Good Life, Good Death: One of the Last Reincarnated Lamas to Be Educated in Tibet Shares Hard-Won Wisdom on Life, Death, and What Comes After By Rimpoche Nawang Gehlek, Dalai Lama (Foreword by) Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781573229524
Published: Riverhead Books - October 1st, 2002

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Some Desperate Glory By Emily Tesh Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250834980
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Tordotcom - April 11th, 2023

This book begs the question, what version of the universe is the best? Black Mirror meets Stephen Hawking meets utilitarianism in this epic, interdimensional, queer space opera. You are in for a wild ride with this cast of snarky rebels and peculiar aliens. 

Some Desperate Glory centers on Kyr: all she wants is to climb the ranks in the militant space society in which she lives, and to avenge for the murder of planet Earth. But when her brother goes missing and the Commander assigns her to work in the nursery, her world -- and universe -- get turned upside down in the most unexpected and existential ways. 

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Black Chameleon: Memory, Womanhood, and Myth By Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250827852
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - March 7th, 2023

This is an amazing addition to the growing genre of Black memoirs. The writing was stunning and enveloped me like warm goo. Mouton shares stories from her life by interspersing them with Black mythology, showing how creative an author can get with a memoir. You'll be hearing about this one for years to come.

Little Miseries: This Is Not a Story About My Childhood. A Novel. By Kimberly Olson Fakih Cover Image
ISBN: 9781953002204
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delphinium - January 10th, 2023

This is a bildungsroman, and it's the best one I've ever read. The structure of the book, with each chapter exploring a misery either small or large, is constructed by that of a master story teller. Fakih captures the cracks of Midwestern life that easily elude recollection, the subtleties of human mannerisms, and the truly terrifying experience of growing up a girl in a world with horrors both near and far. The writing is superb, never flaunts, and effortlessly carries you straight to the marrow. 

Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution By R. F. Kuang Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063021426
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Voyager - August 23rd, 2022

The events in this book read like an important historical and sociological text. Colonialism, capitalism, elitism: where is one's place in all this? When fighting against these things, is it better to operate from within an institution, or seek to dismantle it altogether? Does revolution need to be violent? These are questions that we may always be asking ourselves, and this book does a great job at addressing them.

Set in a fictional England in the 1800s, Babel follows a half Cantonese boy named Robin who gets to study at Oxford. He learns the magic of silver-working, which uses two similar words of different languages and captures that which gets lost in translation. As Robin studies this magic, he becomes caught between the allure and prestige of academia, and discovering that it is one big money machine. 

Pair this book with a nonfiction one: How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Andreas Malm, found in our environment section.

- Clarisse

The Gospel of Wellness: Gyms, Gurus, Goop, and the False Promise of Self-Care By Rina Raphael Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250793003
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - September 20th, 2022

It's no secret that the United States is a highly individualistic society. This is apparent in the recently expanding wellness and self-help industry. Instead of tackling failing social institutions that make us physically, mentally, and emotionally unhealthy, the wellness industry says that we as individuals should handle our well-being, and spend money while we're at it. Rina Raphael shares some of the problematic effects of how a wellness industry operates. When the bottom line is making money, consumers are in danger of purchasing products and engaging in habits that may ultimately harm them.

Raphael's voice in this book is entirely entertaining, easy-to-read, engaging, and at times boldly sassy. My advice is to read this book, and make of it what you will.

- Clarisse

Survival of the Richest: Escape Fantasies of the Tech Billionaires By Douglas Rushkoff Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393881066
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 6th, 2022

In Survival of the Richest, Douglas Rushkoff exposes what he calls "The Mindset": a problematic way of thinking that has been adopted by billionaires which prioritizes technological advancement by for the rich and ignores social systems that need changing. While tech giants aim to colonize space, the working classes remain forgotten and the environment plundered and derelict. Rushkoff explicates "The Mindset" by appealing to history, ethics & moral philosophy, and predictions for the future.

Survival of the Richest reads like science-fiction, but it's not, which makes topics like these all the scarier. Did we learn nothing from Wall-E?

- Clarisse

Maybe You Should Talk To Someone: A Therapist, HER Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed By Lori Gottlieb Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328662057
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - April 2nd, 2019

Lori Gottlieb was a writer on the shows ER and Friends. Then she went to Stanford Medical School. Finally, she found her calling when she decided to become a therapist. 

Gottlieb has a knack for storytelling: she shares life stories from some of her patients and cleverly weaves in her own therapeutic journey throughout this psych memoir. 

I was thoroughly entertained while reading this. Gottlieb is able to take touching and heavy topics and interlace them with humor and important lessons about our human tendencies. This book truly deserves the acclaim it received.

- Clarisse

The Ballad Of The Sad Cafe: and Other Stories By Carson McCullers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618565863
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - April 5th, 2005

Carson McCullers understands the simplicities and complexities of love better than any author I know (except perhaps James Baldwin).

These southern gothic short stories highlight McCullers's genius. They are tender, lovely, brilliant, contemplative, and feature quirky, misfit characters.

If you're looking for literary fiction that's not completely dismal, this is a great option. 

My favorite story in this collection is "A Tree, a Rock, a Cloud." I hope it adheres to your heart as it did mine.

- Clarisse

No Name in the Street (Vintage International) By James Baldwin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307275929
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 9th, 2007

The Fire Next Time gets a lot of press, but this lesser-read work of Baldwin's is just as good, if not better.

No Name in the Street is a memoir / long essay where Baldwin talks about race, politics, and his encounters with other great Civil Rights leaders of the 20th century, including MLK and Malcolm X.

On every page, Baldwin grasps something much deeper than the actual topics on which he writes, so much so that I would confidently categorize this book under philosophy. But let's be real--he's bigger than even that.

Open this book and read just the first paragraph--you'll be hooked. 

- Clarisse

Sickening: How Big Pharma Broke American Health Care and How We Can Repair It By John Abramson Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328957818
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - February 8th, 2022

We all hate Big Pharma, but have you ever wondered how exactly they are so powerful? Why does the United States have such expensive drugs compared to all other wealthy countries? 

Big Pharma is relentless and Abramson gets down to the nitty-gritty of how they operate. Pharmaceutical companies produce and test drugs in the most unscientific ways--all with the goal of painting their drugs in a positive light so they can sell as much of them as possible, even if they are unnecessary or harmful to patients. They control trusted medical journals, they have infilitrated academia and congress, they refuse to publish their drug trials, and they have left doctors in the dark about which drugs are truly most effective. 

Read this and spread the word. Big Pharma has got to go down, and this book will help us figure out how. 

- Clarisse

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Convenience Store Woman By Sayaka Murata, Ginny Tapley Takemori (Translator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802129628
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - September 17th, 2019

I love any book with social commentary and this book is dripping with it. This is the short novel of a woman whose life centers around her identity as a convenience store employee, clearly a victim of a protestant work ethic. As she devotes her physical and mental state toward her beloved convenience store, society attempts to push and pull her in many different 'normative' directions. Which avenue of normativity and fitting in will she choose? How does the convenience store affect her positively and negatively? Read to find out.

- Clarisse

Long Division: A Novel By Kiese Laymon Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982174828
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - June 1st, 2021

Long Division has two connected stories that feature time travel, literary games, mysterious cats, and run-ins with the Ku Klux Klan. 

This book is described as a 'mix between Southern Gothic and Murakami-esque magical realism.' I find that to be an apt description. Long Division is incredibly inventive, just plain weird, and is in a similar vein to Sherman Alexie's Reservation Blues and Toni Morrison's Beloved

When you're done with this, look for Laymon's amazing memoir called Heavy.

The Bloody Chamber: And Other Stories: 75th-Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) By Angela Carter, Kelly Link (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Angela Carter, Kelly Link (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143107613
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - May 26th, 2015

This is a collection of Angela Carter's gothic, feminist take on some classic fairytales. In here you'll find renditions of Beauty and the Beast, Little Red Riding Hood, and more, all beautifully composed and slightly disturbing.

This is some of the most luscious, lyrical, and poetic writing I've read in a long time. If you're looking for some prose that will wow you, take a journey through Carter's pages. 

- Clarisse

The Metamorphosis: A New Translation by Susan Bernofsky By Franz Kafka, Susan Bernofsky (Translated by), David Cronenberg (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Franz Kafka, Susan Bernofsky (Translated by), David Cronenberg (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780393347098
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 20th, 2014

Gregor wakes up one morning to find he has been transformed into a giant insect. How do those around him react? His boss demands he return to work, his father looks upon him with disgust, and his mother evinces concern. Fantastical? Yes. Far from reality? No. For while no human alive has ever turned into an insect, this novella serves as an apt metaphor for anyone who has undergone spiritual or bodily transformations, particularly through the lens of societal regard.

- Clarisse 

Good Morning, Monster: A Therapist Shares Five Heroic Stories of Emotional Recovery By Catherine Gildiner Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250271488
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Press - September 22nd, 2020

An ex-therapist shares stories from the lives of five of her patients. This book is harrowing, shocking, and heavy, but it is also heart-wrenching, touching, and deeply inspiring. I had planned to read one story at a time but ended up reading it all in one go. It's always a treat to find a work of nonfiction that invites fervent page turning like fiction!

TRIGGER WARNING: this book does not hold back. There are detailed descriptions of emotional, physical, and sexual abuse; animal abuse; and trauma in general.

- Clarisse

Hank Willis Thomas: All Things Being Equal By Hank Willis Thomas (Photographer), Julia Dolan (Text by (Art/Photo Books)), Sara Krajewski (Text by (Art/Photo Books)) Cover Image
By Hank Willis Thomas (Photographer), Julia Dolan (Text by (Art/Photo Books)), Sara Krajewski (Text by (Art/Photo Books))
ISBN: 9781597114486
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Aperture - November 15th, 2018

Hank Willis Thomas is a multi-media artist whose work exposes the fallacious and long-held view that Black bodies are inherently physically superior. This thinking was used to justify chattel slavery and it is still prominent today, particularly in the areas of sports, music, dance, and more. Drawing from chattel slavery centuries prior, the sports industry likewise considers Black people as paragons of athleticism and physical ability, always performing for white people. 

Thomas also highlights themes of capitalism and consumerism in his work. His astute observations will make you break down in those tears one only sheds from having come across the most penetrating truths of our world.

The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) By Patrick Rothfuss Cover Image
ISBN: 9780756404741
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: DAW - April 1st, 2008

This is the best fantasy I've ever read, and also the first time I've developed a crush on a character in a book: Kvothe is his name, and he sets out to uncover who--or what--killed his family. His mission is going to be a long one, as these killers prove to be more elusive than anyone could've imagined. In fact, most people Kvothe encounters firmly believe these killers don't exist. As Kvothe attempts to track down this dark force that leaves no trace, he becomes the stuff of legends himself.

This book is INCREDIBLY well-written, with natural dialogue, humor, unique characters, clever wit, catharsis, and a truly electric protagonist. It is the first of a trilogy, so be sure to read the equally-as-amazing A Wise Man's Fear, the next book in the series.

- Clarisse

Frankenstein: The 1818 Text By Mary Shelley, Charlotte Gordon (Introduction by), Charlotte Gordon (Contributions by), Charles E. Robinson (Contributions by) Cover Image
By Mary Shelley, Charlotte Gordon (Introduction by), Charlotte Gordon (Contributions by), Charles E. Robinson (Contributions by)
ISBN: 9780143131847
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - January 16th, 2018

Written in the poetic formalness of the Nineteenth century, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is less the cult horror we're well acquainted with today and more a meditation on humanness. Monologic passages on loneliness, nurture, vengeance, love, death, and the endless pursuit of knowledge comprise some of the themes of this deep classic.

If you're familiar with one of the many iterations of Frankenstein but not its origins, maybe it's time to introduce yourself to Shelley's original intentions with the story.

- Clarisse

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Heart Is A Lonely Hunter By Carson McCullers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780618526413
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - April 21st, 2004

This is my all-time favorite book. McCullers wrote this when she was just 23 years old in 1940. Described as a Southern Gothic, this magnificent work of literary fiction is brimming with motifs of anti-capitalism, anti-racism, music, and deep, platonic love. The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is beautifully written, quaint, relevant, profound, and character-based. It is a story I will revisit many times.

(I'd like to thank local musician, calligrapher, typewriter collector, and jazz aficioinado, Rollie Tussing for first gifting me this book.) 

- Clarisse

How to Blow Up a Pipeline By Andreas Malm Cover Image
ISBN: 9781839760259
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Verso - January 5th, 2021

As the desecration of the Earth becomes ever more violent, should the environmental movement respond with according fervor? Are marches and petitions getting us anywhere in combatting climate change? Andreas Malm addresses these increasingly relevant questions. In this manifesto, Malm deconstructs traditional narratives that center peace and passivity as the most effective tool in achieving social change, advocating instead for a "radical flank effect."

"What is the best way to resist?" wondered SNCC secretary Charles Cobb. If you hold the same question, read this book.

- Clarisse

Just Above My Head: A Novel By James Baldwin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385334563
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Delta - June 13th, 2000

Just Above My Head is Baldwin's final and most expansive work of fiction. It is a story of love, Blackness, and music. Not only does music serve as a primary driver of the plot, but Baldwin's writing style itself is rhythmic and lyrical. Thus, when reading this it is important to not just hear Baldwin's prose, but to actively listen to it. This is true with much of Black music, that there are often hidden meanings embedded in the lyrics which only certain audiences hold the key to unlock. In his essay, "Many Thousands Gone," Baldwin says, "It is only in his music, which Americans are able to admire because a protective sentimentality limits their understanding of it, that the Negro in America has been able to tell his story..." Keep that in mind when reading this masterpiece.

- Clarisse

Purple Hibiscus: A Novel By Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616202415
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - April 17th, 2012

Purple Hibiscus is a coming-of-age story about a girl in Nigeria who must navigate her life under the watchful eyes of her religious and abusive father. She is caught between wanting to live up to her father's expectations and coming to terms with the cult-like way in which he runs his household. 

Reading this book feels like eating a perfectly balanced meal that leaves you feeling comfortably satisfied. To be sure, that does not mean this is light-hearted or particularly jovial, but it offers all the best substance a novel can contain and concludes with a delightful catharsis. It is a book you can enjoy many times, as I have.

- Clarisse

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life By William Finnegan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143109396
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - April 26th, 2016

Who knew surf could translate so well into prose? With every page of mere ink and paper I feel I am gliding across the ocean. Finnegan is able to pull me into faraway waters, where sharp coral, sea creatures, and the surprisingly niche culture of hardcore surfing life abound. 

This would make a good non-fiction beach read, but still packed with substance and meditations on humanity. 

- Clarisse

Barracoon: The Story of the Last
By Zora Neale Hurston, Alice Walker (Foreword by), Deborah G. Plant (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780062748218
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Amistad - January 7th, 2020

Did you know that the Transatlantic Slave Trade continued illegally well into the 19th century? This man, "Cudjo," lived through the Middle Passage, U.S. slavery, AND abolition. He gave the only known account of all three major chapters of U.S. chattel slavery, and he gave this account to none other than the acclaimed author Zora Neale Hurston.

This incredible story finally became available to the public in 2018. It showcases Hurston's skills not only as a writer, but as a patient listener and journalist as she treads carefully to build rapport with Cudjo and treats him with the utmost respect.

Cudjo not only has a harrowing life story, but he is an incredibly sweet and tender individual. I will always remember him.

- Clarisse

Heavy: An American Memoir By Kiese Laymon Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501125669
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - March 5th, 2019

Kiese's life seems to always be in some state of conflict: he gains too much weight sometimes, and loses too much other times; he gambles, raking in the cash, then losing it all at once; some might call his mother abusive, yet she also pushes him to succeed intellectually; he's an adolescent boy navigating dating while also witnessing sexual assault; he's trying to survive as a Black man in this country. 

For fans of I'm Glad My Mom Died, you'll like this memoir as well. It too features complicated mother-child relationships, unhealthy body image & eating disorders, and addiction. It is so well crafted. When I read Laymon's writing, I think, this guy knows what he's doing when he puts his pen to paper.

- Clarisse

Decolonizing Methodologies: Research and Indigenous Peoples By Linda Tuhiwai Smith Cover Image
ISBN: 9781786998132
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Zed Books - June 3rd, 2021

Decolonizing Methodologies offers a look into the whiteness of academia and research as a facet of imperialism that has harmed indigenous communities around the world. Knowledge has been shaped by Western frameworks and has led to ideas about what knowledge is considered legitimate and universal. This book advocates for indigenous-led research agendas that give "non-traditional" research methodologies a chance to be utilized in spaces where they have traditionally been considered incorrect. 

A must-read for anyone in academia. 

- Clarisse

How can I begin to describe what James Baldwin's writing does to me?

James Baldwin:

-Observes the world with such clarity that his sentences routinely make me fall out of my chair and cry

-Makes me want to start a cult with his writings as the core religious texts

-Is what I would call a bodhisattva

-Writes about so much more than race and politics (which is what he is typically known for)

-Is able to grasp everything all at once and turn his thoughts into the kind of eloquence that every writer yearns for and every reader becomes incapacitated by

If you've never read Baldwin before, or if you've only scratched the surface, get this collection and get out your highlighter or notebook. If I could only keep one book, this would be it.

- Clarisse

P.S. I may have a slightly disturbing James Baldwin finger puppet magnet on my fridge right now.

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Hidden Valley Road: Inside the Mind of an American Family By Robert Kolker Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525562641
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - March 2nd, 2021

This is the true story of a family of twelve children, six of whom had scizophrenia. This book is incredibly well-written, perfectly paced to keep you on your toes. You don't need to be interested in psychology or medicine to read this book, for it is a  thoroughly engrossing tale, albiet a dark one. Kolker has exceptional journalism skills!

- Clarisse

The Color of Law: A Forgotten History of How Our Government Segregated America By Richard Rothstein Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631494536
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - May 1st, 2018

In The Color of Law, Richard Rothstein illuminates the myriad ways in which housing segregation has come about. Long thought to be a de facto phenomenon, black and white people in the United States have rather been geographically partitioned by the ways of the government and private corporations. Sundown towns, redlining, restrictive covenants, fear mongering, conniving real estate agents, and more have contributed to the still-present segregation we see in neighborhoods and cities today.

A must-read for understanding how intergenerational wealth and housing patterns are structural, not due to individual choices. 

- Clarisse

The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness By Michelle Alexander Cover Image
ISBN: 9781620971932
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Press - January 7th, 2020

The New Jim Crow is an essential read for understanding the racial caste system that is the United States, especially in how capitalism drives this phenomenon. In this well-researched book, Alexander shows us how we as a nation have redesigned Jim Crow to fit the colorblind demands of the modern age. This system takes the form of mass incarceration, where millions of people enter into the penal system, are labled felons, and are then legally discriminated against in areas such as voting, housing, jobs, and more, ensuring a feedback loop of poverty.

The New Jim Crow is not only a highly informative book, but it is well-written, digestible, and overall easy-to-read. Get it now!

- Clarisse

Dying of Whiteness: How the Politics of Racial Resentment Is Killing America's Heartland By Jonathan M. Metzl Cover Image
ISBN: 9781541644977
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Basic Books - May 12th, 2020

Poor white republicans often vote against their own interest. Why? Jonathan Metzl explains in this illuminating book. 

Three major political beliefs structure this book: gun rights, health care, and tax distribution for education. Metzl shows how poor, white republicans' voting in these areas often result in their own suffering. These beliefs that inform their voting are shaped by a strong legacy of toxic masculinity and racism in the U.S. South. But where would this racial resentment be without the manipulative efforts of wealthy, white, republican politicians? For it is these powerful politicians and their financial connections that are ultimately keeping this racial resentment alive and flourishing. 

Told through interviews, historical reflections, and well-informed research, Metzl gives an eye-opening account of how the powerful keep the weak at each other's throats.


Blues Legacies and Black Feminism: Gertrude
ISBN: 9780679771265
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 26th, 1999

Three powerhouses of blues music are examined in this book: Ma Rainey, Bessie Smith, and Billie Holiday. These women chose musical lyrics as a public way to communicate messages on politics, private life, and the Black female experience. Doing so was dangerous, though, so they had to express these messages and stories in coded language, thus eluding their white listeners. 

Angela Davis is brilliant as always, writing in a way that is informative, digestible, and entertaining.

This book would make a great gift for jazz fanatics, feminists, African American history buffs, or anyone who bows down to our lord and savior, Angela Davis.

- Clarisse