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    Staff Picks

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Richard

Extraordinary Popular Delusions
Charles Mackay
$6.95

This classic survey of crowd psychology offers an illuminating and entertaining look at three grand-scale swindles. Originally published in England in 1841, its remarkable tales of human folly reveal that the hysteria of the Wall Street Crash of 1929 and the junk-bonds frenzy of the 1980s were far from uniquely twentieth-century phenomena.
The first of the financial scandals discussed, "The Mississippi Scheme," concerns a disastrous eighteenth-century plan for the commercial exploitation of the Mississippi valley, where investors were lured by Louisiana's repute as a region of gold and silver mountains. During the same era, thousands of English investors were ruined by "The South-Sea Bubble," a stock exchange based on British trade with the islands of the South Seas and South America. The third episode involves Holland's seventeenth-century "Tulipomania," when people went into debt collecting tulip bulbs — until a sudden depreciation in the bulbs' value rendered them worthless (except as flowers).
Fired by greed and fed by naiveté,  these historic investment strategies gone awry retain an irrefutable relevance for modern times. Extraordinary Popular Delusions is essential and enthralling reading for investors as well as students of history, psychology, and human nature.

 

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Bobby

Someone Knows My Name
Lawrence Hill
$15.95

Kidnapped from Africa as a child, Aminata Diallo is enslaved in South Carolina but escapes during the chaos of the Revolutionary War. In Manhattan she becomes a scribe for the British, recording the names of blacks who have served the King and earned their freedom in Nova Scotia. But the hardship and prejudice of the new colony prompt her to follow her heart back to Africa, then on to London, where she bears witness to the injustices of slavery and its toll on her life and a whole people. It is a story that no listener, and no reader, will ever forget. Reading group guide included.

 

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AnnaLee

Housekeeping
Marilynne Robinson
$16.00

A modern classic, Housekeeping is the story of Ruth and her younger sister, Lucille, who grow up haphazardly, first under the care of their competent grandmother, then of two comically bumbling great-aunts, and finally of Sylvie, their eccentric and remote aunt. The family house is in the small Far West town of Fingerbone set on a glacial lake, the same lake where their grandfather died in a spectacular train wreck, and their mother drove off a cliff to her death. It is a town "chastened by an outsized landscape and extravagant weather, and chastened again by an awareness that the whole of human history had occurred elsewhere." Ruth and Lucille's struggle toward adulthood beautifully illuminates the price of loss and survival, and the dangerous and deep undertow of transience.

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Caitlin

Bitterblue
Kristin Cashore
$10.99

When Queen Bitterblue took the throne of Monsea, she was a child, and her advisers ran the kngdom for her. Now she is beginning to question their decisions, especially how they handle the legacy of her father Leck, who who ruled through his Grace—a special talent for mind-altering—and his taste for darkness and violence. Bitterblue needs to know Monsea’s past to lead it into the future, so she begins exploring the city sreets at night, disguised and alone. As she does, she meets two thieves, who hold a key to the truth of Leck's reign. And one of them, with a Grace that he hasn't yet identified, holds a key to her heart.

Bitterblue is unforgettable—a gateway to the Graceling Realm that braids together magic, memory, and romance.

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Curtis

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Jonathan Safran Foer
$14.95

Jonathan Safran Foer emerged as one of the most original writers of his generation with his best-selling debut novel, Everything Is Illuminated. Now, with humor, tenderness, and awe, he confronts the traumas of our recent history.

 

 

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Emily

American Gods
Neil Gaiman
$19.95

First published in 2001, American Gods became an instant classic, lauded for its brilliant synthesis of “mystery, satire, sex, horror, and poetic prose” (Washington Post) and as a modern phantasmagoria that “distills the essence of America” (Seattle Post-Intelligencer). It is the story of Shadow—released from prison just days after his wife and best friend are killed in an accident—who gets recruited to be bodyguard, driver, and errand boy for the enigmatic trickster, Mr. Wednesday. So begins Shadow’s dark and strange road trip, one that introduces him to a host of eccentric characters whose fates are mysteriously intertwined with his own. For, beneath the placid surface of everyday life, a storm is brewing—an epic war for the very soul of America—and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.

 

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Erin

Like Life
Lorrie Moore
$14.00

In Like Life’s eight exquisite stories, Lorrie Moore’s characters stumble through their daily existence. These men and women, unsettled and adrift and often frightened, can’t quite understand how they arrived at their present situations. Harry has been reworking a play for years in his apartment near Times Square in New York. Jane is biding her time at a cheese shop in a Midwest mall. Dennis, unhappily divorced, buries himself in self-help books about healthful food and healthy relationships. One prefers to speak on the phone rather than face his friends, another lets the answering machine do all the talking. But whether rejected, afraid to commit, bored, disillusioned or just misunderstood, even the most hard-bitten are not without some abiding trust in love.

 

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Fiona

Moon Girl and Devil Dinosaur
Amy Reeder
$17.99

LUNELLA LAFAYETTE is a preteen super genius who wants to change the world-but learned the hard way that it takes MORE than just big brains. Fearful of the monstrous INHUMAN genes inside her, life is turned upside down when a savage, red-scaled tyrant is teleported from prehistoric past to a far-flung future we call TODAY. The pair are many things, and together the most amazing Marvel Team-Up.

 

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Jesse

Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk
$25.00

The first rule about fight club is you don't talk about fight club.

In his debut novel, Chuck Palahniuk showed himself to be his generation's most visionary satirist. Fight Club's estranged narrator leaves his lackluster job when he comes under the thrall of Tyler Durden, an enigmatic young man who holds secret boxing matches in the basement of bars. There two men fight "as long as they have to." A gloriously original work that exposes what is at the core of our modern world.

 

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Kathy

Freedom
Jaycee Dugard
$25.00

In the follow-up to her #1 bestselling memoir, A Stolen Life, Jaycee Dugard tells the story of her first experiences after years in captivity: the joys that accompanied her newfound freedom and the challenges of adjusting to life on her own.

When Jaycee Dugard was eleven years old, she was abducted from a school bus stop within sight of her home in South Lake Tahoe, California. She was missing for more than eighteen years, held captive by Philip and Nancy Garrido, and gave birth to two daughters during her imprisonment.

A Stolen Life, which sold nearly two million copies, told the story of Jaycee’s life from her abduction in 1991 through her reappearance in 2009. Freedom: My Book of Firsts is about everything that happened next.

 

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Keith

Purity
Jonathan Franzen
$17.00

Young Pip Tyler doesn’t know who she is. She knows that her real name is Purity, that she’s saddled with $130,000 in student debt, that she's squatting with anarchists in Oakland, and that her relationship with her mother―her only family―is hazardous. But she doesn't have a clue who her father is, why her mother chose to live as a recluse with an invented name, or how she’ll ever have a normal life. It takes a seemingly chance encounter with two visitors from Germany to send Pip―and the reader―on a journey of discovery that ranges from Stasi-era East Berlin to a rainforest in Bolivia; and from the ancient war between the sexes to the present-day bewilderments of the Internet. Purity is a grand story of youthful idealism, extreme fidelity, and murder―the most daring and penetrating book yet by one of the major writers of our time.

 

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Kerry

Evening Class
Maeve Binchy
$7.99

It was the quiet ones you had to watch. That's where the real passion was lurking.

They came together at Mountainview College, a down-at-the-heels secondary school on the seamy side of Dublin, to take a course in Italian. It was Latin teacher Aidan Dunne's last chance to revive a failing marriage and a dead-end career. But Aidan's dream was headed for disaster until the mysterious Signora appeared, transforming a shared passion for Italy into a life-altering adventure for them all...bank clerk Bill and his dizzy fiance Lizzie: a couple headed for trouble...Kathy, a hardworking innocent propelled into adulthood in a shocking moment of truth...Connie, the gorgeous rich lady with a scandal ready to explode...glowering Lou, who joined the class as a cover for crime. And Signora, whose passionate past remained a secret as she changed all their lives forever....

From the New York Times bestselling author of This Year It Will Be Different, The Glass Lake, and Circle of Friends, comes a novel filled with Maeve Binchy's signature warmth, wit, and sheer storytelling genius--a spellbinding tale of men and women whose quiet lives hide the most unexpected things...


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Lauren

Fire
Kristin Cashore
$21.99

She is the last of her kind...

It is not a peaceful time in the Dells. In King City, the young King Nash is clinging to the throne, while rebel lords in the north and south build armies to unseat him. War is coming. And the mountains and forest are filled with spies and thieves. This is where Fire lives, a girl whose beauty is impossibly irresistible and who can control the minds of everyone around her.

Exquisitely romantic, this companion to the highly praisedGraceling has an entirely new cast of characters, save for one person who plays a pivotal role in both books. You don't need to have read Graceling to love Fire. But if you haven't, you'll be dying to read it next.

 

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Loren

Princess Bride
William Goldman
$8.95

Anyone who lived through the 1980s may find it impossible—inconceivable, even—to equate The Princess Bride with anything other than the sweet, celluloid romance of Westley and Buttercup, but the film is only a fraction of the ingenious storytelling you'll find in these pages. Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that's home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.”


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Mallory

Graceling
Kristin Cashore
$9.99

Kristin Cashore’s best-selling, award-winning fantasy Graceling tells the story of the vulnerable yet strong Katsa, a smart, beautiful teenager who lives in a world where selected people are given a Grace, a special talent that can be anything from dancing to swimming. Katsa’s is killing. As the king’s niece, she is forced to use her extreme skills as his thug. Along the way, Katsa must learn to decipher the true nature of her Grace . . . and how to put it to good use. A thrilling, action-packed fantasy adventure (and steamy romance!) that will resonate deeply with adolescents trying to find their way in the world.

 

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Melissa

Everybody Hurts
Leslie Simon
$16.95

What is emo? For starters it's a form of melodic, confessional, or EMOtional punk rock. But emo is more than a genre of music–it's the defining counterculture movement of the '00s. EVERYBODY HURTS is a reference book for emo, tracing its angsty roots all the way from Shakespeare to Holden Caufield to today's most popular bands.

There's nothing new about that perfect chocolate and peanut butter combination––teenagers and angst. What is new is that emo is the first cultural movement born on the internet. With the development of early social networking sites like Make Out Club (whose mission is to unite "like–minded nerds, loners, indie rockers, record collectors, video gamers, hardcore kids, and artists through friendship, music, and sometimes even love") outcast teens had a place to find each other and share their pain, their opinions, and above all, their music–which wasn't available for sale at the local record store.

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Rafi

Hyperbole and a Half
Allie Brosch
$19.99

“Funny and smart as hell” (Bill Gates), Allie Brosh’s Hyperbole and a Half showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations. Every time Allie Brosh posts something new on her hugely popular blog Hyperbole and a Half the internet rejoices.

This full-color, beautifully illustrated edition features more than fifty percent new content, with ten never-before-seen essays and one wholly revised and expanded piece as well as classics from the website like, “The God of Cake,” “Dogs Don’t Understand Basic Concepts Like Moving,” and her astonishing, “Adventures in Depression,” and “Depression Part Two,” which have been hailed as some of the most insightful meditations on the disease ever written.

Brosh’s debut marks the launch of a major new American humorist who will surely make even the biggest scrooge or snob laugh. We dare you not to.

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