I was always afraid of poetry until I read this incredible collection. Gluck's language and storytelling are at once lush, deep, and accessible to any kind of reader.

Gluck uses nature to weave together the thoughts—and at times the angry, confused rantings—of creator and creation. At any given time you're reading the intimate experiences of flowers in a garden, a gardener, and/or the creator of the gardener. Whenever I go back and read this collection, I feel like I'm listening to some ancient and familiar conversation about the meaning of our existence here.

-Brittni


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Sing, Unburied, Sing: A Novel By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501126079
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Published: Scribner - May 8th, 2018

This novel is at once beautiful and heartbreaking. Set in rural Mississippi, the novel follows three main narrators: a 13 year old boy, his grandfather, and a ghost. Through flashbacks and storytelling, the novel straddles the past and present to show the lasting impacts of enslavement and the paths to resilience and healing.

Ward illuminates what it feels like to be isolated due to poverty, race, having to parent your parents, and being the only person you can depend on. What brings the characters comfort is what brings any of us comfort: being seen, having your story acknowledged, hearing music, taking care of each other.

-Brittni


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Stories of Your Life and Others By Ted Chiang Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781101972120
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Published: Vintage - June 14th, 2016

This is an imaginative and delightful collection of short stories from one of my favorite science fiction writers. The title story "Story of Your Life" inspired the gorgeous 2016 film Arrival. This story—and the film—helped shape my understanding of time (and history) not as a straight line beginning at Point A and ending at Point B, but as a jumbled circle where everything is happening at once.

What really stands out to me, thought, is the first story in this collection "Tower of Babylon". You'd expect science fiction to be focused on the future, but this story takes place in Biblical Babylon and follows a miner as he ascends the tower—past moon, sun, and stars—to mine the granite slab that separates Heaven and Earth. I don't want to give too much away, but Chiang provides and incredibly interesting idea about space—just as with time, what if there is no Point A or B?

-Brittni


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The Round House: A Novel By Louise Erdrich Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780062065254
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Published: Harper Perennial - September 24th, 2013

Louise Erdrich is one of the most important American writers in our history. (She also owns a bookstore in Minneapolis called Birchbark Books...go visit them!) This coming of age novel—set on a fictionalized Ojibwe reservation in North Dakota in 1988—is an intense read, but it sheds a light on issues related to tribal vs state vs federal law. These issues continue to have serious and significant impacts, especially on native women—as the issues allow sexual violence, kidnapping, and murder (see MMIW) to go uninvestigated and unpunished.

The main character is a 13 year old boy who—after a brutal attack on his mother and subsequent lack of investigation—sets out with his friends to discover her attacker and seek revenge.

-Brittni


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The Lone Ranger and Tonto Fistfight in Heaven (20th Anniversary Edition) By Sherman Alexie Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802121998
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Published: Grove Press - October 8th, 2013

There is a short story toward the middle of this collection called "This Is What It Means to Say Phoenix, Arizona." Begin there if you decide to try out this book. I have yet to read such a moving or beautifully constructed short story—its central edict to "take care of each other" is an incredibly essential message.

The collection of stories follows Victor and Thomas in their lives on the Spokane reservation in Washington. They navigate their histories, communities, relationships, triumphs, and traumas as they grow and come of age. Alexie's language is a raw and powerful poetry, as he also writes poems. He also wrote the screenplay for the 1998 film Smoke Signals based on these stories, and it's a truly delightful classic.

-Brittni


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The Girl and the Ghost By Hanna Alkaf Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780062940964
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Published: HarperCollins - February 15th, 2022

This beautiful dark fairy tale is set in modern day Malaysia. A lonely girl befriends a ghost—her inheritance from the witch grandmother she never met. What follows is a moving journey that explores what it means to love and to be a friend.

This book was written for middle grades—but like all excellent books intended for young people it covers its themese in a mature and layered way. Our narrators experiences the line between love and abuse, the impacts of loneliness and jealousy, and the strain secrets place on families.

-Brittni


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All My Rage: A Novel By Sabaa Tahir Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780593202340
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Published: Razorbill - March 1st, 2022

This book is a love song to the grieving, the broken, the unseen—but be warned it is not a gentle one. Two teenaged more-than-friends cling to each other as they navigate trying to keep hope alive and learn forgiveness (of self and others) in the wake tragedy. Their love story is complex and beautiful—a slow and careful peeling back of layers until they see each other and themselves clearly. Also, they have excellent taste in music and corny jokes.

-Brittni


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Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood (Pantheon Graphic Library) By Marjane Satrapi Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780375714573
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Published: Pantheon - June 1st, 2004

This is a memoir told in illustrated form. Satrapi tells and shows us about her life growing up during the 1979 Iranian Revolution. We see her experiences a significant cultural shift as the new Iranian ruler, Khomeini, ushers in religious extremism and a war with Iraq.

Satrapi came of age at a time of great political turmoil, and her experiences caused her to seek knowledge about political theory, Iranian history, and her own family's history and class privilege. This comic book beautifully depicts Satrapi's growth from childhood to young adulthood, her fierce belief in her country, and her drive to use her voice to speak up.

-Brittni


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The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair that Changed America By Erik Larson Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780375725609
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Published: Vintage - February 10th, 2004

This historical true crime book takes place around the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago (on the 400th anniversary of Columbus's "discovery" of the "New" World). In his unique and vivid way of storytelling, Larson weaves together two Chicagos—two Americas—into one time and space.

The first Chicago is the Chicago of opulence and progress. A team of planners, designers, architects, landscapers, and politicians feverishly prepare for the world's fair. They seek to solidify Chicago as an equal to New York City, to Pairs and London. The second Chicago is manifested in serial killer H. H. Holmes as he stalks his victims. Holmes builds a project of his own—a thoughtfully designed space to murder his victims.

-Brittni


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Elektra: A Novel By Jennifer Saint Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250773616
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Published: Flatiron Books - May 3rd, 2022

If you enjoyed Madeline Miller's Song of Achilles or Circe, this novel is the logical next step. In gorgeous, luminous language, Saint weaves together three women whose lives were forever changed by the Trojan War.

This is not a love story—but it is a thoughtful modern take on the Ancient Greek obsession with fate. Do we have a choice, are we bound by the curse of our families, or do our choices hold any value at all?

-Brittni


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Ficciones By Jorge Luis Borges, Anthony Kerrigan (Editor), Anthony Bonner (Translator) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802130303
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Published: Grove Press - February 1st, 1994

This collection of short stories turns you into a detective—but not the kind you think. Instead of solving a mystery of a murder or other crime, you are asked to solve the mystery of the mind. How do we determine what is real? What makes a story true or misleading—or does the distinction even matter?

These are separate short stories, but they are all mirrors of each other in that they are all mirrors of our innermost mind. If you don't normally enjoy fiction—or if you desire more philosophy in your fiction—these stories will provide you with enough thought for a lifetime.

-Brittni