Juan's Picks

If you're looking to read a mind blowing work of literature, track Juan down. He knows his stuff.

The Hero with a Thousand Faces (Collected Works of Joseph Campbell) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781577315933
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: New World Library - July 1st, 2008


Ever since I can remember, mythology has influenced my life, both in my reading history and as a child. It was a compass for initially recognizing the arc of a story. However, it wasn't until I read Joseph Campbell during college that I began to understand the presence of a hero's journey motif speckled throughout our society.
Around the same time I read Jung's Man and His Symbols and I feel that Campbell and Jung's books are essentially rubrics for human understanding by the analysis of collections of recurring stories throughout time. Campbell unpacks with warmth the underlying utilitarian purpose for some of the most popular stories in mythology and the hope of a careful grandfather handing down an oral heirloom.

Cowboy Graves: Three Novellas Cover Image
By Roberto Bolaño, Natasha Wimmer (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780735222885
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Penguin Press - February 16th, 2021


Bolano writes visceral poetry, and his prose tends to be just as self-revealing, while also drawing on cryptic associations ranging from all subjects but mostly drawing on European history and South American first nations history.
Novellas are definitely his strongest suit. The reader can fully appreciate his mastery in creating a story with brevity, fully developed characters that singe slowly into the readers subconscious all the while maintaining the same fervor in which he punches through poetry.
I have read at least eight of his novellas and they all have something to offer in different ways. Cowboy Graves is no different.

Hear My Voice/Escucha mi voz: The Testimonies of Children Detained at the Southern Border of the United States Cover Image
By Warren Binford (Compiled by), Michael Garcia Bochenek (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9781523513482
Availability: On Our Shelves Now!
Published: Workman Publishing Company - April 13th, 2021

MAY 2021

Hear My Voice was easily the most heartbreaking children's non-fiction I’ve ever read. It depicts the bleak stories of children detained at the U.S./Mexican border during the years 2017 and 2019.
This book is illustrated through the collaboration of over a dozen Mexican artists and counterpoints the narrative sewn together by publicly available court documents taken from child detention cases. Hear my voice is cleverly split off into an English and Spanish version with the same binding. Although the cases are deeply bitter the stories are soulful and poignant. Above all, this powerful and beautiful book is a useful way to introduce young readers to the complicated and sensitive matter that detainment camps are a reality for human children in the year 2021.

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I'm Sticking with You Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250619235
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - May 5th, 2020

MARCH 2021

I was immediately drawn to this book by a colleague and with good reason; I'm a sucker for illustrated reinventions of fauna in children's books. But even apart from the quirky, beautifully hand-painted illustrations, the story manages to steal the show. The relationship between these two unlikely friends results in humorous moments but also highlights the nature and characteristics of our true friendships: The inability to live without each other despite differences or obstacles, or, as in our protagonist's case, sheer size.

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Tokyo Ueno Station: A Novel Cover Image
By Yu Miri
ISBN: 9780593088029
Availability: Available to ship within 1-5 days
Published: Riverhead Books - June 23rd, 2020


A Japanese ghost narrates his existence as a wandering spirit through the parks and streets of Ueno, a neighborhood in Tokyo. A setting which the specter once inhabited as a homeless citizen decades earlier. Yu Miri's slim novel critiques the  imperialist culture of Japan, as she exposes the lesser known culture of Japan, as she exposes the lesser known culture of Japan's homeless population post WW2 through this lyrically rich and moving story.