Keaton's Top 10 Just Plain Good Books

I’m not gonna lie. This year has been a dumpster fire for me personally. Between raising a young child in this ongoing pandemic and trying to maintain the shelves here at the B, I had a helluva time focusing on reading for myself. Suffice it to say, I read far fewer books this year than at any point previous in my bookselling career. Call it exhaustion, I guess.

But despite it all, there were still several titles I not only managed to finish but that have also kept me going through all of our shared hardships these past twelve months. So there won’t be any cute awards show theme or ingenious pairings with metal albums this year. I just don’t have the energy for that. Instead, I will simply give you the Top 10 Just Plain Good Books I read this year in no particular order. I hope you enjoy them as much as I did. Here’s looking forward to 2022... 

Helgoland: Making Sense of the Quantum Revolution Cover Image
By Carlo Rovelli, Erica Segre (Translated by), Simon Carnell (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780593328880
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 25th, 2021

The cutting-edge Italian physicist returns to recount the odyssey of quantum mechanics, beginning on a small island in the North Sea where a young man has an astounding idea with the power to destroy the world, redefine consciousness, and ultimately upend the very notion of reality itself. This is where truth really does become stranger than fiction...  

When We Cease to Understand the World Cover Image
By Benjamin Labatut, Adrian Nathan West (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781681375663
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New York Review Books - September 28th, 2021

But why should the truth have all the fun?! Labatut’s debut novel takes several key (and very real) scientific discoveries as its starting point to examine what happens to society and the individual mind when the world as we know it changes irrevocably. A page-turning feat of imagination, featuring some of the greatest minds of the 20th century, including some very interesting crossover with Helgoland. Consider reading both together!

Murder Maps USA: Crime Scenes Revisited; Bloodstains to Ballistics, 1865 -1939 Cover Image
ISBN: 9780500252598
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Thames & Hudson - December 7th, 2021

This is not for the squeamish. Replete with grisly, actual crime scene photos, this second installment in the Murder Maps series is a grand tour through American bloodlust and infamy. From outlaw icons like Bonnie and Clyde to long forgotten crimes of passion and opportunity, consider this an illicit treasure trove of true crime!

Did You Hear What Eddie Gein Done? Cover Image
ISBN: 9781949889048
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Albatross Funnybooks - August 24th, 2021

Back in the 1950s, Ed Gein’s notorious crimes and house of horrors in rural Wisconsin became the archetype for the modern American monster-next-door. This graphic novel explores his macabre legacy through stark black and white images accentuating Gein’s warped psychological state and the abject terror lying just beneath America’s sanitized mid-century image of itself.     

This Thing Between Us: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374539238
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: MCD x FSG Originals - October 12th, 2021

The first great 21st century ghost story involves a young couple whose lives are being terrorized by a possessed smart speaker. What may sound kitschy at first blush turns out to be a dark tour through our inability to connect with one another in our hyperconnected world. Timely, horrifying, and psychologically intense.

Bewilderment: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393881141
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - September 21st, 2021

A beautiful, tragic ode to the love between a father and son that spans from the deepest recesses of the human heart to the farthest reaches of the universe in a search for hope in a dying world. What would you do with boundless emotional intelligence? How would you cope? Could you? These are the questions posed by one of America’s greatest living authors in his latest offering. 

Seek You: A Journey Through American Loneliness (Pantheon Graphic Library) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781524748067
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pantheon - July 13th, 2021

A revelatory work. Proof positive that graphic novels are every bit as powerful as any other form of literature. Radtke’s words and images form a cultural, personal, and critical excavation of loneliness that perfectly captures our moment in time. Sad and yet full of hope, this is the book we need right now. 

The Annotated Arabian Nights: Tales from 1001 Nights Cover Image
By Yasmine Seale (Translated by), Paulo Lemos Horta (Editor), Paulo Lemos Horta (Introduction by), Omar El Akkad (Foreword by), Robert Irwin (Afterword by)
ISBN: 9781631493638
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - November 16th, 2021

I’ve been waiting for this book for five years, and now it is finally here! Norton’s annotated classics are total literary candy, full of background info and historical context, not to mention tons of amazing images. This newest translation of The Arabian Nights -- the first ever translated by a woman -- is a thing of beauty. It’s an indispensable addition to any library of world classics.

Lady Joker, Volume 1 Cover Image
By Kaoru Takamura, Allison Markin Powell (Translated by), Marie Iida (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781616957018
Availability: NOT ON OUR SHELVES. Usually Arrives in 4-7 Business Days
Published: Soho Crime - April 13th, 2021

This first volume from one of Japan’s seminal works of contemporary literature is based on true events surrounding a corporate kidnapping that remains unsolved to this day -- the case of “the Monster with 21 Faces.” But this epic crime drama only begins there, spinning out to expose the ethnic tensions, corruption, and greed hidden beneath the sheen of the country’s late 20th century success. Get started now, because the concluding volume is set to release in 2022!

The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566896115
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - August 3rd, 2021

Simply put, Brian Evenson is the most terrifying writer working today. His skill for compression and psychological suspense is unparalleled, so that each of his stories becomes its own suffocating capsular nightmare. He has already made a believer out of horror luminaries like Stephen King and RL Stine. If you are a fan of the spookies, read every word this man writes. 

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