Brooke Recommends

Francesca Woodman: On Being an Angel Cover Image
By Francesca Woodman (Photographer), Anna Tellgren (Editor), Anna Tellgren (Text by (Art/Photo Books))
ISBN: 9783863357504
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Koenig Books - January 26th, 2016

Francesca Woodman is always climbing into cabinets or looking through weird pieces of glass, holding up a plate or an old bone. And, of course, she’s perfected the messy bun. One of these days, I’ll dress up as Woodman for Halloween. I’ll wear a vintage dress and wander around with my hair piled up on top of my head, posing next to curio cabinets. Until then...please enjoy this lovely volume.

In the Slender Margin: The Intimate Strangeness of Death and Dying Cover Image
ISBN: 9781628725834
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Arcade - January 5th, 2016

A poet who worked in hospice for twenty years, Eve Joseph is the perfect tour guide for death. Thoughtful, unsentimental, and lyrical. It has a lot to say about the good death, but also about the pitfalls of hope in the face of mortality: “Hope can be a thief. It can steal the present moment right out from under our feet.”

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A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories Cover Image
By Lucia Berlin, Stephen Emerson (Editor), Lydia Davis (Foreword by)
ISBN: 9780374202392
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 18th, 2015

Everyone stop what you’re doing right now and get yourself a copy of Lucia Berlin’s A MANUAL FOR CLEANING WOMEN. This posthumous collection of short stories is going to blow everyone out of the water. I first heard buzz about this book on Elizabeth McCracken’s epic Twitter feed and I knew I had to get my little paws on it right away. Imagine that Alice Munro had a passel of outlandish West Texas relatives, or if Flannery O’Connor had bummed her way through Mexico. THINK ABOUT HOW GREAT THAT WOULD BE. I promise you won't be disappointed.

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Know Your Beholder: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316368919
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Little, Brown and Company - March 3rd, 2015

Aw, you guys, this book is so good. Francis Falbo lives in the attic of his childhood home after converting the rest of the house into apartments. An agoraphobe who spends most of the book wandering around in his bathrobe, Francis mourns the loss of his mother, the departure of his wife and the breakup of his band. And that’s just the beginning. KNOW YOUR BEHOLDER is exactly the kind of book I’m always on the lookout for: funny and sweet and tender and weird. I was completely disarmed.

Trances of the Blast Cover Image
ISBN: 9781933517919
Availability: Special Order - Subject to Availability
Published: Wave Books - September 2nd, 2014

This book was delightful, but I’m not sure I understood a word of it. Mary Ruefle’s poetry is playful and appealing even if you’re not entirely sure what she’s talking about. She wrote a poem called "The Bunny Gives Us a Lesson in Eternity" with this line: "We like to watch the rabbits screwing in the graveyard." What? I love it! Mary Ruefle, you can sit next to me. Want some more Mary? I feel entirely confident recommending Madness, Rack, and Honey even though I haven’t read it yet.

The Splendid Things We Planned: A Family Portrait Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393350562
Availability: Backordered
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - February 16th, 2015

THE SPLENDID THINGS WE PLANNED is everything you want a memoir to be. Blake Bailey is frank about his own drinking and loneliness while chronicling the life of his strange and disturbed brother, Scott, an alcoholic drug addict. Though the story of Scott’s decline is fascinating, the real anchor of the book is Bailey’s affable voice and easy prose. If you like Charles D’Ambrosio and Leslie Jamison, you’re going to love Blake Bailey.

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Prayers for the Stolen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804138802
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Hogarth - November 4th, 2014

Bear with me while I try to convince you that a book about girls who get kidnapped by drug cartels will not depress you. No really, this book is funny! LadyDi (named after Princess Diana by her alcoholic, gun-toting, TV-loving mother) lives in Guerrero, Mexico where drug lords steal girls right out of their living rooms in the middle of the afternoon.


The houses in Guerrero have dirt floors and big TV’s. There are bullet holes in the plate glass windows of the beauty parlor. People refrigerate their pillows during the day so they are cool by bedtime. Filled with poetic language and striking imagery, PRAYERS FOR THE STOLEN is peopled by hardy heroines and almost-magical sense of place.

Loitering: New and Collected Essays Cover Image
ISBN: 9781935639879
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Tin House Books - November 11th, 2014

Charles D’Ambrosio’s essays are funny, moving and subversive whether the author is wondering where he can find just “a pork chop’s worth” of whale for dinner or ruminating on the Seattle of his childhood where there was “an abundance of clams and a paucity of culture.” Full of hawkish observation and unexpected generosity, D’Ambrosio’s essays are earthy and companionable, like he’s telling you his stories over a pot of black coffee at the local greasy spoon.

On Immunity: An Inoculation Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555976897
Availability: Backordered
Published: Graywolf Press - September 30th, 2014

Eula Biss's essays about the immunization debate range from the personal to the body politic and back again. Drawing on her experiences as a mother and an astonishing diversity of sources, Biss plumbs our ancient fear of infection. Acknowledging the permeability of our borders and bodies, she arrives at the conclusion that "immunity is a shared space--a garden we tend together." Biss's precise language and wry humor make ON IMMUNITY a fine collection, as engaging as it is informative.

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Mating: A Novel (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679737094
Availability: Backordered
Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1992

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


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


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

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Inside Madeleine Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616953096
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Press - May 13th, 2014

Normally I don't recommend books based on their ability to induce vomiting, but in this case I feel it is apt. Paula Bomer’s new short story collection is not for the faint of heart. These gut-wrenching stories about girls at work, in school or at loose ends will make you laugh out loud and possibly throw up as her characters share the gritty, strange and poignant details of their lives. Bomer writes with equal power about the tough girl, the quiet girl and the wild child. The title novella is a heart-breaker about the eating disordered and lonely Madeleine whose story loops right around to the opening short story. A stunning collection that you won't be able to forget any time soon.

Clever Girl: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062270399
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Harper - March 4th, 2014

Tessa Hadley’s Clever Girl is a quiet novel with a sly sense of humor. The power of Hadley’s plot comes from the surprising intersections of her characters’ lives over a long span of time. Covering Stella’s life from feisty girlhood to young motherhood to middle age, Clever Girl is an engrossing and beautifully written story.

A Thousand Acres: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400033836
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Anchor - December 2nd, 2003

Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning family epic has echoes of King Lear - a crazy father, three daughters and a farm to divide. Ginny Cook, the middle child, narrates this saga of love, loyalty and family secrets. An engrossing drama set on the vast expanse of Iowa farmland.

The Other Typist: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425268421
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - April 1st, 2014

This atmospheric novel is full of suspense and sumptuous descriptions of jazz age New York. Rose Baker, a typist for the police department, is befriended by newcomer Odalie Lazare who introduces her to a world of speakeasies, fancy chocolates and easy living, but slowly Rose begins to realize that Odalie might have more up her sleeve than invitations to Gatsby-esque house parties.

Atonement: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385721790
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Anchor - February 25th, 2003

Built on a string of wrong assumptions and misunderstandings, Atonement follows the unraveling of Robbie Turner’s life after 13 year old Briony sees something she shouldn’t have. Atonement follows Briony from childhood to her nursing days as a young woman during Word War II to her success as a writer in middle age. Through the novel she writes as an adult, Briony attempts to atone for the mistakes she made as a child. A sweeping, romantic World War II epic.

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The Goldfinch: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316055437
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Little, Brown and Company - October 22nd, 2013

Theo Decker’s life with his mother in New York City is shattered when she is killed in a terrorist attack on an art museum. In the wake of her death, Theo’s uprooted life ranges from the hushed and antiques filled apartment of a wealthy family to Vegas where he lives with his gambling father and back to New York again. Despite its length, The Goldfinch moves fast and the ride is absolutely breath-taking.

Into the Wild Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385486804
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Anchor - January 20th, 1997

A fantastic page-turner about Chris McCandless, an Emory graduate who burns his social security card, donates his life savings and hitches to Fairbanks, Alaska determined live off the land. Krakauer weaves in his own high-risk adventures mountain climbing in an attempt to understand what drew McCandless deep into the wilderness, alone and insufficiently prepared.

Rebecca Cover Image
ISBN: 9780380730407
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - September 5th, 2006

The unnamed narrator of Rebecca moves into the stately Manderlay with her new husband only to find the house is haunted by the presence of his first wife, Rebecca. Everything in Rebecca’s bedroom is exactly as she left it though she has been dead for years and the imposing housekeeper, Mrs. Danvers, seems to have a few secrets of her own. Both creepy and romantic, Rebecca is like Jane Eyre meets Agatha Christie.

I Capture the Castle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312201654
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: St. Martin's Griffin - March 15th, 1999

The journals of Cassandra Mortmain tell the story of her writer-father, fiscally ambitious sister and wacky nudist step-mother. Cassandra chronicles the foibles of her family as well as her own run-ins with the pair of brothers who own the ramshackle castle where her family lives.

Pride and Prejudice Cover Image
By Jane Austen, Vivien Jones (Editor), Vivien Jones (Introduction by), Tony Tanner (Introduction by), Vivien Jones (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780141439518
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 7-10 Days due to Covid-19 shipping delays.
Published: Penguin Classics - December 31st, 2002

This books stays fresh reading after reading. As much as I enjoy Elizabeth, Darcy is the real show-stealer here. Though all those mini-series would put him down as an aloof but smoldering hearth-throb, I prefer to think of Darcy as awkward. He even says “I have not the talent of conversing easily with those I have never seen before.” He’s not snooty, just uncomfortable! One of my favorite books ever.

Emma Cover Image
By Jane Austen, Fiona Stafford (Editor), Fiona Stafford (Introduction by), Fiona Stafford (Notes by)
ISBN: 9780141439587
Availability: Backordered
Published: Penguin Classics - May 6th, 2003

Emma Woodhouse is one of Austen’s most lovably flawed characters. A busybody matchmaker with a blind spot for the desires of her own heart, Emma spends most of the book making a muddle of everyone else’s lives. But in true Austen style everyone is properly paired off by the end.