Kaitlyn's Picks

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When Abortion Was a Crime: Women, Medicine, and Law in the United States, 1867-1973, with a New Preface By Leslie J. Reagan Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9780520387416
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of California Press - February 22nd, 2022

I don't think I can describe how much I appreciate this book. It's not a discussion of abortion's morality but really explains the history of when abortion was illegal in the US and why. I was surprised by the stances of some religious organizations and the medical establishment and how they morphed over time. Reagan uses many first-person accounts, which makes it really compelling and readable, and the history of resistance is inspiring. It's one of the most engrossing and eye-opening books I've read! And don't worry--it doesn't just focus on white women!


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The World As We Knew It: Dispatches From a Changing Climate By Amy Brady (Editor), Tajja Isen (Editor) Cover Image
By Amy Brady (Editor), Tajja Isen (Editor)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781646220304
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - June 14th, 2022

Starting with falling saguaro cacti in Arizona and ending in an eerily silent Sydney where there once was a chorus of insects, the writers in this anthology show us how climate change has affected their everyday environments and lives. El Akkad writes about how rising temperatures threaten the habitability of where he grew up in Qatar and asks us to consider the looming erasure of our pasts as well as futures. O'Neill wonders whether to bring a kid into this world. Hegler writes about how horrifyingly Hurricane Katrina illustrated the connection between Jim Crow and climate change. This is an incredible and powerful collection, a strong call to action as the world we knew slips away.


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Bear (Nonpareil Books) By Marian Engel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780879236670
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: David R. Godine Publisher - October 1st, 2002

"'Did anyone tell you,' he asked, 'about the bear?'"

Marian Engel was one of Canada's most celebrated and provocative writers, and Bear was her last and most controversial novel. It follows a young archivist who's sent to an old and secluded house. Once there, she discovers the deceased kept a bear, which provides good company. Shocking company. This is a treasure, and I absolutely recommend it.


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The Blind Owl By Sadegh Hedayat, D. P. Costello (Translator), Porochista Khakpour (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Sadegh Hedayat, D. P. Costello (Translator), Porochista Khakpour (Introduction by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780802144287
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 12th, 2010

"If it is true that everyone has his own star in the sky mine must be remote, dark and meaningless. Perhaps I have never had a star at all."

Reader beware! This book is immensely strange, constantly doubling back on itself, the same images over and over--like you're going mad. It's haunting and creepy and mesmerizing. 


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The Walk (New Directions Pearls) By Robert Walser, Susan Bernofsky (Translated by) Cover Image
By Robert Walser, Susan Bernofsky (Translated by)
$11.95
ISBN: 9780811219921
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - May 23rd, 2012

"I was tense with eager anticipation of whatever might encounter me..."

I love this New Directions Pearl. Basically a guy takes a walk, and most of the time it's charming and a bit silly, a meandering of the feet and mind. Then at the last moment it takes a serious turn. I read this because it was mentioned in The Dinner Guest by Gabriela Ybarra (also amazing).


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The House in Paris By Elizabeth Bowen Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780385721257
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - April 9th, 2002

It's difficult for me to find the words to describe how good this book is. There are so many layers and mysteries to unfold. A child arrives at a house in Paris. A strange woman takes care of her for a day while another is dying upstairs. A second child arrives. He's waiting to meet his mother for the first time. The skill Bowen has in writing from childrens' perspectives reminds me of Ferrante though it's done entirely differently. This is a book I can't wait to reread.


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Oldladyvoice By Elisa Victoria, Charlotte Whittle (Translator) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781913505103
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: And Other Stories - October 5th, 2021

This book is utterly charming and refreshing. Nine-year-old Marina is spending the summer with her grandma while her mom is in the hospital. Marina loves living with her grandma and the distraction it offers. She also loves dirty comics and thinking about what she’ll do when she’s older. She’s a wonderful mix of young innocence and young obsession with violence and sex. But while Marina tries to navigate her grandma’s neighborhood and her relationships with the kids there, worry for her mom looms in the background. Will she see her again? What happens if she doesn’t get better?


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A Dream of a Woman By Casey Plett Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781551528564
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arsenal Pulp Press - September 21st, 2021

Wow, I loved these stories. They're gritty, dark, complicated, and tender. At the heart of each one is a trans woman trying to create an adult life, find love, happiness, and stability. But it is hard out there, and Plett so adeptly illustrates how conflicted our feelings and ideas can be.


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The Way She Feels: My Life on the Borderline in Pictures and Pieces By Courtney Cook Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781951142599
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - June 29th, 2021

You know how writers are known to be honest and revealing in their books? Well, I've read some of those books, and then I read this book, and let me tell you I was blown away by how vulnerable Cook is. Also, she's a stellar graphic memoirist. I learned a lot about borderline personality disorder and was reminded how important unconditional kindness is--a reminder one can't have too often.


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The Fate of Fausto: A Painted Fable By Oliver Jeffers Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780593115015
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - September 17th, 2019

Fausto looks at the world around him and thinks it should be his. He is oh so wrong. This is easily my favorite picture book. The illustrations are marvelous, and the story is eye-widening and powerful--yet playful. Five out of five stars.


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Winter in Sokcho By Elisa Shua Dusapin, Aneesa Abbas Higgins (Translator) Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781948830416
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter - April 27th, 2021

It’s an old story--a new person arrives in town--but feels fresh in Shua Dusapin’s hands. This time, a French illustrator in a Korean border town. In a novel about mixed identity and misunderstanding, what I loved most was how delicately missed opportunities were handled. Spare and elegantly written, this book gave me goosebumps.


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My Grandmother's Braid By Alina Bronsky, Tim Mohr (Translator) Cover Image
By Alina Bronsky, Tim Mohr (Translator)
$17.00
ISBN: 9781609456450
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - January 19th, 2021

“Grandmother had a fear of heights. Once she stood up on a low stool and broke out in tears because she was so panic-stricken that she couldn’t get down. Grandfather hurried over to her and held out his hand, led her to a comfy chair, and held her hand until she calmed down. At that moment I realized he was with her voluntarily and that, unlike me, he could leave anytime.”

“Families are complicated” is quite the understatement when describing the family in this book. The narrator is a young boy whose grandmother thinks he’s a dolt. The grandmother is a former Russian ballerina who constantly fusses and insults everyone around her. The grandfather is in love with his neighbor. And the boy’s parents? You’ll have to read to find out.

Alina Bronsky knocks it out of the park with this one. MY GRANDMOTHER’S BRAID is darkly funny but so full of empathy and sensitivity. And I can’t get over how good the narration is. I’m very excited now to go back and read her previous book THE HOTTEST DISHES OF THE TARTAR CUISINE when I get a chance. I hope you love it too!


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How to Order the Universe By María José Ferrada, Elizabeth Bryer (Translated by) Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781951142308
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - February 16th, 2021

What a pleasure to read this story of a seven-year-old girl playing truant to accompany her father, a traveling salesman, on calls. She learns about life, hardware, ghosts, and, most of all, how to be a salesperson in this quirky and spirited coming-of-age novel set in Chile’s Pinochet era. I couldn’t put it down while reading, and then I didn’t want to let it go once I’d finished. There’s mystery and wisdom in these pages, a real treasure.


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All God's Children By Aaron Gwyn Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609456184
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - October 20th, 2020

I love ALL GOD’S CHILDREN for the simple reason that it’s an excellent read. The loping narration coupled with a gripping story make it a pleasure to get lost in day after day. You’ll root for Cecilia, love Sam, and worry for Duncan. To me, this novel highlights the strangeness of the relationships we form, how seemingly random they are at times and surprising in how they settle, as well as the search for freedom and how that shifts your identity--a beautiful western.


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Michael Kohlhaas By Heinrich von Kleist, Michael Hofmann (Translated by) Cover Image
By Heinrich von Kleist, Michael Hofmann (Translated by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811228343
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - March 31st, 2020

I was initially intrigued when I saw blurbs from Franz Kafka and Susan Sontag on the back--I mean, what?? After reading the first paragraph, I knew I was in for an outrageous ride. It begins like this: Michael Kohlhaas is a horse merchant living in 16th-century Germany. He’s a hard-working, god-fearing man, respected by his neighbors and loved by his family. He would have been remembered as an honorable citizen if his love for justice hadn’t led him to robbery and murder. Thus begins a winding tale of trickery, misunderstanding, and things generally blowing way out of proportion. It's a farcical blast from the 19th century that you don't want to miss.


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A Very Easy Death By Simone De Beauvoir Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780394728995
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Pantheon - February 12th, 1985

"The only comfort I have . . . is that it will happen to me too. Otherwise it would be too unfair."

In this shocking little volume, de Beauvoir recounts the end of her mother's life and death (which perfectly illustrates many of the problems Gawande discusses in Being Mortal). Reflecting on this book now and rereading some passages, I feel my heart drop and I wonder why I and so many are drawn to such material. I suppose it's simply because death is part of the human condition. It's that inevitable experience we'll all share though no one can experience it with us. No doubt this is one of de Beauvoir's best works in its power and intelligence--utterly maddening, touching, and haunting.


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The Runaways: A Novel By Fatima Bhutto Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781839760341
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Verso Fiction - August 18th, 2020

“He thought of the boys who caught mynah birds with orange whirls around their eyes and sold them at traffic lights. You bought a bundle of three or four birds trapped in a net, out of pity, only to take them home and free them back into the sky. But the birds were trained in captivity and flew right back to the boys who, having taught them never to be free, caught and sold them again.”

Bhutto’s prose falls like gently pressed piano keys as she lays out the lives of three very different young people living in Karachi and London. (In fact, I highly recommend reading while ambient piano plays in the background.) The struggles of these characters are both timeless and incredibly timely, tapping into the particular complexity of our (nearly) current moment. And all is infused with a deep compassion and understanding for feeling out of place and seeking change and connection.


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The True History of the First Mrs. Meredith and Other Lesser Lives By Diane Johnson, Vivian Gornick (Introduction by), Diane Johnson (Preface by) Cover Image
By Diane Johnson, Vivian Gornick (Introduction by), Diane Johnson (Preface by)
$17.95
ISBN: 9781681374451
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - June 23rd, 2020

“In the cupboard in a velvet case lies a drawing from the hand of another young lover, of a beautiful, large-eyed woman smiling a little, demure in her bonnet. Perhaps the artist is saying something that causes her to forget, for a moment, some bitter things she has learned. His enamored pencil does not catch, perhaps, a certain fated expression in her eyes. . . . The young lover sees only his own kisses there."

This is my favorite book of 2020 so far. Scanning the pages I’d dogeared and underlined gave me shivers—the passages are beautiful and scary and freeing. Diane Johnson’s biography of Mary Ellen Peacock Nicholls Meredith infuses what she calls a “lesser life,” a life that for a time orbited the “greater” life of writer George Meredith, with urgency and poetry and meaning. If you live a lesser life too, it’s utterly heart-stopping. I’ve never read a biographer like this who treats her subjects with such speculativeness, tenderness, and honesty.


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Born to Run: A Hidden Tribe, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen By Christopher McDougall Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780307279187
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Vintage - March 29th, 2011

"Let us live so that when we come to die, even the undertaker will be sorry." -Mark Twain

The history of human evolution presented here is uplifting and very unlike what I learned in school. The stories of humanity and running are somehow hopeful, pure, and wistful. You'll find plenty of sports jargon but also wisdom and hopefully an itch in your legs to go outside to run with joy and abandon.


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Vegan Cookies Invade Your Cookie Jar: 100 Dairy-Free Recipes for Everyone's Favorite Treats By Isa Chandra Moskowitz, Terry Hope Romero Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781600940484
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Da Capo Lifelong Books - November 10th, 2009

This little book is the perfect addition to any cooking collection. It has recipes for classic cookies but also super fun things like mocha mamas (a favorite among my friends) and Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles (a house favorite). The recipes are fast and easy, which is perfect for someone like me. And since they're all vegan, you take no risks eating the dough.


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Abigail By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (Translated by) Cover Image
By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (Translated by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781681374031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - January 21st, 2020

Abigail is about a Hungarian girl trying to fit in in a fortress-like boarding school during WWII. She's not used to a severe or devout life and quickly makes enemies among her classmates. She struggles to answer questions like, "How can I get the other girls to like me?" But she has other questions too: Why did her father send her there? Why is she forbidden communication with the outside world? What is her father's role in the war? My first question was, since the girl's name is Gina, who is Abigail?


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A Fine Balance (Vintage International) By Rohinton Mistry Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781400030651
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - November 30th, 2001

This is one of those novels that gnaws at you long after you've put it down. Taking place in India during the 1975 State of Emergency, it follows four characters struggling for independence and security. They manage to form a rag-tag family to support each other in extremely tenuous circumstances. But the bottom keeps falling out, and every time you think things can't get worse they do. Yet somehow the characters carry on--"You have to maintain a fine balance between hope and despair." It's also a page-turner!


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Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage By Alfred Lansing Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780465062881
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Basic Books - April 28th, 2015

If you want a good time, look no further. This truly is an incredible adventure! Twenty-eight explorers bound for Antarctica in 1915 get trapped on an ice floe without a ship or any hope of rescue. Based on interviews and crew members' diaries, Lansing presents this story of survival with fully fleshed characters (like the stowaway with his cat) and details (like the raw skin they all had at the ends of their noses from icicles forming and breaking off) that feels like fiction but is amazingly real. After reading this book I wanted to immediately start over at the beginning--it's that good.


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Dracula By Bram Stoker, Maurice Hindle (Introduction by), Maurice Hindle (Notes by), Christopher Frayling (Preface by) Cover Image
By Bram Stoker, Maurice Hindle (Introduction by), Maurice Hindle (Notes by), Christopher Frayling (Preface by)
$11.00
ISBN: 9780141439846
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - April 29th, 2003

I was not prepared for how much fun I'd have reading this. The form was way more interesting than I expected, and I was completely sucked into the story. Now I need to watch all the movies to sustain this creepy headspace.


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The Barefoot Woman By Scholastique Mukasonga, Jordan Stump (Translated by) Cover Image
By Scholastique Mukasonga, Jordan Stump (Translated by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781939810045
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Archipelago - December 18th, 2018

Growing up under the threat of Hutu violence in Rwanda, Mukasonga, the only survivor from her family, wrote this memoir as a tribute to her mother. Mukasonga shows us daily life as a displaced Tutsi, especially in women's spaces and roles. As readers, we get to be vessels for other people's stories and can keep them alive, even if only through memory. I treasure the opportunity to read Mukasonga's beautiful prose and, if in the tiniest of ways, honor a way of life that's all but gone.


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The Collector By John Fowles Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780316290234
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - August 4th, 1997

Delusion is one of the driving forces in The Collector and what is possible when common stories people tell themselves are acted upon in extreme ways--a creepy and consuming novel about the evil next door. (Fans of You will love it!)


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The Left Hand of Darkness: 50th Anniversary Edition By Ursula K. Le Guin, David Mitchell (Foreword by), Charlie Jane Anders (Afterword by) Cover Image
By Ursula K. Le Guin, David Mitchell (Foreword by), Charlie Jane Anders (Afterword by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780441007318
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ace - July 1st, 2000

Don't skip this classic! It's part anthropological view of a new planet, part political intrigue, part story of survival, and all written with stunning depth--beautiful!


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The Woman Destroyed By Simone De Beauvoir Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780394711034
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Pantheon - August 12th, 1987

Big surprise that this is an utterly devastating book. If you haven’t read de Beauvoir or have only read The Second Sex you’ll be blown away by the power of her fiction.


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My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609450786
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - September 25th, 2012

Though set in Naples, I find this book (and series) reminiscent of Doris Lessing, struggling with growing up in the ragged environment, the musing of girlhood friendships, struggling to be individual, constantly threatened by men, a retelling of political upheavals of the 20th century, and the saving redemption of art.


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Where the Wild Ladies Are By Aoko Matsuda, Polly Barton (Translated by) Cover Image
By Aoko Matsuda, Polly Barton (Translated by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781593766900
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soft Skull - October 20th, 2020

Where the Wild Ladies Are is a bizarre and subversive retelling of traditional Japanese folktales centered around ghostly women. Not terribly scary or dark, Matsuda brings the absurd, mundane, and fantastic together in these layered stories that keep giving the deeper you go. And if you, like me, find yourself curious about the classical tales they’re based on, flip over to the book’s end for a synopsis of each! I hope WHERE THE WILD LADIES ARE hits you in that sweet spot where comical, real, and unreal (and undead) intertwine. And remember: if you see monsters, know that they see you too.