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Kaitlyn's Picks

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The True History of the First Mrs. Meredith and Other Lesser Lives Cover Image
By Diane Johnson, Vivian Gornick (Introduction by), Diane Johnson (Preface by)
ISBN: 9781681374451
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307279187
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 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 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781600940484
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 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 Cover Image
By Magda Szabo, Len Rix (Translated by)
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) Cover Image
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 Cover Image
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 Cover Image
By Bram Stoker, Maurice Hindle (Introduction by), Maurice Hindle (Notes by), Christopher Frayling (Preface by)
ISBN: 9780141439846
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 Days
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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Guestbook: Ghost Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399158186
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - March 26th, 2019

Strange and haunting, Shapton is back at her game combining images and text in evocative ways. One chapter is filled with pictures of empty beds while another tells the story of a tennis prodigy's unrealized dream. As loose as some of the threads become, every chapter harkens back to the title with an underlying yet palpable suggestion that we all live with ghosts of some kind.

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The Barefoot Woman Cover Image
By Scholastique Mukasonga, Jordan Stump (Translated by)
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 Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780316290234
Availability: Special Order
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 Cover Image
By Ursula K. Le Guin, David Mitchell (Foreword by), Charlie Jane Anders (Afterword by)
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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An Untouched House Cover Image
By Willem Frederik Hermans, David Colmer (Translated by), Cees Nooteboom (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781939810069
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: Archipelago - October 23rd, 2018

I love this creepy, wispy novel. Hermans was reviled in his home country the Netherlands for his less-than-heroic depictions of his people during WWII--a disturbing reminder that being on the right side of history isn't enough to make anyone a good human.

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Landfill: Notes on Gull Watching and Trash Picking in the Anthropocene Cover Image
By Tim Dee
ISBN: 9781603589093
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: Chelsea Green Publishing Company - March 12th, 2019

I now know a lot more about gulls than I ever expected! This is a surprisingly literary (like quotes poetry) dive into the world of gulls but also expounds on classification, "landfills," and accepting the messiness of unanswerable questions. "The world is, and then the world is as we say it is." -Tim Dee

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Michael Kohlhaas Cover Image
By Heinrich von Kleist, Michael Hofmann (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811228343
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: New Directions - March 31st, 2020

I was initially intrigued when I saw blurbs from Franz Kafka and Susan Sontag on the back. After reading the first paragraph, I knew I was in for an outrageous ride. In sum, 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 is a blast.

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The Woman Destroyed Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394711034
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 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 Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translated by)
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.