November 2016 Staff Picks

"Seek the lofty by reading, hearing and seeing great work at some moment every day." ~Thornton Wilder. You'll be thankful for this month's staff picks.

Books: 
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The Nix Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781101946619
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - August 30th, 2016

Engaging, inventive, funny, sad, sparkling, sweeping, smart, fun... I could go on and one with adjectives describing this brilliant debut. The Nix is truly one of best books I have read in awhile. A thread of spooky Norwegian folklore winds through this novel, which takes place during the Vietnam student riots in Chicago all the way to New York’s Occupy Wall Street protest. The story follows the strained relationship of a daughter and her father, and subsequently her abandonment of her own son and the fallout for him.  Secrets, ghosts, politics, social commentary ... so many layers to this book!
 
The legendary John Irving said it best on the book’s dust jacket: “The Nix is a mother-son psychodrama with ghosts and politics, but it’s also a tragicomedy about anger and sanctimony in America.”

-Recommended by Kim


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Shirley Jackson's
$16.00
ISBN: 9780809066506
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Hill & Wang - October 25th, 2016

As a young man I read lots and lots of short stories. Shirley Jackson was one of my favorite short story authors and “The Lottery” has haunted me all my life. Now Miles Hyman, Shirley’s grandson, brings the story back to life as a graphic novel. I was afraid seeing someone else’s visual interpretation would destroy the story for me, but I was wrong. His artistic rendering faithfully interprets this dark tale and does justice to his grandmother. This book makes a wonderful gift for the student of literature and art.

-Recommended by Ron


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The Mothers Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399184512
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - October 11th, 2016

The winter before she is set to go to college, Nadia’s mother kills herself. Coping in an unhealthy way, Nadia begins a relationship with her pastor’s son, Luke. During the fallout of their relationship that summer, the mysterious, shy, church-going Aubrey reaches out to Nadia and a strong bond is formed between the two. However, over the years, the girls keep secrets from each other - secrets about Luke. This trio of lies and deceit form marked commentary on the loss, abandonment, and love of mothers - in whatever form or shape they take in our lives.

-Recommended by Victoria


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Inheriting Edith: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062378743
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - October 18th, 2016

Maggie, a single mom struggling to make ends meet, has a falling out with her good friend, Liza, a renowned author, who appears to “have it all.” Maggie has not heard from Liza for five years, until the day a bombshell hits: Liza, who has died, left her entire wealthy estate to Maggie ...  along with the care of Liza’s 82 year-old mother, Edith, who is in the early stages of Alzheimer’s disease.
 
At first it feels as though Maggie has won the lottery, but then life gets real! Maggie finds herself caring for a fiercely independent, and generally capable woman who does not want Maggie’s care. Working through life’s pains and difficulties, each woman learns from the other as a strong friendship is formed. The same message appears throughout the story: life is short, things can change in an instant, so don’t wait to do what’s on your mind now!

-Recommended by Virgie


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Blood at the Root: A Racial Cleansing in America Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780393293012
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 20th, 2016

In the 1980’s, Patrick Phillips grew through his teenage years in Forsyth County, 40 miles north of Atlanta. Forsyth County was an anachronism, an all white community where it was literally dangerous for a black person to drive through, let alone stop. Phillips heard stories about why Forsyth County was white but he never knew the truth.
 
In Blood at the Root, Phillips tells the story of 1900-1912 Forsyth, a time when blacks owned farms and businesses and were part of a vibrant community, and how that all ended when more than 1,000 blacks were chased from the county by night raiders, never to return.
 
In today’s highly divided America, where differences are feared instead of celebrated, Blood at the Root is a lesson worth reading.

-Recommended by Ron


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The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World Cover Image
By Peter Wohlleben, Tim Flannery (Foreword by), Jane Billinghurst (Translator)
$24.95
ISBN: 9781771642484
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Greystone Books - September 13th, 2016

Welcome to the wonderful world of trees. The Hidden Life of Trees brings to light everything about the tree as a living organism. Trees are more than they appear: they are an intricately interconnected group of plants that communicate not only within the species, but also with other types of trees and plants on the forest floor.
 
I know there is some irony in reading a book about trees that is made from trees, but this book emphasizes how we should treat trees as social beings. Trees are much more than something pretty in the forest that provide the planet with oxygen. The Hidden Life of Trees is a fascinating must-read for everyone!

-Recommended by Chris


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The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781501139888
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Gallery Books - August 16th, 2016

I am a sucker for funny books written by funny women: Mindy Kaling, Tina Fey, Amy Poehler, and now, Amy Schumer. Schumer is bitingly honest, self-deprecating, witty and wise. Her book is organized in chapters dealing with several themes and stories in her personal and professional life. All topics are covered: sex, sisterhood, introvertedness, and much, much more. This book is great for anyone who likes to laugh at themselves.

-Recommended by Victoria


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In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl's Journey to Freedom Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143109747
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - September 27th, 2016

I highly recommend this book. In Order to Live paints a vivid picture of modern day life in North Korea. In North Korea, your songbun, or your loyalty to the regime, determines your position in society. Like the caste system in India, North Korea’s songbun determines what jobs you can get, whether you will live in a house or be homeless, whether you will eat or starve. The isolation from the rest of the world and the propaganda that North Koreans endure is shocking. 
 
Yeonmi and her older sister Eunmi are left completely alone when they are 8 and 11 years old because their father is thrown in a prison camp for operating a business outside of his allowed vocations as determined by his songbun. The girl’s mother has also been gone for over a month because she is undergoing “interrogation” over the father’s illegal activities. During this time, the two young girls stop attending school because they are so hungry and it takes all their energy to survive each day. One scene that broke my heart was Yeonmi and Eunmi walking out to the fields to eat grass and plants, grasshoppers, and bugs ... whatever they could find to fill their stomachs. One night a neighbor brought them a big bowl of ramen and this moment of gratitude and victory will bounce off the written page and into your heart.
 
This is a captivating memoir written by a Yeonmi who is now in her early twenties. She tells the story of how she and her mother escaped North Korea when she was thirteen years old. Her journey as she was smuggled into China only leads to more hardships and new levels of vulnerability and desperation. Her mother and her then cross the Gobi Desert and eventually make their way to South Korea where they are able to start a new life.
 
This is a story of refugees, of family, of the bonds that keep us going when the world wants us to die.

-Recommended by Ella


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The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook: Revolutionary Techniques. Groundbreaking Recipes. Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781936493616
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: America's Test Kitchen - February 10th, 2014

The How Can It Be Gluten Free Cookbook is a must-have recipe book for anyone on a gluten-free diet. Packed with over 100 recipes, the book covers everything from breakfast to dessert. Offering a chapter dedicated to bread plus three separate chapters on desserts (covering pies, cookies, cakes, and other baked goods), gluten-free baking is a specific focus of about half the book. All recipes are compiled by America's Test Kitchen, and anyone familiar with the PBS television program by the same name will appreciate the rigor with which all recipes were tested prior to publication and the way in which technical information is broken down in terms that even beginning cooks and bakers can understand.
 
Beyond just providing recipes, the book also includes reviews and commentary on a number of commercially available gluten-free products as well as an excellent primer on the science of gluten, providing essential background on why gluten-free cooking is such a challenge.

-Recommended by Adrian


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Speaking American: How Y'All, Youse, and You Guys Talk: A Visual Guide Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780544703391
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin - October 25th, 2016

To the rest of the world, we in America speak English.  But do we really, or do we speak American? Within this vast country, there are so many different ways to say the same thing. With fun graphs and history of words, this a great coffee table book that maps what we say and how we say it. I had so much fun reading Speaking American.

-Recommended by Chris


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Threads Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781484746905
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Disney-Hyperion - November 1st, 2016

Twelve year-old Clara is grieving the death of her sister, Lola, (who had been adopted from China). Trying to fill her space with anything but her thoughts, Clara goes shopping and finds something unusual, that will impact her life forever! She found a handwritten note and a picture in a purse. The note was a plea for help from a 13 year-old girl, Yuming, who was kidnapped and is working in a Chinese sweatshop making purses.
 
Clara and Yuming are girls leading completely different lives on opposite sides of the globe, but their lives become connected by an invisible thread. One piece of paper, one photograph and one act of bravery bind them together!

-Recommended by Virgie


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The Land of Stories: An Author's Odyssey Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780316383295
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - July 12th, 2016

Connor and Alex continue their quest to find the right characters to fight the literary army. With so much on their plate they also have to enlist the help of their parents, who are a little reluctant after everything that has happened in the past. The Land of Stories continues to be a page-turning series… you only want more after finishing each one. Chris Colfer has such an incredible imagination that takes readers to wonderful new places. I love these books!

-Recommended by Chris


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The Secret Keepers Cover Image
By Trenton Lee Stewart, Diana Sudyka (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316389556
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 27th, 2016

From the author that brought us The Mysterious Benedict Society, comes a new series, The Secret Keepers. In Reuben’s world things seem very gray: his mother has to work 2 jobs, and Reuben spends most of his time just wandering around town. Until one day, he finds a very special watch. Now, what does he do with it? The watch doesn’t tell time like a normal watch, and the more questions he asks about it the more questions emerge. Just like in Benedict Society, Stewart keeps you guessing until the end. 

-Recommended by Chris


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The Diabolic Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781481472678
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - November 1st, 2016

Nemesis is a Diabolic, a humanoid teenager. When she first comes to life she is only taught to kill in order to protect the human she was created for. Sidonia is from a wealthy family in a world in which everyone must own a Diabolic to fit in. Neither Sidonia nor Nemesis knows what the other will bring to the relationship until the day that Nemesis is forced to go to the Imperial Court and pretend to be Sidonia. How will she handle her training as a human to fit in with all the other families and protect the real Sidonia? This is a great book that is not part of a series, but stands alone.

-Recommended by Chris


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Abigail the Whale Cover Image
By Davide Calai, Sonja Bougaeva (Illustrator), Karen Li
$16.95
ISBN: 9781771471985
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Owlkids - September 13th, 2016

This is a story about Abigail, a little girl who is big for her age. After getting made fun of in swimming class, her coach tells her to “think light, be light.” And it works! Soon, Abigail applies this mental trick to all aspects of her life and finds success in each one. This is a story about perseverance and the power of the mind to reach your dreams! It also gives children and adults the perspective of someone who might be silently struggling, and to have empathy for them.

-Recommended by Victoria


Pug Man's 3 Wishes Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780735842618
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Northsouth Books - November 1st, 2016

This is a wonderful picture book about a grumpy pug who is having a bad day, or maybe a bad life. The illustrations are a delight to any pug lover! I especially recommend checking out the picture of Pug Man sitting on the toilet. Pug Man’s luck turns around when he gets to make 3 wishes. His wishes are humble but when granted, they make him happy. Pug Man reminds us that it’s the simple things in life that are the most important. 

-Recommended by Ella