Holy cats, Gena reads all over the place.  Must be the years of library experience...  These are on Gena's staff picks shelf right now.  Unless someone just bought one.

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Piranesi By Susanna Clarke Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635575637
Availability: Not in stock at store. Will, in most instances, ship from our warehouse in 7-10 days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - September 15th, 2020

The best of sci-fi/fantasy illuminate truths about humanity, the mind, the natural world and ourselves in a clever way.  And do so by gently reminding you through beauty, intelligence and ultimate goodness. 

This fantastical story is about a labyrinthian world contained within the House.  Ancient seas and lost knowledge, with a hearty nod to Phillip K. Dick and Ursula K Le Guin - even some dry humor!  I couldn’t put it down, a rarity for me. You’ll still be thinking about it as you go about your own life, long after you’ve read the last page.  A good thing.

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Changing Planes: Stories By Ursula K. Le Guin, Eric Beddows (Illustrator), Karen Joy Fowler (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Ursula K. Le Guin, Eric Beddows (Illustrator), Karen Joy Fowler (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780358380023
Availability: On our shelves now (while supplies last)
Published: Harper Perennial - October 13th, 2020

I am always excited when a fresh release arrives by Ursula in the shop!  She takes the genre of sci-fi and makes it this lovely, kind and slightly satirical gesture of philosophical inquiry into why we live our lives the way we do.  In this book, while waiting in airports, the protagonist learns how to travel to other “planes” while waiting for her flight.  That’s the set up, and the ultimate result is gently putting up a mirror to ourselves.  It is an exercise in opening the mind, challenging our stereotypes, and perhaps illuminating ways we might grow in our society to be more humane and wise, but never preachy. It’s structured as short stories, each one exploring a different world of people and cultures.  The chapter on “The Fliers is Gy” is my favorite, absolutely exceptional.

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On Lighthouses By Jazmina Barrera, Christina Macsweeney (Translator) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781949641011
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Two Lines Press - May 12th, 2020

What could be more lovely to read right now than a meditation on lighthouses, a guiding light, a symbol of safety.  In this quite pleasing small hardcover, Jazmina Barrera thoughtfully waxes lyrical on the beginnings of lighthouses and what they mean to us.  Never heavy handed, she oscillates nimbly between engineering, history, metaphor, personal experiences, and literary references including Robert Louis Stevenson and Virginia Woolf, of course.  Translated from Spanish by Christina MacSweeney.

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Confessions of a Bookseller By Shaun Bythell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781567926644
Availability: Not in stock at store. Will, in most instances, ship from our warehouse in 7-10 days
Published: David R. Godine Publisher - April 7th, 2020

This is exactly what you might expect from a book of this title.  Many times have I have mused about doing something like this when I worked at libraries.  Used bookstores seem to me to be the halfway house between my experience in libraries and my beloved current job here, where we only sell new books.  The author is the owner of Scotland's biggest second-hand bookstore, as they are commonly referred to in the UK, and is formatted as a diary.  It's the perfect dose of curmudgeonly irritation, love of books, amusement of eccentrics, and the daily routine and adventures you would expect from small literary village life.  This could easily be made into a heartwarming movie honestly.  Extremely enjoyable, I am affirmed in my observations of people, and share in the honor most booksellers feel in this chosen job.

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Recollections of My Nonexistence: A Memoir By Rebecca Solnit Cover Image
This title is most likely out of print and an order would not be able to be filled.
ISBN: 9780593083338
Published: Viking - March 10th, 2020

This book spoke to me deeply.  In telling her truth, so many experiences ring true, transcending differences in our ages and backgrounds.  Her sensibility is quite beautiful and she doesn't shy away from bluntly stating the real physical danger women face every day in the world, learned right away as young girls. She exemplifies the defiance it takes to make a way for yourself on your own staring down the fears that comes your way.  There’s a duality to be navigated - of being seen and also of being not seen, or heard.  If you ever have the opportunity to hear her talk, she comes across quite breathless and soft spoken.  It was quite surprising, but also delightful to find out how secretly punk she really is.  Women like this are never to be underestimated, they are the actual strong ones in spirit and life.

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All Good Things: A Treasury of Images to Uplift the Spirits and Reawaken Wonder By Stephen Ellcock Cover Image
ISBN: 9781912836000
Availability: May be on Backorder or may be Out of Print. May take a number of weeks to arrive if it arrives at all. We will confirm.
Published: September Publishing - December 3rd, 2019

I came across Stephen Ellcock through his beautiful Instagram account.  This book collects into a hard cover book the gorgeous visual art gems he shares daily, truly all good things.  He is a hunter, offering his finds to us as inspiration, uplifting the spirit.

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The White Dress By Nathalie Léger, Natasha Lehrer (Translated by) Cover Image
By Nathalie Léger, Natasha Lehrer (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781948980050
Availability: On our shelves now (while supplies last)
Published: Dorothy, a publishing project - September 15th, 2020

Another work of breathtaking storytelling by Nathalie Leger.  Is it fiction, non-fiction, both?  Both.  I cannot praise this book enough, it's exquisite.  This is part of three books centered on real life women, but fictionalized and mused upon.  This book takes it's inspiration from the real artist Pippa Bacca's inspiring but tragic life story.  What a way to honor her.

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Truman By David McCullough Cover Image
ISBN: 9780671869205
Availability: Not in stock at store. Will, in most instances, ship from our warehouse in 7-10 days
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 14th, 1993

One may think this is a strange book to read right now.  But there is never a wrong time to read about American history, especially when in times of great change and crisis. 

Truman was thrown into the presidency without wanting it at all, during the worst war we have ever seen, and without any knowledge of the atomic bomb, Truman had to step out of the shadowed legacy of FDR and become his own man.  And, not without blunders, he did.  He was an honest, extremely hardworking man from Missouri, where the odds were always stacking against him.  Without waver he always stuck to the ideals of world peace in a realistic no nonsense fashion and living life with integrity.  He came alive when the going was absolutely the toughest.  I am not a fast reader and was intimated by the sheer size of the book — no need, its a page turner.  It’s not only a comprehensive look at one of our most remarkable presidents, but a jumping off point to explore endless facets of important US history which set the course for issues that still face us today.  It is also a fascinating look at our own state of Missouri, how and what type of people settled in the western part of the state, and is insightful about why we are the way we are today. One of the best books I’ve ever read, hands down.

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Indelicacy: A Novel By Amina Cain Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250785718
Availability: On our shelves now (while supplies last)
Published: Picador - February 9th, 2021

Maybe the most telling way to describe “Indelicacy”: when I googled the author, it turns out she is American. I was shocked. It doesn’t have a trace of the commonplace American contemporary sensibility of most published novels these days. This novel has a quiet maturity, of a different time and place but none in particular. And to use the yet again controversial word -- it’s feminist. To me, the main character epitomizes this catch-all phrase, and refreshingly so. Yet there are other female characters who show completely different life views and decisions that I, and the main character, respect as well. That’s feminist. Cain hits the nail on the head for women, with all their self-doubt, and with an even stronger inner will, who will not be defined, navigating some big questions: Can you ever really transcend the class you are born into? Who owns you? What makes someone weird? The protagonist loathes society’s small-mindedness but forges ahead. I loved this book.

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An Inventory of Losses By Judith Schalansky, Jackie Smith (Translated by) Cover Image
By Judith Schalansky, Jackie Smith (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811229630
Availability: Out of Print
Published: New Directions - December 8th, 2020

This is not at all depressing as the title may sound, it is lovely.  Blurring the line between essay, non-fiction, fiction & autofiction, I've discovered this form is a real favorite of mine.  Each chapter is neatly packed with information and musings that might be considered lost, extinct or maybe never existed.  At first I thought how could this possibly be fiction, and then once I hit a flabbergasting running interior dialogue of an aging Greta Garbo walking the city, I thought, wow, Schalansky is a force to be reckoned with. However, I much prefer some of the other ways she explores losses in her keenly reverent way.  No matter, this is read that will enrich your life.

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The Sword and the Shield: The Revolutionary Lives of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. By Peniel E. Joseph Cover Image
ISBN: 9781541617865
Availability: Not in stock at store. Will, in most instances, ship from our warehouse in 7-10 days
Published: Basic Books - March 31st, 2020

A deeper look that challenges the accepted narrative of MLK and Malcolm X, examining how each man influenced and mirrored one another.  This in contrast to how different from each other they are regularly and historically portrayed instead of seeing their commonalities. I’ve learned about them both separately.  Now it’s time to read this. One man not as “radical” and another more “radical” that we’ve been led to believe.  Both great men central to the history of this country and our continued fight for civil rights.