I read widely, but my favorites tend to be literary fiction, reissued 20th-century women's writing, and innovative and experimental literature.
What you think your job is at Left Bank Books: Making chaos out of order. Wait... reverse that.
What sound do you love? Wind rustling through crisp autumn leaves.
What’s in the trunk of your car? Currently, there's a trunk in my trunk.
Using only one word, describe yourself. Curious.
This brutal tale of grief and trauma will challenge you. You may even want to throw the book across the room after the first few pages. BUT DON'T GIVE UP. You will acclimate to the fractured, half-formed narration, and you will be richly rewarded for the effort. McBride's lyrical and innovative style, which she has referred to as "stream of pre-consciousness," occupies the space in the mind where experiences and thoughts have not fully formed themselves into clear language. The resulting narrative voice shows how broken the unnamed narrator is -- but also does violence against the forces in the girl's life that work to keep her down. McBride deals with topics ranging from rape to brain cancer with delicate nuance and a burning fury.
For any reader who has ever loved a dog. This debut novel follows the close relationship between a social misfit and his one-eyed dog. Baume (who trained as a visual artist) has a keen eye for details. Her close observations of nature translate into a sensory reading experience, and her close observations of human nature translate into a compelling narrative of isolation and companionship.
Isolated on the weather-beaten cliffs of England, a house stands haunted. Siblings Roddy and Pamela Fitzgerald encounter--and then struggle to confront--the restless spirit that inhabits their new home. Will they be able to protect their young neighbor, Stella, from the enticing, suffocating forces that threaten to destroy her? Dorothy Macardle's chilling feminist ghost story from 1942 poses canny questions through uncanny events, troubling traditional conceptions of motherhood, romance, and family. This edition, issued by Tramp Press, includes reference to the 1944 film adaptation of the Fitzgeralds' paranormal investigation, which is available today through the Criterion Collection. PLUS, in Dorothy Macardle's follow-up, The Unforeseen, a skeptical, rational woman has prophetic visions of tragedies yet to come. Can she prevent the horrors she imagines before they come to pass?
Hank is the adorable son of Jim, our receiving manager. His picks are typically about trains, things that make noise, dogs, and social justice.
Gaston is a little different from the rest of his family, and when he meets a burly brood of bulldogs everyone realizes that there may have been a mix-up when he was just a pup, but they soon learn that just because something might look right, doesn't mean that it feels right.
Theodore just wants some peace and quiet and shows a lot of patience (even though he's always grumpy about it) to the creatures that disturb him in his cave, but one noisy boy pushes the limits of Theodore's patience a little too far.
"Hey kid, did you know that dragons love tacosTo be fair, who doesn't love tacos? This book is perfectly goofy and is just as fun for parents to read as it is for kids to have it read to them.
Poor Chewie just wants something to eat (fun fact: Wookies are ALWAYS hungry) while Rey is off looking for Luke Skywalker, but can't find any food, and can't go anywhere without being followed by the Porgs that inhabit the island. What's a hungry Wookie to do?!
This sunflower seed does all kinds of bad and inconsiderate things; He tells long jokes with no punch lines, talks during movies,and lies about pointless stuff. Everywhere he goes, other seeds say "There goes a bad seed!", but how did he get to be so bad? Was he just a bad seed from the beginning, or did something happen to make him go bad? Is he always going to be a baaaaad seed?
What you think your job is at Left Bank Books: Hair model
If you had a Super Power, what would it be? Animal shape shifting would check all of my boxes. Not only am I intensely curious about animals, but then I would get to experience flight, the depths of the sea, and everything in between.
What’s your sign? One of those duck crossing signs.
This book reads like an action mob movie with a flair of magically super powered brawls. It's fast paced, but also well fleshed out. The culture of the Green Bones has a wonderful depth that includes everything from the necessity of these ruling gang families to all the flaws of their pride. It's a well thought out, well written, and fantastically delivered read.
This is one of those amazing books where it hits you so hard and makes your blood pump so fast that you need to take a break to breathe through and process what you just read. Naomi Alderman writes in such a way that you can feel the impact of this power in every ounce of the book. The Power is incredibly well thought out and well written.
Claudia Gray managed to accurately capture the feel of the Star Wars Universe while simultaneously exploring a new perspective that focuses less on heroes, and more on the people that are actually wrapped up in the mess of this intergalactic war. This was the Star Wars book I didn't know I needed. It has sent me down both a spiral of consuming Star Wars novels, and made me a strong fan of Claudia Gray.
I find all of Molly's work fun and engaging. Witch Boy is no different. It's a wonderful graphic novel that takes a fun story and uses that as a vessel to introduce discussion on gender issues and the damages of forcing social norms. Meant for younger readers, but I think would be fun for anyone.
By all accounts this should have been a pretty standard YA novel. Instead it took the tropes and turned them over to discuss things like what defines person-hood, what makes a person good or bad, and how do we stand up for the things we want to fight for. I'm not sure when it happened, but I was pulled in and could not put it down until I was done.
Julia Kaye put the words to the confusing mess of thoughts I have had for a lifetime. I knew from that point this book was going to hit me on a deeply emotional level. Kaye uses her words and highly expressive illustrations to perfectly capture emotions that I've struggled with (and that I thought I was alone in experiencing). In the hour it took me to get through this book I was tearing up, laughing, smiling, sighing, and everything in between. Thank you Julia Kaye, if nothing else you have positively impacted my life by telling your story.
Kameron Hurley creates worlds like no other author. Between the disturbingly one of a kind world building, the wonderfully flawed characters, and the enthralling unreliability of the narrator this book fully absorbed me.
Poet X is a wonderful coming of age novel completely written in verse. It's beautifully written and navigates a wide variety of social roles and expectations. I think it can be summed up in the two lines: And I think about all the things we could be if we were never told our bodies were not built for them.
What an absolutely amazing collection of stories about all aspects of love and so many forms of love. The artwork fits perfectly with the theme and it explores so many aspects of relationships in a beautiful way.
This has got to be one of the most appropriately named books out there. Jason Reynolds has managed to approach all of our insecurities in a way that inspires one to overcome their obstacles. It's beautifully unifying, incredibly heartfelt, and I feel fuller having read it.
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 over 70% of the earth, so I would have nearly unlimited power. I could swim like Aquaman, bend water like an Avatar Korra (or a Blood Bender...), or control it like Magneto.
Reading this book is like standing on the edge of a high ledge, looking down and feeling your chest tighten. You will fear Ayale, AND you will cling to his every word, just as the narrator does.
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.
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.
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).
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...
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.
Great for beginner & intermediate readers. This book dispels many myths about Socialism while presenting inventive & hopeful visions for the future. Even better: It has links to further reading in each essay!
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.
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.
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.
Janet’s autobiography is down-to-earth in its tenderness & brave in its vulnerability. She opens her heart to her readers, and this book will cling to yours long after you put it down.
For readers of any culture, this a tenderly written & beautifully illustrated story of a boy & his South Asian heritage.
There is not a dull story in this book. Brosh had me cackling & ugly laughing in public with this one. She tackles everything from childhood antics to crippling depression. She addresses these with great humor & transparency.
This book is a classic for a reason. I've read it 3 times. You will find love, heartbreak, and sass 3x over in this book. Unpopular Opinion: Molly Bolt could kick Katniss Everdeen's ass.
This story will reach into your chest and wring out your heart like a rag. The illustration is dazzling, and the story is heart-melting & heart-wrenching in turns. It contains all the magic and romance of "San Junipero" (Black Mirror) with its own unique style and wit. Can't rave enough about it!
This comic had me blushing & giddy right alongside Hazel. A charming & sexy story with lovely illustration. Newlevant's realistic portrayal of queer & poly dating, with all its cuteness, awkardness, & charms, is refreshing. My only complaint is that I want more!
For music lovers, for fans of Brownstein or Portlandia, or for anyone who loves a great memoir. Brownstein dives into childhood, rebellion, dating, touring, and much more. She has a way of getting to the raw, hidden truth of each of these, exposing her heart to the reader in a way that will expose some of your own hidden truths.
A universal dilemma: Who gets to cuddle with Mommy at night? This precocious kid has a reasonable, and well-researched solution to present to Daddy. Just hear her out.
An Elven Mage, a Hipster Dwarf, a Human Cleric, and a Hippy Smidgen Thief walk into a bar... Rat Queens is a fun, bloody adventure shared between 4 sarcastic, badass friends who happen to work as mercenaries for beer money.
This story will make your heart melt & the illustrations are dazzling.
Jurek takes us along on his personal journey with food, running, & life. It starts with helping his mother in the kitchen & takes us through the mountains & deserts of the West. He pushing the limits of his body & explores diet & training practices that are extreme even for the elite. It's a wild ride.
A masterpiece! Not the typical portrayal of 1920s New York, in all the best ways. There are no smooth-talking jazz kings, just a raw, intimate portrayal of Black life in Harlem. Morrison's magical realism is on full display, taking new forms on every page.
A masterful & original piece of SF, weaving science, social commentary & brilliantly conceived alien culture & ecology.
Raine creatively and skillfully portrays how communication can break down, even in a family that never shuts up. The characters are challenging and flawed, but compelling. Raine's uses of english, ASL, written, and spoken language is really intriguing and it drives the plot well.
Dating is hard. It's harder when you're gay. It's REALLY hard when you're a Reaper and attending Uni. But who says getting a demon punched out of you on a haunted ship is a meet-cute?
What you think your job is at Left Bank Books: To startle people who walk by the window to my office at the back of the store.
If you had a super power, what would it be? Teleportation.
Favorite smell: Old comic books.
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.
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.
Sworn to protect a world that fears and hates them.” The X-Men have long been a stand out of the super-hero genre with mutants as something of a metaphor for the struggles of socially marginalized communities, but at its heart, the X-Men universe is sci-fi soap opera with complicated continuity, a large cast of misfit characters, retcons, and multiple alternate timelines that converge on each other which make for a world that can be intimidating to jump into for new readers but is a large part of the appeal for fans of the franchise such as myself. Ed Piskor’s Grand Design looks to streamline that unwieldy continuity, and make accessible almost 60 years of serialized stories into a concise narrative without shying away from the campiness of the era that spawned the original stories, and the anachronistic nature of Marvel continuity illustrated in his unique, funky, retro Silver Age style.
1968 was a consequential year in American history to say the least, and the presidential election of that year can be considered something of a flashpoint in modern American politics where party platforms and affiliations were cemented for the next several decades. Playing With Fire is written in such a compelling manner that despite the fact that the events of the book are documented history, you actually find yourself considering "what happens next?" as the story unfolds.
Unflinching in it's honesty, Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz has written one of the most essential chronicles of American history. An Indigenous Peoples' History Of The United States dispenses with the convenient and comforting mythologies of our national origins to pierce to the heart of the matter; the United States was formed through the plunder, slaughter, and displacement of the indigenous nations of the continent by Anglo-European imperial colonialism, and that bloody, shameful legacy is woven into the very fabric of America's national identity.
How did an oddball stand-up comedian and television actor become a reviled pro wrestling heel? For Andy Kaufman, his own... quirky form of character-driven performance art and life-long fascination with professional wresting were destined to converge.
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
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
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
What’s in the trunk of your car? Heaps of garbage.
Stick or Automatic? Automatic
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!
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.
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.
For the middle aged men in your life. Or people who like laughing at middle aged men. Or just laughing in general.
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.
Albert's writing is both hauntingly familiar and refreshingly off-kilter. This is a dark and lovely story with elements of horror and magic that bridge the world of reality with that of fairy tales. Definitely recommend to those drawn to the macabre and who appreciate a story that takes its time.
What you think your job is at Left Bank Books: Selling books and staying busy
What’s in the trunk of your car? Blankets, jumper cables and leaves
Using only one word, describe yourself. Private
Stick or Automatic? Automatic since '13
I'm shocked and disappointed that this book hasn't been talked about more, given how prevalent the issues of crime and imprisonment are today. While challenging the popular ideas reformers have about the causes and responses of mass incarceration, Pfaff provides fascinating insight and novel ideas for addressing our flawed criminal justice system(s). A totally necessary read.
I'd never heard of this book or author until it was described to me as a combination of Lovecraft and Borges and I was instantly sold. Giorgio De Maria was a well regarded Italian author and this novel of his written in the 1970s has just been published in English for the first time. Narrated by a resident of Turin investigating unsettling and still unexplained disturbances and murders from 10 years prior, we glimpse an unromanticized version of this Italian city in which government, the church, its citizens and possibly the supernatural are conspiring against the narrator as he unearths what happened during the "twenty days of Turin." De Maria's wonderful prose reveals a city as rich in history as it is in dread. He also anticipates the profound impact of social media and its own terrors nearly 40 years before its existence. Quick, immersive and a pleasure to read, this decades old lost novel has more to say about existence today than one would expect.
Steve Erickson is both criminally underrated and one of my favorite writers - his newest novel continues his streak of writing expansive stories that defy easy categorization. In Shadowbahn, the World Trade Center mysteriously appears overnight in the South Dakota Badlands 20 years after the towers were destroyed, a brother and sister from L.A. drive across the USA where the states are no longer unified, and Elvis Presley's stillborn twin Jesse wakes up in an alternate timeline in which he survived and Elvis died at birth. Shadowbahn is strange and somewhat overwhelming, but in a good way - it's combination of history, fractured timelines, fractured politics, family and the unexplained are tied together through Erickson's love of 20th century music. Incredibly relevant when looking at our own political reality, if you've read Steve Erickson before you know what to expect, and if you haven't then I encourage you to give him a try.
Donald Ray Pollock's newest novel follows three southern brothers heading North to find fame and fortune as bank robbers and an Ohio farmer struggling to support his wife and son after being swindled out of a large sum of money. Their paths will converge in a mix of humor, compassion and violence in this examination of rural society facing radical changes during the turn of the century. His characters exhibit both ruthlessness and hope when faced with a seemingly unjust world. Containing striking imagery, a dark streak of comedy and swift action; this book will sweep you across the unforgiving landscape its characters inhabit. This book is for any fan of Southern Gothic writers, historical fiction or Western films.
One of the best true crime books I’ve ever read. Cullen dismantles everything we think we know about Columbine, showing how memory, the media and our preconceived notions distorted the picture of what really happened that day. Using an array of sources, Cullen examines the community leading up to the shooting and its aftermath which affected the entire country. Nearly ten years old, this book is still remains relevant today.
Seeing this play in Chicago two years ago pushed all my buttons - moved me emotionally, challenged me intellectually, made me laugh, cry, and awed me with its insanely imaginative examination of the changing nature of the American family. A bold, ambitious, but still very human work for our times, this is my favorite new play of the decade.
It's not often that a thrilling page turner also gives you a new way of seeing the world. Written in the simple language of fairy tales, but with layers of complexity underneath, The Child Finder joins the ranks of Room, The Lovely Bones, and Tideland as a book that looks through a child's eyes into very dark places, and shines a light on the power of imagination to help us cope, to heal, to survive.
That rare marvel, a book that manages to be an astounding feat of imagination and a heartbreaking character study at the same time. This book will thrill you with its invention and make you ache with its sad, beautiful meditation on life, mortality and what makes us human.
If you want an honest, unvarnished look at the difficult process of bringing a new play to the stage, this book is for you. Made up of interviews with people in productions of Angels in America both large and small, (including local cast members from the 2012 production in Saint Louis!), this is a fascinating inside view of one of the most audacious and influential American plays of the 20th century, just in time for its return to Broadway this spring.
My favorite book this year by a long shot. A towering epic that charts the intersecting paths of nine very different individuals whose lives are touched by trees, and their halting, often misguided attempts to imagine a narrative where humans aren't always at the center. Full of crystalline prose, unforgettable characters, and impressive depth - If you found yourself captivated by The Hidden Life of Trees or Lab Girl, you will devour this!
Inspiring and heartbreaking in equal measure, Indecent is a decades-spanning epic that never loses its sense of intimacy or its focus on how one small moment on stage can change someone's life. Drawing from both European tragedy and Yiddish vaudeville, Paula Vogel creates a raucous celebration of the wonderful, dangerous act of showing the humanity in people our culture doesn't want to acknowledge.
Not your standard artist biography, this book speaks in the hushed tones of an intimate conversation. Darrieussecq weaves historical scholarship with literary memoir to create a personal experience with this extraordinary painter who showed her age more of the world - and of herself- than it had dared to see before. A quiet, meditative gem.
The book that first explained me to myself. Serano's history as both a scientist and punk musician shine through, marrying a methodical approach and precise language to a fearless, defiant attitude that both challenges and enlightens. Ground zero for trans-inclusive feminist theory and a stirring defense of femininity in a culture that constantly belittles it.
A novel that's old-fashioned in the best way, eschewing "big" issues and "high" drama for good humor, quiet intelligence, and the hidden depths of everyday experiences. Rooney writes with sparkling wit and a keen eye for the little moments that define who we are. It's the sort of book you don't see much anymore, but maybe the exact sort we need right now.