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1. On Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured

I'm always sorry to finish a book, to let go of characters I love, people I've struggled to understand for years, people who evolve before me. Whether writing fiction or nonfiction, I've never had the sense I was "making up" a character. It feels more like watching people reveal themselves, ever more deeply, more intimately. [...]

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2. My Bookstore Fantasy — No Customers Necessary

"Let's open a bookstore," I say to my husband every now and then. "A used bookstore. With a few new books we really like." I'm picturing an old-fashioned shop, with comfy chairs and shelves bent under dusty treasures, and tea and cookies for favorite customers. Oh, and a cat. The cat is a very important [...]

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3. The Powell’s Playlist: Anne Rice

These are the songs that wake me up, take me out of my worries and anxieties, wash my brain cells, and send me to the keyboard to write with new vigor. 1. "It's My Life" by Bon Jovi This is a song I associate with my beloved vampire hero, Lestat, today. I imagine Lestat loving [...]

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4. Loitering

Loitering, Charles D'Ambrosio's new collection of essays, feels like a confession — a secret you aren't supposed to share but are unable to keep to yourself. He writes with such an urgent immediacy that the words seem to vibrate, unable to be contained by page or cover. Books mentioned in this post Loitering: New and [...]

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5. Monastery

Much like his wispy, smoke-filled covers, Eduardo Halfon's writing has an ephemeral quality that is both wondrous and intriguing. In Monastery, the same mysterious narrator as in Halfon's previous work, The Polish Boxer, returns to lead us once again on nomadic travels through time and place. Books mentioned in this post Monastery Eduardo Halfon New [...]

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6. Annihilation

Lush and Lovecraftian writing sends one into this otherworldly experience. An awesome beginning to the Southern Reach Trilogy! Books mentioned in this post Annihilation (Southern Reach Trilogy #1) Jeff VanderMeer Used Trade Paper $8.95

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7. Girl With All the Gifts

Do not read any reviews of this book. Just read it. And read it now. (The less you know from the start, the better the read.) I loved Melanie! She loves books and reading and learning. She is really smart. This book is so enjoyable and is one of the best books I've read this [...]

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8. The Paying Guests

I could not put down this tender, haunting, harrowing novel — I read it by campfire light, I read it walking down the street, I read it in bed till my eyes wouldn't stay open. Waters creates a world with her precise observation of atmosphere, emotion, and gesture; her characters live. The Paying Guests is [...]

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9. 1 Page at a Time

Equal parts inspirational tool, diary, and space occupier for your tote bag (seriously, you'll want to carry this rad little book everywhere). Some pages may require you to reflect, some may ask you to get to know yourself a little better, and others may just ask you to draw slices of pizza. This book is [...]

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10. Colorless Tsukuru and His Years of Pilgrimage

About as introspective as a novel can be, Murakami's latest spends its entirety inside the somewhat sad mind of its protagonist. Damaged by a betrayal he cannot comprehend, Tsukuru is a man wholly undone by his closest friends. After years of loneliness, and only after stumbling into a new relationship with a woman who insists on [...]

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11. Dogs in Cars

What's better during a long and boring commute than seeing a canine with his head out the window, the breeze in his floppy ears, squinting against the wind with a big, goofy smile on his face? Lara Jo Regan documents the pure and simple joy of riding in cars with furry companions. It will make [...]

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12. The Portlandia Cookbook

I'd assumed that buying The Portlandia Cookbook for its recipes would be like reading Playboy for the articles, but Brownstein and Armisen's latest book is the real thing: a collection of delicious, inventive recipes inspired by local restaurants and seasoned with a perfect blend of the gentle satire and city love that's made Portlandia a [...]

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13. Heritage

Chef Brock is a storyteller. His tales take the form of recipes deeply steeped in the American South. The Southern cuisine in Heritage is honest and proud, based in history and a back-to-the-roots approach. Whether diner fare, Sunday supper, or neighborhood seafood boil, these thoughtfully conceived recipes have a glorious stick-to-your-ribs goodness. Books mentioned in [...]

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14. Rain Reign

Rose is a high-functioning autistic fifth grader who loves homonyms and her dog, Rain. When her father lets Rain out one stormy night, Rose begins to search for her missing dog — which sets off a chain of unexpected events. A candid, sophisticated, empowering read. Books mentioned in this post Rain Reign Ann M. Martin [...]

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15. Plenty More

In a follow-up to the wildly popular Plenty, Yotam Ottolenghi once again proves that vegetables can be much more than an unappetizing side dish hastily steamed in the microwave. These beautifully photographed, flavorful recipes are an inspiration to those wishing to eat healthier in the age of the "vegi-renaissance." Books mentioned in this post Plenty [...]

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16. Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography

Be Neil Patrick Harris — the actor, magician, father, husband, son, and sandwich-shop employee — in his choose-you-own-adventure autobiography. Even if you don't know who Doogie Howser or Barney Stinson are (be honest, you do), you'll love NPH's entertaining and irreverent look at Hollywood, parenthood, and his own idiosyncratic fame. Books mentioned in this post [...]

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17. Being Mortal

A compassionate look at how the medical industry currently handles aging, terminal illness, and end-of-life issues. Often medical professionals ignore quality of life, or a person's overall well-being, in favor of more treatments. There are no easy answers, but our reluctance to address these issues has not helped us to make more informed choices. Books [...]

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18. A Vision of Fire

While India and Pakistan are locked in a deadly struggle, strange things begin to happen around the world. Animals behave oddly, a teenager drowns on dry land. Child psychologist Caitlin O'Hara is seeing some of these behaviors in her practice. Could the events be connected? The truth is out there, but will she find it [...]

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19. The Innovators

Isaacson's incredible retrospective of the digital revolution over the last 200 years not only offers great insight into the minds of the inventors, but also focuses on the surprising amount of collaboration that allowed many of the ideas to succeed. Whether you're a true technogeek or simply interested in human behavior and history, The Innovators [...]

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20. The Young Elites

Adelina is scarred from a disease and has become an abomination in her world. Gaining a mysterious, powerful gift, she joins the outcasts of the Young Elites to battle the wickedness of her Kingdom and the darkness in her heart. Following the Legend trilogy, this series is full of the same promise. Books mentioned in [...]

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21. Star Wars: The Adventures of Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight

The Star Wars trilogy — retold in picture book format! Written by Tony DiTerlizzi and illustrated with Ralph McQuarrie's concept art. Now a new generation can thrill to Luke's adventures, escape in the Millennium Falcon, and defeat the evil Empire. Books mentioned in this post Star Wars the Adventures of Luke... Tony DiTerlizzi Sale Hardcover [...]

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22. The Meaning of Human Existence

Through a brilliant melding of science and philosophy, "The father of sociobiology" boldly tackles humanity's biggest questions — namely, what is our role on earth, and how can we continue to evolve as a species? Wilson's writing style is accessible as always, and his passion and empathy continue to push us toward greater levels of [...]

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23. The Luminaries

Set in 19th-century New Zealand amidst the frenzy of a gold rush, Catton's stunningly ambitious novel pays homage to Victorian masterpieces but is far from traditional. The characters and structure are ruled by the Zodiac, and as the chapters wane in size, powers shift and revelations multiply. A flawlessly executed literary achievement and winner of [...]

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24. The Heroes of Olympus Book Five: The Blood of Olympus

This is the book Percy Jackson fans have been waiting for, the fifth and final volume in the Heroes of Olympus series. The action is nonstop as the demigods attempt to stop the earth mother Gaea from waking while protecting Camp Half-Blood. Fans won't be disappointed with this thrilling conclusion. Books mentioned in this post [...]

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25. Belzhar

When Jam and four others are given unique journals and assigned Sylvia Plath for a "Special Topics" class in a boarding school for fragile teens, they discover new ways to reconnect with their lost loved ones and one another in this insightful, moving novel about grief and loss. Books mentioned in this post Belzhar Meg [...]

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