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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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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 Road to Disunion, Volume II
Secessionists Triumphant, 1854-1861
Here is history in the grand manner, a powerful narrative peopled with dozens of memorable portraits, telling this important story with skill and relish. Freehling highlights all the key moments on the road to war, including the violence in Bleeding Kansas, Preston Brooks's beating of Charles Sumner in the Senate chambers, the Dred Scott Decision
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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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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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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 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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Rubicon
The Last Years of the Roman Republic
Tom Holland
I cannot recommend this book highly enough, both for the history it tells and for how effortlessly one can find parallels to our own times. The power struggles in the Senate, the divide between rich and poor, the constitutional crises—all are portrayed with the immediacy of today's news. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Prone Gunman
City Lights Noir
Jean-Patrick Manchette
This is the darkest of dark noirs, in the tradition of Jim Thompson, and the last novel Manchette would publish before his early death. Every word Manchette wrote is worth your time, much as those of one of his predecessors in French minimalism, Georges Bernanos, is. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books
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The Chain of Chance
A Novel
Stanislaw Lem
You can read this as a puzzle to be solved, which it is. Or you can read it as a blistering satire of detective fiction, which it also is. Brilliant. Brilliant. Brilliant. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books.
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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 Dwarfs
A Novel
Harold Pinter
Because drama is, by its very nature, fiction stripped bare of all that is unnecessary, The Dwarfs, Pinter's only novel, is probably his most revealing work. Originally written when Pinter was 20, he revisited and revised it 42 years later, fashioning out of both his youth and his maturity a devastating prose take on themes...
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Rendezvous with Rama
Arthur C. Clarke
An enduring classic, and one to which I keep going back. Like Larry Niven's Ringworld, the concept is staggering, and the execution Clarke at his best. If you enjoyed 2001: A Space Odyssey, you owe it to yourself to check this out. —Recommended by Jeff, City Lights Books

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