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Ancestor Approved: An Interview with Cynthia Leitich Smith, founder of Heartdrum

I’ve known Austin’s remarkable and talented Cynthia Leitich Smith for well over a decade now. In that time she’s been a friend, mentor, and one of the most creative and generous authors I’ve had the privilege of working with. Author, teacher, and now head of the Harper’s new, Native-American focused imprint, Heartdrum, Cyn has always strived to make a difference, to nurture other creatives, and push herself to new projects. It was my pleasure and honor to get to talk to her about all of this as the first Heartdrum book, SEA IN WINTER, arrives onto shelves.

The Sea in Winter Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062872043
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Heartdrum - January 5th, 2021

Ancestor Approved: Intertribal Stories for Kids Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062869944
Availability: Coming Soon - Pre-Order Now
Published: Heartdrum - February 9th, 2021

Sisters of the Neversea Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062869975
Availability: Not Yet Published
Published: Heartdrum - June 1st, 2021

Karl Kilian: 1943 - 2020

It is with profound sadness that we learned Karl Kilian, the founder of Brazos Bookstore, passed away last night. Although Karl left the store many years ago, his presence has always been an integral part of who we are. In later years, Karl would still stop by to buy a book or watch from the counter as an author reading took place. We were always excited to see him and nothing was better than watching him smile or tell us how happy he was to see the bookstore thriving. Karl Kilian's vision is the same vision we try to carry on every day.

 

Laura M's Top 10: Hindsight Is 2020

2020 was such a strange, difficult year, and its tumultuous highs and lows are ingrained in our collective memory. So often books are an escape and a balm for whatever is happening in my life, and if I had to relive this year, Groundhog Day style, I would want these books by my side.


JANUARY

Drive Your Plow Over the Bones of the Dead: A Novel Cover Image
By Olga Tokarczuk, Antonia Lloyd-Jones (Translated by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780525541349
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - August 11th, 2020

Perhaps a foreboding start to this list, but for all of its darkness, this book was actually surprisingly funny. We follow an old woman in a remote Polish village, who is both entirely unreliable and strangely endearing. The stark, isolated setting makes for the ideal winter read.


FEBRUARY


Writers & Lovers Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780802148537
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - March 3rd, 2020

Ah, the before times. I can't think of a better ode than Writers & Lovers by Lily King. A hopeful, buoyant novel that explores the places where grief, creativity, and romance intersect. It made me laugh, it made me cry, it made me swoon.


MARCH


Drifts: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780593087213
Availability: Backordered
Published: Riverhead Books - May 19th, 2020

This is a meditative, lush novel about writing and motherhood, but it's also a beautiful encapsulation of what it's like to untangle the web of your own thoughts. I was mesmerized by this book.


APRIL


Sourdough: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374203108
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: MCD - September 5th, 2017

Not only is this book incredibly relevant to everyone's sourdough craze during lockdown, but it's also the perfect escapist read. Robin Sloan explores the future of food and tech in this weird, rollicking look at human ingenuity. It repaired my faith in humanity when it was at its lowest.


MAY


The Butterfly Lampshade: A Novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780385534871
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - July 28th, 2020

Aimee Bender has blessed us all with her first novel since The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake. At this point in 2020 we were all in limbo, unsure how long any of this would last and feeling the effects of being isolated for so long. This weird, quiet book is a beautiful compliment to that feeling - full of interiority and strangeness, the mundane and the fantastic. It made me see the beauty in the details.


JUNE


Riot Baby Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250214751
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Tordotcom - January 21st, 2020

This bright burning star of a book mixes the harsh realities of Black life in America with magic in a dystopian-esque future. In spare, unflinching prose Onyebuchi explores a world that is frighteningly similar to our own and a future that is imminent if we don't act to create a better one.


JULY


Squeeze Me: A novel Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9781524733452
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Knopf - August 25th, 2020

This is classic Hiaasen but with a 2020 twist. We follow Angie Armstrong, a Florida wildlife wrangler who gets unwillingly caught in a web of hijinks involving several Burmese pythons, a privileged group of high society matrons, and even the President himself. If you need escapism that hits all the right satirical notes for our time, this is the book for you.


AUGUST


In the Lake of the Woods Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780618709861
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Mariner Books - September 1st, 2006

Who knows where August went? I for one don't remember it. In the Lake of the Woods is an older novel, but I'm so glad I discovered it this year. This is an eerie, meditative book about a man whose wife goes missing, and we spend the majority of the novel following his disjointed memories of their life together, trying to figure out where it all went wrong. There are so many fascinating layers to this book, and it's the perfect book to get lost in over and over again.


SEPTEMBER


Real Life: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525538882
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 18th, 2020

If you read one book on this list, it should be this one. This book follows Wallace, the only Black student in his biochemistry grad program, over the course of one weekend as he navigates tense relationships within his friend group and the racial minefield of academia. Taylor's stunning prose is both expansive and intimate, and I could open it to any page and find a sentence that takes my breath away. You know those books that completely rearrange how you see the world? Yeah, that's this book. Read it. That's all I have to say.


OCTOBER


Bunny: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780525559757
Availability: Backordered
Published: Penguin Books - June 9th, 2020

Halloween is one of my favorite holidays, but I wasn't feeling anything too dark and intense this year. Enter, Bunny. This book is what would happen if Mean Girls was a horror flick set in a creative writing program. Funny, biting, and weird. I loved it.


NOVEMBER & DECEMBER


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780765387561
Availability: Backordered
Published: Tor Books - October 6th, 2020

Here we are, in the final slide into the end of the year. I wanted to end on one of those books that pulls you entirely into its own world, the kind of book that you can't put down because you are reluctant to abandon the characters and their story. Addie La Rue is the story of a young woman in the 18th century who makes a deal with the devil to live forever... but is cursed to be forgotten by everyone she meets. This is V.E. Schwab's masterpiece, a story spanning centuries that touches on art, inspiration, and what it really means to be seen, loved, and remembered.


Ülrika's Top 10: My Year of Reading

Looking back at my year of reading, these are the titles that have stayed with me since I put the books down. I hope you enjoy the list as much as I enjoyed reading them.

 

A Certain Hunger Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781951213145
Availability: Backordered
Published: Unnamed Press - December 8th, 2020

One of the best novels I’ve read in years. I devoured this gorgeously written, bold and perverse book about a female food critic who strikes back against the male-dominated magazine world in which she operates. Original and subversive.


The Harpy Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802148162
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - November 3rd, 2020

A simple enough premise: a wife finds out her husband has had an affair and they make a pact that she can hurt him up to three times without any notice. How far would you go to pay back your spouse? And what does it really do to you emotionally and mentally. 


The Margot Affair: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781984854438
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Hogarth - June 16th, 2020

Betrayal and desire fuel the story of Margot, the secret daughter of a twenty-year affair between a French politician and a famous actress. Part diary, part page-turner, this is a masterful novel with gorgeous writing.


Autopsy of a Boring Wife Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781487004613
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Arachnide Editions - September 3rd, 2019

Marie-Renée Lavoie's Autopsy of a Boring Wife tells the hysterically funny and ultimately touching tale of forty-eight-year-old Diane, a woman whose husband leaves her and is having an affair because, he says, she bores him. A fresh and engaging novel of the pitfalls and missteps of an apparently "boring" life that could be any of ours.


Rest and Be Thankful Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781526601070
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Circus - December 1st, 2020

A visceral and dreamlike literary portrait of a burned-out pediatric nurse working night shifts in a neonatal ward. A haunting, intimate portrayal of the nurses who sacrifice their physical and psychological well-being for the sake of others.


Stray: A Memoir Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781101875964
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Knopf - May 19th, 2020

I love a good memoir and STRAY deosn’t disappoint. An intimate, searingly honest memoir of growing up the child of addicts, of how that turbulent, often harrowing experience has affected her at every stage of her life, and of how she has struggled to transcend this unwanted legacy. 


Aphelia Cover Image
By Mikella Nicol, Lesley Trites (Translated by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781550655193
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Esplanade Books - September 1st, 2019

In Montreal, during a heat wave, a young twenty-something works the night shift at a call center, her only company the disembodied voices of the customers who call in to complain. She spends her night off drinking with her friend Louis, while her successful boyfriend sleeps. His career allows her the pleasures of his spacious, modern condo, a new existence. A strange, original novel that follows the flux of twenty-something life that often lacks a clear direction.


NVK: A Novel Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9781590519356
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Other Press - November 26th, 2019

A thrilling, ambiguous novel. One night in 2012, executive Zhang Guo Xing takes a group of European clients to a fashionable nightclub in Shanghai. While there, he meets a strikingly beautiful woman called Naemi Vieno Kuusela. The physical attraction between them proves irresistible, and they embark on an intoxicating affair. But Naemi is not what she appears to be. A great literary thriller.


The Lying Life of Adults Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translator)
$26.00
ISBN: 9781609455910
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - September 1st, 2020

Ferrante never disappoints. A captivating, up-close portrait of a woman reflecting back on the mysterious years of her adolescence, the transition from child to adult, from youthful ignorance to a deeper, more complicated understanding about her city, those around her, and ultimately, herself.


Harmada Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781949641059
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Lines Press - November 10th, 2020

I love every novel by Brazilian author Joaão Gilberto Noll. “Harmada” follows a former actor on a journey that explores essential questions about identity, the power of art, the vanity of glory, and the meaning of life. That might seem vague, and that’s the point. The reader is never sure where they’re standing in a Noll novel, one of the most thrilling aspects of reading him.


Katie's Top 10: My Year of Zero Rest & Emotional Reading

This year I found myself gravitating to all different genres. From my two new favorite genres - science fiction and fantasy - to contemporary fiction plus a healthy sprinkling of cookbooks, I discovered books that had been sitting on my shelves for years. I found that what kept me reading during this year was to just read whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. In doing so, I discovered genres and authors I may have not read otherwise.

A Certain Hunger Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781951213145
Availability: Backordered
Published: Unnamed Press - December 8th, 2020

This is the best book I have read all year! Food critic Dorothy Daniels apologizes to no one, not even the reader, as she narrates her quiet upbringing and begins a descent into desires of the flesh, a heroine you can’t resist even when things become bloody. A Certain Hunger is a story about how far our desires for success and love will take us. I could not put this book down, and it devoured me just as much as I devoured it. A bacchanalian feast for the senses. Chelsea G. Summers has written a truly visceral experience. Is it too obvious to say this book is positively delicious? 


The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Vintage International) Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780679775430
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1998

This was the first book I read during quarantine, and when I finished it I was like “ok that was good (obviously — it’s Murakami and he’s great).” Fast forward to about three months into quarantine and I noticed myself thinking about this novel a lot, the true sign of a very special book. It has continued to stick with me eight months later. A missing cat, a well, and a cast of truly unforgettable characters. It’s nearly impossible to describe Murakami’s novels because they need to be experienced. A true masterpiece.


Black Sun (Between Earth and Sky) Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781534437678
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery / Saga Press - October 13th, 2020

An epic fantasy set in the Pre-Colombian Americas with Indigenous Mythology. This novel blew me away, and I could not put it down. The characters are phenomenal! We follow a possibly reincarnated crow god and a kick-ass sailor with a secret. This novel balances epic fantasy, characters, and magic all while discussing the confines of society, individual pasts, who we are, and who we decide to be.


The Fifth Season (The Broken Earth #1) Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780316229296
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Orbit - August 4th, 2015

Though I was aware of N.K. Jemisin and her hugely popular and loved writing, I had never read any of her work. I picked up The Fifth Season and was immediately swept away and in awe of how wonderfully Jemisin has written her characters. I was completely blown away by her unique take on science fiction and magic using geology as her basis. Take your time with this one, because it’s a slow burn that’s worth savoring. 


The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780765387561
Availability: Backordered
Published: Tor Books - October 6th, 2020

A sweeping and delightful fantasy novel that I went into thinking was being overly hyped up, and, boy, was I wrong! This story is incredibly original and stayed at 100% until the very end. Each time the story took a turn I was completely surprised. I couldn’t predict anything that was going to happen next, and that’s excellent writing! An immortal forgettable girl, a shy bookseller, and an old god. Just remember, “never pray to the gods that answer after dark.”


Before the Coffee Gets Cold Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781335430991
Availability: Backordered
Published: Hanover Square Press - November 17th, 2020

Patrons of a café in Tokyo have the chance to time travel in hopes of achieving various wishes. Each patron has something in their past that they either want to relive or experience for the first time, but with all good time travel there are rules. A touching take on time travel in a quirky café. I love time traveling stories and this little novel is perfect!


Normal People: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781984822185
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Hogarth - February 18th, 2020

I will be the first to admit that I did not like Sally Rooney’s first book Conversations With Friends. I didn’t read Normal People until I decided to watch the Hulu series. I got one episode in and immediately bought the book and read it before continuing with the rest of the series. This book is all about two beautifully flawed characters Marianne and Connell.It’s about first love and friendship. Sally Rooney has this very sparse way of writing that has so much impact and absolutely guts you in the best way. I’m currently re-reading it, and I love it more the second time.


A Peculiar Peril (The Misadventures of Jonathan Lambshead #1) Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9780374308865
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - July 7th, 2020

Jeff VanderMeer can do no wrong! After Jonathan Lampshade’s grandfather dies, an orphaned Jonathan along with his friends begin a genre-bending quest to an alt-Earth called Aurora. Cue talking marmots, portals, and an occult dictator named Aleister Crowley. A wonderful and excitedly strange novel from one of the best.


Dessert Person: Recipes and Guidance for Baking with Confidence Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9781984826961
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Clarkson Potter - October 20th, 2020

Probably the most anticipated cookbook of the year! Claire Saffitz is the queen of sweet, and we finally get her stunning cookbook! This is the perfect cookbook for both the novice baker and that one friend who shows up to a party with the most perfect bakery-level confection. Full of step by step images and instructions that will take the intimidation out of your next baking adventure.


Midnight Chicken: & Other Recipes Worth Living For Cover Image
By Ella Risbridger, Elisa Cunningham (Illustrator)
$30.00
ISBN: 9781408867761
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - June 11th, 2019

I have no words for this cookbook! It’s beautiful, not just the recipes, which are extremely accessible even if you’re a bit tipsy! They welcome you to cook and create, to make something delicious even when life seems too difficult. Lovely illustrations and stories fill this cookbook, which is more than a guide, but a diary.


Keaton's Top 10 Totally Metal Books of 2020

There is no other way to put it. From authoritarianism, murder, riots, and even a bonafied plague, 2020 has been one of the darkest years I have ever experienced. One way I have tried to cope is by immersing myself into horrifying and macabre literature, as well as moving deeper into my love of heavy metal. That’s just the kind of guy I am.

Girls Against God: A Novel Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781788738958
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Verso Fiction - October 6th, 2020

The multi-talented Hval returns with her second novel - a chaotic, twisted descent into the worlds of witchcraft, feminism, and black metal! When a young girl can no longer control the hatred she feels towards the provincial, Christian, patriarchal norms of polite Norwegian society, she does what any disaffected youth would do. She starts a band...and a coven.

 

Metal Pairing: Darkthrone, A Blaze in the Northern Sky

Hval’s narrator namechecks these legends repeatedly in Girls Against God as influences for both their sonic attack, misanthropy, and DIY aesthetic. This 90s black metal classic is also the perfect introduction to a sound and scene that eventually led to a spate of church burnings and murders in Norway. The darkness here is very real.


Murder Maps: Crime Scenes Revisited. Phrenology to Fingerprint. 1811-1911 Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780500252451
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Thames & Hudson - October 27th, 2020

Featuring detailed backstories of the participants, historical overviews of evolving detective methods, and yes, killer cartography, this is the perfect encyclopedic reference guide for lovers of the macabre and true crime! Through profiles of murder celebs like Lizzie Borden to everyday thugs and perpetrators of crimes of passion, you’ll learn more about murder than you ever knew you wanted!

 

Metal Pairing: The Black Dahlia Murder, Verminous

The latest album from these melodic death metal titans is a fitting pairing. Not only does their very name reference one of America’s most notorious unsolved murders, their highly technical approach to a genre known for its brutality mirrors the meticulous attention Dr. Gray gives to each of the murders he explores.


The Valancourt Book of World Horror Stories, volume 1 Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781948405645
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Valancourt Books - December 8th, 2020

This is more of an anticipatory ranking, as Valancourt’s momentous anthology of horror stories from around the world is not released until December 8. But it is already safe to say that this incredibly small indie press has put together the most inclusive and far-reaching collection of horror ever put between covers. I can’t wait!  

 

Metal Pairing: Sepultura, Roots

The Brazilian legends created something entirely new in metal when they incorporated instrumentation and singing by the native tribes of their jungle-bound home country to this absolutely crushing album. Like the Valancourt anthology, this album is not only entertaining but also has real anthropological value.


Dark Archives: A Librarian's Investigation into the Science and History of Books Bound in Human Skin Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374134709
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - October 20th, 2020

What else can I say about this amazing and disturbing book other than that it’s about the horrifying history of books bound in human flesh? Yes, just like the Necronomicon in Evil Dead. I guess we also now know that librarians like Rosenbloom are metal AF!

 

Metal Pairing: Bathory, Bathory

As with Dark Archives, there isn’t much left to say about this incredibly influential album. Totally home recorded by a teenager in his bedroom, Bathory opened up dark gateways in metal that will never be closed. More extreme forms of metal - like death, black and Viking - would be unthinkable without it.


Ring Shout Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781250767028
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Tordotcom - October 13th, 2020

While Lovecraft Country is getting the HBO bump this year as a groundbreaking imaginative fusion of Lovecraftian horror and Black Lives Matter social commentary, it doesn’t come close to this historical anti-racist revenge fantasy. Set in the 1920s, Clark’s slender and propulsive novel follows a band of Black freedom fighters as they wage guerilla war against the KKK. Only when these Klansmen are disrobed, they are exposed as literal monstrosities of whiteness. There is also a fiery demon-slaying sword enchanted with the vengeful souls of dead slaves.

 

Metal Pairing: Napalm Death, From Enslavement to Obliteration

For 40+ years, the grindcore progenitors of Napalm Death have been advancing their anti-racist, anti-fascist, anti-capitalist views in as extreme a manner as possible. This is music as brutal and ugly as the world we have made, but always shot through with a message of hope and resistance. For both ND and Clark, the only hope for change is through our direct involvement and action.


Piranesi Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781635575637
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - September 15th, 2020

The author of Johnathan Strange and Mr. Norrell returns with this mind-bending dark fantasy! The narrator of Piranesi, who may or may not be named Piranesi, wanders the ever-changing halls of a mysterious house filled with statues, rooms, and meanings just beyond comprehension. A feat of pure imagination and storytelling, with Piranesi, Clarke proves herself a master of the otherworldly.

 

Metal Pairing: Mercyful Fate, Don’t Break the Oath

The second album from these occult Danish rockers, like Piranesi, exists in a realm all its own. The very guitar solos, drumbeats and especially King Diamond’s haunting, multi-octave voice seem filled with magic, evil and the feeling of pure power derived from the act of creation. You will find such extraordinary things therein, but it may cost your soul! 


A Demon-Haunted Land: Witches, Wonder Doctors, and the Ghosts of the Past in Post–WWII Germany Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9781250225672
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Metropolitan Books - November 17th, 2020

This is quite simply the most interesting and creepy history book I came across this year. Black explores a little-known period following WWII, when a supernatural panic gripped various regions of defeated Germany. Accounts of witchcraft and demonic possessions surged. Mass hysteria reigned. Neighbor turned on neighbor, leading to very real murders. A vivid and unique look at the seduction of superstition during times of extreme uncertainty.

 

Metal Pairing: Kreator, Terrible Certainty

In the 80s, German thrash metal proved harder-edged than their American counterparts, like Metallica and even Slayer. Case in point - Kreator. Vicious and unrelenting riffs underlie lyrics intertwining occultism, war and the general ills of the world. Hard to imagine now, but this music was actually feared in the days of East/West Germany. But it still undeniably rocks! 


Feebleminded Cover Image
By Ariana Harwicz, Annie McDermott (Translator), Carolina Orloff (Translator)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781916465602
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Charco Press - October 6th, 2020

My buddy Mark put this book in my hand saying only, “This is death metal literature.” And - while intrigued - I couldn’t comprehend then just how accurate that description would be. Harwicz takes us on a deep dive into a mind of unfettered madness and obsession. Featuring one of the creepiest mother/daughter relationships ever and ultra-visceral prose, this Argentinian shocker is not for the faint of heart. You have been warned.

 

Metal Pairing: Vastum, Hole Below

This Bay Area death metal collective is unique among the genre. Vastum is a multi-racial, coed collective culled from other bands in their area. And like Harwicz’s writing, their twisted compositions explore dark erotic themes laced with violence and even elements of French psychoanalytical thought. You know, the thinking person’s death metal. 


There Is a Graveyard That Dwells in Man: More Strange Fiction and Hallucinatory Tales Cover Image
By David Tibet (Editor)
$21.95
ISBN: 9781907222610
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Strange Attractor Press - September 8th, 2020

Another amazing collection of occult and “strange” stories. This curated anthology focuses on a wide swath of literary arcana selected from luminaries like Thomas Ligotti and Edith Wharton down to long-forgotten scriveners of the supernatural. Also, winner of most metal title and cover of the year! 

 

Metal Pairing: Paradise Lost, Obsidian

The latest album from Paradise Lost is another magisterial amalgamation of gothic rock and doom/death metal. As with the stories in There is a Graveyard… it is at once beautiful and terrifying. The perfect soundtrack for walking through the darkened streets of Victorian London or Arkham, Massachusetts.


Bullets for Dead Hoods: An Encyclopedia of Chicago Mobsters, C. 1933 Cover Image
By John Corbett (Text by (Art/Photo Books))
$38.00
ISBN: 9781940190266
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Soberscove Press - October 20th, 2020

Found on the dusty shelves of a thrift store in Chicago, this anonymous work profiles dozens of gangsters and shady characters of the Windy City in the early part of the 20th century. Who wrote it? The FBI? An undercover snitch? Someone from one of the powerful gangs of the era? No one knows, and it is all the more awesome and metal for it! From Scarface himself to run-of-the-mill street thugs with memorable nicknames, this unique book provides unprecedented insight into the criminal underworld. Very limited!

 

Metal Pairing: Body Count, Body Count

When pioneering gangsta rapper Ice-T formed a metal group in the early 90s, people thought it was a publicity stunt. But Body Count became instantly infamous for their banned song, “Cop Killer,” and their hardcore stories of life and death on the mean streets. As with the profiles in Bullets for Dead Hoods, Body Count provides an eye-level encounter with the experiences of impoverished Black Americans living with crime, violence and police corruption on a daily basis, as well as offering a voice of pure rage to the voiceless.


Further Metal Reading (because this one goes to 11!):


Supernatural Strategies for Making a Rock 'n' Roll Group Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781617751301
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Akashic Books - January 1st, 2013

This one-stop, pocket-sized guide from the Nation of Ulysses frontman has everything you need to get started rocking - including ritualistic spells to assure your success! \m/

 

DEATH TO FALSE LITERATURE!!!!!!


Brazos Holiday 10 Off Totes!

While we may not be able to host a Holiday Party this year, we're still excited to spread the holiday cheer! On Sunday, December 6th, stop by the store to pick up your official Brazos Tote and receive 10% everything you can fit in the bag! The offer will be available all day from 1 to 6, so come by and fill your tote!

Laura G's Top 10 Books On the Natural World

I don’t know what led to my obsession with nature - particularly the minutiae: bees, fungi, occasionally algae. There’s just something so comforting about knowing that no matter what craziness is going on in your life, the natural world keeps spinning.

As one can imagine, I’ve been in need of a lot of comfort this past year. So as always, I’ve turned to books. If you’re of a similar mind, here are my top ten books about the amazing world around us...

Staff Pick Badge
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds & Shape Our Futures Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780525510314
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - May 12th, 2020

Perfect for amateur mycologists with questionable “morels,” Entangled Life is a fascinating look into the world of fungi. Sheldrake is unafraid to move in a philosophical direction, using his scientific expertise to consider fungi’s implications on our own views of autonomy, community, and society. This is a masterfully written, highly fascinating addition to the compendium of fungal knowledge.


Strange Harvests: Giving and Taking from the Natural World Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399562808
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Penguin Books - August 4th, 2020

Strange Harvests follows the journey of several natural commodities from harvest to marketplace. It’s a fascinating insight into humanity’s connections with the natural world - a complex tapestry of first hand narratives, history, and science. Through the book Posnett shows us the subtle harmony of ecology and economy, posing the question: can humanity balance our desire to consume or will we inevitably destroy our harvests?


Slime: How Algae Created Us, Plague Us, and Just Might Save Us Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780358299561
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Mariner Books - June 9th, 2020

As bountiful as the stars in the universe, algae are just as vitally important to our survival - more so, even! Kassinger’s book is compulsively readable with delightful anecdotes and fascinating science. This is a fun, quick read for anyone looking to learn a bit more about our eukaryotic friends!


Underland: A Deep Time Journey Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780393358094
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 18th, 2020

Our next book takes us on an epic journey below the earth; from sea caves to the catacombs of Paris to fungal networks and beyond. This haunting and lyrical treatise is an exploration of humanity’s expansive ties to the subterranean, not only including Macfarlane’s travels and observations but those of artists, murderers, and explorers. Macfarlane seeks out the darkness of our world, weaving his findings together in a narrative of mystery, strangeness, and ultimately, brilliance.


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Desert Notebooks: A Road Map for the End of Time Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781640093539
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - July 7th, 2020

Desert Notebooks is rich, haunting, and profoundly unique in its exploration of the apocalypse. Ehrenreich takes readers from the wilds of the Mojave to the neon glow of Las Vegas - amongst coyotes and Joshua trees, to labyrinthine canyons, to a phosphorescent city surrounded by it all. Ehrenreich draws from stories of the Serrano, Mohave, and other desert peoples to inform our understanding of our rapidly changing world, reckoning with the environmental apocalypse that haunts all our futures.


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Fauna Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781552454169
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Coach House Books - September 22nd, 2020

As with Desert Notebooks, Fauna also explores a potential environmental apocalypse, this time through the medium of fiction. Vadnais has created an intoxicating vision of the end times - luscious and lovingly rendered in sparkling prose. Fauna is a terrifying reminder of the power of Mother Nature. Nothing stays buried forever and, like an ouroboros, our world is a constant cycle of tender life and ferocious death.


The Butterfly Effect: Insects and the Making of the Modern World Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781524733216
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Knopf - August 25th, 2020

As all my coworkers know, I love bugs. I will happily rescue cockroaches from Keaton’s stomping feet and deposit them on a nice plant in the back alley. So I love books like The Butterfly Effect, which shows us just how important insects are to our modern world and day to day life. Violinists, manicure enthusiasts, and even dentists are just a few of the many people whose work relies on our six-legged friends and the unreplicatable materials they provide!


World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9781571313652
Availability: Backordered
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 8th, 2020

If you’re looking for one book to cheer you up this holiday season, look no further than World of Wonders. Not only is this book a wonderful meditation on life and the fantastic creatures we can learn from (my personal favorite being the axolotl), the book also includes gorgeous watercolor artwork by Fumi Mini Nakamura.


Creatures: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781643750835
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Algonquin Books - October 27th, 2020

Our second and final fiction book, Creatures, is an exploration of human pain. However, it is inextricably tied to place. This book uncovers a darkly glittering world both above and beneath the ocean waves. Winter Island is a fog coated land unto itself populated by humans who can’t help but betray each others’ love. Driven by emotion, Van Meter has written a stunning, tactile book. I half expected to taste the sea salt on the page.


I am a Capybara Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616899455
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Princeton Architectural Press - October 6th, 2020

We end the list with perhaps the cutest title, I Am a Capybara. This simply illustrated picture book is all about the world’s largest (and most interesting) rodent. It’s charming and informative as Capybara teaches us more about his species. Capybara is delightfully unencumbered by a sense of self-awareness, creating a silly, comforting narrative for readers of all ages.


Mark's Top 10 Books of 2020

2020. Enough has been said about this year. Despite the global pandemic, the election and the general craziness of the times I did what I’ve always done, I read. I read a lot of old books and a lot of new books. This list is simply ten of my favorite books that were published this year. There were many books that I loved and inspired me, but now, in November, these are the ones that stand out the most. 

The Other Name: Septology I-II Cover Image
By Jon Fosse, Damion Searls (Translator)
$17.95
ISBN: 9781945492402
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Transit Books - April 7th, 2020

Already a favorite writer of mine, the first two parts of Fosse’s sextet, SEPTOLOGY, exceeded my expectations. The novel follows a widowed painter as he talks to himself, his dead wife, his own döppelganger as well as younger versions of himself. The book is very acessible and the reader is quickly lost in the author’s profound meditations on God, love, art, addiction, and friendship. Without being pretentious, this is literature with a capital L and the book feels more like a symphony or a sculpture than fiction.


The Adventures of China Iron Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781916465664
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Charco Press - October 13th, 2020

A historical romp. A feminist adventure. A South American western. There’s so many ways to describe this stunning novel and none of them come close. It’s moving and intelligent and funny and all of it is fun (so much fun). Follow China and her cohorts as they cross the Pampas of Argentina on horseback and covered wagon. Are there drunken orgies? Yes. But there’s also serious considerations of colonialism, culture, and nature that is never far away. A great novel.


Temporary (Emily Books) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895668
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - March 3rd, 2020

Never has a novel about employment been so hysterical and fun. Of course, the ‘employment’ in Leichter’s brilliant debut could be a pirate ship as easily as a haunted house. An absolutely bonkers and singular look at our jobs, our souls, and our fates. The difficult balancing act of ‘fun and smart’ is handled with deft imagination and complete confidence.


The White Dress Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781948980050
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dorothy a Publishing Project - September 15th, 2020

I don’t normally enjoy novels about a character ‘trying’ to write a novel, but in Léger’s gifted hands the reader is given a jewel of a hybrid novel, a book that seamlessly vacillates between memoir, fiction, and the tragic story of real-life Italian artist Pippa Bacca. Don’t worry about the subject or that’s it’s the final third of a triptych - just let the language sweep you away.


The Discomfort of Evening: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781644450345
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - August 18th, 2020

Winner of this year’s International Booker Prize, this novel focuses on a Dutch farming family wrestling with grief after the drowning of the eldest son. Seen through the eyes of a ten-year-old girl, this visceral and haunting (and sometimes funny) book achieves a state of transcendence through the art of words.


Minor Detail Cover Image
By Adania Shibli, Elisabeth Jaquette (Translated by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9780811229074
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - May 26th, 2020

A slim and powerful novel about occupation, violence, and the crimes that history buries. Told in two parts, the first takes place in 1949 and portrays the rape and murder of a young Bedouin by Israeli soldiers. The second part is set in contemporary Palestine where a young woman becomes fascinated with the story of this tragedy. What follows is a haunting knife-blade of a novel that stares at the violent truth without blinking. 


The Clerk Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781948830256
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter - September 29th, 2020

One of Argentina’s most exciting writers, Saccamanno’s slim novel tells the story of an office clerk in an unhappy marriage and yet, the book does so much more. Set in an unnamed city beset by guerilla violence, revolution, cloned dogs, and attack helicopters, the book feels like a day in the life of an innocouos ‘everyman’ but set in a grim future. A sharp, angular novel about marriage, the workplace, and the constant, often uphill battle for joy, it also asks: is there a place for love, goodness, and a belief in the future?


Ornamental Cover Image
By Juan Cárdenas, Lizzie Davis (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895804
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - June 2nd, 2020

A strange and elegant book about art, gender, and an experimental drug. An unknown city is the setting of this beautifully subtle book that feels like the morning after unsettling dreams; things are askew and the reader is left to wonder why.


Ramifications Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - October 13th, 2020

A young man looks back on his youth in the 1980’s and the disappearance of his mother. What begins as a mystery is a thoughtful and profound meditation on family, youth, and the void left from secrets. A wonderful novel about Mexico, growing up, and the secrets of the past.


The Appointment: A Novel Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781982150174
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - September 1st, 2020

A hysterical, subversive, stream of conscious rant, all told from the examination chair of a doctor’s office. A young German, living in London, unburdens herself to a doctor. Brilliant and singular.


The Lying Life of Adults Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translator)
$26.00
ISBN: 9781609455910
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - September 1st, 2020

Ferrante already gets enough praise and attention, however she deserves it. This novel, like her earlier novels, is razor sharp, deeply psychological, and unafraid to discuss what’s inside the hidden closets of every marriage. 


Joy's Top 10 Books That Kept Me From Walking Into the Sea

It’s been a long year. Just the other day my colleague Laura reminded me that, even though it feels like a million lifetimes ago, it was THIS calendar year back in January when we squeezed 150 plus people in the store for darling Nathan Hale. Remember when we didn’t all wash our hands fifty times a day? When we didn’t know how to use a dozen different virtual platforms, the phrase Zoom bombing wasn’t in our vocabulary,  and our main event worry was if someone’s plane was delayed or they were boring, didn’t make eye contact, and kept asking for water?

Modern Comfort Food: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780804187060
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Clarkson Potter - October 6th, 2020

I love Ina Garten. I also love actress Jennifer Garner’s ‘Fake Cooking Show” tributes to Ina on Jennifer’s Instagram. (Side note: If you need another uplift, follow Garner’s IG. Trust me on this.) Garten’s new cookbook is filled with yumminess-- tomato soup and orzo with lemon and feta and all sorts of warm, tasty treats that don’t stress the home cook. 


Cravings: Recipes for All the Food You Want to Eat: A Cookbook Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9781101903919
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Clarkson Potter - February 23rd, 2016

Yes, it’s a celeb cookbook, but Teigen can really cook and talk about food and this one is a warm, folksy embrace-- real talk about real food. Including a jazzed up jalapeno tuna noodle casserole I’ll be making soon. 


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Coo Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062955975
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Greenwillow Books - March 3rd, 2020

We read this one for Middle Grade Book Club and author Kaela Noel graciously joined us. An abandoned infant girl raised by pigeons has to venture into the real world. It’s magical, sweet, and has an ending that is literally uplifting.


Ways to Make Sunshine (A Ryan Hart Novel #1) Cover Image
By Renée Watson, Nina Mata (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781547600564
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Bloomsbury Children's Books - April 28th, 2020

This younger middle grade by Newbery Honor and Coretta Scott King Award winner Renee Watson is the first in a series about Ryan Hart, whose mission in life is to find the best in people, even when that’s tough to do. Sweet and kind and lovely.


Swashby and the Sea Cover Image
By Beth Ferry, Juana Martinez-Neal (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780544707375
Availability: Backordered
Published: HMH Books for Young Readers - May 5th, 2020

A girl and her mother move to a house at the seaside, next door to cranky, bitter Swashby, who learns to change his attitude and become a friend. The ocean is a sort of character here. A delight of a picture book. 


You Matter Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781534421691
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - June 2nd, 2020

Just over a hundred words, but nuanced and layered. Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Honor winner Robinson presents the glory of seeing the world from all perspectives in this colorful and cheery picture book.


The Farmer and the Monkey (The Farmer Books) Cover Image
By Marla Frazee, Marla Frazee (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781534446199
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Beach Lane Books - September 22nd, 2020

This sweet wordless picture book is the second in two-time Caldecott Honor winner Frazee’s Farmer series. Circus monkey and farmer used to his solitary life. A falling out. A journey through the snow. A change in heart. The littles and the grownups will fall in love with this one. Remember how I mentioned Jennifer Garner’s IG above? Well she reads it aloud (well, sort of since it’s wordless) in one of her Stories. Worth a gander.


Quintessence Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780374309763
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) - July 28th, 2020

A fallen star. Three unlikely friends. A magical shop. A view of the wide, wide, universe.  A grand adventure with an ending that will have you wiping your eyes. This wonderful middle grade (we also had Jess Redman join us on Zoom) makes us think about not only what makes us each special but also on what interconnects us.


Blue Skies Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781534446069
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - March 17th, 2020

Set in post-WW II small town Texas, BLUE SKIES is the sweetly heartwarming story of a girl named Glory Bea, who is hoping on hope that her MIA soldier father will finally come home. Not all hopes come true, but that doesn’t mean different miracles might not occur. Another treat of a middle grade.


A Whale of the Wild Cover Image
By Rosanne Parry, Lindsay Moore (Illustrator)
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062995926
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 1st, 2020

In the spirit of  her award-winning bestseller, WOLF CALLED WANDER, Parry gives us a standalone companion in this story of a lost orca named Vega and her brother searching for their pod. Like WOLF, the tale is augmented with beautiful and realistic black and white illustrations and told from the whale’s POV. It’s a grand story of family and friendship and survival, and the back matter has much to say about the Salish Sea, the Pacific Northwest, and conservation. Pure delight from one of my favorite authors.


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