Kelsey says: As a fourth generation born-and-raised Napa native, there is history in this book I had no clue about. This should be required reading for anyone who calls Napa home!
Paul Says: A masterwork in place and character. Fully lived in and deeply human.
Elayna Says: Very funny, very poignant: race, community, family, love, and an art heist. What more could you want??
Paul says: Maybe the greatest mystery I’ve ever read. It encapsulate every other type of mystery novel that I like. It has a Rube Goldberg plot of Agatha Christie, it has the black humor of the Cohen brothers, it has the philosophical profundity of Pynchon, and, maybe the most important ingredient in a good mystery, an ending which seems as inevitable as it is heart-stopping.
Definitive and daring, The Ecopoetry Anthology is the authoritative collection of contemporary American poetry about nature and the environment--in all its glory and challenge. From praise to lament, the work covers the range of human response to an increasingly complex and often disturbing natural world and inquires of our human place in a vastness beyond the human.
Justyn says: One of my favorite books of the year!
Elayna says: So interesting! We're only just beginning to scratch the surface of what fungi actually are, and what they do. The mycelial network (no, not the one from Star Trek Discovery that you can travel through) underpins all plant life on Earth, and as such our lives as well. Sheldrake's passion for the subject is evident and his explanations approachable to non-scientists.
Ever says: I loved this one! Palmer's writing is incredibly immersive and presents this stranger-than-fiction case with equal doses of humor and reflection on what it means to be human. The characters are endearing and fully fleshed, with the exception of Mary herself, which is clearly intentional to represent her status in the eyes of others as miracle, fraud, patient, vessel, etc, giving what few lines she speaks all the more impact. As a side note, the hardcover of this book is just a really well made, satisfying book to hold.
Kelsey says: Ready to escape your current circumstances and enter a world of adventure, political intrigue, and mystical martial arts? Look no further than Brandon Sanderson's MISTBORN series. Set in a fantasy world where Skaa live enslaved under the reign of the Lord Ruler, a motely crew of criminals will try to attempt the ultimate feat: overthrow of the leader himself.
Bonus: this is a series, so you can start here and make your way through all 6 books!
Elayna says: Rarely does a book grab you as viscerally as does Lily King's Writers & Lovers. Casey's grief and anxiety are palpable; she feels them deeply in her body and as a reader, I felt them too. The frustration of art creation and the promise of new love are such common themes, but are presented here in a light both original and incredibly familiar. My heart quickened, my stomach clenched, I laughed, and at the end, I cried with joy for Casey and her journey to eventual triumph.
Ever Says: I absolutely loved this one!
Paul says: Scary good.
Naomi says: Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds is a "remix" of Ibram X. Kendi's epic 2016 novel Stamped From the Beginning in which Kendi chronicles the entire story of anti-Black racist ideas and their staggering power over the course of American history. Kendi's book is incredibly important, but a bit intimidating in scope, which is why we find Reynolds' "remix" to be so relevant.
Written with young readers in mind, Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You sheds light on the racist ideas still affecting our culture today and provides tools on how to identify and deal with them to build a better future. We think this book should be essential reading for both young AND adult readers alike!
Ever Says: I adored this book. The world building was so believably based on humanity's current trajectory, exposing the sad truth that though technology may advance to allow us to travel into space, we will not advance enough to leave behind corporate monopolies and colonization of other peoples for financial gain. Despite that, this is story is not without light or hope. The character's inspiration and emotions felt real, and towards the end the familial bond they felt towards each other reached me from off the page.
Blake Says: An unsettling, often gripping novel that blurs the line between the quotidian and the bizarre. Like Bioy Casares' Morel, the protagonist is a fugitive of sorts who stumbles upon ghosts--or in this case, zombies--in a foreign land. Van den Berg asks us to consider the true nature of our closest relationships --what we know, what we don't,, and how much we ought to give to them.
Kelsey says: Catch and Kill is a timely piece of current events journalism written in the style of a thriller novel. Ronan Farrow chronicles the great lengths he went to write the Harvey Weinstein exposé that later won him a Pulitzer Prize. If you're perplexed by the blatant corruption and manipulation existing in this country and the brave women and journalists working to uncover it, then this is a novel for you.
Elayna says: I absolutely adored Lab Girl and while this is a very different kind of book, Jahren's lyrical, conversational voice rings just as true here as in her previous. Such a slim volume, yet it's packed with a huge amount of information about how our habits of consumption have changed since the year of her birth, 1969. Spoiler alert: we're really messing with our planet and we really need to change or else... or else...
Ever says: I love this weird gem of a book! Bunny is the lovechild of Eileen and The Secret History after a hallucinatory midnight screening of Heathers.
Elayna says: This book is absolutely batsh*t insane and I love it. The narrative is split into two alternating sections: the first, told in the second person, is of a closeted gay Republican Congressman; the second, told in the third person omniscient, features a taxidermist in 19th Century England, working to taxidermy the first aardvark seen outside of Africa. These disparate characters have much more in common than is first apparent, as their stories weave around and intersect with each other's. Many parts of this satire are laugh out loud funny, though it's about the utmost serious topics of self-hatred, denial, societal expectation, and hypocrisy. I have no idea how Jessica Anthony managed to come up with this crazy book, and even less of an idea how she executed it so well in less than 200 pages.
Justyn says: Several things could ruin Evie's wedding. A beached whale makes the island smell. Her mother, who abandoned her as a child, has shown up. And her fiance is lost at sea. Creatures takes place over a period of three days, but dives so deep into Evie's childhood I often forget she is about to be married. Creatures reads like a memoir, but is a story told. It brings to mind something Toni Morrison said: "'Truth is stranger than fiction,' I think that old chestnut is truer than we know, because it doesn't say that truth is truer than fiction; just that it's stranger, meaning that it is odd. It may be excessive, it may be more interesting, but the important thing is that it's random--and fiction is not random."
Kelsey Says: A must-read for any self proclaimed feminist! Mikki Kendall explores the exlusionary aspects of mainstream feminism in a series of essays whose topics range from gun violence, to education, to Beyonce.
Ever says: Night Theater is a strange, dream-like, tale of morality and mortality which features characters who possess incredible amounts of heart, though some of them have ceased to beat. I am the first to admit that hospitals and the things that happen within their walls unsettle me, but Vikram Paralkar manages to describe medical procedures with unflinching detail made palatable by his beautiful prose. At first glance Night Theater appears to be a ghost story, however it's specters are every bit as solid as they are sympathetic and it's plot is grounded in the real rather than the supernatural. Perhaps the best thing I can say about this book is that I purchased it at 6 pm on a Monday, and finished it at 2 am on Tuesday.
Ever says: If Tommy Orange opened a window into contemporary Indigenous culture to a wider audience, Dennis E. Staples has drawn the curtain back even further. This Town Sleeps explores the tenuous relationship to the past and spirituality that is so prevalent in American culture, and how generational trauma can shape not only the culture as a whole, but the individual.
“From the first page you know you're in the hands of an exceptional writer… I adored this book.” —Zadie Smith
“Sexy and radical and intimate.” —Miranda July
Named a Best Book of 2016 by VICE, Elle, Nylon, Publishers Weekly and NPR
A fearless debut memoir in which beloved and bestselling How to Raise an Adult author Julie Lythcott-Haims pulls no punches in her recollections of growing up a black woman in America
“Courageous, achingly honest."
—Michelle Alexander, New York Times bestselling author of The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness