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Authority
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 2
Jeff VanderMeer
The second part of a near-future trilogy which, with every page I read, becomes ever more enigmatic and in need of resolution. The first book, Annihilation, brings to mind the unspeakable horror of John Carpenter's The Thing, while Authority recalls the institutional paranoia of Three Days of the Condor. An important work.
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The Scar Boys
A Novel
Len Vlahos
A severely burned teenager. A guitar. Punk rock. The chords of a rock 'n' roll road trip in a coming-of-age novel that is a must-read story about finding your place in the world...even if you carry scars inside and out. In attempting to describe himself in his college application essay--help us to become acquainted with you beyond your courses...
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Command and Control
Nuclear Weapons, the Damascus Accident, and the Illusion of Safety
Eric Schlosser
The entirety of our nuclear policy folly, crystallized in and illuminated by the little-known Damascus near-tragedy. There is, for me, great sadness here... —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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Spillover
Animal Infections and the Next Human Pandemic
David Quammen
I suppose most of us would rather not read about the horrific diseases which could fell any of us, without warning, at any moment. I, however, would. Award-winning natural sciences author Quammen turns his scientific and lyrical prowess to the zoonoses, those viruses (mostly) which jump from wild animals to humans. Where do they come from? How...
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The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas
David Almond
David Almond strikes again with yet another crazily-inventive, oddly off-kilter, and utterly and bafflingly English fable about how we all really do fit in... somewhere. A must-read. (For ages 9-12) —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer
An impressive debut novel from NorCal poet, songwriter and recording artist Kiefer, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia.
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Promising Young Women
Suzanne Scanlon
Suzanne Scanlon has captured, in text, a place none of us would ever want to be... You're young, you're a woman, and you've lost touch with any sense of identity. You're at the mercy of whom? Probably men. Lovers maybe imagined, maybe real... interlopers. Male psychiatrists, male therapists, If you're in a psychiatric ward does your eloquence...
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My Name Is Mina
David Almond
The prequel to the author's award-winning Skellig, which I haven't read and which one doesn't need to read to appreciate this little masterpiece. Almond basically takes us into the mind of a special child, an innocent, not yet corrupted by society's...
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The Boy at the End of the World
Greg van Eekhout
Watch out for Greg van Eekhout! His first book, Kid vs. Squid, was wonderful but so bizarre I'm not sure I could accurately describe it. Not so his sophomore effort, The Boy at the End of the World. This is about as good as science fiction for young...
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Embassytown
China Mieville
A planet at the farthest reaches of human colonisation. A planet needed by humanity for its irreproducible biotechnology. An exo-terran species whose goodwill is needed in trade negotiations, but whose language is so difficult to mimic that human...
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The Poisoner's Handbook
Murder and the Birth of Forensic Medicine in Jazz Age New York
Deborah Blum
Fascinating and entertaining, tinged with both humor and horror, this account of the early years of forensic medicine in New York City is near unputdownable. We follow the city's Medical Examiner and head toxicologist as they develop the techniques for...
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The Maze Runner
James Dashner
Thomas wakes up, with no memory, surrounded by other boys his age, in a place they call the Glade. All they know is that the stone door set in the insurmountable stone wall opens every morning and closes every evening. Outside lies a maze against which...
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Scat
Carl Hiaasen
This is the third of Hiaasen's eco-themed books for middle-grade readers. There's a mystery to be solved, there are laughs (and a few scares), but most importantly there is a respect for nature and for each other, and of course the bad guys are...
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The City & The City
China Mieville
A wonderfully labyrinthine novel. Ostensibly a murder mystery cum police procedural, Mieville has much more on his mind here -- how does a class of people define itself and coexist with another class of people with whom it may, on the surface, have...

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