Singular September Staff Picks

Sifting through so many stories for something singular? We've got you covered! Check out Off The Beaten Path's September Staff Picks.

Audiobook Playlist 

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The Death of Vivek Oji: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525541608
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - August 4th, 2020

“I felt heavy my whole life. Life was like being dragged through concrete in circles, drying with each rotation.” Vivek, growing up in Nigeria and characterized by his parents as being “soft and sensitive,” always felt different. He did not feel safe enough to be himself in his own home. He had to hide who he really was, and because of this he faced a brutal murder. Vivek’s distraught parents, determined to find out the truth about their son's death, realize only too late that they have lost the child they never really knew. This moving story about gender identity,  shows a Nigeria seldom depicted in fiction.  It hurt, on so many levels, but I highly recommend it for your next serious read!

-Virgie

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The Plague (Vintage International) Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780679720218
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 7th, 1991

Okay, so it’s not the hottest best-seller, but sometimes you’ve got to go back to the classics to try and understand our present-day problems. 

The Plague is about exactly what it says: in a sleepy town in Algeria, northern Africa, there are suddenly a lot of dead rats, which quickly turn into a lot of dead humans. We follow the footsteps of a doctor who stoically, grimly, treats the victims of the gruesome disease as it steadily progresses in casualties and cases across the town. There is a lockdown - no one is to leave the town, no one is to come in, and correspondence is limited to telegraphs only. Camus explores the psyche of the townspeople in their unusual confinement, how their emotions expand and contract in response to the slow-moving disaster unfolding around them. I found myself nodding along with some of Camus’ more relevant passages. Here’s one of my favorites:

“All I can say is that on this earth there are pestilences and there are victims– and as far as possible one must refuse to be on the side of the pestilence.”

-Megan

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Transcendent Kingdom: A novel Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780525658184
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - September 1st, 2020

This is a gorgeous flippin’ book. The writing is exquisite, the story is moving, and Gyasi renders the characters with the skill of a true artist. Can you tell that I enjoyed this? Transcendent Kingdom is about Gifty, a young neuroscientist studying addiction. We come into her story just as she has taken her depressed mother into her care and is wrapping up an experiment. We see how her relationships with her mother, faith, and science have brought her to this point.

If you need a book that is heartfelt and honest, read this one.

-Izzy

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The Wife Stalker: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780062967282
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - May 19th, 2020

Joanna has taken care of the children and Leo while he finds his way out of his depression. When he meets gorgeous, vivacious Piper the depression seems to fade and Joanna finds herself losing the man she fell in love with all those years ago. Everyone has secrets though and nothing is as it seems.  Piper may have changed her name to cover the mysteries of her past.  Will Joanna discover the secrets in time to get back into her home with Leo?  Does Joanna have secrets of her own?  Lots of twists and turns in the psychological thriller.  Fun, fast-paced mystery. 

-Kim B

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Anxious People: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781501160837
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - September 8th, 2020

Fredrik Backman, author of A Man Called Ove, has a new novel out, and, in my opinion, it’s even better than Ove! If you don’t consider yourself an anxious person, you will be after reading this story about a bank robbery, an apartment viewing, a hostage drama, and a man jumping from a ridge. The cast of characters includes every crazy person you’ve ever encountered and more. The story is humorous, but as you read into what is actually happening, you feel a thought-provoking sadness. People have so much to cope with, so they just pretend they’re normal, as the chaos spins out of control! After all, “all interesting people have done something stupid at least once.” Don’t miss this novel. It’ll be with you long after you’ve finished the story.

 -Virgie

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The Girls Weekend: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781643853864
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crooked Lane Books - August 11th, 2020

An atmospheric psychological thriller, this novel focuses on friendships.  Five college friends that have gone on to lead seemingly separate lives are called by successful Sadie to her beautiful oceanfront home in the San Juan Islands to celebrate the pregnancy of Amy. The friends end up rekindling their party ways one night, However, when they wake to one of them missing, a blood trail, and apparently drugged everyone becomes suspect. Jealousy, bribery, affairs all the secrets come out in this ode Agatha Christie.  Fun, fast Mystery!  

-Kim B

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Harrow the Ninth (The Locked Tomb Trilogy #2) Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9781250313225
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tordotcom - August 4th, 2020

(SPOILERS for Gideon the Ninth ahead, read that one first)

Nothing is going right for Harrow. Though she has attained lictorhood, her necromancy isn’t working well, reality is evading her, and she shifts between vomiting and murder in her conscious hours. As Harrow gets her wits back, we begin to see the dissonance between who she is now and who she was.

Harrow the Ninth has all the mystery and frankly unsettling magic of its predecessor, with a little more mystery, and WTF is happening right now-ness (in a good way). I greatly enjoy the humor and competency with which Tamsyn Muir writes.

-Izzy

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Before You Go: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062934963
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - August 11th, 2020

Reader, prepare yourself to think outside the box! This is the story of a young man struggling with depression. This creative novel looks at life from three perspectives; BEFORE examines the thoughts of Merriam and Jollis, the designers of the human vessel (body), who have mistakenly left an empty space in the body. Each “travelers” space is unique. Only they will know how to fill it.  PRESENT is experienced by Elliot and his two best friends, who all belong to the same Suicide Prevention Therapy Group. They all feel as if there is something missing in their life. AFTER is where the designers of the human vessel give an exit interview to Elliot. It sounds crazy, but it’s brilliant! The reader can’t help but examine his own life; loneliness, contentment, laughter, tears, pain, joy, chaos, calm. ALL OF IT! If given the chance, would you live life all over again?

-Virgie

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You Are Not Alone: A Novel Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250202031
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - March 3rd, 2020

These authors are on roll.  They really have locked down joint writing of psychological thrillers.  When unsuspecting Shay witnesses Amanda step in front of a subway after locking eyes, her world is forever changed.  Welcomed in by Shay’s good friends Cassandra and Jane, her world seems to improve at first.  You may find yourself yelling at Shay but be patient, the action does not slow down.  A terrific psychological thriller with many twists and turns.

- Kim B.

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Monogamy: A Novel Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780062969651
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - September 8th, 2020

This is a beautiful story of a marriage. It was the second marriage for both Annie and Graham but was cut short when Graham died in his sleep. Shortly after his death, Annie makes a discovery that devastates her belief in their perfect marriage. Her feelings about her marriage quickly shift from the feeling of being Graham’s greatest love for anger and resentment. Was her entire marriage nothing but a sham? This novel explores the complications of monogamy; promises made then broken, wounds inflicted, inevitable disappointments. I’ve been married 49 years and I loved this story.  

-Virgie

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The Nickel Boys: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780345804341
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 30th, 2020

The Nickle Boys, winner of this year’s PULITZER PRIZE, takes yet another look at the injustice of our justice system. Based on the true story of a reform school in operation 111 years ago, the novel takes place during the sixties, at the Florida Juvenile Reformatory School for boys, where juveniles as young as five years old, were sent to receive physical, intellectual and moral training. The boys were referred to as “students” when in reality they were inmates, whose “teachers” were older men accused of violent crimes. Many boys were admitted, not because of a crime committed but because they were black, poor, had no one to support them, and found themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time. The one thing about these Black boys growing up in a white man’s world is that they had such a capacity to endure; sweatshops, malnutrition, unhealthy conditions, negligence, physical abuse, and even death. It appeared that these boys’ lives were not even worth 5 cents. My response to this fiction based on a true story is, how DARE our country to treat these children as subhuman? The more I read these accounts, the more I realize how closed my eyes and mind have been. 

-Virgie

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The Boys' Club: A Novel Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062961488
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - August 4th, 2020

The Boys Club takes you into the fast-paced world of a prestigious Manhattan law firm, where Alex Vogel has landed her first job as an associate lawyer. Her job is all-consuming as she tries to prove her worth, and soon her work becomes her love. Yet, as a woman in a male-dominated legal world, Alex becomes a victim of unwanted sexual advances and even assault. She endures prejudice and unfair challenges, as she learns to navigate the sexual dynamics in her male-dominated environment. This novel, already optioned by Netflix, is a real page-turner!

-Virgie

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Astrophysics for People in a Hurry Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9780393609394
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 2nd, 2017

Warning! This is not for the faint of heart. Much like Astrophysics for Young People in a Hurry, this book breaks down the complicated subject of astrophysics into something that is a little more easily digestible. However, this could be considered a dense read for some. Also, there are no pictures in this one. You definitely should have “casually science-d” in your life before tackling this book. I do not recommend that you rush through this book, and maybe even pace yourself over some time so you can mull it all over. 

- Kim T

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So You Want to Talk About Race Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781580058827
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Seal Press - September 24th, 2019

This is a tough but essential topic and many of the books out there right now are not as palatable as this one.  Oluo is able to interject some humor in a difficult but relevant topic.  Each chapter tackles a difficult question regarding race in America.  She uses a lot of relatable real-life examples to empower her point of view.  If you are looking at wading into this difficult topic Oluo makes it very accessible.

- Kim B.

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Red Hot Kitchen: Classic Asian Chili Sauces from Scratch and Delicious Dishes to Make With Them: A Cookbook Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780525533528
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Avery - February 5th, 2019

Getting access to authentic Asian ingredients in Steamboat has been difficult, to say the least. Kuan gives us a variety of different sauces that can be made at home to give your food a little kick. Many of the different ingredients can even be ordered online and shipped to your home if you don’t have a local Asian market. I CANNOT wait to try the XO sauce! 

-Kim T.


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When Breath Becomes Air Cover Image
By Paul Kalanithi, Abraham Verghese (Foreword by)
$26.00
ISBN: 9780812988406
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - January 12th, 2016

“I began to realize that coming face to face with my own mortality, in a sense, had changed nothing and everything.”

 

Fair warning, you must emotionally prepare your heart for this one. Paul Kalanithi, a neurosurgeon finishing his last year in residency, is looking forward to advancing in his career, spending more time with his patient wife, and even growing their family. Paul learns more about his profession, and how important it is to give each patient the best care. Eventually, Paul begins to have back pains that lead to the diagnosis of stage IV lung cancer. Unfortunately, he passes away before he finishes his memoir, but his wife, Lucy, finishes it for him. 

- Kim T

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The Chosen: Contender Book 1 Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9781250251008
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - August 11th, 2020

This is another great book for teen boys.  I really enjoy this author and everything that he has written.  The Chosen is the first book in his new Contender series.  Cade has resigned himself to his new boarding school for troubled teens when he wakes up in someplace that is not the school.   He must now figure out how to get back home.  This is a fast-paced other world adventure, that keeps you reading for more and book 2 The Challenger.

- Chris

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Wayward Witch (Brooklyn Brujas #3) Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781492650683
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - September 1st, 2020

Rose Mortiz is coming into her powers, powers that are different from the ones she’s always thought she had.  So, she’s dealing with that, the return of her long lost father, and all of her sister’s drama (as detailed in the first two Brooklyn Bruja books which are also excellent). During her death day celebration, she realizes her father’s amnesia is a lie, then gets ambushed then sucked into Adas, the fairy realm. She is forced to work for their king, saving the realm from a deadly force that is destroying the land. 

Rose is an amazing hero. She is intelligent, flawed, and funny. Her take on the world around her is refreshingly honest for a fantasy character. This journey of growth is a perfect addition to the Brooklyn Brujas series.

-Izzy

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The Upside of Falling Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062918055
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperTeen - February 18th, 2020

This is one of the cutest fake boyfriend stories with just the right amount of angst and super sweetness that I have read in awhile.  Sometimes there are some really nice guys out there and Brett is one of those.  It’s nice to see that not all jock guys have to have an attitude.  Becca is quiet and taken back by Brett’s willingness to fill in for her lie.  - Chris

 

If you liked this, you should read:

Don’t Read the Comments

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The Black Kids Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781534462724
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - August 4th, 2020

Ashley’s last few months of high school are more transformative then she may have expected. The Rodney King Riots are in full swing and are making Ashley face what it means to be Black in the US, a reality that both of her parents have worked hard to keep from her. As her city burns, so do the paper-thin walls she has been living behind, revealing the toxicity of some of her relationships and ideas.

This coming of age novel is about more than navigating growing up, it's also about learning to navigate one’s racial identity and its impacts.

-Izzy

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The Court of Miracles Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781524772857
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - June 2nd, 2020

The Court of Miracles is not what you would first think about when you think “courts”.  This is the court for the seedy underbelly of Paris, the thieves, beggers, and assassins.  They have their own laws and hierarchy that must be followed.  When you become one of them, you never get out.  

When Nina’s sister is sold to the  Guild of Fresh, she vows to do anything to get her back.  

-Chris

If you like this, you should also read:

Sky in the Deep

Seasons of the Storm

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Crooked Hallelujah Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802149121
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - July 14th, 2020

Crooked Hallelujah is an intergenerational story about women’s strength and pain. Reaching from the past and into an apocalyptic future, Kelli Jo Ford explores a world where the men are unreliable and environmental disasters test humanity more and more. The only strength that remains in this world are the relationships between mothers and daughters.

This is an exquisite debut novel. Ford writes with empathy and grace, writing to make all the messy shades of grey in this world apparent.

 -Izzy


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Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) Cover Image
By Amy Timberlake, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781643750057
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 15th, 2020

Badger is very comfortable living on his own, working on his important rock work. Then Skunk comes knocking at his door. As Badger tries to figure out how he got this new roommate, Skunk settles into his new home. Skunk is loud and likes to cook and read and is friends with lots of chickens. He is the opposite of Badger in many ways. How will they live together?

This is a book about compromise and clashes. It’s about how beautiful life can be when you embrace differences and how hard that can be.

-Izzy

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Soaked! Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781984836625
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - July 14th, 2020

This is a super fun read-aloud picture book about playing in the rain with your friends.  Bear, Moose, Rabbit, and Badger all have to find a way to make the best of the weather outside and the toys that they have.

Soaked had excellent illustrations and amusing vocabulary and a soggy ice cream cone.  

- Chris


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I'm Sticking with You Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250619235
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - May 5th, 2020

I’m Sticking with You is all about how to get along.  There are times when friends do overstep their bounds but you can spend too much time with them.  But when you get back together things are good.   It’s so fun to watch the Squirrel’s facial expressions through the whole book.

-Chris