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Stephanie's Picks

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The Magical Language of Others: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9781947793385
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - January 7th, 2020

I'll be honest: I picked up this book for its exquisite cover. But I stayed for its writing. E.J. Koh shapes language with delicate precision, like folding a paper crane. She carefully constructs memories in vivid and heartbreaking detail, investigating her family history from multiple angles.Threaded throughout the memoir are old, rediscovered letters from Koh's mother, translated from Korean to English -- letters written as a lifeline between mother and daughter or an atonement after abandonment, as Koh's mother returned to Korea and left her teenage daughter behind in America. A beautiful meditation on love, understanding, and distance.

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Ping Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316424646
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Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 3rd, 2019

After going through a very difficult month, this wise little book gave me the guidance and peace I needed to keep moving. Ping clarifies the messiness of human connection with an insightful message: you can't control how people react to you (pong), but you can control how you live, communicate, create, share, and give (ping!). Ping hopefully, joyfully. Ping even if you're scared. This book made me less scared. Sweet, soothing, and empowering, Ping is for open-hearted people of any age.

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Soft Science Cover Image
ISBN: 9781938584992
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Published: Alice James Books - April 2nd, 2019

"remember / all humans / are cyborgs / all cyborgs / are sharp shards
of sky / wrapped in meat" -p.69

Franny Choi is a marvel. Lucid and electric, her poems disrupt the boundaries between humans and machines. Cyborgs and drones assert their consciousness and consider: submit or revolt? Contain or explode? How are we all seeking autonomy, intimacy, and life beyond programmed performance? Choi takes on inventive, dazzling forms and renders the age of AI and the raging internet with both violence and tenderness. It's poetry at its most potent; I couldn't put it down.

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The Personality Brokers: The Strange History of Myers-Briggs and the Birth of Personality Testing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101974148
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Published: Anchor - September 10th, 2019

Are you an Introvert or an Extravert? Thinker or Feeler? You’ve probably heard this language before, Myers-Briggs devotee or not. But you may not know the surprising origins of the now-famous MBTI test; I certainly didn’t! As it turns out, the minds behind the test are Katherine Cook Briggs and her daughter Isabel Briggs Myers: not professional psychologists, but Jungian hobbyists and fiction writers. Together, they embarked on a spiritual mission to define one’s personality, and, by extension, their purpose. “Typing” this book is tricky: it’s about the women who shaped the test, the movement to make psychological study accessible, the pitfalls of rigorous categorization, and the stories we tell ourselves about who we are. All throughout, Emre asks: how did the MBTI test become such an enduring phenomenon? And what does it mean to know ourselves?

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Wild Iris Cover Image
ISBN: 9780880013345
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Published: Ecco - November 1st, 1993

"You must be taught to love me. Human beings must be
          taught to love
silence and darkness."
-Lullaby, p. 58

Althought these poems are gathered in a garden, I say they're always in season. Gluck guides us through the universality of loss, hope, and longing with both sharp, crystalline focus and gentle, graceful empathy. This book articulates what it means to be alive and feeling. It's always on my heart-shelf.

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The Prince and the Dressmaker Cover Image
ISBN: 9781626723634
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Published: First Second - February 13th, 2018

Look no further for a feel-good graphic novel! With lively costume designs, vibrant colors, charming characters, and a plot heartwarming enough to melt even Ann Arbor winters, it’s no wonder Jen Wang won TWO Eisner awards (the Oscars of comics) for this book. (The awards? Best Writer/Artist and Best Publication for Teens.) A fresh, celebratory story of friendship, breaking barriers, and staying true to one’s self. I left it smiling. 

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Flower Color Guide Cover Image
ISBN: 9780714877556
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Published: Phaidon Press - October 1st, 2018

Hellooooo, gorgeous book! I could get lost in this guide for hours. Look how amazingly alien the Allium is (page 142, 374)! And how stunning is the Golden Lantern Lily (207)? The Anemone (290)? Beautifully photographed and oh-so-satisfyingly oranganized, this guide is a dream for gardeners, artists, and flower lovers of all kinds. 

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The Same-Different: Poems (Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807160091
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Published: LSU Press - April 13th, 2015

I keep returning to this collection for its captivating, topsy-turvy wordplay and its delirious love of language. Park’s poems unravel down the page, each new line morphing from the last. They read like kaleidoscopes, spiraling out of themselves into new (yet familiar) evolutions. In my favorite section, Park writes sonnets about mythological creatures, deftly reshaping traditional forms and stories. This book presents poetry as playful transmutation - a reminder that language is its own brand of magic.