Things You Should Know About

Staff Pick: Zone One by Colson Whitehead

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I am generally opposed to the zombification of our modern world. Having said that, Zone One is an excellent reading experience. Terse, tense, funny, and original in spite of its genre origins, it is Whitehead at both his loosest and most ruminative. Lower Manhattan as safe zone? Need I say more? Get reading.

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Staff Pick: The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet by Reif Larsen

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You probably haven't heard of T.S. Spivet, the gifted cartographer whose work was exhibited at the Smithsonian at the tender age of twelve. This is because he's fictional. But Larsen renders him in great detail, using the margins of the page as a playground for side-notes, sketches and, of course, maps. He runs away to D.C. in a Winnebago aboard a train, fleeing his troubled family and tragic past in a desperate attempt to make his own life fit the organized maps he loves so dearly.

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Staff Pick: The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making by Catherynne Valente

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An often overlooked novel, this is the charming tale of September, a young girl who catches a lift to Fairyland on the Green Wind. Valente uses all the tropes of traditional fairytales, but a heady dose of wit and irony makes the story at once subversive and enchanting for readers of all ages.

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Staff Pick: The Book of Basketball by Bill Simmons

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In this book, The Sports Guy takes us through the past, present and future of the NBA, touching on every major basketball debate along the way. His humorous asides and frequent pop culture references make this book accessible to everyone, not just the hardcore basketball fan.

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Staff Pick: Blindness by Jose Saramago

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Want to see the dark side of humanity? Read this book.

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Staff Pick: The Family That Couldn't Sleep by D. T. Max

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From mid-18th century Venice to mad cow in 20th century Britain, an extraordinary and mysterious disease that may be linked to cannibalism. A fun read.

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Staff Pick: The Lazarus Project by Aleksandar Hemon

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Born in Sarajevo, Hemon wrote his first story in English at the age of 31. If I could write as eloquently in my first language as he does in his second, you’d probably want this blurb to go on forever.

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Staff Pick: Custer Died for Your Sins by Vine Deloria

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Please read this eye-opening history. It’s an underappreciated classic work; and one you should pass along to Dan Snyder when you’re done.

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Staff Pick: 1914 by Jean Echenoz

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Any interest in the Great War? Here is a lovely little novel which puts us fully in the trench, but we escape it here too. Echenoz is truly gifted.

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Staff Pick: Lost in the City by Edward P. Jones

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A handful of phenomenal stories about citizens of Washington by a D.C. native and Pulitzer Prize winner. If you hated the concept of This Town but want to read about the city, check this out.

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