Staff Picks

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While Justice Sleeps: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385546577
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - May 11th, 2021

Part of me was afraid to read  "While Justice Sleeps," since Stacey Abrams is on my very short list of people that I admire unequivocally. I shouldn't have worried. It's a clever legal/political/medical thriller whose plot points are no more outrageous than James Comey in Attorney General Ashcroft's hospital room, or the sordid sagas of Michael Flynn or Elizabeth Holmes, and the secret  exit deal of Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy. And let's not mention a pandemic that continues to kill thousands, despite the availability of vaccines.There is not much that Abrams doesn't already know about writing popular fiction (having honed her craft writing romances under a nom de plume), or about politics and business. She was also able to lean on her siblings for expertise: they include doctors and a District Court Judge. I trust that her heroine Supreme Court clerk Avery Keene will be back in another book soon.


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Bluebird, Bluebird (A Highway 59 Novel #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316363273
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - August 28th, 2018

A good mystery must have a well-developed sense of place, and this book exceeds every expectation. It is set in East Texas, a place that has long been considered a law into itself, with its murky bayous and bloodlines, and its only slightly under-the-surface racial tensions that have been simmering for generations. Darrin Matthews, a Black Texas Ranger, currently suspended, is unofficically sent to Lark, a desolate town barely more than a wide spot in the road, to investigate the deaths of a Black lawyer from Chicago and a local white woman whose bodies have washed up on the shores of the bayou. 


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The Lincoln Highway: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735222359
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - October 5th, 2021

A beautifully crafted tale of friendship, family and adventure told with tenderness in rough contrast of the characters’ flaws. This novel is an American road trip masterpiece.

This book answers the question: Why did I think the food I was eating was real? & Why was I always hungry even though I was always eating?? Secret: The Processed food industry designed it that way, it is not your fault.


A smorgasbord of history, reportage, and memoir, Pollan’s riveting account of psychedelic research gave me a strange sort of contact high. Learning how therapist-guided trips have made their subjects (including folks struggling with addiction, depression and terminal illness) happier and more open-minded, I felt my own mood lifting, my own curiosity about our species’ great mysteries—what, exactly, is a self? and what, for that matter, is consciousness?--growing with every page. Buckle up for a wild, enlightening ride!


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Matrix: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594634499
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 7th, 2021

 " She rides out of the forest alone. Seventeen years old, in the cold March drizzle, Marie who comes from France."    

The spell these first lines cast over me never let go.

The book is the story of a 12th century nun, based on a historical figure, as she creates an intensely female world of power, wealth, and learning. I came to love these characters: their creativity, their loves and ambitions, their flaws and secrets.

Not only that, but the was so beautiful it seemed to shimmer. Closing the book, I was in awe of Groff. How did she do that?


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A Table: Recipes for Cooking and Eating the French Way Cover Image
By Rebekah Peppler, Joann Pai (Photographs by)
ISBN: 9781797202235
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - April 6th, 2021

Peppler provides all the recipes you could possibly need to host a dinner party the French way, as well as tips about selecting wine, cooking for a group, stocking your kitchen and more. The photos are gorgeous and the recipes are well-written, making the process of prep, cooking, and assembly a breeze. While most of the recipes are meant to serve a crowd, they are easy to scale down as well. The pork chops with apricot jam, golden raisins, olives, and kale is a particular hit!


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Things Fall Apart: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385474542
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - September 1st, 1994

Through the eyes of a one of a Nigerian Igbo tribes leader's Okonkwo, and his family, Chinua Achebe depicts the heartrending tragedy of the downfall of a vibrant society at the hands of European colonizers during the 19th century. The first of three novels comprising the African Trilogy, Achebe's work underscores as poignantly today as when it was first published in 1958 the unending need for atonement for the innumerable atrocities committed against the entire continent in the name of imperial conquest. An absolute must-read if you've been considering diving into world literature, but haven't known where to begin. This is your starting point. 


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The Palestinian Table Cover Image
ISBN: 9780714874968
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Phaidon Press - October 23rd, 2017

I love, love cooking from this beautiful book. Kassis's family is from the Galilee, like mine, and her recipes have brought me closer than ever before to recreating the flavors from my grandmother's kitchen.

Get your grains and spices from one of our local Middle Eastern markets and prepare to be transported!


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A Slow Fire Burning: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735211230
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - August 31st, 2021

Get ready to have the rug pulled out from under you with this rollercoaster of a who-dun-it. Paula Hawkins has yet again come up with an entangled thriller complete with a bloody murder on page one, and full of creepy people, seemingly normal people, and truly messed up people who fill the pages of this brilliant page-turner. Needing to put all the pieces together in my head, I read it in one day, getting more and more creeped out as the truth started to unravel. Wow! What a thrilled!


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A Dream of a Woman Cover Image
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. 

Kaitlyn recommends!

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Clark and Division Cover Image
ISBN: 9781641292498
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soho Crime - August 3rd, 2021

This is a thrilling mystery with historical context that sheds light on a shameful chapter of U.S. history often glossed over in history classes—the treatment of Japanese-Americans by the U.S. government during WW II. This is the powerful story of the Ito family (the immigrant parents and their two American-born daughters, Rose, and her younger sister, Aki) who are relocated from their home in California by the government after the attack on Pearl Harbor, to Manzanar, one of the Japanese-American internment camps, where they spend several humiliating years. In 1944 the family is released and relocated to Chicago, where Rose is killed by a subway train. Her death is ruled a suicide by the police, but a skeptical Aki relentlessly pursues the truth. It is this Chicago section where this book really dazzles as a page-turning mystery, but also with arresting depictions of what life was like in the Japanese-American community, and, as a bonus, becomes also the tender coming-of-age story of Aki, who has always lived in her sister’s shadow. This is a powerful book on all three fronts.



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Boomerang / Bumerán: Poetry / Poesía (Raised Voices) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807033395
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beacon Press - September 7th, 2021

This is an important book of poems. In the 3 part collection, we travel with Obejas through memory, sexuality, and observation of death. Each stop holds lessons for all people. The best poems always do. 

Since its inception, poetry had relied on and enforced binaries in gender, sexuality, and race. Romance languages have too. Not always with malicious intent, but still true. This said, Obejas does something rather incredible. She stretches the limits of Spanish and enlish, by stripping and reframing traditional binaries in poetry and language alike. She writes in her author's note that not all poems are stripped of binary pronouns and subjects "because some things still happen to us precisely because of gender, especially for women." Therefore Obejas, a queer Cuban-American writer, has created a necessary text; a (mostly) gender-free text, that reveals core elements of humanity. 

Achy Obejas lights a torch for writers and readers, BIPOC and allies alike, no matter what gender and orientation, to follow boldly into the night, as she throws her Bumeran scouting ahead. 


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Trauma and Recovery: The Aftermath of Violence--From Domestic Abuse to Political Terror Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465061716
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Basic Books - July 7th, 2015

A book so monumental to my life that I released an album with my band titled JUDITH HERMAN. Over the course of her career, Herman uncovers a revolutionary new diagnosis: complex PTSD. In doing so, she helps an entire generation understand what's going on inside our heads.


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The River Swimmer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802122209
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
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 virtue of a culture?"


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Beartown: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501160776
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Washington Square Press - February 6th, 2018

Look, I loved 'Friday Night Lights" just like everyone else, but having gone to a high school that wasn't even big enough to have a football team, I just couldn't relate. Then I read this book. I grew up in the birthplace of professional hockey and a very small town, so I could understand just how intertwined a community can be with hockey. This book is about so much more than a sport. It's about a community struggling to survive and how hockey holds it all together.


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Last Call: A True Story of Love, Lust, and Murder in Queer New York Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250224354
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Celadon Books - March 9th, 2021

This True Crime story of the "Last Call Killer," who targeted Gay men in 80s and 90s NYC is a gripping, tragic account told in the manner of your favorite true crime podcasts. It also serves as a history lesson about the struggle for Queer rights in a time when being out was dangerous, and the gay community was being disproportionately stigmatized and shunned because of AIDS. 

Informative and thrilling in equal measure. I couldn't put it down.


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Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062964618
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - September 21st, 2021

Commodore Vanderbilt left his heirs what would have been equivalent to $26 billion today, and the later generations did their best to spend every penny. They spent it on the usual pursuits: horses, yachts, top-shelf travel, expensive homes, and parties. Lots of parties. One Vanderbilt wife threw a party for 1200 of her closest and dearest friends just so she could be “received” in New York society. Price tag: $6.4 million in today’s money. There are lots of interesting anecdotes here, and it is well worth a read.


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My Heart Is a Chainsaw Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982137632
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery / Saga Press - August 31st, 2021

Jade Daniels is the half-Indian reject of her small Idaho town, the weird horror girl who turns in history papers on slashers and melts her hair off with box dye. When a new girl moves to town and all signs are pointing to the slasher cycle she's been dreaming of finally starting, will she be ready to survive it? In this horror novel that starts off slow before taking off like a bullet train, you'll find on the surface a love letter to the slasher genre itself - but once you stick your hands in the gore and bone and pull it back, you'll find a heart dedicated to the broken girls who refuse to die. For the last fifty pages I cried because I saw so much of myself in Jade! I loved her in all the ways she never got but deserved. I know you will too.