Staff Picks - Leigh

Leigh's been working at book and music shops in the area since 2003. She collects too many books and records. Her favorites are fragments, short stories, essays, articles, lists, recipes, songs, poems, tweets and other little windows into worlds.

She's a dilettante.

ISBN: 9781940450643
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: McSweeney's Books - June 9th, 2015

Here is a book I read twice in the first day I picked it up -- David Shields has done a masterful job of prompting and arranging the recollections of Samantha Matthews; a voice actress, and his cousin once removed. This is sort of an oral history of her physical and emotional relationships with men, her understanding and interpretation of her abuse and the ways in which her sexuality has been controlled by them. Direct and frank, this is one of the best autobiographical works on trauma I've ever read. Extremely sympathetic, relatable for some if not many. Come hear her voice recorded and see David Shields in person at our event, on Friday, August 21st. -- Leigh

ISBN: 9781476774589
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - July 7th, 2015

AJ Rich is the chosen pen name of authors Amy Hempel and Jill Clement, writing together for the first time. This thriller's main character is a student of victim psychology, who, suddenly a victim herself, must re-assess her life's work while unraveling the mystery of her fiance's identity and motivations. Inspired by a true story of deception, this smart, sexy, terrifying read will have you logging off of tinder and okcupid right quick.  -- Leigh

By Michelle Tea, Amanda Verwey (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781940450001
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: McSweeney's Books - June 2015

The second book in a planned trilogy for young adults, wonderful for grownups as well. Sophie Swankowski is from a rough town, but she's tough. She's got magic on her side. This volume follows her journey with her (quasi-)fairy godmother - a filthy, often annoyed mermaid named Syrena - to Poland where she will learn more about her role in saving the world from a poet! Lots of fun. Dark, gritty, but ultimately uplifting fairytale drama. Check out Book 1, Mermaid in Chelsea Creek, if you haven't already.  -- Leigh

By Angela Carter, Kelly Link (Foreword by), Kelly Link (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143107613
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 26th, 2015

It's hard for me to describe Angel Carter without framing her as a sort of fiary godmother of my favorite more recent short fiction. Her versions of classic fairy tales are skewed just enough to the dark and sexy side. If you like short fiction described with keywords like "slipstream" or "fabulist", or just the weird and creepy, check her out. This anniversary version has a great package, and Kelly Link's intro is on point. --Leigh

ISBN: 9780804179683
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - February 3rd, 2015

Kelly Link's new collection of short stories is exciting, full of wonder, and when I say I couldn't put it down I mean I did not sleep. I took notes. Every story in it made me exlaim loudly to myself and others! It freaked me out and I loved every second.

ISBN: 9780142181195
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Plume Books - January 27th, 2015

Michelle Tea is one of my very favorite memoirists, and these essays did not disappoint me. In fact it feels a bit like this book was written for me, and it got to me at just the right time. A guide for living with passion and excitement while still moving towards self-awareness and stability. Essential reading for those of us for whom entering adulthood has not come easily (and probably entertaining for those who were born grown up as well).

ISBN: 9781250043351
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Thomas Dunne Books - April 21st, 2015

A satirical apocalyptic horror novel that skewers our society's gendered beauty standards. An outbreak that turns beautiful women into crazed and violent monsters! The narrative style is unexpected and effective -- especially the imagined effect a virus like this might have on media and advertising. Yes - you will have to suspend your disbelief -- this one's social science, not virology -- I promise you, it's worth it. --Leigh

ISBN: 9781584351641
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Semiotext(e) - February 27th, 2015

Fans of the writing of Kathy Acker or McKenzie Wark will love this, but it's also more broadly attractive as an intimate and intellectual dialogue between lovers. Their brief but powerful correspondence contains a deep examination of personal and cultural roles, and some rather academic discussions. While it occasionally feels almost too voyeuristic to keep reading, the conversation is heartbreakingly familiar and relatable. There's a bit of nostalgia for the early days of email here as well. I'm Very Into You made me want to start saving messages and gchats and texts in the hope that someday I can look back and discover some forgotten gem. --Leigh

ISBN: 9781849352055
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: AK Press - October 21st, 2014

James Tracy has been a housing activist in the Bay Area since before Google existed. This book is essential reading. Tech boom 2.0 is different from the first boom in significant ways (like tax breaks and special exemptions for tech companies) that are endangering local culture and livelihoods. If you have been interested in recent news articles on rising rents and “Google bus” protests or believe in affordable housing as a human right I recommend checking this one out. --Leigh

ISBN: 9781940430232
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Curbside Splendor Publishing - October 14th, 2014

Intimately focuses on a marriage troubled by grief while backing up to reveal an alternate Indianapolis, increasingly deserted, under the thumb of Big Pharma and an undefinable Secret Law. Experimental and surreal -- clear and exciting prose -- the freshest, best novel I've read in quite a while. Couldn’t put it down! --Leigh

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ISBN: 9780374292089
Availability: Special Order
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - September 16th, 2014

Sean survives a violent and disfiguring accident in his teenage years and relies on his imagination to bring him through his lengthy recovery and rehabilitation. He creates a story based role playing game which comes to support him, and causes turmoil for some of its players. I was surprised at how much I recognized myself in Sean. This book spurs empathy. If you have loved a Mountain Goats song, you will recognize Darnielle’s mastery of lyrical writing. --Leigh

ISBN: 9781419714023
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harry N. Abrams - September 23rd, 2014

Cats and their ladies have gotten a bad rap but why? This book is a beautiful collection of art depicting women and cats. Features glamorous shots of Lauren Bacall, Mia Farrow, Audrey Hepburn, Sophia Loren, Kim Novak and many others. Diane Lovejoy’s introduction has a great sense of humor. A great gift! --Leigh

ISBN: 9780385538077
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Doubleday Books - September 16th, 2014

Dark, honest and unflinchingly so… Marie is a waitress and young mother who dives headfirst into work, love, parenthood -- Everything. Self-destructive but ultimately free to be herself. Merritt Tierce is a badass and a force to be reckoned with. --Leigh

ISBN: 9781620403044
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - May 13th, 2014

This novel based on the Persian epic The Shahnameh is captivating and beautifully written. Zal is unloved by his mother, raised as another pet bird in a cage until he is rescued and eventually adopted by a therapist living in New York. His struggle to adapt and create his own humanity is heart-wrenching and at times hilarious. Khakpour is working magic here. --Leigh

ISBN: 9780553762464
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spectra - September 2nd, 1998

A fox-hunt carried on through generations lands on Grass, a planet with no horses, dogs or foxes, and develops from there. This book is worth it just for the descriptions of the planet Grass and its inhabitants, but Tepper’s character development and suspense will keep you at the edge of your seat. A classic. --Leigh

ISBN: 9780307907769
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon Books - April 15th, 2014

Jake sleeps with a hammer under her pillow, trusts no one, and talks to her dog (Dog) and the other animals on her isolated sheep farm. Her unsettling and violent past is revealed through reverse flashbacks. The writing is gruesome and viscerally beautiful. --Leigh