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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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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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Wintergirls
Laurie Halse Anderson
This is the single most powerful Young Adult novel I have ever read. It is searing, devastating, tragic. It is about bulimia, the death of a friend, and regret. It is also ingeniously conceived and beautifully written, transcending the difficult subject..
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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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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 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 Prone Gunman
City Lights Noir
Jean-Patrick Manchette
Martin Terrier is a hired killer who wants out of the game—so he can settle down and marry his childhood sweetheart. After all, that's why he took up this profession! But the Organization won't let him go: they have other plans. Once again, the...
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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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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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The Adoration of Jenna Fox
Mary E. Pearson
This is a near-flawless the-future-is-today sci-fi novel. Although written for a teen audience, it captivated and held me until the very end, beginning with its enigmatic title. I highly recommend this for both its peek at our biologically-uncertain...
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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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Acceptance
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 3
Jeff VanderMeer
The third 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. I'm only a few pages into Acceptance...
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Annihilation
Southern Reach Trilogy Book 1
Jeff VanderMeer
The first part of a near-future trilogy which initially devastated me both conceptually and narratively, and then went off in a direction I wish it hadn't. But now that I've finished the second book, Authority, all that happened in the first book has taken on greater resonance, complexity, and strangeness. This is an important work.

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