Matt's Staff Favorites

Matt  

I read widely. While I rarely read straight through a work of nonfiction, I search ceaselessly through many so that I can get at the heart of things, but I also love the unlikely details. Works of fiction, on the other hand, are books that I start and finish. I don't read quickly, so I don't continue any books that lose their appeal, if only for a few pages.

 

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The Nix Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781101970348
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 2nd, 2017

Rarely have I read a book which immersed me so convincingly in so many different people's lives. Part of the convincing-ness has to do with the details--often unlikely--which paint each scene. It begins with a seemingly-random attack on a political candidate and continues with an uninspired college professor who distracts himself by playing an immersive video game. The novel examines the tenuous connection between these two events. From there, the story opens up widely into an inter-generational saga that delves into particular periods of recent American history. I loved this book and I was sad to say goodbye when I finished the last page.


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Underground Airlines Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316261258
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mulholland Books - July 18th, 2017

The setting is present day America with a twist: slavery is still practiced in four states in the south. Victor, who is black, works--for reasons we discover--for the U.S. Marshalls tracking down escaped slaves. He's extremely good at the job, even as the intricacies of the situation create dissonances in him. This is a thriller, with literary flavors, set atop social commentary with resonance and reference to Invisible Man, which I read directly after finishing this fine novel.


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Infectious Madness: The Surprising Science of How We
$15.99
ISBN: 9780316277815
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - October 4th, 2016

Infectious Madness is an exploration of an emerging area of medical inquiry: the connections between pathogens and mental illness. We've known that some cases of schizophrenia are connected to toxoplasma gondii, which is why pregnant women are told to not scoop cat litter. We're starting to learn of some connections between strep throat and ADHD and OCD. And we've been exploring the connections between what happens in our intestines (where more neurons reside than in our heads) and what happens in our brains. With several relevant detours to explore elements of science culture such as paradigm shifts and metaphors, this book is rich with fascinating information.


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The Sympathizer: A Novel (Pulitzer Prize for Fiction) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802124944
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - April 12th, 2016

Our narrator is aid to a South Vietnamese general in the spring of 1975. U.S. troops are evacuating, and South Vietnamese troops and civilians are scrambling to figure out what to do next. However, our narrator is also a spy for communist Vietnam. But this spy is "a man of two minds," able to sympathize with both his boss and his real superiors. The world we see through his eyes is both tragic and comic. The writing is rich with unusual descriptions ("prickly rolls of barbed wire sagged with middle-aged disappointment") of the sights and sounds and smells of end-of-war Saigon and post-war Los Angeles.


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A Constellation of Vital Phenomena Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780770436421
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth Press - February 4th, 2014

Amazing on several levels. I particularly enjoyed the Run Lola Run moments.. --Matt


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Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780060885618
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco Press - November 27th, 2012

The finest sort of satire, with both biting humor and uncynical sweetness, often on the same page. -Matt


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All the Light We Cannot See Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501173219
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - April 4th, 2017


 


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A Brilliant Novel in the Works Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9781849821650
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: MP Publishing - August 14th, 2012

Yuvi's life is an open book. He is smart and neurotic and witty and has lots of baggage and a lovely memory and fascinating parents and an ailing brother-in-law and a wife who tolerates his eccentricities. And his editor is hounding him for a novel which he can't seem to get off the ground. Welcome to the headspace of Yuvi as he grants us an intimate peek into his unique problematic self. I can't wait until Yuvi Zalkow comes to the bookstore to do a reading and I can ask him more about the Yuvi in his book.


Welcome to the Monkey House Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780385333504
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Press - September 8th, 1998

Nice twists and turns here. Inventive stories. Sometimes funny, usually provocative. --Matt


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Far from the Tree: Parents, Children, and the Search for Identity Cover Image
$21.50
ISBN: 9780743236720
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Scribner Book Company - October 1st, 2013

Solomon goes deep. In Far from the Tree he pursues understanding of how we conceptualize and perceive differences--particularly those labeled disabilities--between us. Then he gives us ten examples complete with fascinating stories of individuals who suffer and/or celebrate illness/identity. As with Noonday Demon, the prodigious research Solomon has done is supplemented sweetly by his own life; the bookmarks on these ten case studies are Solomon's own experience as a son and as a father. No reader will leave this book without having learned a ton.


Secrets in the Dark: A Life in Sermons Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780061146619
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: HarperOne - March 13th, 2007

This is a collection of sermons given by this powerful writer over a lifetime of incisive reflection and powerful feeling. Great for people within a religious tradition and also great for those who are not. His memoirs beginning with The Sacred Journey and continuing with Now & Then (the first book I purchased at Annie Bloom's...20 years ago!)and Telling Secrets were life-giving to me as I struggled with my inherited faith. --Matt


A Short History of Nearly Everything Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780767908184
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Broadway Books - September 14th, 2004

A speedy romp from the big bang until yesterday. With his usual story-telling charm, and as the learner and teacher he is, Bryson teaches us much about natural history. --Matt


Erased Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780980243673
Availability: Special Order
Published: Tin House Books - May 26th, 2009

I fell in love with Jim Krusoe's writing with Iceland, a quirky but compelling and occasionally charming story. Erased is even weirder, but possibly even more magical. Try imagining Cleveland the way he does, and your brain might hurt nicely for a while. --Matt


A General Theory of Love Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780375709227
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Books USA - January 9th, 2001

A nicely written and accessible introduction to a bit of brain physiology as well as recognition of the power of our limbic brains both inside us and between us. --Matt


The Botany of Desire: A Plant's-Eye View of the World Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780375760396
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Published: Random House Trade - May 28th, 2002

What a great exploration of history and natural history and folklore and biology and philosophy, all thru four plants: apple, tulip, marijuana, and potato. --Matt


All-American Poem Cover Image
By Matthew Dickman, Tony Hoagland (Introduction by)
$14.00
ISBN: 9780977639540
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: American Poetry Review - September 1st, 2008

We are lucky to live in the same town as Matthew Dickman. Talented poet and reader. Funny and insightful and sometimes tangenting strangely. I loved most of these poems. --Matt


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City of Thieves Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780452295292
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - April 1st, 2009

I loved the combination of sweetness and grimness and humor. A fast-moving story with great characters. --Matt


A Language Older Than Words Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781931498555
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Chelsea Green Publishing Company - March 1st, 2004

This is the first of a trilogy. Quite powerful and a bit too much for some of my friends. But wow it worked for me. --Matt


The Brothers K Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780553378498
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Press - June 1st, 1996

I read The River Why at a perfect point in my life. So, I was primed for this next novel of Duncan's. A great epic quality to these diverse and wonderful characters. And very funny too. --Matt


Saving Daylight Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781556592676
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Copper Canyon Press - September 1st, 2007

Such evocative poetry. --Matt


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Iceland Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9781564783141
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - June 1st, 2002

Among my favorite "quirky" books. --Matt


These essays/memoir/story range widely, but fit beautifully together. --Matt


A Prayer for Owen Meany Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062204097
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow & Company - April 3rd, 2012

Though I read this book years ago, it's one I think about on occasion as one of my all-time favorites. --Matt


The Things They Carried Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780767902892
Availability: Special Order
Published: Broadway - December 29th, 1998

What a fantastic writer, and what a fantastic book. There are enuf mediocre books about American's experience in Vietnam, this is not one of those. Such insight and depth and "beauty" of writing. This is well worth the time. --Matt


The God of Small Things Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812979657
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade - December 16th, 2008

I wish she would write more fiction, because this was beautiful and heart-breaking and strange, in such a finely-crafted way that I had to start it four times before I got into it... --Matt


The Highest Tide Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781582346298
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC - April 4th, 2006

I'm a sucker for coming-of-age novels and this is one of my favorite. Wonder at the natural world, marine biology, Rachel Carson, family and friend drama, media, a cult and more. Miles is one of my favorite literary characters. --Matt


Speak Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780312674397
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - May 10th, 2011

This is a standard-bearer for quality teen fiction. This 10th anniversary edition attests to that. The voice true and distinct. An excellent read for teens and adults alike. --Matt


I and Thou Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780684717258
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Free Press - February 1st, 1971

This has been a steady companion to me for several years. Poetic, mystical, some deep stuff in here. --Matt


The Road from Coorain Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780679724360
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Books USA - August 11th, 1990

A wonderful coming-of-age story by an aware and reflective author. --Matt


With Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781592641505
Availability: Special Order
Published: Toby Press - September 1st, 2009

This was my first Donald Harington novel. Since then, I've read three others and plan to read the other dozen. Funny, unpredictable storytelling, zany and clever narration...all of his books are set near the Ozark town of Stay More where the inhabitants are called Stay Morons. I don't know how to sell this book, but I loved it and I've got a lot of friends who loved it too. --Matt


Flash Burnout Cover Image
$7.99
ISBN: 9780547404936
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Graphia Books - October 4th, 2010

What fun. And what a fun window into Blake's life. Written by a Portlander, and with a distinct voice of a teen being forced to grow up quickly, and with plenty of fun and funniness; this book is well worth the read. --Matt


Feed Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780763622596
Availability: Special Order
Published: Candlewick - February 23rd, 2004

Set in a bizarre future with similarities to our own time, Feed forces us to ask good questions about how we live. And it has one of my favorite opening sentences. "We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck." --Matt


Ten Little Indians Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9780802141170
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Grove Press - March 17th, 2004

Alexie's knack for juxtaposing the ugly and the beautiful, or the raw and the refined, or the gritty and the triumphant is amazing. These nine (haha) stories travel some pretty fascinating territory. --Matt


Ordinary Wolves Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781571310477
Availability: Out of Print
Published: Milkweed Editions - August 1st, 2005

Set in the north of Alaska during a time of familial change for the narrator and a time of cultural change for the people who live in the nearest village, there's plenty to explore here. --Matt


What Narcissism Means to Me Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555973865
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - November 1st, 2003

These are clever poems, but not too clever. They are just right. Try "America" on page 7. --Matt


Citizen Vince Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780061577659
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - June 17th, 2008

Natural Grace: The Charm, Wonder, and Lessons of Pacific Northwest Animals and Plants Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780295982939
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University of Washington Press - January 1st, 2003

Each chapter gives a small window into the elements of the natural world that we live with here in the Northwest. Informative and fun to read. --Matt


Apathy and Other Small Victories Cover Image
$13.99
ISBN: 9780312352196
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Griffin - June 26th, 2007

This was hilarious. Full of great social commentary. Start on p.148 with "The idea of cubicles..." and read a couple of pages and see what you think. --Matt


The Echo Maker Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780312426439
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - August 21st, 2007

Part mystery, part relationship conundrums, part meditation on neurology, part lyrical description of Platte River beauty. --Matt


Magic for Beginners Cover Image
By Kelly Link, Shelley Jackson (Illustrator)
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ISBN: 9780156031875
Availability: Special Order
Published: Harvest Books - September 5th, 2006

Some of these are the weirdest stories I've read so far. But they sure worked their magic on me. --Matt


Unconditional Parenting: Moving from Rewards and Punishments to Love and Reason Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780743487481
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Atria Books - March 28th, 2006

Kohn has written much regarding education, it's nice to see his take on parenting. I've had lots of good discussions with parents based on Kohn's provocative ideas. --Matt