Articles

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In the Light of What We Know (Zia Haider Rahman)

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In the Light of What We Know Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374175627
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar Straus Giroux - April 22nd, 2014

Zia Haider Rahman's brilliant debut novel IN THE LIGHT OF WHAT WE KNOW deals with friendship, exile and the price we pay for the troubled times in which we live. Those, of course, are broad strokes, for this novel bristles with ideas and handles a myriad of subjects--the 2008 financial collapse, cognitive science, Englishness, class, Bangladesh's violent history, 9/11, geopolitics, Islamic terrorism and more. The ambition of the book is astounding, and Rahman's handling of these topics is equally so. Still, this is a very approachable novel--not only a book to be admired, but one to be read and savored. 

The story begins in 2008, when the narrator--fortyish, in a crumbling marriage--receives a visitor at his London home: Zafar, an old friend from his college days at Oxford. They had been close at one time before Zafar disappeared, making his last decade a mystery to his friends and colleagues alike. After a shower and a meal, Zafar opens up to his old friend, and so begins this inspired novel, a story circulating ever-closer to a nameless and inevitable violence. 

As a human rights lawyer and investment banker on Wall Street, Rahman is highly attuned to the language and motives of these worlds. Zafar's story unfolds, shifting forwards and backwards, starting with a recent UN mission in Kandahar, Afghanistan, and going back to his childhood, in England and in his native village in Bangladesh. Zafar's tale is awash with place and incident, from Kabul to New York to Islamabad, cities peopled with mercenaries, military bureaucrats and dubious financial types. Zafar's story also allows Rahman to digress, and his erudition is both enviable and encyclopedic: map-making as poetry, mathematics as pure knowledge and the mysteries and motivations of friendship. 

This novel, like Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's AMERICANAH and Teju Cole's OPEN CITY, illuminates the voices of contemporary exile, of rootlessness and displacement. The reasons for this exile vary--war, famine, shifting political landscapes--but they herald a new type of literature, a post-post-colonial literature, as it were. Not unlike V.S. Naipaul and W.G. Sebald before him, Rahman's exciting and precise storytelling is made all the better for its concern for the various guises of emigration.

According to a recent UN report, the number of refugees in the world has surpassed fifty million for the first time since the end of World War II. The sheer magnitude of these voices is too large to ignore.With books like IN THE LIGHT OF WHAT WE KNOW, you don't want to. Rahman is a writer of the highest order, with a tone many authors spend a career trying to achieve. In short, this is a novel not to be missed. 


Sloppy Firsts (Megan McCafferty)

SLOPPY FIRSTS, a book about friendship, family, and how damn confusing high school can be, will both break and warm your heart in equal measure. Jessica Darling tries to be smart around dumb friends, tries to get out of New Jersey, tries to figure out Marcus Flutie (the perfect book boyfriend), tries to get by after her best friend moves away, tries to convince her dad that she just isn’t into running... This is a book about trying to do all the things: high school in its simplest form. In case you aren’t convinced yet, I’ve pinpointed why you, yes, you, must pick up this book immediately:

 

If you are a teenager: Megan McCafferty gets you. She just does! Jessica Darling is a smart, funny nonconformist, who stands out in a world full of books about smart, funny nonconformists. This book is effortlessly cool and doesn’t resort to “hip teen talk” to be relatable.

 

If you are in your twenties: Jessica grew up with you. This book was published in 2001, and there are just enough pop culture references to make you nostalgic without feeling dated. The series also follows Jessica into her twenties, so you’ll see her make lots of college mistakes and give her particular brand of sarcastic wisdom to the mayhem that inevitably accompanies all quarterlife crises.

 

If you are a parent or actual adult: Do you want to get inside the mind of your teenager or young adult? Did you love high school and want to relive the politics, the snark, and the lame summer jobs? Or, did you hate high school and want a friend with whom to commiserate about the politics, the snark, and the lame summer jobs? Check, check, and check.

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Sloppy Firsts: A Jessica Darling Novel (Jessica Darling Novels) Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780609807903
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Broadway Books - August 28th, 2001

The Loser (Thomas Bernhard)

THE LOSER was my first experience with Bernhard, and the optimal starting place for anyone wanting a "Bernhard experience." No one writes sentences like Thomas Bernhard. His novels teem with page-long rants, bursts of language that somersault, backflip, turn in circles and repeat. He quite literally riffs. There’s a music, a cadence, a madness to Bernhard’s writing. It may seem daunting at first, but if a reader allows themselves inside, an entire world reveals itself. A place with all the manias, digressions and humors of a magnificent mind.

 

Labeling a writer like Bernhard a stylist does him a disservice, for although what he is creating is unquestionably stylish, he is doing other things as well; he is philosophising, telling a story, showing the inner workings of a brilliant but claustrophobic psyche. If the reader wants to delve into the internal they could do no better than Bernhard’s brilliant novels.

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The Loser (Vintage International) Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781400077540
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - October 17th, 2006

Henry IV, Part 1 (William Shakespeare)

If you only read one Shakespeare play in your life, read HENRY IV, PART 1. Don’t be put off by the title--it's really more about the future Henry V, and despite the “Part One,” this gem of a play stands alone. It’s the story of three Henrys: King Henry IV faces a rebellion led by heroic Henry “Hotspur” Percy, while his oldest son Prince Henry, called Hal, spends his days in taverns avoiding his responsibilities and committing various (hilarious) petty crimes with his best friend, the roguish old mischief-maker Sir John Falstaff. Hal purposefully cultivates his terrible reputation, to make his eventual "reform" that much more meaningful, but Hotspur’s rebellion forces Hal into growing up sooner than he’d anticipated.

 

HENRY IV, PART 1 has every genre you can ask for. You want tragedy? Hotspur's pride and devotion to his cause back him into a corner there's no escape from. Here for the broad comedy? Those famous “Shakespearean Insults” all come from Act II, Scene IV, as Hal and Falstaff one-up each other with over-the-top banter and practical jokes. It's laugh-out-loud funny, but more than that, Hal and Falstaff’s relationship forms the emotional heart of the play. Hal and Falstaff tug at your heartstrings almost as much as Hal’s emotional scenes with his father, or Hotspur’s painfully difficult scenes with his semi-estranged wife, Lady Percy.

 

The histories are full of wonderful, flawed people who all just did what they thought was best. HENRY IV, PART 1 is something for everyone: young adults trying to figure out what they want from life, heroes trying to stay true to their ideals, and the older crowd who've watched the world change and aren't sure if they've changed with it. It's also a pure example of dramatic pacing at its finest: this play flows from the austerity of court to the rollicking taverns of Cheapside and the wilds of Wales, to the inevitable conclusion where two armies clash on the plains of Shrewsbury. Inevitability is the heart of this play--war are death are inevitable, and as Hal's royal duties clash with his tavern games, maybe the breakup of Hal and Falstaff’s friendship is inevitable, too. Nothing in this play will last, so everyone fights, laughs, and lives fully while it does.

Henry IV, Part 1 (Modern Library Classics) Cover Image
$8.00
ISBN: 9780812969245
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Modern Library - August 25th, 2009

The Intuitionist (Colson Whitehead)

In the world of Elevator Operators, there are two factions: the Empiricists, who diligently seek out and analyze issues and flaws in the mechanism, and the Intuitionists, who can feel the problems without having to look at anything. Author Colson Whitehead takes this idea and extends it into a world at once familiar and strange.

 

Lila Mae is an Intuitionist. She's also the first black female Elevator Operator, and an elevator has crashed on her watch. Like a grainy flickering image, this novel entices and reveals great wonders. It's no wonder that Colson Whitehead has become one of his generation’s most innovative authors.

The Intuitionist Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780385493000
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - January 3rd, 2000

Mating (Norman Rush)

The immediate, erudite and funny voice of its narrator drives MATING. Our narrator washes up in Botswana with an exploded thesis. She’d intended to study the effects of a hunter/gatherer diet on fertility, but by 1980, hunter/gatherers were pretty thin on the ground. So instead of returning stateside, she hangs around in Gaborone, drifting and unemployed.

 

During her stint of unemployed decadence in Gaborone, our narrator meets an elusive American activist, Nelson Denoon, who is rumored to have started an experimental, all-female village in the Kalahari. Its location is secret, but driven by desire and an admirable dose of brass, the narrator sets off into the desert with only a pretty good idea of where she’s going. So begins her love affair with Denoon.

 

Like all great fiction, MATING allows you to pal around with someone really great who you could never meet otherwise. Reading this book is like drinking an endless pot of tea while your super-cool aunt tells you the story of her life.

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Mating (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780679737094
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1992

Weasels (Elys Dolan)

Just try to find every joke and follow every storyline in Elys Dolan's WEASELS! There's a lot going on in this cartoony, laugh-out-loud hilarious picture book about weasels plotting world domination. Dolan's mixed-media illustrations, bursting with detail and featuring a wide cast of weasely scientists and conspirators, will be sure to dazzle young eyes, while the copiously-flowing coffee and James Bond references will provide plenty of giggles for parents and older readers. WEASELS is endlessly re-readable, rewarding keen-eyed kids with something new to laugh at every time they pick it up. Easy to grasp for the littlest of readers and even better once kids are old enough to understand all the jokes, WEASELS is a perfect addition to your family’s library. 

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Weasels Cover Image
By Elys Dolan, Elys Dolan (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780763671006
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Nosy Crow - February 25th, 2014

On Such a Full Sea (Chang-Rae Lee)

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On Such a Full Sea Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781594486104
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Riverhead Books - January 7th, 2014

This January, I started my reading year off right by picking up Chang-Rae Lee’s magnificent new novel, ON SUCH A FULL SEA. There was so much buzz surrounding this book that a casual in-store book club developed around it; four of us now have read the novel and loved it! The novel takes place a few hundred years in the future and tells the story of Fan, a young girl who bravely leaves Baltimore, which has been renamed B-MOR). The reasons for her departure are slowly revealed as the book follows Fan on countless trials, all of it related to us in Lee’s sparkling prose. Like a lot of dystopian fiction, this story reflects the challenges and concerns of our current lives by exploring the future. However, Lee doesn’t fall into any of the traps or cliches of the genre; each twist of the plot comes unexpectedly and feels organic. ON SUCH A FULL SEA is unlike anything Lee has written before, yet it retains his stunning mastery of language and gift for storytelling. If the rest of the year is filled with books as good as this one, a great year in reading it will be!


Brazos Bookstore's Top Kid Picks of 2013

These are our 15 best picks for children and young adults from 2013! Scroll through the list to find our top 5 favorites in the categories of picture, middle grade and young adult books.

The Day the Crayons Quit Cover Image
By Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399255373
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - June 27th, 2013

Journey Cover Image
By Aaron Becker, Aaron Becker (Illustrator)
$15.99
ISBN: 9780763660536
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - August 6th, 2013

Secret Pizza Party Cover Image
By Adam Rubin, Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780803739475
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - September 3rd, 2013

Battle Bunny Cover Image
By Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Matt Myers (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781442446731
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - October 22nd, 2013

The World Belongs to You Cover Image
By Riccardo Bozzi, Olimpia Zagnoli (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9780763664886
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Templar Books - March 12th, 2013

Fortunately, the Milk Cover Image
By Neil Gaiman, Skottie Young (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062224071
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - September 17th, 2013

Thing about Luck Cover Image
By Cynthia Kadohata, Julia Kuo (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781416918820
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - June 4th, 2013

Jane, the Fox & Me Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781554983605
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Groundwood Books - September 1st, 2013

The Apprentices (Apothecary #2) Cover Image
By Maile Meloy, Ian Schoenherr (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780399162459
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - June 4th, 2013

Rooftoppers Cover Image
By Katherine Rundell, Terry Fan (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781442490581
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 24th, 2013

Out of the Easy Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399256929
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Philomel Books - February 12th, 2013

Two Boys Kissing Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780307931900
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - August 27th, 2013

Eleanor & Park Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250012579
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - February 26th, 2013

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The 5th Wave Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780399162411
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - May 7th, 2013

Far Far Away Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780375849725
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - June 11th, 2013

Brazos Bookstore's Top Picks of 2013 for Kids

Staff Pick Logo
The 5th Wave Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780399162411
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - May 7th, 2013

Out of the Easy Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399256929
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Philomel Books - February 12th, 2013

The Apprentices (Apothecary #2) Cover Image
By Maile Meloy, Ian Schoenherr (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9780399162459
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - June 4th, 2013

House of Secrets Cover Image
By Chris Columbus, Greg Call (Illustrator), Ned Vizzini
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062192462
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - April 23rd, 2013

The Center of Everything Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780547763484
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Harcourt Children's Books - March 5th, 2013

That Is Not a Good Idea! Cover Image
By Mo Willems, Mo Willems (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062203090
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer + Bray - April 23rd, 2013

The Great Lollipop Caper Cover Image
By Dan Krall, Dan Krall (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781442444607
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - May 7th, 2013

Jane, the Fox & Me Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781554983605
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Groundwood Books - September 1st, 2013

Two Boys Kissing Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780307931900
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - August 27th, 2013

Fortunately, the Milk Cover Image
By Neil Gaiman, Skottie Young (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9780062224071
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - September 17th, 2013

Secret Pizza Party Cover Image
By Adam Rubin, Daniel Salmieri (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780803739475
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - September 3rd, 2013

The Day the Crayons Quit Cover Image
By Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780399255373
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Philomel Books - June 27th, 2013

Battle Bunny Cover Image
By Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, Matt Myers (Illustrator)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781442446731
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - October 22nd, 2013

Rooftoppers Cover Image
By Katherine Rundell, Terry Fan (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781442490581
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 24th, 2013

Journey Cover Image
By Aaron Becker, Aaron Becker (Illustrator)
$15.99
ISBN: 9780763660536
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Candlewick Press (MA) - August 6th, 2013

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