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The Watchers
A Secret History of the Reign of Elizabeth I
Stephen Alford
We think we have evolved—we haven't. The politics of any age are the politics of all ages. Whether 5000, 2500, 1000, 500 or 50 years ago, the reasoning and methods are the same. They win, we lose. Parallels abound with both the Cold War and Post-9/11 Weltenschauung. —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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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 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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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 real, maybe imagined... interlopers. Male psychiatrists, male therapists, If you're in a psychiatric ward does your eloquence...
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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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Love Goes to Buildings on Fire
Five Years in New York That Changed Music Forever
Will Hermes
Punk rock and hip hop. No wave, disco and salsa. The loft jazz scene and the downtown minimalists. In the mid-1970s, New York City was teeming with musical innovators and cross-pollinations thereof. Hermes paints a breathtaking and panoramic portrait of the era. —Recommended by Michael, City Lights Books. Also recommended by Jeff, City Lights
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As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth
Lynne Rae Perkins
This is the best my-parents-are-out-of-the-country-and-I'm-stranded-with-no-way-to-contact-anyone-and-I'm-going-to-make-my-way-to-the-other-side-of-the-world-no-matter-what story I've ever read. Funny and insightful and satisfying. A great read! For ages 12 & up —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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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 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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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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The Lucifer Effect
Understanding How Good People Turn Evil
Philip Zimbardo
This is one of the most revelatory and yet devastating books I have ever read. In the first half of the book Zimbardo, the creator of the Stanford Prison Experiment, walks you painful moment by painful moment through the experiment, as aghast as you...
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The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
A Novel
Peter Handke
If one were not to immerse oneself in the early films of Wim Wenders, this is possibly the best representation of 1970s German Existentialism in print. Michel Houellebecq may possibly not exist if it weren't for Handke. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books

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