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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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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 Battle of the Sun
Jeanette Winterson
This inventive and darkly surreal book is a perfect gateway to the His Dark Materials trilogy. Soaked in the stench of 1600 London, full of conundrums big and small, and swarming with dragons and alchemy, there are indescribable things in here that you...
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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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Brothers
The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years
David Talbot
During the "thousand days of camelot," JFK and his attorney general brother Bobby were not regarded at all as the iconic, mythic wunderkinds they've become. They were weak, pro-detente doves, soft on communism, antithetical to all that was American...
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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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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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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 Female Brain
Louann Brizendine, MD
Men and women. What are we even doing on the same planet? Everything you've suspected is true. Though our bodies function a little bit differently, the real gulf between the sexes is in the place where we really exist: the brain. Neurophysiological....
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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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The Lady in the Lake
A Philip Marlowe Novel
Raymond Chandler
I love all of Chandler's Marlowe novels, but this is my favorite. Before I ever read this I heard and taped a brilliant radio dramatization of it, and to this day while reading it I can still hear the voice of the actor playing Marlowe...
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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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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 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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