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Staff Picks

MARCH 2021 STAFF PICKS

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Station Eleven Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780804172448
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 2nd, 2015

An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, "Station Eleven" tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity.  — Ben


The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062457714
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - September 13th, 2016

— Ben


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You're Leaving When?: Adventures in Downward Mobility Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781640094475
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint - March 2nd, 2021

"This is by far the funniest book that I have read since the pandemic began. I admit to being attracted by the title of Gurwitch's memoir. It reminded me of my favorite Edward Gorey rhyme from "The Doubtful Guest": "It came seventeen years ago, and to this day, it has shown no intention of going away." However, I was even more intrigued by the subtitle "Adventures in Downward Mobility." I am drawn to accounts of women falling through the holes of our slender social safety nets (see "Maid" and "Nomadland") and still getting up. And even more if they can laugh about it. Gurwitch is the friend that I wish I'd had to share my own humiliating times with, from parenthood to middle-age, when I thought that they were mine alone. As soon as I finished it, I went right out and got her earlier book, "You Say Tomato, I Say Shut Up."  I am a fan for life." — Carla


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Adventures in Eden: An Intimate Tour of the Private Gardens of Europe Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9781604698466
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Timber Press - December 8th, 2020

"This is a book with photographic tours of fifty European gardens — about forty percent of them from the UK and Ireland. I'm reading one profile a day, which should take me to spring in my own garden. There are a handful of reasons that this is one of the very best garden coffee table books that I've seen. First, the gardens chosen are relatively modern and modest gardens which, although not part of the RHS or National Trust, still have a habit of opening to the public, whether from private tours or open garden days. Several of these gardeners have lectured in Michigan (Peter Korn was just in Ann Arbor a few years ago). Second, Mullett is a long practicing garden designer from the US, aware of plant combinations, and plant palettes attractive to particularly American gardeners, which makes this book have greater appeal than just eye candy. Much of what she shows can be done at some level in our gardens. The garden art is often from repurposed objects or architectural salvage. Although the formal boxwood and yew topiary is not as much of our tradition, we know from American Pearl Fryar what can be done in one generation. The US hardiness range for these European gardens is 3-9, with particularly a lot of zone 6-8, so many of the gardeners' favored plants are perfectly hardy in your garden or microclimate. Mullett is also a good writer, and her essays add a lot to your understanding of each garden. But critical for this book, she is writing this from the perspective of a garden tour guide, with a great talent for both taking and selecting other people's photographs. The gardens are featured at all distances: the middle, plant or garden art close ups, borrowed landscapes. I don't think that I have ever seen a more well selected group of photographs for a collection of gardens. Don't take my word for it. The author has a facebook account "Garden Design with Carolyn Mullet" with over 1.6 million followers." — Carla


We Begin at the End Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250759665
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - March 2nd, 2021

— Deb


Women in White Coats: How the First Women Doctors Changed the World of Medicine Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780778389392
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Park Row - March 2nd, 2021

— Deb

 


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Zorrie Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781635575361
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - February 9th, 2021

"Laird Hunt has been on my radar for years, as his books have been well-reviewed and are often admired by authors I love, but I hadn’t picked up a book of his until "Zorrie." What a lovely surprise. This elegant, subtle novel is a character study of a person, a place, a lifestyle. We follow the title character Zorrie and over the course of the 20th century in the rural Midwest, mostly in Indiana, where she dreams, learns, loses, loves, and persists. Akin to novels from Elizabeth Strout and Marilynne Robinson or even Willa Cather, "Zorrie" may seem simple, but it confronts big questions that get at the heart of life. How do you to find happiness or muster hope despite the setbacks and heartaches of life? We witness resilience, fortitude, and empathy through Hunt’s gracefully distilled writing. This slim novel holds many treasures and despite its length you feel as though you’ve encountered a grand chronicle of a life." — Hilary


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Story Boat Cover Image
By Kyo Maclear, Rashin Kheiriyeh (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780735263598
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tundra Books - February 4th, 2020

An immensely lovely picture book about how we create a feeling of home when home doesn't necessarily physically exist. A family is leaving (fleeing?) and their sense of "here" is always changing. So instead of a place, "here" becomes a familiar tea cup, the steady comfort of the stars, a song that everyone can sing. There have been a number of books about the refugee experience, but this is the best I've seen - one that captures the idea that while there is lots of waiting and sometimes hardship, there is also kinship and strength. It uses simple concepts that children can relate to when thinking about how we create a sense of home and belonging. And how our personal stories are created as we move through life and that there can be hope even in difficult situations. — Hilary


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Twilight of Democracy: The Seductive Lure of Authoritarianism Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780385545808
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - July 21st, 2020

"Historian Applebaum focuses on recent post-Cold War trends toward autocracy, not just in the U.S., but particularly in European countries, to make her case about the always fragile nature of democracy. This book, along with the events of 1/6/21, are the most powerful wake-up calls I’ve had regarding the danger our republic is in. We must learn from history, lest we repeat it, to paraphrase Churchill, who paraphrased George Santayana. Applebaum concludes, “The precariousness of the current moment seems frightening, and yet this uncertainly has always been there. … We always knew, or should have known, that history could once again reach into our private lives and rearrange them. We always knew, or should have known, that alternative visions of our nations would try to draw us in.” We are at such a time, still, during which millions of people hold dramatically different visions of who we are, how we should live, and with whom as our neighbors. Take nothing for granted. Democracy is hard work."— Jeanne


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Bel Canto Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780060838720
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - August 2nd, 2005

"This is the tale of a group of people who are assembled for a special private performance by a world-renowned opera diva at the elegant home of the Vice President of a South American country, when they are taken hostage by terrorists. What begins as a frightening hostage situation slowly evolves into an atmosphere of normalcy as characters from different countries, of different classes and races are drawn together by the power of beauty, of music in the form of a daily performance given by the diva. Hostages and captives alike gradually get to know and accept one another and a sort of close-knit family feeling forms, and love blossoms for a few. Any time would be a good time to read or reread this marvelous novel, but this seems to be an especially perfect time, for this is the kind of story that can renew a waning faith in humanity—it gives hope that diverse people can come together and find commonality as these characters do, as well as hope in a world “in which someone could have written such music” as they are privy to, and for the reader, hope in a world in which a writer has written such an extraordinary novel as this."— Jeanne


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The Silence: A Novel Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781982164553
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 20th, 2020

— John


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The Way Back Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781984894625
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - November 17th, 2020

"There are so many reasons to read this book, including the author's local connection and the National Book Award sticker on the cover, but that barely scratches the surface. "The Way Back" is a beautiful and haunting story about two children who, after an encounter with the Angel of Death, have to journey into the Far Country, a land of demons and the dead inspired by Jewish folklore. Gavriel Savit is a strong and unique voice in YA right now, and I can attest that the award sticker is well deserved! Fans of Neil Gaiman will find Savit's writing to be reminiscent, but powerful in its own right. A delectably creepy book, and one that should absolutely not be missed." — Julia


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How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781580058070
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Go - June 2nd, 2020

"This a brilliant nonfiction read, which explores community building and models for connection. It's also a book I want to discuss with everyone I know. Birdsong pulls inspiration from many places: Black communities, queer relationship models, transformative justice movements, and more. Packed with anecdotes and real world examples, this book manages to stay grounded, but it's also an open invitation to rethink our own communities and to create deeper connections in our own lives. I think there is so much to be gained from reading this book!" — Julia


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

"I love "All Gods 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." — Kaitlyn


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How to Order the Universe 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." — Kaitlyn


Cutting for Stone Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780375714368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 26th, 2010

— Laurie


A Pilgrimage to Eternity: From Canterbury to Rome in Search of a Faith Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780735225251
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 16th, 2020

— Laurie


Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation; Authority; Acceptance Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780374261177
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: FSG Originals - November 18th, 2014

-Mike


How to Read Water: Clues and Patterns from Puddles to the Sea Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781615193585
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: The Experiment - August 23rd, 2016

— Mike


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Leave the World Behind: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062667632
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - October 6th, 2020

— Rose


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Shuggie Bain: A Novel (Booker Prize Winner) Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780802148506
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - October 13th, 2020

— Rose


A Lie Someone Told You About Yourself Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780544277717
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - January 5th, 2021

— Sam


True Grit: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781590204597
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - November 5th, 2010

— Sam


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Land of Big Numbers: Stories Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780358272557
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - February 2nd, 2021

"This richly observant collection of slices of life in China was one of the most captivating reads I've had the pleasure of reading. An absolutely stunning debut, this is the discovery of not only a country, but an author to watch. I love this collection. I devoured the entire collection the night of the winter Solstice." — Shannon


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Brood: A Novel Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780385546751
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - March 9th, 2021

"An exquisitely beautiful debut of the overlooked simple joys of life." — Shannon


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The Oak Papers Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780063037946
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperOne - February 16th, 2021

"I chose this book as one of my March Staff Picks because not only is it an important look at the natural world but it is also the most beautiful love letter to an 800-year old oak tree in North Essex, England and a moving meditation on nature's beauty, curiosities, and healing powers. James Canton writes poetic descriptions along with a history lesson of this great tree. His journal entries detail changes in the air, the birds, and the insects who inhabit, feed on, and nurture the tree. I could write on and on about the majesty of the tree and more so on the joy of reading Canton's discoveries and what he's learned about this colossal tree (that would have been a sapling when the Magna Carta was signed.) Treat yourself to an ode to the natural world with this perfect companion for walks in the woods, bird watching, or simply embracing the beauty and mysteries of old trees." — Vicki


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Girl A: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593295847
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - February 2nd, 2021

"I've selected this just-released novel for my other March Staff Pick because it's a riveting debut novel for a writer yet to be discovered. As painful and horrific as it was to read the story of this family of seven children and their over-the-top-dysfunctional and diabolically abusive parents, it's beautifully written, with impeccable emotional insights. One can't help but feel like a voyeur reading the details of the childhood abuse in this novel that doesn't reference to the real-life crimes that inspired the book. Abigail Dean leads the reader to care deeply for Girl A, compelling you to root for her rather than pity her. This is Abigail Dean's debut novel and is sure to be passed through the hands of many readers who will be grateful for the skilled writing and storytelling and pining for more." — Vicki