Welcome to the Raven Book Store

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2016

Dan Flores in Coyote America: A Natural & Supernatural History has given us an “illuminating biography of an extraordinary animal.” The coyote has been depicted both in cartoons and as a deity in Native American mythology. Until we began ranching and herding on the plains, they lived alongside humans. After complaints by ranchers, the US. government started eradicating wolves, and when coyotes replaced them, they became the next target. Extremely adaptable, they’ve expanded their range from the Southwest to Alaska and Maine, including Central Park in NYC. I’m an admirer of coyotes, and this book gives me a better understanding of why. They live out at my farm, I’ve run with them in Memphis Tennessee, and so far I’m okay. I’m not foolish, but I admire their adaptability and their grace. A helpful book for understanding the ongoing conflict in the US about their survival. I hope you come out on the side of co-existence. Recommended by Julie

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2016

LaRose by Louise Erdrich is terrific, and it reminded me all over again why I adore Erdich so much. The book starts with a tragic accident which forces a family to consider a devastating yet traditional apology (to give too much of the plot away will decrease your ability to slide entirely into Erdrich’s well-crafted universe). Then, LaRose simmers and lets you develop great affection for all of its characters before Erdrich throws them into the book’s closing act of revenge. Set in the same reservation and small town as The Round House (also fantastic), it’s less hardboiled tribal law thriller and more Dickensian big-hearted family epic. Indeed, Erdrich winks at A Tale of Two Cities when one character who has made an ultimate sacrifice thinks “it was a far better thing” during the novel’s well-earned Big Ending. This is a substantial novel, an important novel, and a darn near unforgettable one. Recommended by Danny

Posted on Monday, April 25, 2016

Harlan Coben, a talented writer of mysteries for adults, whose main character is Myron Bolitar, has written a trio of young adult books, starring Mickey Bolitar, Myron’s nephew. The same intense pace is there, and Mickey has the gift of basketball, just like his uncle. (Enjoy those passages you basketball fans!) Problems seem to follow the Bolitar family, and, in the second novel, Mickey gets involved in rescuing some threatened teens, while pursuing a clue that has something to do with his dead father. You have to read these books. I was unable to put all three down until I’d finished each one. Enjoy. Recommended by Julie.

Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2016

STAFF REVIEW: Negroland, the memoir by journalist Margo Jefferson, adds another stunning voice to the dialogue about race. Raised in the 50s and 60s in Chicago's Hyde Park by affluent and ambitious parents, Jefferson grows up with the compounded complexity not only of being black and female in a white and male-dominated society with low expectations of her, but also of being a token "credit to her race" urged to excel and warned to guard her association with the majority of African Americans who don't share her parents' ideals for themselves and for her. Understandably, the years of scrutiny and disassociation, both societal and self-imposed, take an immeasurable toll. It's little wonder that she longs to, as her mother says, "forget I'm a Negro...It wasn't a disavowal; it was her claim to a free space....how you feel when your rights in America are self-evident, not be be argued, justified, or brooded on every day." Highly recommended by Kelly

Posted on Thursday, March 10, 2016

STAFF REVIEW: Widely recognized as the nation's first environmental historian, KU professor emeritus of history, Don Worster, has just released his latest book: Shrinking the Earth: The Rise and Decline of American Abundance (Oxford University Press). Each chapter charts the history of North Americans' slow realization of the limits of their continent's natural resources. Though such a book could naturally devolve into another drumbeat of doom, Worster's text instead integrates the stories of brave, hopeful people who, as early as the mid-1900's "began taking their country's ecological shrinkage seriously and launched an ambitious and successful movement to conserve natural resources, reduce their waste, and preserve natural beauty." Where we go from here depends on how we we follow their examples. Recommended by Kelly

Posted on Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Bob Mehr’s Trouble Boys is one of the best rock n’ roll books I’ve ever read. Certainly a book about a band as volatile, destructive, and self-destructive as The Replacements makes for vicarious fun reading. But rock critic Mehr refuses to make Trouble Boys a simple catalog of smashed guitars and shattered hotel rooms. Mehr exposes the darkness and insecurities underlying the tragic story of The Replacements, a band that could’ve made it but never did. Even if you don’t like The Replacements (yet), there’s much to enjoy here for anyone who cares about rock music, writing, or the psychology of making art. Recommended by Danny

Posted on Thursday, February 18, 2016

Nature's God: the Heretical Origins of the American Republic offers a lucid description of the decidedly irreligious philosophies of the founders, Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams, among others. In this campaign season, I found it refreshing to read something that so thoroughly incinerates the fundamentalist cudgel that the country was founded on Christian (read: bigoted) principles. Recommended by Kelly

Posted on Thursday, February 18, 2016

STAFF REVIEW: Nature's God: the Heretical Origins of the American Republic offers a lucid description of the decidedly irreligious philosophies of the founders, Franklin, Jefferson, and Adams, among others. In this campaign season, I found it refreshing to read something that so thoroughly incinerates the fundamentalist cudgel that the country was founded on Christian (read: bigoted) principles. Recommended by Kelly

Posted on Thursday, February 11, 2016

Not surprisingly, Our Souls at Night, Kent Haruf's last before he passed away in 2014, is a quiet, beautiful book. The premise: 70-year-old widow Addie asks her widower neighbor, Louis, who lives two doors down, to come to her house each night and sleep with her–not for sex, but for pillow talk and as an antidote to crushing loneliness. Their unconventional agreement births not only town gossip but also a love and trust neither has before experienced. Recommended by Kelly

Posted on Thursday, February 11, 2016

Elizabeth Strout’s My Name Is Lucy Barton is an brisk, intimate, and searing exploration of the troubled relationship between the title character and her mother. Lucy is in the hospital for many weeks with a mysterious illness when her estranged mother appears out of nowhere. Through their hospital bedside conversations, they make sense of their shared past, all while keeping troubling secrets buried. It’s a brilliant take on the silences of families and the process of making sense out of a difficult past. Strout masterfully foils both women against each other, but both are so well drawn as to be very sympathetic despite their marked differences. A memorable read from a gifted author. Recommended by Danny

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