Staff Picks by Tag

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Black Punk Now By Chris L. Terry (Editor), James Spooner Spooner (Editor) Cover Image
By Chris L. Terry (Editor), James Spooner Spooner (Editor)
ISBN: 9781593767457
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Soft Skull - October 31st, 2023

I knew I was going to make this a staff pick before I even bought it. The list of contributors is both impressive and inspiring. Uniquely presented in a combination of short stories, interviews, graphic memoirs, and other formats, this collection gives perspective on the Black punk experience (and a kick-ass list of bands that you should be listening to). The pieces of this anthology exhibit the creation of community out of places of loneliness, of belonging out of otherness, of acceptance out of rejection of and by family, society, and the punk scene itself. And what’s more punk than rejecting boxed-in notions of what punk is while proclaiming your punkness?

Review by Bailey

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A Day in the Life of Abed Salama: Anatomy of a Jerusalem Tragedy By Nathan Thrall Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250854971
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Metropolitan Books - October 3rd, 2023

A bus accident leads a frantic father into the dizzying maze of military checkpoints and border control in occupied Palestine as he tries to find out what happened to his child. With eye-witness accounts from medics and survivors, bureaucrats and armed forces, the daily tragedies and injustices committed against the people of Palestine are too overwhelming to hold in one's heart.

Review by Sarah C.

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The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed By John Vaillant Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393328646
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 17th, 2006

This book is a must read for your Pacific Northwest history shelf. Its an amazing and complex adventure story that dives deep into the hidden histories of logging and its disruptive intersection with indigenous cultures in our region. 

I've been a huge fan of this authors The Tiger for some time and am so glad I finally made time for this incredible book.  

Review by Robert

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The Secret Life of Groceries: The Dark Miracle of the American Supermarket By Benjamin Lorr Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553459418
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Avery - November 9th, 2021

Okay so Michael Pollan told you what to eat, Michael Greger told you where not to eat, and maybe you've dipped your toe in some other books about food (maybe even by people not named Michael). But I promise you, you're missing out if you don't read The Secret Life of Groceries. This book will not settle any debates about what diets we should or should not be on, but it does something even better--it takes us through the world events and societal shifts which led to the relationship we now have with the grocery store. He describes this relationship as one in which we roam the grocery aisles looking not just for food but for confirmation of who we believe ourselves to be. As Lorr reminds us, food is the business of eating but grocery is the business of desire. Along the way, he takes a look at some of the hidden players in the grocery industry--from transport to meat packing to the grocery floor and finally to YOU and your very own role in the industry. In this book, you will see things you will never be able to unsee (in an important way!) and at the very least, you will get some good laughs. 

The Day the World Stops Shopping: How Ending Consumerism Saves the Environment and Ourselves By J.B. MacKinnon Cover Image
Unavailable at this time.
ISBN: 9780062856029
Published: Ecco - May 25th, 2021

Of course, the world didn’t really stop shopping in March of 2020. However the dramatic shift in consumer habits that took place as an immediate byproduct of the pandemic provided the perfect jumping-off point for J.B. Mackinnon’s essential question: what would happen if we stopped shopping, or even reduced our shopping globally by 5%? I know this might seem like an odd book to display in a place dedicated to buying books, but MacKinnon offers many hopeful frameworks for recontextualizing our relationships to shopping and rethinking what it means to always be buying. This book doesn’t have all the answers, but it greatly helped me in creating a personal philosophy for consumption.

Review by Alyson

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Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness (Pantheon Graphic Library) By Kristen Radtke Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524748067
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Pantheon - July 13th, 2021

It's hard to prepare yourself for a book like Seek You. Not quite memoir, not quite essay, and never what you'd expect, Kristen Radtke has somehow captured the essence of loneliness in an era that will surely be defined by it. There are panels of ocean tides and isolated sitcom-watchers that send me deeper into myself every time I see them—I've been those isolated sitcom-watchers; I've felt those ocean tides. Radtke diagnoses our loneliness without pity or preciousness. What else to call this but a masterpiece?

Review by Spencer R.

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How the Word Is Passed: A Reckoning with the History of Slavery Across America By Clint Smith Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316492935
Availability: Out of stock, usually available in 3-10 days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - June 1st, 2021

This is definitely a must read book if you are looking to expand your knowledge of slavery in the USA. Smith has carefully researched and documented the facts regarding slavery as it was rather than the pasteurized version we received in school. To quote the author:

"It must be a collective endeavor to learn, confront and reckon with the story of slavery and how it has shaped the world we live in today."

Once we embrace our past we can move forward. An excellent and thoughtful book.

Review by Sue

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A Little Devil in America: In Praise of Black Performance By Hanif Abdurraqib Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984801203
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - March 8th, 2022

Abdurraqib masterly balances the informational and the personal in this exploration of black performance from the vaudevillian-turned-spy Josephine Baker to the vulnerability of Wu-Tang Clan to poem-like entries "On Times I Have Forced Myself to Dance." (Did you know, even after singing about wanting to dance with somebody, Whitney Houston couldn't really dance? Check out the 1988 Grammy's.) Anyway, check this out if you want a beautifully entertaining book on entertainment. 

Review by Emily

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Disability Visibility: First-Person Stories from the Twenty-First Century By Alice Wong (Editor) Cover Image
By Alice Wong (Editor)
ISBN: 9781984899422
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Vintage - June 30th, 2020

This book is as diverse and intersectional as the disability community itself, with stories of joy, humor, challenges and frustrations told from a wide range of perspectives. Reading this anthology has changed the way I see and experience the world around me. I have no doubt that these pieces will deeply move and remain with you.

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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life By George Saunders Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984856036
Availability: On our shelves now at one or more of our stores
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - April 12th, 2022

Tolstoy + Chekhov + Gogol + Turgenev + Saunders = a crash course in good writing! My favorite chapter was on "The Nose" by Nikolai Gogol for the pure absurdity of the story and the great clarity Saunders brought to understanding it.

Review by Emily