STAFF PICKS

We love talking about books! Check out our favorites for this season or—better yet—buy them!

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KATIE

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DAN

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MILES

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SYAN

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MYKALA

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NELL

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WILLIAM

 

KaTIE’s Picks

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BOMB SHELL

by Sarah MacLean

Fan of Bridgerton? Get your steamy nineteenth century romance fix with Sarah MacLean & her very modern-minded female protagonists.

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dial a for aunties

by Jesse Q. Sutanto

Do you prefer your mysteries to be hilarious? If so, this is the one for you. Sutanto's debut centers around a dead date, a big career-making wedding, a group of aunties who may occasionally be at each others' throats but will also always have each others' backs, and of course, the return of "the one who got away." 

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Cooking at home

by David Chang and Priya Krishna

The subtitle is: Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying About Recipes (And Love My Microwave). Inspired by their own mothers, Chang and Krishna have created a cookbook that’s all about great meals cooked with the restraints of home life in mind. It’s a book about thinking like a chef...who’s learned to think about cooking like a home cook.

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hello, habits

by Fumio Sasaki

Besides having the most gorgeous and soothing cover, Sasaki’s much-awaited Hello Habits is both a meditation on the nature of habits and a how-to guide to mastering them. A bite-sized book to nibble on before bed. 

 

DAN’s Picks

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Keeping two
by Jordan Crane

I am so glad that Fantagraphics put out Jordan’s recent work from his long unavailable Uptight series into a complete graphic novel. Keeping Two is a true heartbreaker. For any fan of Daniel Clowes, Adrian Tomine, David Small or Chris Ware, you need to get this beautiful, tragic little green gem. 

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THE LIMINAL ZONE
by Junji Ito​

Horror mangaka Junji Ito takes it to the next levell. After abruptly departing from a train in a small town, a couple encounters a “weeping woman”—a professional mourner—sobbing inconsolably at a funeral...

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KINDRED, FLEDGLING, Collected Stories
by Octavia E. Butler

Butler is a Chevalier’s favorite, and this new addition to the Modern Library of America series collects all her short stories with the addition of two of her novels. Butler was a Southern California-born writer of science fiction par excellence. Her stories broke the mold by featuring complex Black female characters; as she said herself, “I wrote myself in.” Get acquainted with this pioneer of the genre today.

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A DICTIONARY OF SYMBOLS
by Juan Eduardo Cirlot

Originally published in 1958, this book was the culmination of a lifelong obsession with symbols. Eduardo Cirlot was a poet, an art critic, and a champion of modern art.  Translated for the first time into English, this is both a reference book and meditation on the human condition.

 

MILES’ Picks

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THE LONG ANSWER

by Anna Hogeland

One of Murakami’s favorite books of 2020 is one of mine, and every single person I’ve recommended the book to agrees. I laughed out loud; I shed a tear or two. We’ll see if any debut novels from 2021 are able to knock this from its perch, but it’s a high bar set.

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A PRIMER FOR forgetting

by Lewis Hyde
 

Hyperbole is dumb, but what the heck: I don’t know of a better novel written in America this century. Ludo is the most precocious, curious and terrifying young character around. He basically teaches you how to speak Greek as you read. Cerebral, beguiling, often hilarious, stretches the limits of what you think a novel can be. Give your brain the gift of living in this book.

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Another country

by James Baldwin

A novel completely committed to representing the world as it is. Contains a gloriously intricate romantic web, very tangled. Baldwin can write anything—city streets, fluid sexuality, self-hatred, grief—with fury and grace. This is a book to take home and live in for weeks and weeks. 

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Scratched

by Elizabeth Tallent
 

Show up just for the sentences. Tallent came on the scene as a sharp short story writer in the eighties, but then took a two-decade hiatus from writing and publishing. The book is the account of those years, and offers a gorgeous portrait of the artist as a young woman.

 

SYAN’s Picks

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THE VEGETARIAN
by Han Kang

Entrancing … horrific … poignant, perhaps. 

Told in three parts about Yeong-hye, a woman who decides to become vegetarian: first from the perspective of her husband, second from her brother-in-law, & finally her sister. Themes include perception/agency, consumption/misogyny, & the near addictive need to not just be near nature, but melded into nature itself.
 

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CEMETERY BOYS
by Aiden Thomas
 

The characters are instantly loveable in this Latinx magic fantasy tale.
A feel-good coming-of-age story about Yadriel, a trans teen, who accidentally summons a ghost boy (friend) while trying to solve a murder & prove that he is a true brujo. 

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WE BOTH LAUGHED IN PLEASURE
by Lou Sullivan

We both laughed in pleasure...& I sobbed for hours reading his diaries.  An intimate & unflinching look into the life of someone who dedicated his short life to advocating for gay trans men like himself during the AIDS epidemic. 

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RÍO LA:
TALES FROM THE LA RIVER
by Patt Morrison & Mark Lamonica

"Go ahead and laugh, the river won't mind."

Short, witty essays accompanied by  photographs highlighting LA's least appreciated wonder, the LA River. The river has been in a chokehold of concrete ever since it started wiping out the houses & industries of rich folks that had the hubris to build directly on its banks. 30 years later, the future of the LA River is still fraught. 

MYKALA’s Picks

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Winter in Sokcho

by Elisa Shua Dusapin

This book was such a visceral experience for me. The novel follows a young hotel worker in the small village of Sokcho right on the North and South Korean border when she becomes obsessively infatuated with a French cartoonist as he tries to finish his book. This is a book rare in it’s simplicity but yet layered. There is nothing I can say that does this tiny book justice. 

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BELOW THE EDGE

OF DARKNESS

by Edith Widder

Part memoir & part in depth look into some of the most spectacular creatures in the ocean. Edith Widder almost lost her sight & started a long journey into how light works for other animals in complete darkness. She is one the few human being to actually see a giant squid with her own eyes. 

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MY HEART IS A CHAINSAW

by Stephen Graham Jones
 

There is a certain cycle that happens in all slasher movies, and that cycle is starting in the little town of Proofrock, Idaho. Jade is the only one with the knowledge to end the violence. Can she find and train the Final Girl in time? Part slasher, part supernatural thriller this book has something for every horror fan out there. Also that last scene in the book is something I think about all the time! Jade is my new favorite heroine.

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BARB THE BERZERKER

by Dan Abdo & Jason Patterson
 

Barb is awesome!!! She’s loud and fierce. Can she keep the evil Witchface from destroying all she loves and the ? A true adventure with action, monsters, and heart. Great for lovers of the Dog Man Series!   

 
 

NELL'S Picks

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gideon the ninth
by Tamsyn Muir

A lot of people have asked me about the lesbians in space. An 

equal number of people have asked me to shut up about the lesbians in space. In basic terms, this book is about a group of necromancers and their bodyguards vying to serve the emperor of the universe through a series of deathly trials designed to test their skill and stamina. It is absolutely the weirdest, wildest, most brain-bending novel that I have ever encountered, and I desperately need people to read it so I have someone to discuss it with.

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THE SOUTHERN BOOK CLUB's GUIDE TO SLAYING VAMPIRE
by Grady Hendrix

If you’re looking for a lush, steamy vampire story with lots of romance and intrigue… look elsewhere. If you’re looking for real, terrifying, squirm-in-your-seat HORROR, look no further. Proceed with caution if you have hemophobia, musophobia, entomophobia, or a suspicious neighbor. 

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Dark matter
by Blake Crouch

If you liked the idea of The Midnight Library, but thought to yourself, “gee, 

I wish this gave me more of an existential crisis”, Blake Crouch’s Dark 

Matter might be the book for you. This mind-boggling dive into the world of quantum physics explores the possibility of alternative universes in a unique and harrowing way.

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the house in the cerulean seA
by TJ Klune

Surprised to see a whimsical fantasy on this list of creepy sci-fi? Believe it or not, even heartless ghouls like me need a detox every once in a while. A story about learning to loosen up, accept love, and enjoy life, The House in the Cerulean Sea is a gorgeous, moving story that absolutely warmed my little heart (it’s in the freezer right now, cooling back down). 

 

WILLIAMS’ Picks

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BREASTS AND EGGS

by Mieko Kawakami

One of Murakami’s favorite books of 2020 is one of mine, and every single person I’ve recommended the book to agrees. I laughed out loud; I shed a tear or two. We’ll see if any debut novels from 2021 are able to knock this from its perch, but it’s a high bar set.

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A PRIMER FOR forgetting

by Lewis Hyde
 

When I finished this book, I wanted to start over again. The nature of forgetting, from the personal to the political, is studied with a deft intellect, as inspired by Greek myth as it is the South African Truth and Reconciliation Committee. The most thought-provoking book I’ve read so far in 2021.

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the copenhagen trilogy

by Tove Ditlevsen

Come join me on the bandwagon; I’ve got a seat saved for you. I’ve heard Ditlevsen described as a female Knausgaard. With apologies to Knausheads everywhere, I think it’s more likely Karl is a male Ditlevsen. Beautiful and devastating alike; a genius rediscovered.

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Sports is hell

by Ben Passmore

The best take on American culture I’ve seen in a good while. Sharp, witty, and wholly relevant, its violence rendered in gorgeous peachy pastels, this is a graphic novel I read front-and-back three times in one sitting.

*Cartoons designed by the one and only xixi edelsbrunner.