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While you can't browse our monthly staff pick wall in the store, we're still happy to provide staff picks and share what we've been reading and loving recently!
I was immediately drawn into this family drama, which never feels dramatic but rather quietly and beautifully genuine, leaving me with the sense that I’d truly gotten to know these characters. Williams’ observations of the relationships between people brought together by circumstance are full of a crackling energy, and the novel crescendos to brilliance as his characters grow to become a family. This book has so much heart, and I loved it. —Kelsey
Sam's pick this month!
"I am Ana. I was the wife of Jesus ben Joseph of Nazareth." So begins bestselling author Sue Monk Kidd's newest novel. Crafted around the premise "would the Judea/Christian world have been different if Jesus had had a wife like Ana?" Ana is an erudite and spirited first-century woman with the "chutzpah" to speak her mind. The power of Ana's tenets, the patriarchal efforts to silence them, and the tender depiction of Jesus and their marriage together make this a riveting novel. Follow Ana's journey, from the betrayal of her family, to finding true love in Jesus, and in the remarkable women she shares her life with after Jesus' death. This is an incredibly intriguing story. Go beyond the religious history you've known and visualize Kidd's premise. —Vicki
Julia's pick this month!
It’s 1989 in Danvers, Massachusetts and the local high school field hockey team desperately needs a winning season. What else to do but turn to witchcraft? We Ride Upon Sticks is a delightful novel that blends together the coven of friendship, the occult devotion of the sports world, and the neon glow of ‘80s pop culture like an expertly concocted potion. Most magically, Barry captures the heartache and angst of being a teen with striking specificity and great respect. I could tell she had a blast chronicling the various (and often hilarious) misdeeds of the team, and, like all of them, I couldn’t help but get addicted to the toil and trouble. At the beginning, the players enter as a whirlwind of names, just a blur on the field. But by the end, I knew each character completely, and I felt bound to them in some way too. —Stephanie
Deb's pick this month!
I've read several middle grade readers in the past few years. I find myself more attracted to them than dystopian YA selections: I'm fine reading about horrible things in nonfiction, but I usually want something smaller and more personal in fiction. I give a resounding Yes! to "The List of Things That Will Not Change." Our heroine Bea is dealing with her parents divorce, her own anger and therapy, her Mom's depression, and the forthcoming wedding of her Dad to another man. There is also a would be stepsister who is staying distant, even though Bea wants her to be the sister she never had. Ultimately warm and reassuring, at a time we need it, and likely to inspire reflection in readers both young and not so young. —Carla
You don’t have to be a baseball devotee to become engaged by the characters that populate this debut novel set in Scottsdale, Arizona, where spring training for baseball’s minor Cactus League Los Angeles Lions takes place. Despite the setting, it’s the action off the field that is the heart of this book. Each of nine chapters focuses on a different character, some of them on or connected with the Lions Team, and others permanent residents of Scottsdale with loose ties to the team. The link in all of the stories is the team’s star outfielder, Jason Goodyear, who is having a particularly bad year. These stories, each involving a struggle or challenge of some sort, are most artfully and very gradually woven together to form a novel that will tug at your heartstrings. And in a perfect and prescient ending, Jason, after performing a true heroic act of redemption, tells an injured child to “hang on,” and the sportswriter whose musings are interspersed throughout the book, observes, “…goddamn it if his words couldn’t have been meant for himself, if they couldn’t have been meant for us all.” Indeed, hang on everyone. —Jeanne
Hilary's pick for this month!
In the first twenty years of marriage to Don Galvin, his wife Mimi bore twelve children, and six of them were diagnosed in their lifetime with schizophrenia. All of these births were too late to have prompted pregnancy counseling.This Colorado family became both the best hope for finding a genetic link and a cure to our most feared mental illness, and the reality check for how difficult it would be. From Freud's theory about the destruction of the ego, to nurture theories of "refrigerator mothers," and the as yet unfulfilled promise of psychotropic drugs and genome sequencing, the author shows us how far we've come. He also manages to paint memorable portraits of each of the family members (nine of the children are still living) and the researchers who have followed them for decades. —Carla
John's pick for April!
This little book is the perfect addition to any cooking collection. It has recipes for classic cookies but also super fun things like mocha mamas (a favorite among my friends) and Mexican chocolate snickerdoodles (a house favorite). The recipes are fast and easy, which is perfect for someone like me. And since they're all vegan, you take no risks eating the dough. —Kaitlyn
C. Pam Zhang's How Much of These Hills is Gold has the power of a river current, pulling any hapless reader into its bracing grip. A family epic, a tale of sheer adventure, a genre-bending Western, a hard-talking meditation on power and tenderness, this book confidently twists and turns, refusing to be defined. Lucy and Sam, Chinese American siblings in the 1800s have lost their father, and whatever home their family managed to scrape up in the cruel and prejudiced West. In search of something they cannot articulate--another home? belonging? a living tiger? a palmful of gold?-- the siblings travel across the plains and hills of California, through salt flats and towns with names like Sweetwater. A book full of wonder and pain, gold and dust. Do yourself a favor, and take a drink out of this mighty river. —Lillian
During these turbulent times, I have found relief in these pages. Its dense prose transports us out of our reality and into the story’s. You can tell right away that this author is a poet because of the vignettes he spins within the story with language. “On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous” is a coming of age novel that carries the weight of the past, present, and future. Please consider reading this novel as a way to find peace during these times, as well as to open a dialogue between the yesterday and today. —Rose