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Staff Picks

MAY 2021 STAFF PICKS

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11/22/63: A Novel Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9781451627282
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner - November 8th, 2011

"Life turns on a dime"

Time travel, romance, drama, suspense, MAINE???? I mean, come on, it's Stephen King. The man needs no introduction. For his 49th(!) novel, King takes the reader on a journey beginning in the town of Lisbon Falls, 2011 with Jake Epping, a high school English teacher. Recently divorced and generally down and out, Epping soon has his world turned upside down when his friend and local restaurant owner, Al Templeton, reveals that his diner is actually a portal that transports him to the year 1958, and that Jake must uproot his entire life to go live for five years in the past, kill Lee Harvey Oswald, and prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. Sounds simple, right? An absolute rollercoaster of a novel, this book takes the reader on a massive journey, and once you pick it up you'll have an extremely hard time puttng it down until all of its 849 pages are read. An excellent read for times like these when you're stuck inside, the weather's terrible, and there's little else to do! —  Ben


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The Pepper Thai Cookbook: Family Recipes from Everyone's Favorite Thai Mom Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9780593137666
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarkson Potter - April 13th, 2021

Chrissy Teigen's mom Pepper has written a family cookbook that emphasizes the link between frugality and flexibility, that was a necessity growing up in a large working class family in Thailand. She later used this principle as a young mother newly moved to the states, whose own daughter wouldn't eat Thai food, and a grandmother who couldn't always find Thai ingredients. Sloppy joes, spaghetti, and omelets get the Thai touch, but more authentic recipes also come with substitutes, such as green beans for green papaya. There are also recipes for homemade chile crisp, and a doctored up fish sauce that she keeps on her dining table. All of it sounds delicious. This is the perfect easy cookbook for someone who likes Thai food but hasn't tried to get the same flavors yet in their own cooking. There isn't one recipe in this book that I wouldn't eat. — Carla


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The Barbizon: The Hotel That Set Women Free Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982123895
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - March 2nd, 2021

I was probably in college when I first heard of The Barbizon. A hotel just for women with meals and maid service provided? Sign me up! When this book came out, I was expecting an interesting history of the hotel, but this book was so much more. In addition to the story about the hotel, the book tells the stories of the women who came through the doors-aspiring actresses, dancers, models, writers, musicians, and secretaries. Some were famous, like Sylvia Plath, Joan Didion, Grace Kelly, Liza Minelli (Judy Garland drove the desk clerk crazy by calling to check up every few hours), and Cybill Shepherd. Some became household names, most did not. The women were from middle and upper-middle class homes, and were almost exclusively white. Through their stories you see the changes in our culture about expectations for women over 50 years, and the changes in Manhattan. I expected to be entertained, but I was fascinated. I highly recommend it. — Deb


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Firekeeper's Daughter Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250766564
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - March 16th, 2021

I started telling people they should read this book before I even finished it, starting with my teenage daughters. (It is a YA book, even though I got to it first...sorry girls!) Don't let the YA label stop you, adults open to it will find plenty here. This book is fantastic on several levels.

    First...It is skillfully plotted, suspenseful storytelling, especially impressive for a debut author. Daunis is a protagonist worth spending time with, as she triued to figure out who is behind the drug deals which are harming her community, while also dealing with her own questions of loyalty, belonging, and what it means to become a member of a community while coming into one's own strength. 

    Second...The perspective of this book is firmly rooted in the Indigenous culture which both the protagonist and the author share. Author Angeline Boulley is a registered member of the Sault Ste Marie Chippewa Tribe, and this book explores issues of the US/Indigenous history, Anishinaabe language, culture, and medicine in ways that are so organic, and beautifully realized.

    And...this is a Michigan book! It's set in Northern Michigan, mostly in Sault Ste. Marie and Sugar Island. The author lives in SW Michigan now, and there are several mention of Ann Arbor that come as welcome little nods. Don't miss this one. — Gwen

***Content warning: Drug abuse, Overdose, Suicide, Sexual Assault***


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The Passenger: A Novel Cover Image
By Ulrich Alexander Boschwitz, Philip Boehm (Translated by), André Aciman (Introduction by)
$24.99
ISBN: 9781250317148
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Metropolitan Books - April 13th, 2021

The world just might be a better place if readers embraced this new edition of a prophetic and haunting novel written by Boschwitz in 1938 at age 23 which portrays in chilling fashion the persecution of Jews in Germany prior to WW II and foresees the even greater horrors to come. The titular passenger is Otto Silbermann, a successful Jewish businessman who flees Berlin to escape arrest by embarking on a train odyssey across Germany. The account of his journey from city to city is suspenseful and infused with dark humor and a sense of existential dread and impending doom. Otto gradually experiences the shattering of everything he took for granted, including his very identity, and his faith and trust in humanity. This is a remarkable cautionary tale from a wise and talented young writer who, on his own journey to escape persecution, was killed at age 27 when a German submarine torpedoed the ship on which he was a passenger.     — Jeanne 


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My Grandmother's Braid 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! — Kaitlyn


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Simply Julia: 110 Easy Recipes for Healthy Comfort Food Cover Image
$32.50
ISBN: 9780062993335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Wave - March 2nd, 2021

"Simply Julia" is so much more than a cookbook! Not only is this book filled with approachable recipes and helpful tips, Turshen shares honest and personal essays on topics such as body positivity, anxiety and volunteering. I enjoyed this book so much that I signed up for one of her Saturday cooking classes via Zoom and felt like I was spending an afternoon in my kitchen with a longtime friend.  I was left with a variety of amazing salad dressings for a month and many tips on how to modify her recipes to accommodate my vegan, vegetarian and diabetic friends. This book will delight your palate, feed your soul and spark meaningful conversation at your dinner table. Prepare to be nourished from the inside out! – Laurie


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Dory Fantasmagory Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780147510679
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Puffin Books - July 7th, 2015

Meet Dory. She's just your average six year-old girl.  Except that she lives in a monster-infested house, has a fairy godmother named Mr. Nuggy, and is being chased by an evil, coffee-loving robber who wants to keep her locked away in a cave for all eternity.  So yeah, totally normal. Abby Hanlon perfectly depicts the wild imagination of young children and how easily they can become caught up in their own stories.  Dory Fantasmagory will have both kids and adults crying with laughter.  And don't worry, there are four more titles in this series! — Lori


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How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781612198552
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House - December 29th, 2020

During this time of transition, I'm returning to Jenny Odell's "How to Do Nothing." This thoughtful book combines deep research with lyrical prose, examining everything from art and public space to birdwatching and histories of communal living. While it's framed as a guide to "resisting the attention economy," this book feels less like a how-to guide and more a call to reorient our approach to productivity, and the cultural values that accompany it, at a more fundamental level. – Rachel


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How Much of These Hills Is Gold: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525537212
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - April 6th, 2021

"Mostly the water is unconcerned with beauty. Mostly it rages and beats the cliffs till they crumble, plunging unwary creatures to their deaths. The water eats at the posts of the docks, bends that wood to its knees. The water does not reflect. It is itself, and it spreads to the horizon." (247)

Siblings set off to bury their father's rotting body in the Gold-Rush American West. The children attempt to live with and bury their past, so that they might have a future. Their present, however, is filled with folklore, hardship, anti-Asian American racism, and a thirst for home. This novel seems the love child of "Grapes of Wrath", "East of Eden", and "As I Lay Dying" told through a young girl. Zhang's writing beckons the reader to chase the siblings through the chapters, often, leaving room for our imagination within the layers of this tale. The world of this story is searching for nuggets of gold, the words themselves lend nuggets of truth just as precious. — Rose


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The Night Gardener Cover Image
$8.95
ISBN: 9781419715310
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: Amulet Paperbacks - May 5th, 2015

— Sam


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Low Country: A Memoir Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781948226868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Catapult - April 13th, 2021

A debut memoir of beautifully intertwined  vignettes that make it feel more like a ghost story than a life survived. Jones grew up in a world of hard contrasts and the way she tells of her experiences, you will find yourself utterly enthralled from the first page. — Shannon


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The Inside Game: Bad Calls, Strange Moves, and What Baseball Behavior Teaches Us About Ourselves Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062942722
Availability: In Stock at Publisher - Usually Available in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow - April 21st, 2020

Not a strictly a book about baseball as much as it is a look at how mistakes are made due to the poor assumptions, biases, and fallacies that we all make in our everyday lives. Each chapter looks at one or more poor decisions in the history of the game and the thinking behind those decisions. How does anchor bias influence umpire calls? What does suvivorship bias have to do with Nolan Ryan's high pitch counts? How does the sunk cost fallacy figure into player salaries? A great book for fans of the game who want to learn more about the psychology and economic thought that has shaped the game. — Tom


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Margreete's Harbor: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250271549
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - April 20th, 2021

This novel is on par with every literary novel I've read over the past 40 years that has remained a part of me. Beautifully written with an obvious love and admiration for strong families, the story is a microscopic unzipping of a family at the end of the 1950's and the tumultuous 1960's on their entire family structure. The story takes place on the nature-battered coast of Maine, in the home of Margreete, the matriarchal grandmother who the story is built around, and each member of the family's relationship to and with her. The children are young when they move into their grandmother's home. We witness their growth, their insecurities, and the changing family dynamics that are impacted by the assassinations of President Kennedy and Martin Luther King and the Vietnam War on this loving family. I found nearly every sentence worthy of re-reading. — VICK


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Your House, My House Cover Image
By Marianne Dubuc, Marianne Dubuc (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781525304903
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Kids Can Press - October 6th, 2020

A delightful picture book about a little rabbit who lives in an apartment within a larger house and is planning a birthday party. There is a cross section of the house and you can see what everyone else is doing that day. Hedgehog waits for his dad to come home from a trip. The Mouse triplets cause chaos (naturally). The Cat family is moving in. Bear is sick. Owl is trying to sleep, because it is daytime afterall! There are so many fun things to talk about on each page. And little hidden gems. Much to discover on each page and talk about with curious little people. - Hilary