James's Picks

James grew up in Raleigh, but moved to Asheville in 2013 to attend UNCA.

Typically, on his shelf you can find a lot of literary fiction, satire, sci-fi, and essay collections.

When not in the bookstore, James can be found performing stand up comedy around town.



Normal People: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984822178
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - April 16th, 2019

Have you ever met someone who makes you think, "Wow, this person just gets it."? Sally Rooney gets it. She has an understanding of young romance and isolation that cuts through the fluff and gets to the heart of the matter. A future classic.

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel: Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781328764522
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - April 17th, 2018

In "How to Write an Autobiographical Novel", Alexander Chee demonstrates all of the winning characteristics of a good essayist.  He is candid, lyrical, and not overly interested in painting himself in a positive light. The stories range from his time in school to his current day experiences as an LGBQT activist and force of good.  By the end of his stories, the reader feels that they have learned something new about a dear friend. 

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525562023
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Press - June 4th, 2019

Ocean Vuong's novel radiates the unshakeable beauty of his poetry. Little Dog's story stays with the reader long after the last page.

Doxology: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062877789
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - August 27th, 2019

Doxology springs from the mind of Nell Zink armed with guitars and old school New York snarl. The characters, all looking to reinvent themselves in contrast to their respective families, carry themselves with a sort of defensive charm. Their interactions are all very of the time, late nineties into post 9/11 America, in a way that fills each exchange with an intriguing dialogue that is both refreshing and challenging. These characters have alot of heart though, and that bleeds through on every page. Also, if you even have a passing interest in second wave New York alternative music, this book is a must.

They Can't Kill Us Until They Kill Us Cover Image
By Hanif Abdurraqib, Eve L. Ewing (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781937512651
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Dollar Radio - November 7th, 2017

Abdurraqib's greatest strength is his ability to discuss what he likes with unabashed freedom. One moment he is discussing Prince's otherwordly essence, the next he is quoting Pete Wentz. Read this book!

The New Me Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143133605
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - March 5th, 2019

Butler's tale of millennial burnout is rife with acidic humor and awkward charm. "The New Me" features Millie, a misanthropic thirty-year-old perpetually bouncing between temp jobs. She is relatable in an almost cringe-worthy way, reminding readers how funny we can be at our moments of weakness.

The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories Cover Image
By Yukiko Motoya, Asa Yoneda (Translator)
ISBN: 9781593766788
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soft Skull Press - November 6th, 2018

These short stories are wonderfully weird and quirky, while still capturing the ordinary doldrums of everyday life. Motoya's characters are familiar and relatable making each story all the more gripping as they venture off into the absurd. The collection's voice is totally original and I don't think you will read anything like this book!

Same Same: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525435884
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - February 5th, 2019

This novel is absurd, ridiculous, sometimes off-putting, fun. Mendelsund shows no desire to remain within the confines of traditional storytelling, character, structure, or dialogue, instead opting to whimsically meditate on what it means to truly create something.

Black Is the Body: Stories from My Grandmother's Time, My Mother's Time, and Mine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451493026
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - January 29th, 2019

Inherent Vice: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143117568
Availability: Not Currently On Our Shelves. Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Books - July 27th, 2010

This book was described to me as "Pynchon-lite" compared to his other work, but that worked for me just fine.  I loved the carefree, meandering plot and weird one-off characters.  Part hardboiled mystery, part zany character study, you will not want to stop reading about detective Doc Sportello and his weed-hazed adventures. 

The End of Loneliness: A Novel Cover Image
By Benedict Wells, Charlotte Collins (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780143134008
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - January 29th, 2019

In Our Mad and Furious City: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374175771
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: MCD x FSG Originals - December 11th, 2018

"A searingly current book written from five perspectives in modern day London. Guy Gunaratne writes with deft prose that displays the language of youth while also providing his older characters with the same care and intention. Often the book is quite heavy but as a whole work, it is a necessary answer to our divided times.

Trigger warning: sexual abuse, violence 

Happiness, as Such Cover Image
By Natalia Ginzburg, Minna Proctor (Translator)
ISBN: 9780811227995
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - June 25th, 2019

Giinzburg writes a family drama with an aching familiarity. These siblings and their mother are funny, frustrating, and hard to forget. While being somber novel, her prose is often funny and never overly showy. She is so wise while saying very little.

Basketball (and Other Things): A Collection of Questions Asked, Answered, Illustrated Cover Image
By Shea Serrano, Arturo Torres (Illustrator), Reggie Miller (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781419726477
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - October 10th, 2017

Norwegian Wood (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375704024
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - September 12th, 2000

Let's Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc. Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101985267
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton - November 13th, 2018