Staff Picks - Nicole

 
Nicole has an MFA in Creative Writing and is a fan of all things literary fiction, including books about writing and the creative process.  Some of her favorite writers include David Mitchell, Robert Coover, David Foster Wallace, Sam Lipsyte, and Joy Williams, although if you ask her tomorrow, she'll give you a completely different list.  
 

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Underground Airlines Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780316261241
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Mulholland Books - July 5th, 2016

A deftly re-imagined present-day United States where Lincoln is killed before ending slavery, the Civil War never happened, and slavery exists still in four states. It's not quite post-apocalyptic, very much alt-history, and a bold addition to the current dialogue around race today. I recommend to anyone who likes literary/genre crossover, though besides saying not quite post-apocalyptic, not quite sci-fi, and not quite thriller, I can't specifically define the genre. --Nicole


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Homegoing Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781101947135
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - June 7th, 2016

An absolutely incredible debut. Every chapter follows the story of a different character, moving from one generation to the next of two intertwined families. I can't think of a better book that explores the impact of slavery through the ages, spanning 300 years in Ghana and America. At times heart-wrenching, funny, painful to read and always beautiful, if you only read one book in 2016, this should be it. --Nicole


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Behold the Dreamers Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780812998481
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Random House - August 23rd, 2016

A fun and easy read with a surprising ending that takes on what it was like to be an immigrant couple on the cusp of the Great Recession, this novel read young to me, maybe because it is so compulsively readable or maybe because Jende and Neni's voices are so hopeful, bright, and, in the beginning, naive. I recommend to anyone interested in new voices or the myth of the American Dream. --Nicole


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Another Brooklyn Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9780062359988
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Amistad Press - August 9th, 2016

Easily the best book about female friendship I have ever read. Woodson's words will bury themselves deep inside of you and stay forever. I found myself holding my breath while I read, not because of plot twists or suspense, but because the prose is so raw and honest it's oftentimes beautifully painful. The story is heartbreaking, funny, alive, honest, rhythmic, and melodic. I can't recommend highly enough - if you have a soul, this book will move you. --Nicole


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Innocents and Others Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781501122729
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - March 8th, 2016

Everything Dana Spiotta writes is a must read because she brilliantly captures every place, time period, and character she writes. In this novel, two best friends, Carrie and Meadow, grow up in LA in the 80s and become filmmakers.  They are unlikely friends since their views on sex, power, movie-making, and morality vary wildly. Eventually, their stories converge with Jelly, a shut-in who cold calls powerful men and seduces them by listening to their most intimate thoughts. You won't regret reading this book and you'll most certainly follow this read with Eat the Document and Stone Arabia. --Nicole


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The Queen of the Night Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780618663026
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Houghton Mifflin - February 2nd, 2016

Lilliet Berne is one of the most captivating protagonists I've read this year. The story is operatic (no surprise), immense, complex, and every bit as dramatic as one would hope for a story of this sort. Although the NY Times (or at least Gardiner) disagrees, I did find the novel, and the writing, to be full of transcendental magic and, before reading The Queen of the Night, I didn't realize I had such interest in the songs and voices of opera, not to mention the incredibly detailed descriptions of dress in the 19th century. I highly recommend this book even if you don't *think* the topic of opera or the genre of historical novel is of interest to you. --Nicole


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The Tsar of Love and Techno: Stories Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780770436438
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - October 6th, 2015

Although marketed as short stories, these interwoven tales spanning 1937 to present moment Russia read more like a novel. Just as it spans many eras, this collection will please a variety of readers - for fans of Jennifer Egan to Elizabeth Strout, this is a book for everyone in your life. -- Nicole


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Into the Valley Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781616955090
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soho Press - August 4th, 2015

Beautiful, dark, eerie, with just enough gallows humor, the narrator B will completely enrapture you with her slow shedding of 1967 femininity and her road trip through Cali's Central Valley. I highly recommend this incredible debut.  --Nicole


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The Small Backs of Children Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9780062383242
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - July 7th, 2015

As my friend Sage says, Lidia is a "freaking wise word witch." Just like everything Lidia writes, this book is fierce, provocative, and deeply affecting. This is Lidia's best book yet.  --Nicole


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Welcome to Braggsville Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062302137
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow & Company - September 8th, 2015

Be prepared for mountains of tension with a heartbreaking twist halfway through that changes the novel's direction.  Easily one of the BEST books of 2015.  You'll love the descriptions of Berkeley and for all of the book's darkness, you'll still find yourself laughing throughout. --Nicole


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The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781476749051
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria / 37 Ink - February 10th, 2015

Perhaps the best part of Issa's book is the universality of the awkward experience.  We've all had those moments growing up but Issa shares her in a funny and moving voice, and her moments have gone on to shape her as a YouTube star, writer, and voice of a new generation.  Pick up this book by Stanford alumna Issa Rae. --Nicole 


We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780142180822
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Plume Books - February 25th, 2014

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99 Poems for the 99 Percent Cover Image
By Dean Rader (Editor)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780988266223
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: 99: The Press - July 17th, 2014

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Queen Sugar Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143126232
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - January 27th, 2015

Natalie is from California, but this book places her firmly in the tradition of Southern writers.  Charley and her daughter move from Los Angeles to Louisiana after inheriting a sugarcane farm.  Will Charley succeed even with her judgmental mother and the tradition of sugar cane farming telling her otherwise? --Nicole  


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The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780812976366
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade - March 8th, 2011

Mitchell's new novel, "The Bone Clocks," releases in September of this year, so now is the perfect time to reread his most recent, a historical novel set in 19th century Japan.  Any fan of Mitchell's knows that his best writerly quality is diversity; every book he writes is completely different in structure, content, and tone. --Nicole  


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White Noise Cover Image
By Don DeLillo, Richard Powers (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143105985
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - December 29th, 2009

A funny and ominous commentary on our consumerist culture, the story revolves around an ultramodern, witty, sarcastic, and observant family and is narrated from the father's point of view.  You'll be pulled in by the father's voice and keep reading to see if the family and their community will survive the "airborne toxic event." --Nicole


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Life on Mars Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555975845
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - May 10th, 2011

Former Stanford Stegner Fellow, Tracy K. Smith went on to win the Pultizer Prize for this collection.  Her father was one of the engineers who worked on the Hubble Space Telescope.  If poetry is not your cup of tea, check out this collection, largely informed by science and space.  If poetry is your cup of tea, you should've read this already! --Nicole


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The Intuitionist Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780385493000
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - January 3rd, 2000

In his debut novel, Whitehead creates a noir world of warring elevator inspectors: the Empiricists and the Intuitionists.  The novel is reminiscent of Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man" (another of my favorites!) in matters of race, politics, and class, with a humorous and ironic narrative twist.  Whitehead showcases an incredible imagination, sly wit, and an extensive vocabulary.  --Nicole


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Some Other Town Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062348821
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - February 24th, 2015

Channels the emotional intensity of Susan Minot and Amy Bloom - and is infused with a witty, dreamlike surrealism reminiscent of Margaret Atwood. Told through intertwined perspectives by turns incandescent and haunting, SOT is unforgettable and heartbreaking.  -- Nicole


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The Other Joseph Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780062300874
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - December 15th, 2015

Rich, lyrical, perfect, melancholy. Skip is a master at the sentence, at creating a heartbreaking American landscape. You'll easily become lost in the suspense surrounding Roy and Tommy.  -- Nicole


Gutshot: Stories Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780374175443
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Fsg Originals - April 14th, 2015

The most fearless, disturbing, visceral collection I've ever read. I feel utterly destroyed and hopelessly addicted to all things Amelia Gray. Please, please read this book.  -- Nicole


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Journey to the End of the Night Cover Image
By Louis-Ferdinand Celine, Ralph Manheim (Translator), William T. Vollmann (Afterword by)
$17.95
ISBN: 9780811216548
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - May 17th, 2006

An incredibly imaginitive and satiric story, the power of which will shake you down to your very core. It reads as urgent and explosive, and Celine's prose reflects his deep fury with society. You will not regret picking up this book. -- Nicole


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Spare Parts: Four Undocumented Teenagers, One Ugly Robot, and the Battle for the American Dream Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9780374534981
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Fsg Originals - December 2nd, 2014

Illuminates the human side of two polarizing political issues: immigration and education. An inspiring true story of four high school students in Arizona who beat out MIT in a national underwater robotic competition against all odds. -- Nicole