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Mark Interviews Chris Cander, author of THE WEIGHT OF A PIANO

Mark: The Weight of a Piano takes place in several places, Russia, California and other locales. How important is place in your writing?

Joy’s Top Ten SMASH THE PATRIARCHY YA novels

I think one of the few things we can all agree on lately is that it’s been a tumultuous year for our fiery and often tragic political and social landscape. This is what kept sticking in my head as I worked to come up with my top ten list, which originally was going to be droll and lighthearted and then, well, wasn’t. The timely and moving YA books below vary in perspective, tone, and genre, but all of them have one thing in common: They are on some level about girls claiming their place, fighting back, speaking up, commanding space, and being heard.

Damsel Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062742322
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - October 2nd, 2018

A powerful and visceral, feminist anti-fairy tale. This one takes no prisoners. As well it shouldn’t. A masterpiece.


Sadie Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250105714
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wednesday Books - September 4th, 2018

A dead girl. A sister’s revenge. A podcast. A powerhouse and now bestselling novel with two narrative strands from an author you should all be reading.


Hole in the Middle Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781616959562
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soho Teen - September 4th, 2018

Body positivity. Being who you are regardless of the world’s judgments. A sharp feminist read from one of Austin’s newest voices.


The Hate U Give Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062498533
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - February 28th, 2017

Technically this one came out last year, but the movie arrived a few weeks ago. If you haven’t read it, read it. A girl with a foot in two worlds. A senseless shooting. Our sadly pervasive racial divides. Standing up for the truth. Starr’s story is so much more than a ‘ripped from the headlines’ read.


The Cruel Prince (The Folk of the Air #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316310277
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - January 2nd, 2018

Black’s back to her faerie story roots with this tale of Jude, fully human but taken away by her stepfather to grow up in Faerie. The result is a story of political machinations, a girl finding her power among dangerous creature, and a bit of a twisted love story to spice things up. The human girl who would be king. I loved it. And the soon to arrive sequel is even better.


The Lady's Guide to Petticoats and Piracy Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062795328
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - October 2nd, 2018

Felicity Montague is going to achieve her dream of becoming a physician-- even if it’s the 1700s and the world expects nothing more of her than to be a wife and raise a brood. Adventure. Lady Pirates. Girl power. And organically seamless LGBTQ representation in this companion to last year’s GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE.


Children of Blood and Bone (Legacy of Orisha #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250170972
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) - March 6th, 2018

Black Lives Matter meets Nigerian folklore-based fantasy. Women whose magic has been forcefully repressed and ripped away… until it begins to return. A story of protest, identity and female power. I’d call this one a solid companion piece to Thomas’s Hate U Give. Jimmy Fallon even made it his first book club pick. Plus, it's first in a series.


Moxie: A Novel Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781250104267
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - September 18th, 2018

Another title that’s been out since last year, but which had to be on this list, both for its brilliance and for Houston author Mathieu’s own tireless political advocacy work. A teen girl fights institutional misogyny through her initially anonymous Moxie zine. A feminist primer.


The Belles Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781484728499
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Freeform - February 6th, 2018

I’d love to see readers pair this one with Hole in the Middle. But it stands strong on its own. A dark fantasy version of New Orleans setting. And a post-2016 election inspired deep dive into our perceptions of beauty and a confrontation of the effects on women of color of both white feminism and the patriarchy. Clayton’s one of the co-founders of We Need Diverse Books.


A Room Away From the Wolves Cover Image
$18.95
ISBN: 9781616203733
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 4th, 2018

No one writes twisty disturbing , angry girl stories quite like Nova Ren Suma, who like Elana K. Arnold and Margo Lanagan and others goes fearlessly after her themes. This one’s a little Gothic, a lot mysterious, and a willingness to create flawed girls whose determination to break free makes them beautiful.


Ülrika's Top Ten Gifts of 2018: Vendors Who Give Back!

Each year, when asked to compile our 10 top list, I try to narrow down the focus on the items that managed to stand out over the past year. As the gift buyer I wanted to strictly focus on the gift items and, more importantly, the vendors we carry that give back to the community. It’s important for me to buy from smaller companies and companies that focus not only on supporting the communities around them, but on being socially responsible as well.

Calyan Candles were brought to my attention by Thu and Mark while they visiting Fort Worth. Besides the fact these wonderful soy candles fill the room (as well as the entire store, which you will notice if you stop by during the holidays), 10% of their profits help to fight human trafficking. They partner with local nonprofits to provide funding for prevention, prosecution, or restoration.

Each of their scents is amazing and it was difficult to find one for the list; however the lavender & bergamot tumbler ended making it to my #1. Each of their tumblers burns for approximately 45 hours and the glass tumbler can be recycled or used again as a cocktail glass or regular drinking glass.


$12.00
SKU: 704907495692

Brazos has been carrying Out of Print before I even became the gift buyer. Established in 2010, with every purchase they donate books to support literacy programs around the world. One of my favorite items from Out of Print is their incredible socks. This year they have expanded the line to include kids' sizes! 

Two of my favorites are the adult Book Nerd and kids Library socks. For the kids' socks, the "return dates" on the bottom are actually grips.


$26.00
SKU: 617353292626

Thu and I discovered Musee while we were in New York for the gift expo NY. I not only fell in love with their amazing line of bath balms, soaps, and candles but also their philosophy regarding helping their community. Musee Bath is a natural bath and candle company in Madison County, Mississippi. Mussee Bath hires women in recovery, individuals with disabilities, and people that haven’t had the opportunities to receive an education. Each of their bath balms features either a fun surprise or a reusable water activated light. The candles come in amazing packages that features a great quote; when burned, the scent fills a room. The soaps are made from essential oils that not only smell great but also leave your skin moisturized.


$7.00
SKU: 617353291940

$9.00
SKU: 617353292473

$11.00
SKU: 810078030157

For years Ooly has created some of our favorite gift items and we’re always excited to see what’s coming out each year. Besides being a woman-owned business, Ooly works on a national level with AdoptAClassroom, which helps to empower teachers in providing supplies and classroom materials. The Radiant Writers Glitter Gel Pens gives anything you're writing a little sparkle, from letters to your journal entries. The Girl Power Journal features 8 lined pocket journals featuring empowering statements that are wonderful for anyone at any age. Fab Fountain Pens are a great everyday fountain pen, as well as a wonderful starter for anyone who has wanted to add fountain pens to their collection.


$11.00
SKU: 810078030782

$13.00
SKU: 810078030393

$8.00
SKU: 689196506413

eeBoo is a woman-owned and -run company that features educational games and gifts. They have 100% original artwork, which means they’re able to commission the artwork from well-known children’s book illustrators! Crazy Kitten Puzzle is by far my favorite item of the holidays for kids. Featuring artwork by Monika Forsberg, this portable puzzle contains 20 jumbo pieces –– a perfect size for little hands. The cord handle makes it easy to take anywhere, anytime.


Sara's Top Ten Dystopias That Are More Exciting Than Ours

*Okay, okay, I know what you’re thinking. “Exciting? You think our systemic issues aren’t exciting enough?” I don’t mean to sound blasé about our current situation. But the day-to-day dystopia of middle class America — advertisements nested within advertisements, phones that listen to your conversations so you’ll have a perfectly-timed video of the grill you were thinking of buying from A****n.com — is grossly conventional.

The Emissary Cover Image
By Yoko Tawada, Margaret Mitsutani (Translator)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811227629
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - April 24th, 2018

In Tawada’s newest novel (now the first National Book Award Winner for Literature in Translation), Japan has cut itself off from the rest of the world. Xenophobia has affected everything: language, lifestyle, mortality... all are subtly different from the world we know. Tawada manages this uncanny imagined landscape with grace, a surprising amount of warmth, and a very delicate touch.


Autobiography of Death Cover Image
By Kim Hyesoon, Don Mee Choi (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780811227346
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - November 27th, 2018

I love Kim Hyesoon’s poetry. Her spectacular, grotesque book All the Garbage of the World, Unite was a favorite of mine in 2011, when it came out. In Autobiography of Death, Kim Hyesoon has compiled 49 poems, each of which represents a day a soul experiences on earth between death and reincarnation. Again, Hyesoon delves into the gross squall of bodily decomposition (in the first poem, the spirit watches as the body dies and has her personal belongings burgled), while also mourning the way society responds to major structural crises.


The Naked Woman Cover Image
By Armonia Somers, Kit Maude (Translator), Elena Chavez Goycochea (Afterword by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781936932436
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feminist Press - November 13th, 2018

A woman in Uruguay attempts suicide on the eve of her 30th birthday, but instead of dying she becomes hyper-aware of her surroundings — enlightened, even— and wanders the woods and village outside her apartment. The sight of her form throws the village into chaos, as they are forced to confront the rocky religious morality and misogyny their lives are based on. This small book is allegorical but still a page-turner. It was written in 1950! In Uruguay! Critics complained that it was impossible that a woman might be the author of such an explicit text. TOUGH. Get used to it.


The Lonesome Bodybuilder: Stories Cover Image
By Yukiko Motoya, Asa Yoneda (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781593766788
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Soft Skull Press - November 6th, 2018

My favorite thing about these stories is that they’re all set in mundane every day places — homes, supermarkets, boutiques — and yet form a bridge between the familiar and the alien. These characters are tied together by a sense of longing or frustration that cannot be satisfied by their typical rigamarole. The Lonesome Bodybuilder’s vignettes will appeal to lovers of the surreal, but also to people who never stopped seeing magic in the everyday. Motoya allows the strange and mystical to become an often joyous part of life; without judgement, the abnormal and normal are able to merge.


Revolution Sunday Cover Image
By Wendy Guerra, Achy Obejas (Translated by)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781612196619
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Melville House - December 4th, 2018

Revolution Sunday accesses a deeply troubled facet of Cuba’s struggles with censorship and surveillance. In the wake of the repeated jailing of artists such as Tania Bruguera, Wendy Guerra does a spectacular job of laying out the troubles and paranoias of living in Cuba as a radical artist. Main character Cloe’s day-to-day life includes disappearing documents, international fame versus local anonymity, and her family’s secret agent (who often comes over for meals).


The Taiga Syndrome Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780997366679
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dorothy a Publishing Project - October 1st, 2018

All of the paranoia that Yukiko Motoya renounced is here, in this book. An unnamed ex-detective comes out of retirement to venture deep into a strange forest an with eerie pull. Her intent is to find a man’s ex-wife, but once inside the forest her mission becomes splintered. This book is a freak show, a Little Red Riding Hood story, a fairy tale. It’s all wrapped up into a slim package that will immerse you and leave you desperately confused but thrilled.


Hybrid Child: A Novel (Parallel Futures) Cover Image
By Mariko Ohara, Jodie Beck (Translated by)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781517904906
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Univ Of Minnesota Press - June 15th, 2018

Mariko Ohara’s book was initially published in the 90’s, but didn’t make it to the US until this year, thanks to the translation of Jodie Beck. This one immediately made it into the “sci fi classics” category for me. When a cyborg escapes a lab, he eludes his hunters by shapeshifting (and he’s able to do so with any form he’s encountered and of which he's cataloged the DNA). He shapeshifts into a small girl, a plane, a plant… this book stretches the definition of “living organism” and is highly empathetic even throughout its grisly fight scenes. I would consider it a deeply feminist work, with as many ties to mythology and fairy tale as it has to the sci fi tradition.


Comemadre Cover Image
By Roque Larraquy, Heather Cleary (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895156
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - July 10th, 2018

This little book accomplishes so much in 150 pages. The book ricochets from a failed, morally-dubious experiment in a 1907 asylum to the performance art scene in the early 2000s. If you’re looking for a wild ride, this might be your dream novel. Mixing lowbrow and highbrow, science and art, Comemadre has everything from frog figurines to talking heads to identical artists, all of which culminate in investigating the questions: do we have a soul? When does the body die? What is transcendence?


Mem Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781944700553
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Unnamed Press - May 22nd, 2018

1920’s speculative fiction about trauma, agency, and MONTREAL. How cool is that? This book does an incredible job of giving the scope of a whole culture through the lens of a single individual. Elsie, the protagonist, is a fantastic, fully-realized personality who moves around Morrow’s created world with curiosity and thoughtfulness. Morrow’s book definitely made waves when it came out in hardcover, and it’s soon to be released in a gorgeous paperback version.

See my interview with Bethany here!


On a Sunbeam Cover Image
$21.99
ISBN: 9781250178138
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: First Second - October 2nd, 2018

Tillie Walden always does a spectacular job with world-building. In her newest graphic novel, a girl crosses space and time to find her long-lost lover. The narrative is deeply moving, but the best thing about ON A SUNBEAM is how INCREDIBLE it is as a visual object. Walden uses rich colors to share emotion and atmosphere in frames where characters are fairly quiet.

See my interview with Tillie here!


Keaton’s Year End Best List: The 2018 Brazos Buyer’s Book Awards

It’s that most special time of the year again! Awards season! Year-end list season! For the next couple of magical months, you, dear reader, will be regaled with just about everyone’s opinion on the best whatever of 2018. Now, it’s been a horrific year to be sure, but there was still so much great art and beauty created. And to that end, it’s been a banner year for books! So why not begin your year-end round up right here with good ol’ Keaton? For 2018, I’ve put together a combination top 10 list/award show for y’all.

The New Inheritors Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802128171
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - July 10th, 2018

A complete reimagining of what is possible with historical fiction. Wascom’s third volume in his Gulf Coast Quartet is absolutely stunning in concept, prose and ambition.


After the Winter Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895255
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 4th, 2018

This quiet yet incisive, death-tinged love story explores how even the briefest relationships can affect us utterly and forever. Nettel’s best yet to find its way into English translation.


Oraefi: The Wasteland Cover Image
By Ofeigur Sigurosson, Lytton Smith (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781941920671
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Deep Vellum Publishing - March 13th, 2018

Part adventure, part history, and part madness! Sigurdsson’s nested rant of a narrative swept the literary awards in his native Iceland and is now one of the best books translated into English this year.

and the winner is...ORAEFI: THE WASTELAND!!!!


...and the nominees for Best Short Story Collection of 2018 are:


The Largesse of the Sea Maiden: Stories Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780812988635
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House - January 16th, 2018

An unintended swan song for a true American original. Johnson was still at the height of his powers when he died just before the release of this collection. There is no barrel scraping here. Just whip smart, funny, heartfelt, perfectly crafted short fiction.


Staff Pick Logo
Kolyma Stories Cover Image
By Varlam Shalamov, Donald Rayfield (Translated by)
$22.95
ISBN: 9781681372143
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: NYRB Classics - June 12th, 2018

The first volume of Shalamov’s prison stories is one of the most affecting works of autobiographical fiction I’ve ever come across. This is an unheralded classic of world literature, and a harrowing look into the horrors of death and survival in a Siberian prison camp.


Staff Pick Logo
Friday Black Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781328911247
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - October 23rd, 2018

A full throttle debut collection that reads like a hybrid of Vonnegut and Paul Beatty. Adjei-Brenyah writes piercing, darkly satirical tales for our troubled times. Just read the first story, and see if your jaw doesn’t drop.

and the winner is...FRIDAY BLACK!!!!!


...and the nominees for Best Nonfiction Book of 2018 are:

 


The Order of Time Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780735216105
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - May 8th, 2018

Italian theoretical physicist, Rovelli, continues to blow minds with this illuminating and lyrical exploration of the concept of time. Read it once, and you’ll never look at the world around you the same again.


The Recovering: Intoxication and Its Aftermath Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780316259613
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - April 3rd, 2018

This is not an addiction memoir. Although, Jamison does recount her trials with alcoholism, this stunning work is instead a learned and experienced critique of the perceived link between substance abuse and creative genius.


Staff Pick Logo
Sexographies Cover Image
By Gabriela Wiener, Jennifer Adcock (Translated by), Lucy Greaves (Translated by)
$17.99
ISBN: 9781632061591
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Restless Books - May 29th, 2018

What Peruvian essayist and “gonzo” journalist, Wiener, does in this collection is endlessly fascinating. Whether experiencing sexual subcultures or an ayahuasca trip, she uses herself as the point of departure to delve into the infinite manifestations of being human.

and the winner is...THE RECOVERING!!!!!


Now, the moment we’ve all been waiting for… The Best Overall Book of 2018 is:

 


The Overstory Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780393635522
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 3rd, 2018

A singular work of fiction from one of America’s most undersung authors. Powers has achieved something no other writer has before. He’s written a truly environmental novel where humans are not the most interesting thing about it. Instead, the multiple characters are envisioned as part of a larger, more inclusive system of life. Spanning centuries and crisscrossing the country, the devastation of the last virgin forests is the backdrop of a climatic struggle for the future of the natural world. An absolute masterpiece.


Honorable Mentions: 


Comemadre Cover Image
By Roque Larraquy, Heather Cleary (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895156
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - July 10th, 2018

An Untouched House Cover Image
By Willem Frederik Hermans, David Colmer (Translated by), Cees Nooteboom (Afterword by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781939810069
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Archipelago - October 23rd, 2018

The Changeling Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781941040898
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Tin House Books - April 10th, 2018

Katie's Top Ten Books (and Gift Items) of 2018

This year has been a doozy and many times I felt myself wondering if things would ever change and how? I chose to make my list true to my feelings and how I have sought knowledge and solace these last twelve months. My list includes some art inspired books and gift items, but the overall theme deals with the issues surrounding our current culture. While that can seem like a real downer around the holidays, I have found by reading these books that the opposite has been true.

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up Cover Image
By Claire Wilcox (Editor)
$50.00
ISBN: 9781851779604
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Victoria & Albert Museum - July 24th, 2018

I have a deep obsession with all things Frida—she is one of my favorite artists, and I love sharing her work with others. This book focuses more on who Frida was and how she presented herself to the world through her personal style, prosthetics, jewelry, and clothes which are accompanied by diary entries, letters, and artworks creating an incredibly intimate portrait of the artist who felt deeply in life. This book is absolutely stunning for the art or fashion lover—full page images of Kahlo’s clothing show the intricate details of her traditional Tehuana dresses. If you can’t make it to her and Diego’s home in Coyoacan to see all these items this book really does them justice!


Art of Feminism: Images that Shaped the Fight for Equality, 1857-2017 Cover Image
By Helena Reckitt (Editor), Lucinda Gosling (Text by), Hilary Robinson (Text by), Amy Tobin (Text by), Maria Balshaw (Preface by), Xabier Arakistain (Foreword by)
$45.00
ISBN: 9781452169927
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Chronicle Books - October 23rd, 2018

An amazing large art book that is essential for the feminist art lover in your life. THE ART OF FEMINISM follows the feminist movement and the ways in which the visual arts and media have propelled the movement and the women creating it. This book has a little bit of everything—illustrations, paintings, photography, performance, and graphic design. Accompanying the works are essays about the art and the artist. Feel empowered reading this book and get out and create some fierce art!


Forgotten Women: The Artists Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781788400633
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Cassell - October 2nd, 2018

This is a great series of books. Others in this collection include influential women, scientists, writers, and my favorite artists. Forty-eight fantastic artists who have gone mostly unacknowledged within the male driven art world finally get some attention! Some artists represented were overshadowed by their famous male significant others. This book does an excellent job of representing different mediums, styles, and countries.


Perennial Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895170
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - August 7th, 2018

I read COLUMBINE this year by the journalist Dave Cullen after steering clear of it for a long time, but with all the terrible issues surrounding gun control I realized it was something I needed to read and understand as an event that sparked a continued issue in American culture. In her absolutely standout poetry collection, Kelly Forsythe uses the post-Columbine world to show the changes in both the youth from that moment forward and her and understanding of herself as a young girl. This collection is incredibly moving, and Forsythe writes about the tenderness of youth, growing up, and how we become aware of grief and loss at a young age.


Call Them by Their True Names: American Crises (and Essays) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781608469468
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Haymarket Books - September 4th, 2018

In this collection of Essays, Solnit chooses to focus on the “wars” in our country, within our communities, and in our own homes. She calls the injustices within our society such as our current politicians, police shootings, gentrification, gun violence, among other issues and calls them by their true names, leaving nothing sugar coated but breaking issues down to the core of what they really are and how they look and effect us. This is a cliche to say, but it’s a powerful and thought provoking collection.


The Reckonings: Essays Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781501159008
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 9th, 2018

Where do I even begin! I have highlighted and written all over my copy of THE RECKONINGS and continue to reread chapters months after finishing the collection of essays. It’s a fantastic continuation or introduction to Johnson’s works concerning the subject of her own sexual assault which she writes about in her memoir THE OTHER SIDE. Through the twelve essays Johnson draws from art, history, philosophy, mythology and many other subjects to discuss our current era of sexual assault, harassment, police brutality, school shootings, and issues with incarceration. This collection focuses on what is wrong and how we should try to fix where society has fallen short. Johnson does not suggest pointing the finger or demanding vengeance, rather embracing honesty and the acknowledgement of all people and the pain they have experienced at the hands of others, society, and the law. An overarching theme of this collection is hope and finding hope even and grabbing on even when it seems impossible…this has been and will continue to be my mantra.


After the Winter Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895255
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 4th, 2018

AFTER THE WINTER is by far one of the best books I’ve read this year! I think about it constantly, and I always recommend it! It’s a love story that’s not a traditional love story, but a book about characters. Except this story’s characters are not just the people, but also the cities and locations like Paris, New York, and a cemetery. If you are anything like me, you love deep characters and the places and people that develop the person you become through love, death, and making huge moves to pursue the life you dream for yourself. This is one of those timeless books you will revisit yearly. It has the qualities of becoming a classic like Pride and Prejudice, but a lot less tea in the parlor.


Pantone: 10 Notebooks Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9781452149783
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Chronicle Books - August 16th, 2016

PANTONE 10 NOTEBOOKS These notebook are fun and awesome! Ten notebooks seems like a lot, but they are the perfect size for a stocking stuffer or meeting a friend for coffee during the holidays! Keep one notebook in your car, at work, on your nightstand, and in your bag. The sleek design and gorgeous pantone colors make these a must have for Holiday gift giving.


$17.00
SKU: 848404078405

It’s a puppy pouch…enough said! A great canvas bag that can be used as a pencil case, makeup pouch, or a clutch!


$19.95
SKU: 4004117394157

My personal favorite journal. This journal goes everywhere with me, I bullet journal in this, draw, write, and fill it with daily thoughts and ideas. I love the bright color of this journal and it’s simple design and perfect size to carry everywhere.


Thu's Top Ten Books of 2018

Since I started working at Brazos Bookstore in August 2017, I have read over 100 books by Asian and Asian-American authors. I counted them all on my shelf, and around the 100 mark I stopped counting. At one point, I even speculated whether this was a form of racism.

Staff Pick Logo
Go Home! Cover Image
By Rowan Hisayo Buchanan (Editor), Viet Nguyen (Foreword by), Alexander Chee (Contribution by)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781936932016
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Feminist Press - March 13th, 2018

This powerful anthology was my introduction and gateway to some of my favorite Asian voices like Alexander Chee, Esmé Weijun Wang, and Jason Koo. My favorite story is Fariha Róisín’s "Meet a Muslim". Go Home’s daring and diverse collection of stories feel so real and transform the concept of home and turn it upside down.


The Ensemble: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735214767
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 15th, 2018

How often do we get to grow along with and spend the greater part of our lives with another person? Does persistence and proximity pull us closer? Would creating and nurturing something together help us anticipate and strengthen our bonds? Can loss and change define relationships? Aja Gabel’s The Ensemble affords us this rare opportunity to witness bonds that surpass time and what defines and strengthens them through the lives of Jana, Henry, Brit, and Daniel, who form the Van Ness String Quartet.


Sanpaku Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781684152100
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Archaia - August 21st, 2018

Marcine is obsessed with the Japanese theory of sanpaku, where seeing the white around the irises is the sign of a terrible fate. Sanpaku has everything that would pull me towards a book: set in my hometown of Houston, tantalizing depictions of food, by an Asian author about Asians. But aside from the details, what makes Sanpaku so special and what keeps me coming back to it is Marcine’s connection to her late lola, the lengths she takes to compensate for it after her death, and fully realizing the space your loved ones and their memories occupy in your heart. A gorgeous and quirky coming-of-age graphic novel that tackles love, family, and self-realization. Read my interview with Kate here!


Strange Weather in Tokyo Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781640090163
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Counterpoint LLC - November 14th, 2017

Hiromi Kawakami’s Strange Weather in Tokyo is not quite your typical love story. A treat for fans of Haruki Murakami’s love stories (i.e., Norwegian Wood), SWT thoughtfully renders humanism where Murakami’s other-worldly characters miss. In addition, read it for the vivid Tokyo cityscape and drool-worthy Japanese meals.


The Incendiaries: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780735213890
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - July 31st, 2018

R.O. Kwon surpasses the impossibility that plagues most holiday gatherings by bridging the spectrum of faith and belief in this alluring novel about three strangers from troubled pasts who become tangled with a religious cult with secret ties to North Korea. Apart from being the hottest book of 2018, The Incendiaries has been reviewed and raved about by everyone. It’s that good! Read my interview with Reese here!


Number One Chinese Restaurant: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781250141293
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - June 19th, 2018

Two reads, interview, and a panel discussion later, Lillian Li’s Number One Chinese Restaurant is the one that did it for me and for the record is my ‘Number One Favorite Book’ of 2018. A rich and heartfelt story about a Chinese restaurant and the colorful lives of the people who breathe life into it, Li’s intention and brilliance shine through every page and gives me hope for the future of Asian and Asian-American stories. Read my interview with Lillian here


The Day the Sun Died Cover Image
By Yan Lianke, Carlos Rojas (Translator)
$26.00
ISBN: 9780802128539
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Grove Press - December 11th, 2018

Yan Lianke is one of China’s most prolific and banned authors, and his newest novel The Day the Sun Died is a dystopian Chinese allegory meets The Walking Dead. Sharp and sinister, all of the villagers in a small town begin to dreamwalk as if carrying on with their daily lives and eventually meet exhaustive deaths. A young narrator and his parents, proprietors of a funerary service, desperately try to save the town.


Convenience Store Woman Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780802128256
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - June 12th, 2018

For 18 years, fluorescent lighting, beeps and chimes, ebb and flow, and even the food of the convenience store courses through Keiko’s veins. The convenience store provides for her and it’s the life she knows. But when this life clashes with her family’s wishes for her to meet society’s standards, she is resigned to conform. An entertaining and refreshing critique on the pressures of society.


Lion Cross Point Cover Image
By Masatsugu Ono, Angus Turvill (Translator)
$19.95
ISBN: 9781931883702
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Two Lines Press - April 10th, 2018

Akutagawa Prize-winning author Masatsugu Ono’s Lion Cross Point is part Japanese ghost story and a young boy’s reconciliation and catharsis from unspeakable brutality and abuse. 10-year-old Takeru casts a gentle and pure lens to heartless and dark places from his memories. In this eerie and breathtaking novel, the reader’s path teeters on the verge of hope and hopelessness.


Chemistry: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780525432227
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 3rd, 2018

What do we know about the unnamed narrator in Weike Wang’s Chemistry? She has roughly a year to finishing her Ph.D. in chemistry (and fulfilling her parents dreams), her boyfriend Eric proposed (twice), but all she can think is how she’s not up to the task. Hilarious, smart, penetrating, and poignant, Wang’s narrator is brilliant albeit lacking in social skills whose relentless and polarizing sensibilities makes her the greatest unsung hero. I love this book!


Laura M's Top Ten Books for Seasonal Reading

Spring:

Florence in Ecstasy Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781944700171
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Unnamed Press - May 16th, 2017

To me, Spring is all about rebirth. Everything’s coming up green and fresh and alive, and reading this book was exactly like that. In it, a young woman named Hannah travels to Florence to outrun her life and combat an eating disorder. She joins the rowing club, gets a job at a local library, and spends her days wandering the city and reading up on the lives of saints. What makes this book so special though, is its depiction of Florence. I have yet to read a book that so perfectly captures the spirit of the city, and in such achingly beautiful language. Each time Hannah falters in her journey, the city, in all of its crumbling grandeur, is there is pull her out of the shadows. Oh and did I mention there’s a lovely, tender, utterly realistic romance at the center of it all? In short, Chaffee has managed to skirt along the edge of sentimentality and bring us a Florence, and a protagonist, that is just as flawed as she is beautiful.


The Wrong Heaven Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780316516211
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - July 17th, 2018

I often struggle with short story collections. By the time I get invested in one story, it’s over, and I have to go through the whole process again. That wasn’t the case with THE WRONG HEAVEN. I read this weird and wonderful collection in one sitting! Each protagonist faces a dizzying array of strange problems. These women have sex with angels, are scolded by Jesus and Mary shaped lawn ornaments, and take injections to be turned into horses. And yet, among all the unnatural occurrences are kernels of love, loneliness, and growing up. These little moments, profound partly because they are amplified by the strangeness, stay with you long after you close the book. I hope you will end up loving this strange little book as much as I do!


Summer:


The Summer Book Cover Image
By Tove Jansson, Kathryn Davis (Introduction by), Thomas Teal (Translated by)
$14.00
ISBN: 9781590172681
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - May 20th, 2008

In this deceptively simply book, a young girl and her grandmother spend the summer on a quiet, desolate island. The chapters read like a series of vignettes: the girl and her grandmother build a city out of branches, they climb rocks, they weather through a storm. And yet, this book felt a breath of cool air on a too-warm day. Its meandering pace was so relaxing, and the quirky humor was enough to keep me smiling throughout. A pure delight of a book, perfect for a lazy afternoon and a tall glass of lemonade.


Tales from the Inner City Cover Image
By Shaun Tan, Shaun Tan (Illustrator)
$24.99
ISBN: 9781338298406
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Arthur A. Levine Books - September 25th, 2018

It’s only mildly embarrassing to admit that Shaun Tan is one of those authors I have to read in small doses, because if I’m not careful I get overwhelmingly jealous of his creative brain. The stories in the book are like snow globes, each one so perfectly crafted (and stunningly illustrated), they are like little worlds unto themselves. Each one takes a slice of urban life and adds just enough strangeness and nostalgia to make you marvel. An eagle at an airport terminal. Crocodiles on the 87th floor of a high-rise. Bears seeking legal representation. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say Shaun Tan knows how to work magic.


The Curse of the Boyfriend Sweater: Essays on Crafting Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781250095619
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - March 20th, 2018

This is a book about knitting. Do I knit? No. Have I ever wanted learn? Not really. Did I love this book anyway? YES. This is an essay collection about the joy of crafting, but more than that it’s about the joy of making something out nothing, and of carrying on a family tradition. It’s about the ways we chose to fill those extra pockets of time in our day, and how those choices can end up changing our lives. I laughed. I cried. I almost wanted to take up knitting. Maybe you’re wondering why I think you should read it in summer? Well firstly, it’s the best time to start a knitting project (if all goes well you’ll be done in time for winter). Secondly, the author makes a very compelling argument for knitting at the beach!


Fall


City of Crows Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781609454708
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - September 18th, 2018

The weather is getting cooler, the light fades faster in the evening, and more than ever I want to curl up with something atmospheric, engrossing, and a little creepy. I found all three of those things in CITY OF CROWS. Set in 17th century France, it follows Charlotte, a woman who makes a deal with the devil in order to find her kidnapped son, and Lesage, a traveling con man in search of treasure. All roads lead to Paris, the City of Crows, and Charlotte and Lesage find themselves increasingly drawn into the underworld of magic and trickery. What I loved most was the author’s exploration into the strange mix of religion and magic that pervaded this time period: plague and hardship was kept at bay by a fearful belief in both, and the way Womersly interweaves the two is absolutely fascinating.


In the Night Wood Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9781328494436
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: John Joseph Adams/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt - October 9th, 2018

A mysterious children's book author. A failed professor and drug-addled wife, clouded by grief over the loss of their daughter. A remote mansion at the edge of a terrifying wood. And a horned monster lurking just out of sight. This modern gothic fairy tale is perfect for any chilly October evening. What I loved most about it was the way Bailey weaves modern elements into a classic story. Somehow, Disney princesses become sinister and academic stuffiness seems tension-filled. Bailey weaves a story as complex and gnarled as the intertwining roots of a tree, that will give you chills and keep you up long after you should have gone to bed.


Winter


Heart Spring Mountain: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062444431
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - November 6th, 2018

This book is by the author of a short story collection that made it onto my top ten last year, so naturally it was one of my most anticipated releases of 2018. It did not disappoint! This rich, layered novel follows three generations of women who make their home on the same rural farm in Vermont. It carries us through one year, jumping back and forth between different timelines and revealing long lost family secrets. But more than the revelations you uncover, this book is about resilience and isolation, loneliness and community, and the slow destructiveness of climate change. The reason I chose winter and not spring (as the title suggests) is that the Vermont winters are so intense that they seem to expand to encompass the whole book, intensifying both the starkness of the landscape and the warmth inside.


Empty Set Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566894944
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - February 6th, 2018

In this little gem of a novel, a young woman is dealing with the disappearance of her mother, and attempting to navigate the spaces she used to fill. She plots her relationships with charts and graphs, Venn diagrams, and arrows, mapping out her place in the complicated spaces that are human relationships. She meditates on time, tracing the spiral rings on the plywood she’s using to shore up her dilapidated house, and wonders if time overlaps, circles around itself like the rings of a tree. This is a small, quiet story, but you immediately feel engrossed in Veronica’s world. What’s more, the visual nature of the book had me seeing connections everywhere - just for a moment, it made me think differently about time and love and the spaces between.


$29.95
SKU: x9030

This is the journal that is going to revolutionize journals. No, seriously. It’s a game changer. Why? The Rekonect notebook has magnetic pages, which allows you take them out and re-organize them at will. Maybe you want your to-do list to always be the first page. Maybe you need a way to re-organize notes in a way that makes more sense to you. No longer are you bound by the confines of static notebook pages! You can take pages out and scan them without worrying about the bulge from the spine. You can tear them along the perforated magnetic strip and have a loose sheet of paper. You can take a page out of your notebook and stick it right on your fridge! The possibilities are endless. What’s more, the journal is surprisingly sturdy - one tug and a page comes free of the binding, but open the covers and shake, and nothing falls out. It’s kind of magical, and it truly is the notebook of the future!


Mark's Top Ten Books of 2018 (Now Brooklyn-Free!)

The guidelines are simple: no book in my top 10 books of 2018 can have been conceived of, written, revised or edited in the borough of Brooklyn, New York (either in its entirety or piecemeal). The authors of these highly exemplary works can’t currently live in or have lived in Brooklyn during the creation of these works.

Staff Pick Logo
The Invented Part Cover Image
By Rodrigo Fresan, Will Vanderhyden (Translator)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781940953564
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Open Letter - May 16th, 2017

I love this novel. I have been assured by both Rodrigo’s publisher, Chad Post of Open Letter, as well as Mr. Fresan himself that not a single sentence, word, even comma of this incredibly inventive, pyrotechnic and genre-bending book was conceived of or written in Brooklyn. I called Mr. Fresan by phone and though he admitted to having been in Brooklyn once (2014, book launch, dinner following) he ‘didn’t enjoy it very much’. Will Vanderhyden, the translator responsible for this absolute gem of literary narrative, assures me he did not translate any part of the ridiculously original and fever-inducing THE INVENTED PART in Brooklyn. His affidavit sits before me and it’s an exercise in austerity. Will takes his translation duties as seriously as this list. Good on him.


River Cover Image
By Esther Kinsky, Iain Galbraith (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781945492174
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Transit Books - September 4th, 2018

Did Esther Kinsky visit any of the rivers that flow through her spellbinding novel RIVER? More importantly though, did any of these rivers happen to flow through the borough of Brooklyn? Luckily for us the places exquisitely written about in RIVER are located in England, Israel, Canada and other locales in Europe. Even when the narrator of this masterclass in melancholic nature writing makes it onto American shores the rivers discussed aren’t even in New York! This absolutely incredible book hovers on the vague and ineffable borders of memory and time, proof that a novel can be almost entirely devoid of plot and still capture the imagination. Essay, memoir and fiction blend seamlessly into a book of quiet and profound beauty. The translation is stunning too; each chapter a meditation on memory, experience and the world around us. Esther Kinsky, unlike Jonathan Safran Foer, does not and has never lived in Brooklyn.


$12.99
SKU: 978999722784

Probably the most intense and visceral reading experience I had this year. Similar to Ferrante’s THE DAYS OF ABANDONMENT, this brief and claustrophobic novel follows the mind of a woman as she spirals into madness and rage. I was assured that the absurdly, almost offensively talented Ariana Harwicz had never stepped foot in Brooklyn, New York. However, days from finishing this list a rumor reached my ears which haunted my waking hours and stopped me in my tracks: supposedly Ariana Harwicz, author of the singular and almost obscenely vivid DIE, MY LOVE was seen walking the streets of Williamsburg in 2011 (the year she wrote the novel); in fact, several witnesses reported seeing her. Had she not signed my affidavit? Had she not pledged with the sincerity of a saint that she had never once stepped foot in Brooklyn? What was I to believe?! Whom was I to trust?! Promptly I removed her name from the list as I began investigating the matter. Luckily through due diligence (and the assistance of a retired detective based in a city that’s not Brooklyn) I was able to establish the photograph upon which the hateful rumor was based and we can all breathe easy: it was merely someone who slightly resembled Harwicz in the photo (an opaque black & white showing the offender entering an unnamed smoothie establishment). This case of mistaken identity allowed me to happily restore Ariana to the list.


After the Winter Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895255
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - September 4th, 2018

I was already an enormous fan of Guadalupe Nettel before reading her most recent book, AFTER THE WINTER, in English. Somehow, it’s her best book, with more depth and breadth than her masterful story collection, NATURAL HISTORIES and fictional memoir, THE BODY WHERE I WAS BORN. Focusing on two relationships, Nettel shows us the fragility of our lives as well as the arbitrary nature of love. Filled with sadness, longing and a gorgeous sense of place (Paris and Cuba among them) Nettel exposes the physical and emotional borders of life, love and longing. Although Nettel promoted AFTER THE WINTER in New York and parts of the novel take place in New York, Brooklyn is eschewed entirely and this, if nothing else, is proof of her genius.


Palafox Cover Image
By Eric Chevillard, Wyatt Mason (Translated by)
$15.00
ISBN: 9780972869249
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Archipelago - July 1st, 2004

What is a Palafox and what does it look like? Reading this book will only confuse you more; it has antlers, feathers, scales, an enormous wingspan and can camouflage itself into the background. It can fit in a person’s palm yet weighs two tons. Does this sound ridiculous? Well that’s because it is. Innovative, hysterical and turning corners at every bend, this was my first book from the French author who is as rewarding as he is difficult. Incidentally, Palafox was not in any way, conceived of or written in Brooklyn. In fact, reading the book one doesn’t think of Brooklyn or even the existence of Brooklyn but is adrift in a world where Brooklyn doesn’t exist, a world, dare I say it, richer for Brooklyn’s non-existence. Several Palafoxes were once mistakenly spotted in Williamsburg but they were later discovered to be two members of The Strokes. Additionally, Palafox was translated by the brilliant Wyatt Alexander Mason in a place other than Brooklyn.


Staff Pick Logo
Eleanor, Or, the Rejection of the Progress of Love Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895088
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - August 14th, 2018

My next book is the wonderfully original and inventively deceptive ELEANOR by Anna Moschovokis. Thankfully (thankfully!) Anna does not live in Brooklyn, New York but (by our good fortune) lives and works in an entirely different part of New York that is, not only not very close to Brooklyn, but doesn’t rhyme with, resemble or carry any relevant kinship to Brooklyn besides, of course, being in the same state as Brooklyn. Trust me, I did the research*. Anna, by the skin of our collective teeth, you made the list! What can I say about this incredibly moving novel, a story about Eleanor as well as Eleanor’s author, a missing laptop and people trying to connect in a world replete with technology but lacking in authentic ways to connect? This is a book of the times that manages to be both experimental and accessible. Lovely.

*Editors' Note: Mark did not do the research. Moschovakis may, in fact, be thoroughly devoted to the creative community in Brooklyn, going so far as to even have started a Brooklyn-based publishing collective. However, to this day, Mark breaks out into hives when anyone so far as even mentions a word beginning with the letter "B." If any newspaper that crosses his path includes the word "Brooklyn," his wife must manually snip the word out with a pair of scissors hanging from the mailbox specifically for that purpose. Thus, we're unable to confirm the veracity of many of his claims or fact-check with Mark himself. 


The Taiga Syndrome Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780997366679
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dorothy a Publishing Project - October 1st, 2018

Reading THE TAIGA SYNDROME is like reading a detective novel from another planet. Things are strange, eerie, off, and yet the reader is compelled to continue. I adore this strange and violent novel that exists on the cusp of consciousness and unconsciousness. Are there monsters? Is there cannibalism? I have no idea. The book is truly unclassifiable. In any event, it would’ve be a real heartbreaker not to include it on my top books of the year. As she is a local professor in Houston, I was able to contact the brilliant Garza by phone.

MH: Hello Cristina.

CRG: Hello.

MH: Did you conceive of or write any part of THE TAIGA SYNDROME in Brooklyn, New York?

CRG: No, I did not.

MH: Have a great day.


Comemadre Cover Image
By Roque Larraquy, Heather Cleary (Translator)
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566895156
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - July 10th, 2018

Dark and grotesque, yet brimming with irreverent humor, this compact book has two halves, both which look at history, art and the human body through its two tales which take place a century apart. Beginning in a sanatorium in 1907 and moving deftly to the art world of Buenos Aires in 2009, Argentine author Roque Larraquy manages to tell a fascinating story that considers science, medicine, history and humanity’s dogged pursuit to move forward at any cost. Roque Larraquy has never set foot in Brooklyn I’m happy to report and although the brilliant translator Heather Cleary is a native New Yorker the last time she was in Brooklyn was for jury duty in 2006.


The Kites Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780811226547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions Publishing Corporation - October 31st, 2017

Perhaps this lovely French novel that opens as World War II approaches appears a bit old-fashioned and traditional - I didn’t see it that way - but I was captivated by every single page. It is a story about family, war, love and what it means to be patriotic in the truest sense. It’s strange and generous and the writing is exquisite; a book awash in humanity. There wasn’t a single person I sold this book to that didn’t thank me for it later. In addition, Romain Gary was a character in real life; a dandy, a colorful storyteller who once even challenged Clint Eastwood to a duel in the 1970’s. Is there an author on your list who did that?


Villa Amalia (The French List) Cover Image
By Pascal Quignard, Chris Turner (Translated by)
$24.50
ISBN: 9780857424785
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Seagull Books - April 15th, 2018

A musician suspects her husband of cheating and follows him to a strange house in the Paris suburbs. Sounds like a thriller, right? Well Quignard’s book is certainly not a thriller but, instead, an examination of a woman’s life, a meditation on betrayal, lifelong friendships and reinvention. This was my first book by Quignard which I quickly followed up by reading A TERRACE IN ROME. The setting of this book goes from France to the Mediterranean; the writing is stunning and the story never quite goes where the reader suspects. An absorbing and intriguing read that has in no way anything to do with Brooklyn, New York. In fact, I assure anyone who reads this incredible book that not the thinnest, slightest wisps of Brooklyn will enter one’s consciousness.


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