Brittany's Picks

Brittany is a bookseller that also acts as our main receiving personnel.  She is known for her varied and impeccable taste, be sure to keep an eye out for her current monthly Staff Pick in-store.

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Open Water By Caleb Azumah Nelson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802157942
Availability: Click on title to see inventory for each store
Published: Grove Press, Black Cat - April 13th, 2021

APRIL 2024

“It’s one thing to be looked at, and another to be seen.”

When the unnamed protagonist of Open Water meets a beautiful and charming dancer at a party, he immediately feels seen for the first time in ages. As the two bond through art, music, and their shared experiences as young black people living in modern London, we as readers are woven into their love story by a unique second-person perspective.
Caleb Azumah Nelson’s poetic prose is as cool, rhythmic, and intimate as the art he clearly loves. It’s a short read, but one that’s sure to stay with you.
Open Water offers an incredibly vulnerable glimpse into the heart of one man’s struggle to reconcile hope with anxiety, and love with fear

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Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution By R. F. Kuang Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063021433
Availability: Click on title to see inventory for each store
Published: Harper Voyager - August 29th, 2023

MARCH 2024

Have you ever read a book so great that loving it became your entire personality for a while? That was me when I read Babel: An Arcane History for the first time last fall.

It's true that Babel is intimidating in scope, size, and execution (extensive historical footnotes are used often for extra context), but powering all the novel's intellect and political messaging is an immense heart. The journey of Babel's hero, Robin, from quiet protege to militant revolutionary is intimately explored in such a way that each development feels plausible and earned. His every loss, joy, and realization feels real. He has become one of my all-time favorite characters.

Babel is a thoughtful examination of academia, labor movements, exploitation, and colonization, but just as thoughtfully portrays friendship, trust, and identity. This is no fairy-tale - in fact prepare for heartbreak - but along with it, a message of justice and change.

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If Beale Street Could Talk (Movie Tie-In) (Vintage International) By James Baldwin Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525566120
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Published: Vintage - October 30th, 2018


“Time: the word tolled like the bells of a church. Fonny was doing time. In six months time, our baby would be here. Somewhere, in time, Fonny and I had met: somewhere, in time, we had loved; somewhere, no longer in time, but, now, totally at time’s mercy, we loved.”

If Beale Street Could Talk is a modern classic not to be missed. Baldwin’s prose, as always, is sharp, wise, honest, and unflinching, yet also vulnerable. Here he exposes the truths he was desperate for others to hear about several facets of modern black life, weaving that with the intimate romance of Tish and Fonny—possibly one of the best portrayals of love in literature.
If Beale Street Could Talk, simultaneously tragic and tender, reflects the mixed realities of life masterfully. A fitting read for both Valentine’s Day and Black History Month!

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Beartown: A Novel (Beartown Series) By Fredrik Backman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501160776
Availability: Click on title to see inventory for each store
Published: Atria Books - February 6th, 2018


I have enjoyed everything I’ve read from Fredrik Backman so far, but in my opinion, Beartown is far and away his best work. 
It’s a small town tale in which you get to know nearly every resident intimately. The surplus of characters could be overwhelming, but in Backman’s hands, each person is compelling and memorable. 
The subject matter is heavy, and the sensitive topic of sexual assault is handled with great care. This story is uniquely complex, nuanced, and thought-provoking, while still maintaining the immense amount of heart that Backman is known for. 
One of, if not my favorite book I read in 2023!

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Kiss Her Once for Me: A Novel By Alison Cochrun Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982191139
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Published: Atria Books - November 1st, 2022


Nothing in this book would ever happen in a million years. It’s cheesy, silly, stuffed to the brim with romance tropes, and that’s what makes it so great.
I read Kiss Her Once For Me over Christmas Eve and Christmas Day last year, and the experience was nothing short of magical. This book will make you smile and laugh, whether with it or at it, it doesn’t really matter. The tropes, characters, and pop culture references are a sugary-sweet hit of pure joy.
I would especially recommend this to fans of my favorite unhinged yet endearing Christmassy romance movie, While You Were Sleeping.
Kiss Her Once for Me is the ultimate Christmas junk food—over-the-top and tacky, but at the same time comforting, nostalgic, and happy. Let’s make the yuletide gay!

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In Love: A Memoir of Love and Loss By Amy Bloom Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593243954
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Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - February 21st, 2023


“You are the port in the storm. And you are the storm. And you are the sea. You are the rocks and the beach and the waves. You are the sunrise and the sunset and all of the light in between. I think I have more to say but I can’t. We are holding hands, pressed against each other, holding each other up. I whisper to him, ‘Every day of my life,’ and he whispers to me, ‘Every day of my life.’”

Learn from my mistakes—read this with a box of tissues within arms reach

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The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, Book 1) By Maggie Stiefvater Cover Image
ISBN: 9780545424936
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Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - July 30th, 2013


Spooky Season feels like the perfect time for me to push my Raven Boys agenda.

The description on the back gives the impression that this is primarily a romance (and the love stories within are excellent, don't get me wrong), but The Raven Boys is so much more. It's an adventure, a coming-of-age exploration into one's sense of self, and bar-none the greatest offering of the "found family" trope I have ever read.

The vibes are immaculate for fall. Misty graveyards, enchanted forests, tarot readings, waking dreams, and even a murder mystery come together with Maggie Stiefvater's lush writing style for an enrapturing reading experience.

I very rarely re-read books, even ones I love, but I have re-read this entire series over and over. And, a testament to the incredible, memorable characters, each time I have a different favorite (currently in my Gansay era).

If The Raven Boys has been on your back burner in the ten years since its release, this is your sign to give it a shot

I Kissed Shara Wheeler: A Novel By Casey McQuiston Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250244451
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Wednesday Books - May 3rd, 2022

JUNE 2022

All the charm, humor, and heart of Casey McQuiston's previous adult novels goes to high school! Fans of the scavenger hunt adventure aspect of John Green's Paper Towns and the witty teen characters from the movie Booksmart will find the best of both worlds in I Kissed Shara Wheeler.

Sweet, insightful, and laugh out loud funny, this is the perfect addition to pride month reading for teenagers and adults alike.

Personal Effects: What Recovering the Dead Teaches Me About Caring for the Living By Robert A. Jensen Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781250267993
Published: St. Martin's Press - September 28th, 2021

APRIL 2022

Robert A. Jensen owns and operates the largest disaster management company in the world. He responds in the wake of plane crashes, fires, tsunamis and terrorist attacks, just to name a few examples. Though not for the squeamish, Jensen's experiences uniquely lay bare the humanity within devastation. his job is inherently tragic, and often gruesome. but the care, dignity, and compassion that Jensen gives both the dead and the living they leave behind is truly beautiful.

Outlawed By Anna North Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635578249
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - February 15th, 2022

MARCH 2022

This book had me at "feminist Western". Raised in a community with extreme views on motherhood, childless Ada is forced to flee her home and everyone she loves. She soon finds herself the new blood in a notorious gang and under the care of its charming and mysterious leader, The Kid. What follows is a story that is both thought provoking and fun. Outlawed is packed full of all the action, peril, romance, found family, and heroism you could want from a Western, all with a special feminist twist.

Better, Not Bitter: Living on Purpose in the Pursuit of Racial Justice By Yusef Salaam Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538705001
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 18th, 2021


"Knowing the collective narrative is important. Knowing the story of the individual is transformative."
Yusef Salaam of the Exonerated Five (one of the five black and Latino  teenagers falsely convicted in the Central Park Jogger Case) tells his story with purpose, power, and a staggering amount of grace, which he credits t his strong Islamic faith. Salaam's voice is invaluable to hear, particularly if you are in the beginning stages of learning about mass incarceration and the disparities in the US justice system. The injustices he faced are igniting, and his triumph is healing.

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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel By Ocean Vuong Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525562047
Availability: Click on title to see inventory for each store
Published: Penguin Books - June 1st, 2021


within only a few pages of On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous I could already tell that I was reading one of my new favorite books. Lyrical, intense, brutal, and compassionate, Vuong's poetical style and personal experiences with being a queer Vietnamese immigrant create a beautiful story. The characters will both break your heart and make you want to call your grandma. Mental health, the impact 0of the Vietnam War, sex, and addiction are depicted with an honesty that is startling and unforgettable. In my opinion, this novel has truly earned the title "masterpiece".

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The New One: Painfully True Stories from a Reluctant Dad By Mike Birbiglia, J. Hope Stein (Supplement by) Cover Image
By Mike Birbiglia, J. Hope Stein (Supplement by)
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ISBN: 9781538701522
Published: Grand Central Publishing - September 7th, 2021


"I laughed, I cried" may be a cliche, but it's the best way to describe my experience while reading The New One. Stand up comedian Mike Birbiglia's signature way of mixing his goofy sense of humor with disarming honesty and sincerity really works well for him in book form. His candid thoughts on parenting are intermixed with poetry by his wife J. Hope Stein, creating a vulnerable, hilarious, and tender portrayal of all the joys and fears that came with the birth of their daughter. The New One is both a great partner to the Netflix stand-up special of the same name, and a worth while reading experience all in it's own.

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Six of Crows By Leigh Bardugo Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250076960
Availability: Click on title to see inventory for each store
Published: Square Fish - February 6th, 2018


I'm not typically someone who is drawn to YA fantasy, but Six of Crows was a pleasant surprise. It's a heist story with a multilayered and interesting fantasy back drop. And while the action is engaging and the stake high, what really stands out in this story is the excellent characterization. The rag tag band of criminals are captivating, unique, and lovable despite their flaws. I had so much fun reading this story.