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Kris' Reading List

Staff Pick Badge
We Eat Our Own: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501128325
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - April 2nd, 2019

A 1970s Italian film crew's journey into the depths of the Colombian jungle during the height of the drug cartel's power is a trip into the darker recesses of the human soul. Not since Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness has there been a book that plumbs these depths with such chilling precision. Kea Wilson's We Eat Our Own is a literary masterpiece you will not soon forget.-Kris' September Staff Pick, 2016


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Huckleberry: Stories, Secrets, and Recipes From Our Kitchen Cover Image
By Zoe Nathan, Laurel Almerinda (With), Josh Loeb (With), Matt Armendariz (Photographs by)
$35.00
ISBN: 9781452123523
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - September 9th, 2014

This is my absolute favorite breakfast book of all time! - Kris


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The Light of the World: A Memoir (Pulitzer Prize in Letters: Biography Finalist) Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781455599868
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - September 6th, 2016

This is a celebration of the African American poet’s love-at-first-site marriage to her remarkable Ethiopian husband, Ficre, who speaks seven languages, is a talented painter and cook, and all round old soul with enormous heart. Which fails him completely just 3 days after his 50th birthday, leaving behind Elizabeth and their tow teenaged sons. The prose is as beautiful as the man and the life she remembers. This is one of those one-sitting books whether you intended it to be or not. Do not think of it as a tear-jerker or a downer: the tears you may cry will fill your heart with joy. - Kris


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Between the World and Me Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - July 14th, 2015

This sharply-observed, painfully true letter from a black man to his adolescent son has been written about everywhere. What I will say to my fellow white folk: this book was not written for you and that is why you should read it. Coates doesn’t mince words or sugar coat the harsh reality of being a black man in a world where the mere fact your physical existence alone can get you killed. All of us are complicit in this fatal arrangement and all of us are needed to break the contract on black men’s (and women’s) livesin this country.  Just read it.  And then, do something outside your comfort zone. -Kris' Top 10 Picks of 2015


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The Sound of Things Falling Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594632747
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - June 3rd, 2014

An absorbing novel of life in Columbia as experienced by those who lived through the drug wars. Antonio Yammara is a young lawyer whose friendship with a mysterious man he meets in a pool hall makes him an unintended target of unfinished business from a violent time thought to be long behind them. To heal from this present-day trauma that threatens to destroy his marriage, Yammara must take a journey into his now dead friend’s past, a journey where he confronts both his own childhood, and that of his friend’s beautiful daughter. Vasquez has been rightly hailed as a literary force of a new generation of Latin American writers. Read this book! - Kris


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This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062236685
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - October 7th, 2014

Immensely readable essays on wide-ranging topics with certain appeal for fans of Patchett who have waited a long time for a collection like this , but it will also be satisfying for readers who enjoy essays about writing, the shortcomings of marriage, family  life, and the current state of the bookselling industry.  Give it to a Patchett fan, a woman in your life, or a would be writer who will benefit greatly from her unvarnished advice. -- Kris


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On Sal Mal Lane: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555976767
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - May 20th, 2014

Comparisons to Dickens are not far off, but I am put in mind more of TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD. The tale chronicles the lives of the varied assortment of families living on Sal Mal Lane, as experienced particularly through the eyes of the children there. As the tentative bonds of proximity work their magic, the civil war brewing at the boundaries begins to intrude. It is a beautiful, lushly, and lovingly written account full of a sense of place and history, but brilliantly universal as well. - Kris


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The Distancers: An American Memoir Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780345806765
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - August 13th, 2013

If you are in the mood for a little local history, this is your book. Journalist Lee Sandlin evokes a lovely sense of place and time in this account of his German great-great-great grandparents who settled in Edwardsville in 1850. It is filled with the little details of everyday life as it evolved through time and peopled with a rich array of characters.- Kris


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Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316247757
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - April 26th, 2016

Why drink coffee on the subway with Patti Smith when you can ride horses naked in the country with Sally Mann? This unorthodox artist’s life opens with accounts of Mann’s “nearly feral” childhood and moves easily into her career as one of the most important photographers of our time. Tales of her own creative process, her family, the right’s attack on her work, are interwoven with knowledgeable and fascinating expositions on her beloved Lexington, Virginia, complete with all its dark legacy. There is literally nothing that Sally Mann cannot do or talk about. This book is a great account by a woman who is fully in charge of her incredible life. - Kris


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Bettyville: A Memoir Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143107880
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - February 2nd, 2016

George fled his tiny home town of Paris, Missouri to lose himself in the publishing world of New York City and avoid what he saw as somehow failing his parents and town for being gay. When his ailing mother calls him home, he returns for what he thinks will be a few days. A few years later he is still there, free-lance editing from the card table set up next to the couch where his larger-than-life mother holds court even as her feet and her memory fail her.  George captures perfectly their verbal interplay and emotional tug-of-war with a delightful, often self-deprecating humor. Betty, brutally aware of her failing memory, can still give as good as she gets. Told with warmth and humor, with a poignant, at times hilarious, dose of bumbling self-doubt, this is an original and affecting portrait of a remarkable woman and the son who loves her. -Kris' Top 10 Picks of 2015


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Rabbit Cake Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781941040560
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tin House Books - March 7th, 2017

When Eva Rose Babbitt, mother of daughters Lizzie, 15 and Elvis, 10, drowns sleepswimming, her daughters are left to fend for themselves emotionally while their father tends to his grief by wearing his wife's bathrobe and lipstick. Lizzie, a sleep-walker and eater, keeps Elvis up at night trying to keep her from burning the house down with her nocturnal "cooking". But Elvis doesn't trust the circumstances of her mother's death and she is also determined to finish her mother's book, "The Sleep Habits in Animals and What They Tell Us About Our Own Slumber", so she does a little research of her own. Annie Hartnett has created endearing and memorable characters in a delightfully original story in what is sure to be a beloved favorite of readers everywhere.


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Trace: Memory, History, Race, and the American Landscape Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781619028258
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - September 13th, 2016

Can the land tell us what our ancestors cannot? Can silenced and excised accounts of all the humans who made his country what it is—black, indigenous, white, brown, colonizers and colonized—be given voice in the ancient and modern upheavals of flint and fossil, flood and famine? Savoy, a geologist of mixed heritage, travels the country in this collection of interlinked essays to read the signs, both granite and archival, as she attempts to piece together the real America. Beautifully rendered, quietly urgent. - Kris


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H Is for Hawk Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802124739
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - March 8th, 2016

Just how intimate is the connection between humans and "the wild"? To what degree are we linked? Opposed? Helen McDonald knew her true calling by the age of 8 was hawks and whatever else was in her life, she knew she would learn to work and hunt with falcons. But it wasn't until the death of her beloved co-adventurer in life, her father, that she got the primal call to work with the most prehistorically fierce and huge bird of all, the goshawk. I was utterly rapt, pun intended. Rather than the very tired trope of "man against nature", in H IS FOR HAWK, we have the tale of two complex females--one human and one avian--and their transformational dance of intimacy. As a bonus to the reader, McDonald manages to come to terms with her grief over losing her father and intersperse her own goshawk adventure with T.H. White's, all in beautifuuly rendered prose. So good! - Kris


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News of the World: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062409218
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - June 20th, 2017

This is a wonderfully rich and engaging yarn set in 1870 Texas, about an odd couple--70 year old retired Army Captain Jefferson Kyle Kidd whose print shop was on the wrong side of the war and who now travels the territory reading the "news of the world" from East Coast papers to the gathered townfolk, and orphaned 10 year old Johanna who has recently been unwillingly rescued from her Kiowa captives, having completely assimilated to Kiowa life and speaking no English. They are thrown together when he agrees to transport her to her relatives 400 miles through perilous unsettled territory. As their eventful journey unfolds complete with chicken thievery and shootouts, their uneasy partnership flowers into a friendship. Told with wit and warmth, humor and pathos, this is a book I absolutely loved. -Kris' October Staff Pick, 2016


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Hood: A Novel Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062117106
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - October 11th, 2011

I was prepared not to like this story of coming to terms with the untimely death of a lover but instead was utterly captivated. Donoghue’s prose is exquisite. She strikes just the right tone, balancing the grief with the memories of a passionate love. I was also intrigued by the way she handled the secrecy with which Pen & Cara conducted their lesbian relationship in Catholic Ireland. Take a break from Jeanette Winterson and try Emma Donoghue! - Kris


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The Big Green Tent: A Novel Cover Image
By Ludmila Ulitskaya, Polly Gannon (Translated by)
$23.00
ISBN: 9781250097446
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - January 10th, 2017

Do not be put off by the size! Ludmila Ultiskaya, is wildly popular in Russia, tho not with Putin, and is heir apparent to the likes of Pasternak. This sweeping epic opens at the time of Stalin's death and follows the lives of 3 young boys as throughout their lives thru the cult of Kruschev, their participation in the underground samizat movement to disseminate “subversive” literature, thru constant surveillance and neighbors who will report you for possessing a copy of Orwell’s 1984. It is a big, full-cast narrative with love and heartbreak and more love and more heartbreak as only Russians do it, with lots of vodka, poetry, big all night arguments about the point of it all, Lenin v Marx, Pushkin v Tolstoy, and of course, always the KGB. Ulitskaya's novel slams the tragically absurd repression(s) these beautiful people survive with characteristic Russian dark-humored wit and pathos. -Kris' February Staff Pick, 2016


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The Story of the Lost Child: Neapolitan Novels, Book Four Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translated by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9781609452865
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - September 2015

So I read the first of the three of this ground-breaking epic  tale of two women, whose friendship and life-long rivalry begins early in their Naples, Italy childhood. I can’t think of anything since Doris Lessing’s Children of Violence series that centers a story this big around the lives of women.  Fully imagined lives—with husbands, lovers and children, yes, but also with jobs, careers, political intrigues and whose relationship is stronger than all others to which women are normally assigned.  These are must reads. -Kris' Top 10 Picks of 2015


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Fates and Furies: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594634482
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 13th, 2016

A modern Greek drama told in two voices:  first by the golden boy Lotto, whose fortunes come easy and are assured, and second, by his mysterious and strikingly beautiful wife Mathilde.  There are also occasional asides by the (Greek) chorus. Lotto would have you believe that his gorgeous wife of mysterious French origins fairly exists to serve him, and he paints a fairly convincing picture. But when Mathilde speaks, the picture goes a bit murky. This is a compulsively readable and original retake on what could have been a stale trope.  Hint: In a game of rock paper scissors, Furies trump Fate. Or do they? -Kris Top 10 Picks of 2015


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A Little Life Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780804172707
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - January 26th, 2016

This is a mesmerizing tale told in exquisitely wrought prose. We follow the lives of 4 young men who meet in college when they share a dorm room and remain close the remainder of their lives. There is a fundamentally sad tale-within-a-tale centered around the fragile Jude, one of the friends, who withholds the heart-breaking details of his tragic childhood to everyone but the reader.  But one of the most interesting themes in this book is that of how we define family—who is in it and why—and the rules of engagement as they pertain to love. A  masterpiece. -Kris' Top 10 Picks of 2015


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My Life on the Road Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780345408167
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - August 23rd, 2016

When I was little more than 19 or 20, I took a trip with a friend to Washington, DC, where we found ourselves at some sort of women’s rights sit-in in the halls of Congress.  Seated against the wall of one of those halls, struck up a conversation with the woman next to me who told me she was planning to start a feminist magazine.  Being me, I gave her lots of advice about getting the word out. Gloria Steinem didn’t need my advice to make Ms. Magazine a success. But in My Life on the Road, she shares story after story of the people she met travelling—first with as a child with her eccentrically nomadic father, and later as a journalist, activist and public speaker—people perhaps like me only more interesting. People—from feminist colleagues to taxi cab drivers—whose stories and advice were building blocks to her organizing for women’s rights. This is an anecdotal account, easy to dip in and out of and full of sentences of deceptively simple clarity that you will want to underline and repeat. It’s equal parts armchair herstory, memoir and travelogue. So much of the last 50 years of the women’s liberation movement has been removed to the inaccessible pages of academic tomes. Here is your chance to go behind the scenes with one of the most influential women of our time and see how it’s done. -Kris' Top 10 Picks of 2015


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The Cold Song: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781590516676
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Other Press - April 8th, 2014

The Empathy Exams: Essays Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555976712
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - April 2014

Mambo in Chinatown: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781594633805
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - July 7th, 2015

The Plover: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250062451
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - March 31st, 2015

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The Mirror Thief Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781612195599
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Melville House - April 11th, 2017

What a great, big fat book of many interlinked stories! Comparisons to Eco's The Name of the Rose and the work of David Mitchell are spot on. Set in all the Venices (Italy, Nevada and California) and spanning centuries, The Mirror Thief is a virtuosic tour de force! This is a novel that everyone will be reading and talking about for years to come. -Kris' May Staff Pick 2016


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My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life: A Cookbook Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9781400069989
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - September 29th, 2015

Kris' October Staff Pick 2015


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Christmas Days: 12 Stories and 12 Feasts for 12 Days Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780802125835
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - December 6th, 2016

I discovered this wonderful little book *after* Christmas when it was in hardcover and wished I could have mailed it out to all my family and close friends. What a lovely collection of stories and memories by one of my favorite writers. The recipes and how they came to be is an added bonus. Great book for giving, great book for sharing aloud.