Melanie's Picks

Melanie McNair is Director of Marketing and Events and Assistant Manager here, though she was once the store's bookkeeper.  She reads mostly fiction--both novels and short stories--but is quick to pick up new poetry and memoir, too. 

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The Great Alone Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780312577230
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: St. Martin's Press - February 6th, 2018

I had never given much thought about Alaska before I read this book and now I feel as if I used to live there. The landscape (and a character or two) goes between mortal hostility and a welcome embrace. This is not a gentle story. It is full of hard-won survival, grit, and beauty. I love these characters and the edge of the world where they chose to restart their lives despite the tremendous odds against them. The story is immersive and compelling. Hannah gets so many things right that a lesser writer might miss.  I came to The Great Alone as a new reader of Kristin Hannah's work and am now a devoted fan. 


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The Resurrection of Joan Ashby Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250081438
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - August 29th, 2017

This is the kind of book that changes the reader alongside the change of the characters. I felt the coin drop just as the characters did and marveled at the skill displayed on each page by Wolas. This is a feminist novel through and through--one that fits the time we are in now--but this is all subtext. The story and the characters are why I couldn't bear to put this down until I followed it through to the end. 


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Sing, Unburied, Sing Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501126062
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - September 5th, 2017

I could not put this book down. The story is sad, hard, and magical, and feels urgent and real. Each of the voices here demand to be heard, but there is a deep tenderness to them as well. Maybe that comes from the feeling of being rooted in this family. As much as I want to turn away from them or shake them by the shoulders, I know these people so well I can't help but love them and forgive their faults. A masterful novel of the  American family. 


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Homesick for Another World: Stories Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780399562907
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - December 5th, 2017

I would read this author's grocery lists. Her voice is fresh and the writing, while often dark, is weird and funny. She gets to the heart of human nature in a way that no other writer could. 


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Three Daughters of Eve Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781632869951
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury USA - December 5th, 2017

Shafak crafts a novel that is highly philosophical and entertaining.  There are themes that speak to world politics and feel so right in their timing as well as timeless questions about God and love. A propulsive read that will leave you wanting more of Shafak's skill with language.


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A Gentleman in Moscow Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780670026197
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Viking - September 6th, 2016

A balm for the world-weary soul. This book is an absolute delight!


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Home Fire Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735217683
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - August 15th, 2017

Not only does this novel have a great story, vivid characters, and a propulsive plot, it also raises big questions about the world we live in now. A Muslim family of Pakistani descent living in London is caught up in tragic circumstances and their struggle becomes part of the international struggle against terrorism. Another family of similar origin, but who are parts of the power system in the UK, becomes involved. The results bring both great love and profound sadness. This is a book that will spark important conversations and, hopefully, adds complexity to the dominant narrative about the war on terror.


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Little Fires Everywhere Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780735224292
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - September 12th, 2017

I found myself looking for pockets of time to dive into this story. Three families overlap here and the challenges and struggles-in one case the lack of struggle- of each affects the others. It calls into question the pursuit of the idyllic life and the perfect family, showing how impossible it is to get there and stay there  without losing some measure of humanity along the way. 


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The Book of Joan Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062383273
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - April 18th, 2017

A topical dystopian space fantasy by one of the most urgent voices in American literature. Bodies in space have never been so vividly described and imaginatively wrought. String theory and Foucault's panopticon are threaded into this future vision of Joan of Arc with Yuknavitch's signature blow-up-the-page voice. Feminist as f*ck, saucy, threatening to the status quo, and with a propulsive plot: this book will have wide appeal. 


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American War Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780451493583
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - April 4th, 2017

Sarat is an unforgettable character in this vivid world of war. El Akkad is a skillful writer and some of the lines in this book stayed with me for days (ex. safety is the sound of bombs hitting someone else's house). This is the best kind of dystopian fiction -- set just far enough into the future to feel like a respite from current event realities, yet it still speaks to our time.


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The Hate U Give Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062498533
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - February 28th, 2017

I want everyone to read this YA novel. It speaks to the wound that all Americans are suffering from. But more than that, it has the potential to help heal it. Bonus: I felt parented as I was reading this! Pick it up, give it to everyone you know - especially the people in your Facebook feed who say all lives matter.


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Abandon Me: Memoirs Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781632866578
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury USA - February 28th, 2017

Febos's Abandon me is literary, intelligent, wise and vulnerable. She capitalizes on all of the metaphorical possibilities presented by having a sea captain father, weaving in mythology in a way that fits her own journey. An obsessive affair singes the pages: a propulsive and rarely seen vision of lesbian passion. Febos is a great literary talent. 


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Another Brooklyn Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062359988
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Amistad Press - August 9th, 2016

Beautifully written, with equal parts tenderness and granite strength.


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Mister Monkey Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062397836
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper - October 18th, 2016

I came to this book expecting to be entertained, and it is laugh-out-loud funny. But, in the wise and observant ways of Francine Prose, it is more than just a protracted joke. The story begins in the narrow spaces of a soon-to-be-demolished-for-condos theater and widens out as Prose shifts points-of-view from actor to costume designer to writer to waiter to Hindu deity and back to the stage. Both old New York and primates are losing habitat here, but the connections made between the characters bring the story back to human scale. Adolescent rage, loneliness, divinity, the end of the world, the beginning of love, the way we fail to live up to our dreams for ourselves, the fear of our own mediocrity, the unexpected victories that are the grace that fills the spaces made by disappointment: these are the soul of this novel with an agile, monkey heart. Both deeply moving and light, this is one of my favorite novels of the year. 


The Mothers Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780399184512
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - October 11th, 2016

A layered and profoundly moving debut novel about womanhood, loss, and privacy that manages to be buoyant despite the hard subject matter. 


So Much for That Winter: Novellas Cover Image
By Dorthe Nors, Misha Hoekstra (Translator)
$15.00
ISBN: 9781555977429
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - June 21st, 2016

I have not been so excited to discover a new writer since I read Maggie Nelson. Nors's prose is cut bare and the effect is almost physical. Each line builds the interior world of her character so efficiently that within the first two pages I was in there with her. I especially recommend this one for writers who want to be inspired by innovation in craft and, even more specifically, for women artists approaching middle age. 


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Walk Through Walls: A Memoir Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781101905043
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Crown Archetype - October 25th, 2016

Tremendously inspiring. If you liked Just Kids, you might like to read another artist's experience. Abramovic has been everywhere and transformed pain and joy into meaninful and powerful performances and art. 


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Eileen Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143128755
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - August 16th, 2016

A character study of a person who is lost, unloved, and unaware of the wider world at a crucial time in her life. Wonderfully dark. The voice carries the story. Most of the action takes place in the last 20 pages and it is a credit to the author that I kept reading to find out more about how the character's mind works rather than what she does. 

Long-listed for the Man Booker Prize 2016


The Underground Railroad Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780385542364
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday Books - August 2nd, 2016

Not to jump on any bandwagons here (this book won both the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize)...I loved reading this and believe it is (should be) essential reading for our fine country. 


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Prelude to Bruise Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781566893749
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Coffee House Press - September 9th, 2014

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We the Animals Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780547844190
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - September 11th, 2012

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The Book of Awakening: Having the Life You Want by Being Present to the Life You Have Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781573241175
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Conari Press - May 31st, 2000

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Giovanni's Room Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780345806567
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Books - September 12th, 2013

Bestiary: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977580
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 11th, 2016

Long Listed for the 2016 National Book award in poetry. Vulnerable and open-hearted. 


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The Red Parts: Autobiography of a Trial Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977368
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - April 5th, 2016

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The Narrow Door: A Memoir of Friendship Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977283
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - January 19th, 2016

What Belongs to You Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9780374288228
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - January 19th, 2016

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Volume I: 50th Anniversary Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9780375413407
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 2nd, 2001

A Little Life Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780804172707
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - January 26th, 2016

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The Price of Salt, or Carol Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780393325997
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 17th, 2004

The Swans of Fifth Avenue Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780345528698
Availability: Special Order - Unlikely to be Available
Published: Delacorte Press - January 26th, 2016

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The Argonauts Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781555977351
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - January 26th, 2016

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Underground Airlines Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780316261241
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Mulholland Books - July 5th, 2016

Inventive and imaginative. It forces the reader to sort through a number of uncomfortable truths about human history and human nature. Propulsive and engaging. 


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Thunderstruck & Other Stories Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812987676
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Press - August 18th, 2015

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A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories Cover Image
By Lucia Berlin, Stephen Emerson (Editor), Lydia Davis (Foreword by)
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374202392
Availability: Special Order - Unlikely to be Available
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 18th, 2015

The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781101874899
Availability: Special Order - Unlikely to be Available
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 8th, 2015

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Look: Poems Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555977443
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graywolf Press - July 5th, 2016

Using language in unexpected ways is not just the purview of poets. Sharif examines the usage in the Dictionary of Military and Associated Terms from the US Dept of Defense. The effect is powerful. A gifted poet.


The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781101874899
Availability: Special Order - Unlikely to be Available
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - September 8th, 2015

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Ocean of Insight: A Sailor's Voyage from Despair to Hope Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781941529300
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Parallax Press - November 8th, 2016

This is exactly the book I needed at exactly the right time. It is a travel memoir, a spiritual journey, and a how-to manual all in one. We had Heather here for an event the day of the Women's March. Her stories of danger on the high sea drew me in, but it was her mindful advocacy that made me buy her book. She is insightful and articulate and her wisdom comes from a place of trial and error and passion. Sailing after a career spent tackling climate change, she knows what it is like to work against the steepest of challenges. The writing never sounds preachy. I love her reflections on her experiences and the meditations she shares. Perfect for these inflamed political times--a balm for the despairing or weary activist's heart. 


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Christodora Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802125286
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - August 2nd, 2016

I enjoyed my time in the world Murphy built in this novel. It broke my heart at times, but it is ultimately redemptive - as much as any novel that includes the early days of the AIDS epidemic can be. He writes about hard, bitter, and grim subjects, but the connections he makes between the characters, all of which felt so three dimensional to me, pull the story through time and healing and grace.