Things You Should Know About

Staff Pick: Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins

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An irreverent and fantastical epic that explores the unique connection between immortality, scent, sex and, lest we forget – beets.

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Staff Pick: Darkness Sticks to Everything by Tom Hennen

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I love reading Hennen’s poetry on the bus. Each poem is short but quickly delivers you into an isolated, eerie landscape. A few of my favorites: A Note to My State-Appointed Job Counselor (p40); Landscape of Night (p62); Love for Other Things (p78)

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Staff Pick: Bleeder by Shelby Smoak

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This gripping, poignant and at times poetic memoir of a man who was diagnosed with hemophilia as a child and HIV as a late teen. He struggles with life in every sense of the word. Unforgettable.

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Staff Pick: A Time of Gifts by Patrick Leigh Fermor

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In 1933, when the author was eighteen, he traveled from Rotterdam to Istanbul on foot. This book recounts and reflects upon the first part of that journey. Fermor, a WWII hero and subject of a recent biography, walked through a Europe that would soon cease to exist. A great cast of characters passes through these pages and Fermor turns these strangers into friends.

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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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