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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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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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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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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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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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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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Liesl & Po
Lauren Oliver
Lauren Oliver's second book for younger readers, The Spindlers, absolutely blew me away, forcing me to reread this, her first. An adventure, a story of friendships, but also a meditation on coming to terms with loss, on letting go of and remembering...
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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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