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The Woman in the Dunes
Kobo Abe
If you've seen the 1964 Teshigahara film you've already experienced Abe's brilliance (he wrote the screenplay as well). If you haven't, read this first. The haunting story of a vacationing entomologist trapped in a sand-pit with an enigmatic woman...
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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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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 Best Short Stories of J. G. Ballard
J. G. Ballard
First published in 1978, this collection of nineteen of Ballard's best short stories is as timely and informed as ever. His tales of the human psyche and its relationship to nature and technology, as viewed through a strong microscope, were eerily...
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The Gun
C. J. Chivers
C.J. Chivers' book The Gun is an arresting account of the history of the AK-47, the assault rifle that has arguably done more to change warfare, politics, and our ability to wreak lethal damage amongst ourselves than any other weapon. First-rate...
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School of Fear
Gitty Daneshvari
Madeleine, Theo, Lulu and Garrison—each frightfully afraid of something (ghosts, moths, etc.)—are sent to the even more frightening School of Fear, where they will have to learn to cope with their phobias... or else! (For ages 8-12) —Recommended by Jeff
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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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A Visionary Madness
The Case of James Tilly Matthews and the Influencing Machine
Mike Jay
Anything I might possibly say could in no way prepare you for this exploration of madness, conspiracy and duplicity, in which one man's apparent delusions are actually borne out by historical fact. Try transposing Sirhan Sirhan to the 18th century... —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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Every You, Every Me
David Levithan
A powerful exploration of those intense relationships we form in high school, relationships we assume (no, not assume, know) will define our lives. And those assumptions are always wrong. This realization tears apart a group of friends as they try to...
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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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Against Empire
Michael Parenti
Richly informed and written in an engaging style, Against Empire exposes the ruthless agenda and hidden costs of the U.S. empire today. Documenting the pretexts and lies used to justify violent intervention and maldevelopment abroad, Parenti shows...
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Ottoline and the Yellow Cat
Chris Riddell
I can't say enough about this series. The stories are simple, engaging and emotionally-grounded. The characters are quirky and unforgettable. And much of the fun comes from discovering the odd little details in the wonderful illustrations. (For ages 7-10)
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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...

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