Mike's Picks

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Sea of Tranquility: A novel By Emily St. John Mandel Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780593321447
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 5th, 2022

An epic time travl saga that feels incredibly personal. I don't know if "personal" was Mandel's intention, but it reminds me of how Vonnegut could strike right to the heart via science fiction. This book seems to capture this pandemic moment though it takes place across 500 years; it was a pleasure to get lost in time with this novel. 


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Crossroads: A Novel By Jonathan Franzen Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780374181178
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 5th, 2021

The NY Times says the matriarch, Marian, is one of the best characters in modern fiction; I have to agree. This novel is setting up a future Franzen trilogy that, for me, could be the best I've ever read. 


The Handmaid's Tale: A Novel By Margaret Atwood Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780385490818
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - March 16th, 1998

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Amos McGee Misses the Bus By Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Philip C. Stead, Erin E. Stead (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250213228
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Roaring Brook Press - November 23rd, 2021

In this sequel to Caldecott-winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee, the Steads deliver an adventurous, kind-hearted tale of Amos, the zookeeper, and his missing hat. A perfect book for the little ones—my 3-year-old asked to read this over and over—but also a book parents won’t tire of, either. My favorite book of the year.


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The Glass Hotel: A novel By Emily St. John Mandel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780525562948
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - February 16th, 2021

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Lincoln in the Bardo: A Novel By George Saunders Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812985405
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - February 6th, 2018

Reinventing what a novel can and should do.  This is, to me, the novel of the decade. 


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All Adults Here: A Novel By Emma Straub Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781594634703
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - April 13th, 2021

A critic called this book “literary sunshine” and I can’t think of a better description. This book is the kind of book that goes down easy but also one you savor; Straub’s witty and rounded characters stay with you long after they’re gone. And while I despise the term “beach read,” this is the right book for August, near the end of summer, a time to sit under a favorite tree or near water and reflect. An enjoyable and memorable read.


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Moonglow: A Novel By Michael Chabon Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062225566
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - September 19th, 2017

A journey down memory lane, told from the author’s point of view during an interview with his dying grandfather. Chabon has a knack at the slow unveil, and I thoroughly enjoyed this memoir-disguised-as-a-novel after I finished it. It reminds me of one of my favorite lines: “In the end, we are all stories.” Chabon does his family proud in deciding how to frame his particular family’s story (tragic circumstances and all).


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Pachinko (National Book Award Finalist) By Min Jin Lee Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781455563920
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - November 14th, 2017

An epic tale about a family spanning the 20th century. This is a novel that easily absorbs you and sucks you in, but also keeps you reading on. The characters are fully flushed, the plotlines are heartwrenching, the writing is moving. A beautiful tale. 


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Little Faith: A Novel By Nickolas Butler Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062469724
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - October 29th, 2019

Two things work really well in Nickolas Butler’s latest book: Pacing, and tone. Anyone who enjoys a well-told, accessible story that also packs a philosophical punch, this is for you. Butler’s novel spoke to me — I felt connected to it, like I knew these characters, I knew this region, I knew this kind of conflict.   A powerful, moving story.


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Field Recordings (Made in Michigan Writers) By Russell Brakefield Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780814344965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wayne State University Press - March 26th, 2018

Steeped in Michigan history, Russell Brakefield uses folk music and sounds of rural Michigan as a guide to create a poetry collection that explores the intensely personal as well as the naturalistic. To me, reading poetry is like listening to a conversation. Here, Brakefield acts as both listener and poet: He describes not just the notes around us, but like any good conversationalist, the silences, the buzzes, the cicadas, the nearby lone trout stalking a mayfly. When Russ worked here at Literati, I was an avid "Russ Reader" -- I devoured his staff picks. Reading his own work in Field Recordings, I'm delighted to listen to his own words, his song ringing in my mind long after finishing.


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A Place for Us: A Novel By Fatima Farheen Mirza Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781524763565
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: SJP for Hogarth - March 5th, 2019

I started this book a while ago, but I waited until I had a few quiet afternoons to savor and finish it. It was the perfect book to read with my newborn daughter sleeping away on my chest. This has such heart, ache, soul. It made me reflect on the kind of father I want to be, aim to be, hope to be. This week, as I stood in my front yard, sun setting, watering my lilacs and planting a new sugar maple, I heard my neighbor’s three daughters play in the field by our house and their laughter made me pause and think of this book, its characters, and these words by Fatima Farheen Mirza. Few books affect me so much, but this book enchanted and moved me, and it made me feel so aware of family, identity, religion, Home.


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

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Number One Chinese Restaurant: A Novel By Lillian Li Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781250229328
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - June 4th, 2019

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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel By Anthony Marra Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780770436421
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - February 4th, 2014

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A Tale for the Time Being: A Novel By Ruth Ozeki Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143124870
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - December 31st, 2013

My best friend was once an uchideshi: a live-in student who trains and assists a sensei 24/7. He tried to dive to the heart of zen. He would embark on weekend-long meditation sessions and describe that feeling as suddenly realizing everything was vibrant, connected, in the moment. A Tale for the Time Being doesn't necessarily dive to the heart of zen, but it did make me feel more connected, more in the moment. This book is easily one of my favorite books I've read. There is some magical realism, some zen undercurrents, but mostly, it is about learning to be happy in the here and in the now, learning how to find home. A delightful read. 


Autobiography of Red: A Novel in Verse (Vintage Contemporaries) By Anne Carson Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780375701290
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - July 27th, 1999

Let the Great World Spin: A Novel By Colum McCann Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780812973990
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - November 30th, 2009

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The Cataracts By Raymond McDaniel Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566894937
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - January 9th, 2018

“when I was small and wanted to look at the sun / he said if you want to stare at the sun / and not go blind you look not at its light / but what it illuminates the world the moon / never the thing itself and always its reflection.”

I love this collection from staff-favorite poet, Raymond McDaniel. I devoured this in two days. Its pitch-perfect blend of colloquial language interwoven with beautiful prose and imagery is a dream-like meditation on sight and light (and its existential opposites). McDaniel wonderfully threads narrative throughout this collection, giving it substance with its immense, thought-provoking style and philosophical explorations. A must-read for those unafraid to delve into the reflections all around. 


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Desert Boys: Fiction By Chris McCormick Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250141019
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - January 9th, 2018

“The desert, like the past, can be a thorny and sometimes serpentine place for people to live; in the interweaving stories throughout Desert Boys, debut author Chris McCormick offers a stirring examination of those who live, leave, and—in the case of protagonist Daley Kushner—return. With McCormick’s smart, witty prose and equally gratifying storytelling, we are offered a refreshing, nuanced, and much more complicated take on the stereotypical male coming-of-age tale. It is an unforgettable kaleidoscope of not just childhood friendship and the small-town American West, but, seemingly, anyone’s nostalgic, binary star quandary of simultaneously loathing and longing for the past. Desert Boys is an unforgettable, startling debut by the talented and skilled McCormick — one that will surely gain him a loyal and career-long mainstream following. It will resonate with those who have sought identity in far-away places, only to find it lurking in one’s own rattlesnake-filled childhood backyard.”


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A Sand County Almanac: And Sketches Here and There By Aldo Leopold, Barbara Kingsolver (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Aldo Leopold, Barbara Kingsolver (Introduction by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9780197500262
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Oxford University Press, USA - May 1st, 2020

This book not only teaches us about our own backyards, but how to see them. How to interact with them. How to appreciate them. When Aldo Leopold, one of the pioneers of conservation, takes a walk in the woods, it's an adventure with infinite storylines and observations. A fallen tree is not just some broken wood with growth lines, but a one-hundred year-old diary that Leopold dissects and analyzes. Reading this book taught me to look closer, dig deeper, and view my own backyard with an increased awareness and appreciation. A must read for any Midwesterner who takes walks outside.


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Haunts Of the Black Masseur: The Swimmer as Hero By Charles Sprawson Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780816635399
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Univ Of Minnesota Press - June 13th, 2000

This is a book for aquaphiles. You know who you are: The kind of person who abandons family and friends at every beach excursion and voyages out alone into the open waters, freestyling for endless minutes and miles. All my life, I have had a love affair with water: Rivers, lakes, oceans, chlorinated indoor pools. As a former NCAA swimmer, I have searched wide and far for books about swimming. There are only a few, and this is the best. And if you’re like me, and you have relatives who often ask, “Where’s Mike?” only to see a small speck in the horizon splashing around in far-distant waters, you’ll enjoy this read.


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Notes from a Public Typewriter By Michael Gustafson (Editor), Oliver Uberti (Editor) Cover Image
By Michael Gustafson (Editor), Oliver Uberti (Editor)
$18.00
ISBN: 9781538729113
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - March 27th, 2018

Over the years, thousands of anonymous Literati book browsers have left notes at our public typewriter. Here are our favorites--along with photos, stories, and musings about The World's Smallest Publishing House. 


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The River Swimmer By Jim Harrison Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802122209
Availability: Usually Available in 2-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - February 11th, 2014

Two novellas with masculine characters, two novellas I need to ponder further. I enjoy Harrison's prose, his allegorical attempt to dive deep into what it means to be alive in a world of passions, wealth, and greed. 

My favorite line: "How could greed be the primary virutre of a culture?"

-Mike