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Staff Picks

We’re book people and here is where we share what we read.

Jean Paul Caron

Gorw Up

Grow Up

by Ben Brooks

Penguin Books (2012)

I was drawn to Grow Up when I saw the author, Ben Brooks, was born in 1992 and was nineteen when this book was published! The story follows a teenage boy and his friends who find ways to escape their lives with drugs and parties. The writing is fun to read, the imagery can be wildly vivid at times, and when the book is funny it is absolutely hilarious. The lifestyle presented seems exaggerated, but underneath the excessiveness lies a tinge of sadness which gives the characters gravity, relatability and extra depth the longer you let the book simmer.

Beautiful Country Burn Again

Beautiful Country Burn Again

by Ben Fountain

Ecco (2018)

Hilarious and painstakingly researched, Beautiful Country Burn Again is a phenomenal read by Dallas native Ben Fountain. Alternating chapters between political essays and unbelievable recounts of current events, Fountain weaves a tapestry of historical context and cultural insight that helps explain the events of the 2016 election with the panache and outrage of Hunter S. Thompson and Christopher Hitchens without losing his readers in a mire of despair. Democrat or Republican, it’s a must-read before your next vote.

Zealot

Zealot

by Reza Aslan

Random House (2014)

Whether you’re a person of faith or just an amateur historian, Zealot by Reza Aslan is chock-full of insights about historical Jesus and how the modern church came to be. Focusing solely on the historical documentation and context of Jesus’ life brings both new perspective on the person and his ministry, as well as his disciples. Excellent food for thought for anyone curious about or impacted by the Christian faith.  

The Overstory

The Overstory

by Richard Powers

W. W. Norton & Co. (2018)

The Overstory is the perfect book for a culture waking up to the environmental crisis. Richard Powers manages to make the narrative powerful but not preachy, intertwining characters with their environment in a way that radically changes each of their story lines. Saving the trees that literally form and allow their existence becomes not just a moral imperative, but a transformative one as characters discover who they really are by tuning into the natural, native story that surrounds and includes us all. 

Waiting For Eden

Waiting for Eden

by Elliot Ackerman

Knopf (2018)

Elliot Ackerman turns the traditional war story on its head in Waiting for Eden with his focus on post-war injury and recuperation rather than the glories of battle. A returning solider clings to the last vestiges of life while the ghost of a former brother in arms narrates the events that led to his wounds as well as the family dramas unfolding around his recuperating body. Unique and tender, this is a war story for the Iraq-Afghan era where there’s no end to war in sight, not even after death.  

The Armies Of The Night

The Armies of the Night

by Norman Mailer

Plume (1995)

Though it was written in the 60s, The Armies of the Night still shines with brilliant prose and wry humor. Mailer’s recounting of the March on the Pentagon is full of dark insight and cutting wit, and stands out as one of the first “I” novels to be published. Mailer uses himself as the central character in order to create a world in which fiction becomes history and history becomes fiction. This inverts our understanding of both current events and our role in them, pushing us to take a reckoning of what our country and our souls have become.

There There

There There

by Tommy Orange

Knopf (2018)

Intertwining cultures and fates works well for Tommy Orange in There There. Rather than focusing solely on the historical context of Native American culture, Orange brings their story to present day Oakland, where characters relearn what it means to be Indian in a world that has outlawed and ignored their heritage by turns. Updated to demonstrate modern Indian struggles, characters overcome poverty, crime, and identity confusion to discover who they can (and can’t) be when they come together in unity and pride.

How Do We Look

How Do We Look

by Mary Beard

Liverlight (2018)

Mary Beard’s new overview of classical art and the role of the viewer, How Do We Look, has us reconsidering our understanding of ancient art and the uses of propaganda in the modern era. We love how she incorporates a myriad of cultures in her survey, and that she turns her critical lens on the artist’s audience to reinforce how important cultural and political context are for the interpretation of artistic works. Being an observer suddenly feels more powerful.

Golden State

Golden State

by Ben H. Winters

Mulholland Books (2019)

Golden State keeps the noir in sci-fi as Speculative Service detective Mr. Ratesic enforces the law of the land: no lying, not ever. In the age of “post-truth”, this book confronts the power of fact and what happens when the government takes honesty into its own hands.Characters and readers alike must decide what is real and who to trust as the story goes on; good practice for today’s political climate and the upcoming 2020 election.  

Book of the Month – The Overstory

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Our favorite pick for February 2019

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