Ravenna

Latest Staff Picks

Ari Folman and David Polonsky's reworking of The Diary of a Young Girl is an exemplary case of adaptation done well. Polonsky's art is as expressive as it is meticulous; meanwhile Folman always knows when it's appropriate to break up and interpret Frank's writing and when to leave long passages intact, preserving their import and depth. Like its indispensable source material, this is a work to be studied and cherished in equal measure.

Picked by Theo

Confessions is a book that deserves not to have a single plot point given away, so I'll just restate the blurb on the cover: If Albert Camus had written the movie "Heathers", you'd have Kanae Minato's Confessions. It's smart, it's intense, and it's got twists even the more astute reader of thrillers couldn't predict. Every time I thought I had the plot all figured out, another twist would leave my jaw on the floor and my brain screaming in white noise. So settle down and get ready for a twisted suspense thriller that might just give you narrative whiplash (in the best way).

Picked by Halley

I started this novel without any expectations and was well-rewarded. Frankie Burke has just taken a research position at a primate facility. She is studying the mating habits of bonobo monkeys and at the same time she is recovering from surgery to treat her endometriosis. Frankie is focused on her new position and living a life without pain, but in the background there are hints of hints of a looming environmental catastrophe. Soon a dust storm causes the evacuation of the surrounding countryside and Frankie and her human co-workers must do what they can to ensure the survival of the primates in their care. This is a compelling and emotionally stirring tale that stuck with me for days after closing the last page.

Picked by Mark B.

It's a genderfluid take on the Oedipus tale, so you know it's going to be dark and twisted. I was hooked from page one by the gorgeous language and deft layering of metaphor and time Johnson uses to modernize and deepen this ancient tale. Past and present flow side by side, people are not who they seem, and every sentence gleams with an iridescent sheen. This book is well worth your time.

Picked by Dana

I know you need something super gay, magical, and dramatic to start your new year off appropriately. The Last Sun is a tarot-inspired (yes!) noir-fantasy mashup starring a moody fallen prince and his foul-mouthed bodyguard that you will love. Rune and Brand eke out an uneasy existence as mercenaries and criminal dogsbodies, but when they're hired to find a nobleman's missing heir they're plunged into deeper waters than ever before. In New Atlantis, the island kingdom built from a patchwork of scenery borrowed from the human world, the dead rise again, the courts go to war, and Rune must confront the bloody night that destroyed his family.

Picked by Christina

Talking to your younger self is an interesting thought exercise; thankfully, Carole Maurel transforms it into Art. Get lost in the story, stay for the artwork, and wake to the end.

Picked by Alex

Part adventure story, part paean to the ocean, and all Norwegian: Shark Drunk is the Sven and Ole joke you've never heard, with a bit more science, and maybe not a little funny.

Picked by Alex

What is empathy, exactly? Is it the cure for all our social ills? Is it a skill to be acquired or something inherent in us all? Cris Beam addresses all this and more in her brilliant investigation into, and interrogation of, empathy. She approaches the topic with skepticism and curiosity, beginning with the more cynical use of empathy to describe how data mining allows companies to make us feel they empathize with us as they offer us things they think we want. She goes on to visit a courthouse experimenting with justice based on restitution vs. retribution here in the U.S., looks closely at the scientific research on mirror neurons, and interviews students in South Africa about the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. And she shares stories from her personal life that relate beautifully to the material. I learned a lot from this book, but it also touched me deeply. Take a chance.

Picked by Dana

I love this fascinating, totally mind-blowing book on the science and culture of pregnancy. Like A Mother's blend of essay, memoir, and reportage shows Seattle writer Angela Garbes' chops as a journalist as she interrogates cultural myths and picks apart the massive systemic issues that arise from treating pregnancy like an illness instead of "a superhuman power." Chapters range from placentas (my pick for #1 most underrated organ), breastmilk, miscarriages, and how to best care for pregnant addicts, to the violent, racist history of gynecology. Garbes' tone of curious wonder and emotional connection to her material will resonate with any reader - you don't need to have a uterus to get swept up in her enthusiasm.

Picked by Christina