Our Year in Books: Jeremy

Article by Jeremy

The Top Three Books I Didn’t Read

This list begins with a confession. I don’t read all the books. Let me be clear. I want to read all the books. I spend time with many of them, but alas I cannot read them all. At least not right away. I bring home treasured volumes and stack them high with full intent to get to them one day. Their spines are little billboards reminding me that there are amazing words within.

Capital in the Twenty-First Century Cover Image
ISBN: 9780674430006
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Belknap Press: An Imprint of Harvard Universi - April 15th, 2014

I’m absolutely not the only person who purchased this book and hasn’t quite made it through yet. French economist Pikety stirred up a lot of passions with his analysis of the pros and cons of global capitalism. Dense and academic at times, the book is not for the faint of heart, but I expect it will reveal a great deal about our life and times.

Indigo Cover Image
By Clemens J. Setz, Ross Benjamin (Translator)
ISBN: 9780871402684
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Liveright Publishing Corporation - November 3rd, 2014

An Austrian exploration of alienation and anxiety framed by a mystery inside a mystery. The only reason I haven’t read this yet is because it arrived in early December and I haven’t had time. As soon as things slow down, I’ll settle in to ponder the deeper questions posed by the story and its existential overtones.

Your Face in Mine Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594488344
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - August 14th, 2014

I’m not entirely sure how I missed this debut. The story is this: A skinny white kid secretly has a radical, racial reassignment surgery to turn him into a black man. Now, he calls upon an old high school friend to help him ‘come out’ and explain himself to his family and friends. One can imagine things do not go smoothly.

The Top Three Novels I Loved the Best

I can’t do a ‘best books’ list. I try, but I can’t. There are too many books to love. There are too many books I missed. But when I think back over 2014, these titles stand out

Staff Pick Logo
Faces in the Crowd Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566893541
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - May 13th, 2014

This translated novel is a shining star of 2014. The narrative shifts between a contemporary woman and the subject of her research: a Harlem jazz musician from the 1930s. Their stories unfold in a way that makes you question who is dreaming who. FACES is brilliant and beautiful. I adore this novel and can’t wait for her next. (See also: SIDEWALKS, her exceptional collection of essays.)

On Such a Full Sea Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594632891
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - December 2nd, 2014

In Chang-Rae Lee’s dystopic landscape, China has spread across the world to create order in the unruled landscape. When Fan’s lover goes missing, she abandons that order to seek him out and in the process becomes a folk hero for a generation. The people that Fan encounters on her journey are some of the most memorable for me, particularly Miss Cathy’s ‘Girls’ and their history mural. Chang-Rae Lee comes to Brazos on January 14 for the paperback book tour.

Boy, Snow, Bird Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594633409
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - March 3rd, 2015

I’m not entirely sure why this retelling of the Snow White story stuck with me. Could it perhaps be the exceptional writing? Or maybe it’s the extraordinarily clever use of source material. More likely, it’s that the story explores complicated, unexpected issues without judgement. You empathize with all three narrators and find that right and wrong, good and evil aren’t black or white.

The Top Three Most Beautiful Books

The book’s the thing. I know that I’m preaching to the crowd when I suggest that looking at a screen is a poor substitution for print. So take a moment and browse through all the beauties. The gorgeous editions are my favorite things to look at in the store right now.

Cover Cover Image
ISBN: 9781576876671
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: powerHouse Books - August 5th, 2014

It’s book porn, plain and simple. COVER is an overview of the most beautiful, innovative and interesting book jackets designed by the inimitable Peter Mendelsund. A good cover design makes you want to pick the book up and never stop reading read it. Flipping through this book, I expect you’ll find dozens of new books to never stop reading, in addition to those that already grace your shelves.

North Korea: Anonymous Country Cover Image
By Julia Leeb (Photographer), Jr. Karasek (Foreword by), Niko Karasek (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9783832798437
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Te Neues Publishing Company - September 15th, 2014

I visited South Korea earlier this fall and took a day trip to the DMZ. It was really something to peer across the line into a country and society that has been isolated from most of the world since the 1950s. German journalist and photographer visited North Korea twice (as a tourist) and snapped some of the most amazing photos I’ve seen. The images in the book from teNeus show the people, places and festivals of North Korea. Every page amazes.

Staff Pick Logo
Here (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375406508
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Pantheon Books - December 9th, 2014

This exraordinary graphic novel defies easy description. Each page spread shows the same fixed view, but the year jumps around. Sometimes it's the 1950s and a suburban house. Sometimes its the swampy bog near the manor in the 1740s. Stories emerge. Connections are made across the years. This book will keep you looking and looking and looking.

The Top Three You Should Get Ready to Read in 2015

There is no shortage of great books on the horizon. I’ve read these already and can’t wait to get them into your hands and onto your shelves.

The Girl on the Train Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594633669
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - January 13th, 2015

A woman rides the train, pretending to go to work, pretending to be sober, and obsessively looking at her former neighborhood, and life she used to have. When one of the objects of her obsession goes missing, she realizes that she may have been a witness to a horrible crime. Or worse yet, the perpetrator. A must-read thriller to kick off 2015. January

A Kim Jong-il Production: The Extraordinary True Story of a Kidnapped Filmmaker, His Star Actress, and a Young Dictator's Rise to Power Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250054265
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Flatiron Books - February 3rd, 2015

As it turns out, the current Sony Pictures debacle with North Korea isn’t the first time that state has been involved with Hollywood intrigue. Before Kim Jong-Il was the ‘Dear Leader,’ he ran the Propaganda Ministry and produced all of North Korea’s films. In the late 1970s, he kidnapped two of South Korea’s biggest stars and forced them to work for him. This true life thriller must be read to be believed. February 5

Whisper Hollow Cover Image
ISBN: 9781590517116
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Other Press (NY) - March 17th, 2015

Houston author Chris Cander’s debut novel from Other Press is a multi-generational epic about religion and obsession in a West Virginia coal mining town. A terrible moment in 1916 echoes across decades, shaping the way an entire community understands good and evil.

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