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Bicycle Design
An Illustrated History
Tony Hadland, Hans-Erhard Lessing
An absolutely gorgeous and informative illustrated history of the most timeless of machines. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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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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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 Spindlers
Lauren Oliver
Decades from now Lauren Oliver will be remembered as one of the best and brightest children's authors of this generation. The Spindlers is her second novel for younger audiences and is destined, in my estimation, to become a classic, to be mentioned in the same breath as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.(for ages 8-12) —Recommended by Jeff
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The Infinite Tides
Christian Kiefer
An impressive debut novel from a NorCal poet and songwriter, full of achingly beautiful passages on loss and regret, yet leavened with self-aware humor and with wonderment at the banality of contemporary suburbia. Oh yes, there's also the comet on a collision course with Earth. Just read the first few pages and decide for yourself.
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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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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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Embassytown
China Miéville
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 "ambassadors" are genetically bred for the task. This is the setting for Miéville's latest...
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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 City & The City
China Miéville
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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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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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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Yosemite in Time
Ice Ages, Tree Clocks, Ghost Rivers
Mark Klett, Rebecca Solnit, Byron G. Wolfe
Yosemite is a world-famous destination that has attracted celebrated photographers such as Eadweard Muybridge, Edward Weston, and Ansel Adams, along with environmental organizations, rock climbers, and tourists. Yosemite in Time puts this park in a new light with re-photographs of some of the most enduring images taken at Yosemite...
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Un Lun Dun
China Miéville
One of the most inventive books for younger readers I've ever read, cramming a trilogy's worth into a single volume. An exhilarating adventure set in the London under London and just bursting with steampunk-esque craziness. (For ages 8 and up) —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books

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