Latest Staff Picks

I started listening to Pity the Reader: On Writing with Style by Kurt Vonnegut and Suzanne McConnell (on Libro.fm) as an aspiring writer. I'm sure my father made sure I read some Vonnegut, but I can't remember which titles. Then I remembered that my mom's friends rehearsed Vonnegut's play Happy Birthday, Wanda June for months when I was a kid, and I got to sit in. I still have lines etched in my brain. The beauty of Pity the Reader is that you don't have to be an aspiring writer to find Kurt's advice helpful. You don't have to love Vonnegut's writing to appreciate learning more about his life (although that is likely a plus, and the book is 60% Vonnegut). You just have to be curious about how another human works his whole life to create smart, funny, deep art in the face of trauma. You just have to "be kind."

Picked by Dana

I admit it, I had to re-start this book because it is too fantastic. I kept thinking there's no way all of this happened to one person. By the end I was whelmed with her story, travels, entry into spy-craft, leaving the trade, and her central message. This book offers so much for both those obsessed with international politics and those more interested in individual action. It's a book about choice, perception, and reality.

Picked by Alex

Stag-B and Rhino-B are best friends and live together in a giant mushroom. Open this book and come along as they find buried treasure, explore a glowing cave, go the library, and help each other through life's ups and downs. This is one of my favorite graphic novels for kids and adults alike!

Picked by Christina

My Father's Words begins with a tragedy, but ends with a heart full of hope. In this little novela, Fiona and Finn O'Brien lose their father in the first chapter in a car accident. They must learn to cope with their grief, but luckily their friend Luke has a great idea. Why not volunteer at the local dog shelter? They learn that by helping others, they in turn are able to help themselves. I have read many books about death and grieving, but My Father's Words by Patricia MacLachlan (The Poet's Dog) may just be the best of the bunch. A beautiful book suitable for any age.

Picked by Mark B.

Dr. Greta Helsing specializes in caring for the undead, and she does it with kindness, respect and good humor. That earns my respect. This is the first in a trilogy about a fantastical world in which the undead live next door, mummies require osteopathic fixes (old bones turn to dust, you know?), and love flourishes willy nilly. Vivian Shaw sprinkles allusions and homages to vampiric and horror canons of old throughout the series, but you don't have to get all the references to enjoy the story, and when you're done with this one, there are two more.

Picked by Dana

Heather Christle is extremely good at gently reminding us of things we know but don't verbalize often enough. Even the observation that crying is the first thing we ever do helps to reframe an activity that most of us don't actively enjoy. I appreciate this book because it treats crying with nuance: not simply glorifying it as cathartic, or focusing on the discomfort in crying. Unsurprisingly, this book is often sad, but also scientific, oddly funny, and sweet.

Picked by Alyson

So you've practiced your necromancy with Gideon the Ninth, navigated the Tarot Houses of The Last Sun, and you're looking for the next thing to read. Might I suggest a time warp to The Nevernight by Jay Kristoff? In an assassin's school dedicated to the Lady of Blessed Murder (of course), located on a three sunned world (harsh), Mia Corvere will have her revenge (Yes!). As the ancients say, the brighter the light, the deeper the shadow.

Picked by Alex

This deceptively small volume contains three works of slippery, shapeshifting metafiction, full of provocative ideas and disarming style. Serre dramatizes her meditations on the aesthetics of fiction with a chilly surreality and queasy erotic energy. For readers who enjoy being unsettled, this strange little book is well worth picking up.

Picked by Theo

The Dearly Beloved is the story of a friendship between two couples over many years. The men are both pastors. One of the wives is a nonbeliever and the other is the daughter of a minister. I love a book with characters that I can care about and want to follow. The Dearly Beloved is exactly that book. There are plenty of discussions about faith and doubt, but this novel is really about friendship and marriage and allowing others to be their true selves. I am a nonbeliever myself, but I do believe in the power of kindness and this book reaffirms that belief.

Picked by Mark B.