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The Great Lenore (Paperback)

ISBN-13: 9780984510559
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Atticus Books, 6/2011
Tohline’s debut novel begins with the line: “When I met Lenore, she‘d been dead for four days.” I’m pretty sure I can end this recommendation right here. However, I won’t, because I could go on and on about how much I adore this book. Tohline’s writing is utterly captivating and, above all, beautiful. The story, which takes place in the winter on the island of Nantucket, bounces back and forth between quietly reflective and on-the-edge-of-your-seat thrilling. But, above all, the success of the novel truly lies in the astonishing beauty and depth of Tohline’s writing. Simply put, this the best book I’ve read so far this year.

ISBN-13: 9780062069221
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: Harper Perennial, 1/2012
It’s been a while since I came across a collection of short stories quite so inspiring. After the opening story of a young, struggling writer, Moffett branches out, exploring an astonishing array of characters. From a (possibly) senile old woman, to a young Estonian immigrant, to a dead-beat, middle-aged divorcee. By this description, one would think that he’s spreading himself too thin, exploring facets of life he can’t possibly know. But that’s where the brilliance lies. You will find yourself immersed and wrapped up in the well-being, in the small victories and disappointments, of these characters. I wanted to crawl inside these stories and curl up. Let them wash over and envelope me. “First Marriage” particularly stuck with me, and I was unable to get it out of my head for days afterward. I promise, you won’t be disappointed by Moffett’s genuine talent and quirkiness.

ISBN-13: 9780811874557
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books, 6/2010
I'm going to be honest here: this is my favorite book in the entire store. It’s morbid and sad and absolutely hilarious. Accompanied by adorably cartoonish illustrations, this tiny book explores grief, death and loneliness, all with a large serving of irony. Looking for the perfect gift for that passive-aggressive roommate, person you’re sort of seeing, or too-serious coworker? Look no further! This book is certain to bring a smile to even the most dour face.

ISBN-13: 9781439167854
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: Gallery Books, 7/2010
For any fan of Michael Showalter’s Mr. Funny Pants, or Tina Fey’s Bossypants, here is a non-pants-related, but equally funny read. Michael Ian Black explores life, love and a mediocre career with hilarity, self-deprecation, and a healthy dose of indignation. Favorite bits: anything having to do with his mom/family/sister, an attempted explanation of his obsession with Fat Kevin Federline, and the story of candlestick shopping. If you appreciate a dry sense of humor, which occasionally trips into the ridiculous, this is the book for you.

ISBN-13: 9780306821257
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: Da Capo Press, 3/2012
This is a must-read for any Jack Kerouac fan. As a sucker for both Kerouac and nautical-themed novels, I had to pick this up. Most interesting is seeing the brilliance of the Kerouac Way starting to emerge. Even as a 21-year-old, you can see his restlessness, constant questioning and fascination with the American life start to bubble up. With lines like, “What was that sonnet where Shakespeare spoke sonorously of time ‘rooting out the work of masonry?’ Is a man to be timeless and patient, or is he to be a pawn of time? What did it avail a man to plant roots deep into a society by all means foolish and Protean?” Pure and original (literally) Kerouac.

ISBN-13: 9780615358048
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: The Mincing Mockingbird, 6/2010
This is, by far, the strangest birding book you will ever come across. It is somehow a hybrid of bird appreciation, art book, and humor. Matt Adrian has put together a collection of his best bird paintings and then accompanied them with witty, irreverent captions that will make you giggle out loud. The commentary alone is worth buying this book, but the paintings are genuinely beautiful as well, and it is this ridiculous juxtaposition that makes this a truly enjoyable affair.

ISBN-13: 9780520262508
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of California Press, 11/2010
Infinite City, a bizarre and intriguing book, is composed of 22 different maps of the city, dealing with different phenomena specific to the city on the Bay. These range from Map 6: "Monarchs and Queens: Butterfly Habitats and Queer Public Spaces", to Map 16: "Death and Beauty: All of 2008's Ninety-nine Murders, Some of 2009's Monterey Cypresses." Solnit's writing is thought-provoking and complex. Several contributing writers add their personalities and insights to the maps as well, providing a well-rounded, albeit slightly odd, analysis of SF’s character. One doesn't need to be hugely familiar with the city to enjoy the creativity and writing here, but San Francisco fans will obviously find it to be a most compelling adventure. My favorite atlas: "Phrenological San Francisco."

ISBN-13: 9780143120254
Availability: Not currently in the store – Usually ships in 1-5 days
Published: Penguin Books, 3/2012
Paris Versus New York is a witty graphic design book that is perfect for anyone who loves either The City of Lights or The Big Apple. Muratyan’s artwork originally appeared on his blog, but became so popular, that he turned it into an entire book. This little guy is the perfect small coffee table book that every apartment needs. If you fall in love with these pictures like I did, check out Muratyan’s website and order some larger prints of your favorites.

ISBN-13: 9780812980882
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 1/2012
Gabrielle Hamilton gives an uncensored, rather brutal, look behind the closed kitchen doors of the life of a restaurant chef. It is, at times, both heart-achingly sad and wickedly funny. Despite Hamilton’s short temper and acid tongue, I found myself cheering her on, pulling for her success. Or maybe it is exactly this candidness in her own portrayal of herself that is so comforting. Either way, Blood, Bones & Butter is a fast-paced, enthralling read, and a must for anyone who has ever dreamt of opening a restaurant.

Model: 025192095139
Beginners is the single most beautiful movie I've seen in 2011. The stunning, while slightly understated, cinematography creates fleeting and overexposed images that make this film a work of art. However, it shouldn't be written off as merely a self-indulgent aesthetic showcase. Homosexuality, loss, love and family come together in a dance of melancholy beauty. The very subtle message is more that you should embrace what is real. A quote from "The Velveteen Rabbit" is mentioned in passing by one of the characters. The Rabbit asks what is real, and if it hurts. This is a film seeped in "real." There is no "storybook "anything here. Love, in any rendition, is not rose petals and tugged heartstrings. The film ends and the credits roll, almost without skipping a beat, and you're left in a state of deep, wonderful melancholy. The combination of visual beauty, musical excellence and thematic subtlety create a sensation of deep despondency, tempered by a bewilderment of life.

ISBN-13: 9780385340441
Availability: Not currently shipping from publisher – Subject to future availability
Published: The Dial Press, 8/2011
Hisham Matar’s Anatomy of a Disappearance manages to be both simultaneously dynamic and very, very quiet. The author overlaps the tumult of politics and kidnapping in the Middle East with the story of a young man, struggling to know and understand his father. There is a sadness that pervades the novel, but one can’t help but be drawn in by its raw beauty. It is a fast read, yet I found myself rationing out a chapter at a time, wishing the end wouldn’t come.

Never Let Me Go DVD
Model: 024543714262
Based on the Kazuo Ishiguro novel, Never Let Me Go, tells the quietly disturbing tale of a group of children who are assigned to be organ donors before they grow old. The film follows the short lives of three boarding school students as they become young adults and grapple with their fates. While Keira Knightley is rather lackluster as the jealous best friend (She plays a thin, fragile, whiny British girl - not exactly a stretch for Knightley), Carey Mulligan’s Kathy H. is subtly heart-breaking. The faded colors and, at times, overly washed-out filters create a beautiful and ephemeral atmosphere that mirrors the existential ponderings the film drops in your lap. And while it may leave you deeply sad, you’ll find it difficult to get out of your mind for days.