Ben's Picks

Ben has been working here since 2013. He's partly responsible for many of the "wierd" literary books on the shelves.


The Factory Cover Image
By Hiroko Oyamada, David Boyd (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811228855
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: New Directions - October 29th, 2019



Silence, Joy Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811228237
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: New Directions - November 27th, 2018


This beautiful collection of essays, translations, and poetry by the Zen Catholic monk Thomas Merton encompasses much of his beautiful soul searching philosophy. Great for resetting your mind in the tenants of love and peace.

American Pastoral: American Trilogy (1) (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375701429
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Vintage - February 3rd, 1998

The Discomfort of Evening: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644450345
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Graywolf Press - August 18th, 2020

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A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again: Essays and Arguments Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316925280
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Back Bay Books - February 2nd, 1998


A hilarious and thought provoking collection of essays from the amazingly creative mind of David Foster Wallace. Here he writes on such disparate subjects as tennis, Dostoyevsky, and David Lynch films, as well as the Illinois Sate Fair and the tropical cruise experience. Reading the cynical and jaded DFW's essay about being stuck on a cruise ship is an experience not to be missed. It's like Christopher Hitchens writing about a Disney World trip.

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In God We Trust: All Others Pay Cash Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385021746
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Crown - April 28th, 1991


This is the book that became A CHRISTMAS STORY! It's even more wry and less sanitized than the movie (just look at the chapter titles). In God We Trust, All Others Pay Cash involves Shepherd/Ralphie, having returned to his home town in Indiana, reminiscing about his childhood with Flick, who has become a bartender. It's very funny, and a good book to read this particular Christmas Season.

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Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635576726
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - August 11th, 2020


Check out this quirky, fun, and well written British fantasy. I loved it when it came out in 2005. It's the closets thing I've read to matching the wit and charm of the Harry Potter series.

The Devil All the Time Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307744869
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Anchor - July 10th, 2012


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Walking: One Step At a Time Cover Image
By Erling Kagge, Becky L. Crook (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780525564492
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Vintage - April 17th, 2020

JUNE 2020

This book is an absolutely beautiful and calming  meditation on all things walking, and how it helps us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. The combination of intertwined stories and philosophy gives it a uniquely readable flow. Walking and hiking have always been an important part of my life, and I felt as if the book really solidified my love for it, and gave voice to many of my own thoughts. You cannot be unhappy reading this book.

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The White Tiger: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781416562603
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Free Press - October 14th, 2008


This book masterfully weaves together Indian politics and street life as we follow the hilarious and dark misfortunes of it's main character, Balram Halwani. Along the way we meet every sort of inhabitant of modern India, whether they be decent city dwellers or con men. Overall, The White tiger is an extremely fun book to read.


Dog Symphony Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811227681
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: New Directions - August 28th, 2018


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The Painted Bird (Kosinski) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802134226
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Grove Press - August 9th, 1995


This October, check out of the most terrifyingly brutal books I've ever read, The Painted Bird. It follows the fortunes of young Jewish boy as he journeys across war-torn holocaust era Europe in search of his family. Chilling, nightmarish, savage, apocalyptic, but extremely well written and compelling, The Painted Bird has haunted my consciousness since I read it years ago. (God knows how, but it was recently made into movie with Stellan Skarsgard and Harvey Keitel. I'm planning on watching it soon.)

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The Road (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307387899
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Vintage - March 28th, 2007


The Road is an intensely beautiful and harsh book, the last published by Cormac McCarthy. It’s prose still gives me chills. Just read the first ten pages and see. The book follows the fortunes of an unnamed man and his son as they journey across a mysterious post-apocalyptic America. Outlaws and far worse plague the destroyed landscape. They are heading towards the east coast in search of some unnamed hope. The whole story is shrouded in mystery. What caused the devastation? What happened in the previous lives of the Man and Son? Perhaps their love for each other  is the real focus of the book.

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Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061792267
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Harper Perennial - February 19th, 2013


This is an absolutely gripping account of racial injustice in Jim Crow era Florida, and Thurgood Marshall's quest to exonerate four innocent young black men of rape. Think The Central Park Five but in the orange growing country of central Florida. The story is so amazing it's hard to believe it actually happened. Read it!

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Chesapeake: A Novel Cover Image
By James A. Michener, Steve Berry (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780812970432
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Dial Press Trade Paperback - September 9th, 2003

JULY 2019

This is my favorite historical novel. Michener has a unique ability to capture the essence of a place and culture, taking the reader on a journey from the beginning of it's known history, and following multiple families through the generations. The Chesapeake Bay region was the center of a huge chunk of American history. This book is both literary in style, and very readable. Great for a summer beach read, actually!

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679775430
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1998

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

APRIL 2019

This is one of the greatest satires I've ever read. Absolutely hilarious, but in a morbid way. Kind of like a less tedious Catch 22. In the not too distant future/the 80s/now, individualism has been almost entirely stripped away by the forces of mass media and rampant consumerism, to be replaced by general complacency. But death looms heavy on the horizon, both literally and in the minds of the characters who despite the constant media over stimulation are deeply unhappy. What if, however, a pill could be created to nullify their fear of death?

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A Coney Island of the Mind: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811200417
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: New Directions -

MARCH 2019

Celebrate this great Beat poet’s 100th birthday by checking out his most well known collection of poetry, A Coney Island of the Mind. He was a contemporary of Ginsberg and Kerouac, and set up the City Lights Bookstore in San Francisco in 1953, where it still operates today. Not only is this man still alive, but he is coming out with a new novel! Little Boy is it’s title, and it’s set to be released March 19th 2019, five days before his birthday. In the mean time, check out this thin (and economical) volume of poetry from 1955 if you want to figure out what he’s all about. Also check out the other New Directions titles in the store, as well as Ferlinghetti’s City Lights (yes, he also publishes books) titles. They are phenomenal and we have many throughout the store. Just ask me!

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The Journal of Henry David Thoreau, 1837-1861 Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590173213
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: NYRB Classics - November 24th, 2009


These journals bring the reader in to the true heart of what Thoreau stood for, without the more formal style of Walden or his essays. Beautiful, heartfelt, and brimming with curiosity about the natural world, as well as human nature. This is the book I go to when I’m in a rut. It just makes me happy to read.

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Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays (Picador Modern Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250160652
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Picador Modern Classics - November 7th, 2017


This is an absolutely captivating collection of essays on all things 60s by the cultural icon Joan Didion. So many subjects are covered, from short bios on John Wayne and Joan Baez, to true crime, to the hippie movement in San Fransisco, all with a psychologically penetrating eye. Fascinating.

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Filth Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393318685
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 17th, 1998


From the author of Trainspotting comes a great new Christmas classic! Here we follow the fortunes of Detective Sergeant Bruce Robertson, a hugely misanthropic and manipulative cop in Edinburgh, Scotland, who has a violent streak and a dark secret. He's investigating a murder that is really starting to irk him as he makes his plans for his Christmas holiday vacation. Bruce is racist, misogynistic, and just overall an awful fellow, whom Welsh brings to life brilliantly, and strange to say, hilariously. I've seen blackly comic sociopaths before in literature, but this man is the absolute king. Filth is at times hilarious as hell, and at other times dark as a pit. Merry Christmas!

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The Changeling Cover Image
ISBN: 9781941040898
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Tin House Books - April 10th, 2018


The Changeling is one of the most surreal books I’ve read in a long time. Mystery and violence are lurking around each corner. Set in New England on an isolated island,  the story follows Pearl, the young widow of one of the island’s inhabitants, and her young child, in a downward spiral of alcoholism and post-partum depression.  The island is also inhabited by a bunch of Wicker Man-esque children who have been adopted by her husband’s domineering brother, and who may or may not practice ancient witchcraft. They might not even be human children, nor does Pearl even know if her own child is actually hers.

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Cosmos Cover Image
By Carl Sagan, Neil deGrasse Tyson (Foreword by), Ann Druyan (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780345539434
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Ballantine Books - December 10th, 2013


This book is just fun to read! Carl Sagan is brilliant at taking the most complex and interesting theories of astrophysics (as well as biology, chemistry, etc.) and making them accessible to anyone. He also takes the great scientific discoveries throughout the ages and puts them in their historical, social, and cultural contexts. So you get a sort of history of science, with its proponents and opponents. The things revealed within these pages gives you the sense that the nature of reality is a sort of science fiction in its own right, with mind bending possibilities. One of his proteges is actually Neal DeGrasse Tyson, another well known and brilliant scientist. If you like him, you'll love Sagan!

Deliverance Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385313872
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Delta - September 10th, 1994


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Tropic of Cancer (Miller) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802131782
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Grove Press - January 6th, 1994

JUNE 2018

This is one of the most controversial fictional works of all time, and it is also one of the great novels of all time. Writing in a style that was entirely unique, blending prose and poetry, Henry Miller created a novel that broke new ground both in its craft and its subject matter. Hedonistic, existential artists and bottom dwellers haunt the pages,  and perversity comes to the forefront in a way hardly ever seen in 1934, the date of its first publication.  However, due to it’s subject matter and our lawmakers at the time ignoring the first amendment, it was not published in the US until 1964!
So please, read a book that, alongside Ulysses and Journey to the End of the Night,  broke all of the conventions and set free generations of writers to the full potential of literary art.

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Blindness Cover Image
ISBN: 9780156007757
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Mariner Books - October 4th, 1999

MAY 2018

In this truly haunting novel by Portugal's best known novelist and Nobel Prize winner Jose
Saramago, blindness is spreading like a plague, and a quarantine zone is set up.  From here, we begin to see how all semblance of humanity can be stripped away from us in the face of  adversity. Amidst the general confusion, there arises new social factions and leaders, as well as new predators, operating off of the basest of human traits, preying on the magnified vulnerability and weakness of others.

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Wake in Fright Cover Image
By Kenneth Cook, Peter Temple (Introduction by), David Stratton (Afterword by)
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ISBN: 9781921922169
Published: Text Classics - April 2nd, 2013

APRIL 2018

This Australian exploitation novel is the story of a mans physical and existential descent into despair, violence, and self loathing in the dead dusty Outback, stuck in a sort of living purgatory. It's a quick read, but one that definitely sticks with you. (watch the amazing movie as well, with Donald Pleasance.)