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Staff Pick List

Hank

Hank is the adorable son of Jim, our receiving manager. His picks are typically about trains, things that make noise, dogs, and social justice.

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Trains Go Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780811879422
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - January 25th, 2012

Choo Choo!!!


Jamell

Name: Jamell J. Spann, The First

What you think your job is at Left Bank Books? Bookseller & Self-Proclaimed African-American Literature Afficianado

If you had a Super Power, what would it be? Astral projection. To troll my friends & work from home.

What’s your sign? Aries (Fire signs unite!)

What’s in the trunk of your car? Secrets capable of undoing me.

Elon

If you had a Super Power, what would it be? If I had a superpower, it would be to control water. Cuz, if you think about, water is in every living thing and covers 70% of the earth, so my power would rival that of Storm of Jean Grey.

If they made a movie about your life, who would play you? Donald Glover would absolutely play me in a movie. And, he would play me just like Troy from Community.

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Giant Days, Volume 1 Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781608867899
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Boom Box - December 1st, 2015

 This series really surprised me with its over-the-top humor and quirky, lovable characters. Whether you are student or not, you will find a laugh, a favorite character, and something to cheer about in this series.


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Saga Volume 1 Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781607066019
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Image Comics - October 23rd, 2012

Saga is in a league of its own. It's smart, it's sexy, it's hilarious, it's bloody, it's delightful, all with its own unique twists and turns.


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Binti Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9780765385253
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tor.com - September 22nd, 2015

I promise you, the Binti series is like nothing else you've read before. Okorafor's imagination is so inventive and original. This story is about SO MUCH MORE than a girl going to college. Binti will win you over again & again. And these little novellas pack a surprising punch (straight to the heart).


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Behind You: One-Shot Horror Stories Cover Image
By Brian Coldrick, Joe Hill (Introduction by)
$15.99
ISBN: 9781631409530
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: IDW Publishing - October 31st, 2017

Coldrick's illustrations gave me the creeps, and he sent chills down my spine with 1 short sentence. His unique style of horror makes me rethink what horror really is. And what I'm really afraid of...


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The Power Cover Image
$20.80
ISBN: 9780316547611
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Brown and Company - October 10th, 2017

Wow! This book pulses with electricity as you read it. Alderman creates a world, full of badass women as warriors & leaders, and throws you into it headfirst. We are all aware of the faults of our society (sexism and violence against women), and Alderman wastes no time "teaching" us this. She skips straight to the point, the shock, and the hellfire.


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Eating on the Wild Side: The Missing Link to Optimum Health Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780316227933
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little Brown and Company - May 20th, 2014

Did you know that applying heat to garlic cloves within 10 minutes of cutting or mincing destroys all of its many beneficial properties?

This book offers readers a little bit of history, a little bit of chemistry, and a lot of surprising nutrition facts. Robinson spares us the science jargon and speaks plainly about what to look for in the grocery store and how to get the most out of what you eat.


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A Dream Between Two Rivers: Stories of Liminality Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780692864685
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Cutlass Press - September 5th, 2017

A dark, mysterious, erotic, feverish collection of short stories. From werewolves, Hansel + Gretel, and many other myths and folktales, Pereira takes readers on a dreamlike journey that lingers long after it's over.


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Ayoade on Ayoade: A Cinematic Odyssey Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780571316533
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Faber & Faber - December 13th, 2016

This book is... a wild ride.

Filled with laughs, film history tidbits, and, surprisingly, romance and action. Seriously, just flip to the front page and tell me you're not curious where this goes.


Jim

 

Jim is our new Receiving Department (yes, just the entire department).

He is a husband, father, artist, runner, & nacho afficianado.

 

 

 

 

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Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781610396004
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: PublicAffairs - November 10th, 2015

A fascinating look at modern Russia focusing on the use of popular television programming to advance the political and social agenda of the state by the Russian president, and the network of Oligarchs whose influence shape the culture and economy. The author draws on his own experience working in Russian television, interviews with a former gangster turned Oligarch/action movie producer, a fashion model/aspiring trophy wife, and a fabricated "opposition party" that is used to provide the veneer of fair elections, but in reality serves to reinforce the image of stability and power of the ruling party. The book illustrates a nation where post-Soviet new-money elites revel in gilded opulence, while everyone else is afforded cold, often brutal institutional nihilism. 


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The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316013697
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - April 1st, 2009

Hilarious, and hitting me right in the feels.


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The No Meat Athlete Cookbook: Whole Food, Plant-Based Recipes to Fuel Your Workouts--And the Rest of Your Life Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781615192663
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Experiment - May 16th, 2017

Although this cookbook satisfies my particular niche dietary needs and is very helpful for my athletic aspirations, I think most people will find that you don't have to be athletically inclined, or even strictly vegetarian to benefit from the recipes in No Meat Athlete. The recipes are largely uncomplicated, and designed to help simplify meal planning with a focus on fresh ingredients, meatless protein alternatives, and a wide range of flavor profiles that make for filling, healthy, and flavorful eating.


Jenn

Typical reading: Humor, Essays, Memoir

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever been for Halloween? When I was eight, I demanded to be Dolly Parton for Halloween. My parents finally conceded. 

Do you collect anything? Receipts, lint, crumbs, dust, gum wrappers (so many gum wrappers! I don't even chew gum), paper clips, earring backs. Ya'll, purses are dumb.

If you could be any fictional character, who would you choose? Mr Tiger

 

 

 

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The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781501139895
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery Books - August 8th, 2017

You guys! Amy Schumer is just like me! And, maybe, she's a lot like you, too!

And I don't mean in that tabloid-stars-are-just-like-us kind of way. I'm not talking about the fact that there is photographic evidence of her makeup-less face, or that she pumps her own gas, or that she walks her dog. 

I'm talking about the fact that she's an eccentric, neurotic, bombastic introvert. That the world's perception of her may be a little skewed because she's not willing to ignore or suppress the uncomfortable — yet completely normal and prevalent — things in life.

Humor and comedy are my wheelhouses, so I was pretty familiar with Schumer before I ever picked up the book. I still found myself surprised. Some comedians and personalities are willing to revel in the raunch merely to shock, or in a mistaken attempt to be perceived as raw and vulnerable. There are passages here that get down to the quick, that shake you (me). That leave you (me) in tears. The kind that hurt your heart, not your sides. Don't get me wrong, there is plenty of funny. But life is not limited to chuckles. 

Comedy, tragedy. Heartache, side ache. Same coin, two sides.


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How to Be a Woman Cover Image
$10.00
ISBN: 9780062564740
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Harper Perennial - October 11th, 2016

But Jenn! This is an older title!

It is. It is. But! It's a new cover, so I'm doing this.

And it's the book I wish I'd had 20 years ago.

And it's the book I gave to my teenage step-daughter as she warred the tumult of high school.

And it's the book I recommended to my mother when she was JUST. SO. SICK. OF. IT. ALL.

Moran tackles the day-to-day struggles and joys of being woman with strident, subversive laughter. And I love her guts for it.


Devin

I generally read adventure and young adult fiction. 

 

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The Lonely Hearts Hotel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780735213739
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - February 7th, 2017

The Lonely Hearts Hotel is a dynamic, beautifully written novel. Heroes stand as young Pierrot and Rose, circus performers who enchant their crowds and serve as the beating heart of the Montreal great depression. Heather O'Neill manages to break my heart and enhance my desire to run away to the circus that much more as she weaves breathtaking phrases with bizarely wonderful similes. O'Neill will make you believe in magic in a painfully real way.


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The Vacationers Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594633881
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - June 2nd, 2015

A dysfunctional family feigns normalcy as they take a beach vacation. 

Full of odd quirks, painstaking unconditional love, and superb writing by Emma Straub.

Very highly recommend.


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A Gentleman in Moscow Cover Image
$21.60
ISBN: 9780670026197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - September 6th, 2016

A beautifully written novel chock full of dynamic characters which exist in an epic setting (The Metropol Hotel in Russia, while civil war rages on). Will not disappoint those who are fans of novels that are both brimming with humor and insight to one's morality.


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The Mysterious Benedict Society Cover Image
By Trenton Lee Stewart, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
$9.99
ISBN: 9780316003957
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Young Readers - April 1st, 2008

I grew up with The Mysterious Benedict Society series, so I may be a bit biased, but his childhood adventure stories will enchant and delight you. There is no magic involved, but I still swear that sometimes the adventures that are attainable are the greatest to watch unwind. A bookworm, a trickster, a former circus performer, and a contrary poet (all children with incredible cleverness) work together to uncover the truth of a boarding school for the wise and eccentric Mr. Benedict. YOU WILL FALL IN LOVE!


Stephanie

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Letters to a Prisoner Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781771472517
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Owlkids - September 15th, 2017

Without using words, this book points to the profound power of human connection in the most trying of circumstances. A beautiful ode to hope and love, Letters to a Prisoner is bound to be cherished by those of all ages. Stephanie's Staff Pick, November 2017


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Fractured Lands: How the Arab World Came Apart Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780525434436
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - May 2nd, 2017

Originally a long-form piece filling an entire NYT Magazine issue, Anderson's account of the invasion of Iraq and its devastating aftermath is one of the few humanizing accounts of the region and its people that I've encountered in the genre. Following the lives of six individuals facing various circumstances and clinging to various allegiances, one can trace the unfolding of a world and its innocents. Stephanie's Staff Pick, June 2017


Alyssa

What you think your job is at Left Bank Books:

Trying to get Spike to like me
 

If you had a Super Power, what would it be?

All cats instantly like me

or maybe teleportation 

What’s your sign?

Leo and I am living proof that astrology is fake news
 

Theme song to your life:

Just a Girl by No Doubt

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The Coldest Girl in Coldtown Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780316213097
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - August 12th, 2014

Could not put this book down.  It's a rare thing to find a teen vampire novel with a strong female lead and a plot not entirely driven by a creepy romance.  And it's not a trilogy!


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How to Set a Fire and Why Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781101911754
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 13th, 2017

This book was hard to put down, not because of a thrilling plot or suspenseful tone, but because the words just felt so good.  The narrator is a highly intelligent yet somewhat delinquent teenage girl living in a remodeled garage with her elderly aunt.  She copes with the recent traumatic loss of her parents by setting things on fire in attempts to join her school’s Arson Club. This unique novel is wrought with jagged, off-beat humor and subtle devastation that will almost convince you to become an arsonist yourself.      


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The Glass Castle: A Memoir Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780743247542
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - January 17th, 2006

I kept having to remind myself that this was a memoir and not a work of fiction.  Jeannette Walls's recounting of her childhood of poverty and neglect blurs the lines between parental love and child abuse.  Walls's narrative starts as a young child, blissfully ignorant to the fact of her family's poverty and enjoying the freedom and excitement of living in the wild desert.  However, as she gradually gets older and the veil of fun and innocence falls away she  begins to see and feel the debilitating emotional and physical damage of growing up in poverty. She soon realizes that her parent's love and good intentions are not enough to keep her and her siblings safe.  This book will thaw your heart and freeze it over, often at the same time.   


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Vacationland: True Stories from Painful Beaches Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780735224803
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - October 24th, 2017

For the middle aged men in your life. Or people who like laughing at middle aged men. Or just laughing in general.


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The Cruel Prince Cover Image
$15.19
ISBN: 9780316310277
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - January 2nd, 2018

Holly Black has a knack for taking stale fantasy tropes and presenting them in the most charming, refreshing ways. Her characters are strong and imperfect and wrought with moral ambiguity.  If you're a fan of dark fantasy, political intrigue, badass heroines, and the occasional angsty teenage drama, then this is the book for you.


Cory

What’s the best gift you’ve ever received? I lost my favorite toy airplane, a little die cast metal F-16 Falcon painted like the Thunderbirds, when I was about 8 years old. I never forgot about it. I loved that thing. When I was 30 years old, for my birthday that year, my stepfather replaced it for me. He scoured ebay looking for the EXACT same one. I was blown away. And still loved it just as much as when I was a kid. It's on my writing desk at home now. A place of prominence. 

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Stephen Shore: Selected Works, 1973-1981 Cover Image
By Stephen Shore (Photographer), Wes Anderson (Contribution by), Quentin Bajac (Contribution by)
$80.00
ISBN: 9781597113885
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Aperture - May 15th, 2017

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The Threat Matrix: Inside Robert Mueller's FBI and the War on Global Terror Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316068604
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Back Bay Books - February 9th, 2012

Garrett Graff must've put his entire life on hold to put this book together. The sheer scope of its research, sourcing, and analysis is incredibly impressive. Beyond that, the context in which it places the FBI, not only in the perpetual "war on terror" but also in the ethical trajectory of modern American history, is vital to understanding our current Trumpian crises. The detailed workings of Robert Mueller (his mindset, his scruples, his dedication to a non-partisan constitutionality, his honor) should prove reassuring to anyone who doubts that there could be honest Americans in law enforcement. You'll finish this book sobered by the burden of responsibility on the men and women of the FBI and confident in the investigatory rigor of the former FBI Director and now Special Counsel.


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The White Album Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780374532079
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - November 10th, 2009

"We tell ourselves stories in order to live." In 1979, Joan Didion released this collection of essays that re-contextualized the tumultuous events of the preceding two decades and forced everyone who read it to ask themselves which stories they had told in order to live with the world they'd wrought. The White Album is perfect from start to finish, much like The Beatles record which inspired its name, and similar as well are the disparate pieces of a generation racked by drugs, war, poverty, sex, and race, that come together to form a cohesive and incisive narrative about America sucking in the 70's.


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All That Is Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781400043132
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - April 2nd, 2013

Upon completion, a mere 27 hours after I began, I set this book down and thought, "That was one of the finest books I've ever had the pleasure to read."

Salter's last novel spans a lifetime, from the last days of WW II where our main character is about to land in Okinawa, through the hey day of the Manhattan publishing industry, through to his lonely twilight years. Imagine all the pensive, novelistic aspects of Mad Men, except, you know, an actual novel.

The author passed away the year after he published All That Is and it can absolutely stand as one of the best representations of his incredible legacy of letters.  The sentences are simple and emotionally incisive. The tracing of the characters as they change, bruise, and bitter over the years is gorgeous. And Salter does not shy away from highlighting the darker, borderline despicable, acts of a lonely, heartbroken man.  People rarely write books like this anymore, or maybe books like this are just rare in general.  That what makes it so resonant and beautiful. 


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Quantum Lyrics: Poems Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780393333121
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 1st, 2009

A. Van Jordan happens to love poetry, comic books, theoretical physics, stand up comedy, and classic cinema all at once. That breadth of knowledge mixed with a mastery of stylistic form means that his poems aren't mere verse and meter, they are short films, one act plays, splash pages, and hot button bits all at once. In Quantum Lyrics, Jordan writes about love, the theory of relativity, and DC Comics characters with equal expertise and ease. He leaves you laughing and with emotion caught in your throat within the space of a stanza. On top of it all, you know not only is this a poet of many, many interests, but also a poet who is unabashedly full of heart.


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Odes Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780451493644
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 20th, 2016

Sharon Olds has made a long, illustrious career for herself by standing naked in front of all the world to see. She has used her poetry to confront the physical and psychic abuse she endured at the hands of her parents, her sexual independence in the 60's and 70's, the rise and fall of her marriage, or the highly criticized intimacy with which she discussed her children's lives. Now, entering the elder stateswoman era of her career as America's foremost "confessional poet" (I sure do hate that reductive term), Old's creates a book both whimsical and lite through its chosen poetic form, but also one which see's her soberly owning up to previous criticism and shifting certain attitudes about her Mother, Motherhood, and what it means to be a woman of a certain age. This book is simultaneously vintage Olds and something stylistically fresh, a beautiful collection for a poet who has never failed to be herself.


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Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780374531386
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - October 28th, 2008

Joan Didion's first collection of essays gave us this incredible passage, from On Keeping A Notebook, "I think we are well advised to keep on nodding terms with the people we used to be, whether we find them attractive company or not." She writes with such confidence and such a sharp morality (and not preachy self-righteousness, I mean ACTUAL MORAL JUSTNESS) that she cuts through all of society's B.S. Published in 1968, the words in this book are as relevant as the day they were written and will continue to be as years go by. We may find that Didion ends up being the foremost woman of American letters in the 21st century as well.


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So Much Synth Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781556594878
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Copper Canyon Press - May 3rd, 2016

Shaughnessey has made, in my opinion, the best collection of poetry 2016 had to offer. It was almost impossible to force myself to slow down and savor each piece in this book. Her writing is so kinetic, truthful, heartwrenching, and fun, that you never want it to end. So Much Synth is soaked in the colors, sounds, and attitudes of the recent past. The 80's and 90's coming of age of the poet on full display; homages to Annie Lennox, Depeche Mode, and more mixtape classics, shitty apartments in the San Francisco lesbian grunge scene, and then in conclusion, an impassioned plea for the future to be slightly more easy on the generation we're leaving it to. It's a tall order to have a poet engage your head, heart, and humor all at once, but that's exactly what you get with So Much Synth.


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The Phenomenon: Pressure, the Yips, and the Pitch That Changed My Life Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781610396868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: PublicAffairs - April 18th, 2017

Ankiel writes about the bizarre twists and turns of his already well documented career. But there is nothing like hearing it straight from the source. On the page, he is far more emotionally open and vulnerable than any HBO or ESPN documentary could possibly get. He doesn't hold back on his troubled upbringing, his fragile psychic state as he struggled to maintain his career and sanity, and his use of substances, self-help books (and pretty much anything he could think of) to try and deal with the repercussions. Ultimately though, below all the hub bub of the Yips and getting back to the majors, this is a book about healing old wounds and learning to trust and love again, trust and love of others and yourself. Ankiel takes on this issue with surprising candor for a major leaguer.


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Done Dirt Cheap Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781419723681
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Amulet Books - March 7th, 2017

This is the first young adult novel I've ever read, partly because, from the premise alone, I had no idea it was a young adult novel. This is not to say that I think YA is bad and I neglect it intentionally. I just have never had much interest. But Sarah Nicole Lemon's novel caught my interest fast and did not relent. This novel reads like a Joan Jett record. Dingy, crass, fun, but also expertly crafted and far smarter than first glances let on. Hidden below the narrative of biker gang intrigue, mismatched southern gal pals, and nefarious drug dealers is sly, subtle social commentary. Lemon's characters play out scenarios that take on progressive matriarchal roles, millennial frustration with outmoded racial stereotypes, and quick but important analysis of the cost of combat for our young veterans returning from the Middle East. Oh and a lot of sex. Cause, you know, biker gangs and southern gals. Needless to say, this is a definite edge of PG-13/R rated book. It's for teen readers who have already seen some things. Best bestowed with the aforementioned Joan Jett record. maybe also AC/DC if you want to bridge any generation gaps.


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You, Too, Could Write a Poem Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143128199
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - February 7th, 2017

This book is essential reading for anyone concerned with contemporary poetry. And by that I mean anyone who has read any contemporary poetry. And by that I mean anyone who reads. At all. David Orr is dark humored and sharp, but not cynical. He's a realist and a skeptic, but not bitter. He writes about poetry (an art form he knows full well is neglected to the point of near hatred) so that all might benefit, even if no one chooses to. He believes greatly in the democracy of poetry, even if actual poets, MFA program faculty, and the publishing industry do not. He trusts that the literary world, the regular everyone world at that, has a certain sense of morality, a faith in right or wrong, good or bad, and a need for words to foster that faith, even if we as a society refuse to acknowledge it.


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Charms Against Lightning Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781556593871
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Copper Canyon Press - November 6th, 2012

James Arthur's first full length collection of poetry reads like an X-Ray, making flesh invisible so all the inside bits can be seen so clearly that you'd almost wish not to have seen at all. He writes of a very specific time of early adulthood, the coming to terms with a past weighing heavy so that forward momentum can take hold. Encompassing emotions and actions that aren't always so virtuous or characteristically poetic, I appreciate that Arthur's narrative voice isn't afraid to admit failings of character in order to grow past them. Composed over long walks and endless recitations, Arthur's poems achieve an unvarnished honesty, not a hint of pretense. That in and of itself is an accomplishment, but thankfully, also, the poems are just that good.


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The Heart Is Strange Cover Image
By John Berryman, Daniel Swift (Introduction by), Daniel Swift (Editor)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780374535780
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 5th, 2016

John Berryman was a really "complicated" man. The go to euphemism for any alcoholic, mid-20th century, lecherous, confessional poet who simultaneously lifts your soul with his art but kind of grosses you out with his personality. The Heart Is Strange collects the best poems from his experimental and influential career. His early more formal works, his adultery love letter Sonnets series, the "Henry" Dream Songs greatest hits, and most wonderfully his later works from Love & Fame and Delusions, Etc., not as widely discussed but probably his finest poems. Berryman became harder on himself in the last years of his life. While that self-critique inspired his tragic leap from the Washington Avenue bridge, it also led to the most empathetic poetry he'd ever written and hopefully this beautiful book can help promote analysis of those forgotten works. Each of these FSG editions is beautifully put together with insightful introductions and gorgeously minimal design, but this one makes for the perfect overview of one of the 20th centuries finest poetic voices.


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