Welcome to the Raven Book Store

Posted on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Carrie Brownstein’s terrific memoir Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl is necessary reading for anyone who constructs their identity around the music they listen to. Regardless of your experience with Brownstein’s mighty band Sleater-Kinney, there’s much to delight in here, from immersive portraits of the early-90s Olympia rock scene, to poignant reveries about the pains of touring and the challenges of friendship and collaboration. Uniting all of the memorable scenes and anecdotes is Brownstein’s level-headed voice, plainly and beautifully capturing what animates her as an artist. In short: Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl ranks with Just Kids as an essential book for music lovers of any stripe or scene; Brownstein’s clear honesty and gift for storytelling illuminate what it means to feel passion for music. Recommended by Danny

Posted on Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Magda Szabo’s novel The Door­—available and popular in her native Hungary since 1987—is long overdue to arrive on our shores. The devastating novel tells the story of the fraught and mysterious friendship between the narrator, also an author named Magda, and her housekeeper Emerence. Emerence, who won’t let anyone past her front door, is a true force of nature. Her relationship with Magda sizzles and cracks as it leads to the book’s Greek-tragic ending. At times brutal, the book examines friendship, betrayal, and aging with honesty and clear eyes. Savor this book; let it break your heart. The Door took a long time to get here, but it was worth the wait. Recommended by Danny

Posted on Saturday, January 9, 2016

In my second childhood again (I was one of those little kids begging for a horse), I read My Friend Flicka by Mary O'Hara, which I'd always thought was a "little horse book for little girls." How wrong I was. Though it can happily be read by a child, it works on several levels. In the stunning backdrop of Wyoming grasslands, this story tells the tale of 12-year-old boy Ken McLaughlin, a rancher's son striving to win his father's approval. Finally old enough to have his own horse from the family herd, he goes against his father's wishes and chooses a yearling from questionable "loco" stock. A lovely book about loss, family, and an unbreakable bond between a boy and a horse. Recommended by Kelly.

Posted on Sunday, December 13, 2015

As you're looking for gifts, don't forget Betty Smith's groundbreaking novel, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. It chronicles the life of the Nolans, a desperately poor family in the tenements of turn-of-the-20th-century Brooklyn. Though only a child when the narrative begins, the novel's protagonist Francie does her best to make sense of the joys and hardships of her family, becoming a writer before the readers' eyes. Published in 1942, the novel is part coming-of-age story and part historical chronicle. Though occasionally sentimental, the novel's cumulative power is astonishing. Recommended by Kelly

Posted on Sunday, December 13, 2015

Here by Richard McGuire is a pretty stunning graphic novel that possesses a quiet power and poignancy. It follows the human dramas of a single corner of a single house over the course of millennia, from prehistory to the 1800s to the present day to the distant future. Whatever plot there is is associative and non-linear, but that doesn’t mean the reading experience is difficult. The book is poetic in its meaning-making and lovely in its illustrations; few comics are ever so thought-provoking. Recommended by Danny

Posted on Monday, November 9, 2015

STAFF REVIEW: Call off the dogs, luddites, the hunt is over. Richard Polt's THE TYPEWRITER REVOLUTION is the perfect book for those of us who have, for whatever reason, held on to our beloved typewriters and are actually still using them. It's also a perfect book for those who might want to dust off and repair a family heirloom. Not only does it have valuable information about how to keep your sweet old Royal, Underwood, etc in top form, but it also has loving testimonials from writers about their beloved machines. Okay, luddites stop reading, it also includes techie typewriter mimics. Beautiful photos and so many nerdy facts and even a satin bookmark that looks like a typewriter ribbon--this is nothing short of a nerdo-rama and would make a great gift! Recommended by Kelly

Posted on Saturday, October 31, 2015

Preoccupied with death since childhood, twenty-something Caitlin Doughty's one career goal was to work in a crematory. This memoir Smoke Gets in Your Eyes is not only a hilarious and poignant account of her realized hope, but also another of several recent books that take a long overdue look at expensive and often tragic results of America's paradoxical obsession with and fear of death. Recommended by Kelly

 

 

Gut
Posted on Monday, October 19, 2015

STAFF REVIEW: For soft science writing about the digestive system, I thought no one could equal Mary Roach's GULP, but Giulia Enders has done just that with GUT. Though not as roll-on-the-floor funny as Roach, Enders' science is much more detailed and, surprisingly, easier to understand than Roach's. With plenty of her own childhood digestive issues prompting her, Enders went into medical school and specialized in microbiology. GUT constitutes cutting edge research into the brain/gut connection and, more generally, into an as yet woefully un-researched part of the human body. Fascinating for anyone who has a gut of his or her own! – Recommended by Kelly

Posted on Sunday, October 4, 2015

Gold Fame Citrus is a frontrunner for my top books of 2015. A love story set amidst a catastrophic California drought, Claire Vaye Watkins’s debut novel is by turns wrenching, thrilling, gorgeously lyrical, and hilarious. It follows protagonists Luz and Ray as they navigate an American West overrun by sand and completely bereft of freshwater. The characters are meticulously drawn and the settings are vivid. Gold Fame Citrus has some of the sharpest and most compelling world-building this side of Swamplandia. From a sand dune the size of Denali to an abandoned midcentury Hollywood Mansion (complete with Hermes-scarves turned diapers), set piece after set piece is a perfectly imagined marriage of character and setting. This accomplished novel will haunt you—Claire Vaye Watkins has delivered a stunner. Recommended by Danny

Posted on Thursday, October 1, 2015

Pope Francis's encyclical letter ON CARE FOR OUR COMMON HOME: LAUDATO SI brought people to tears as a Mary Evelyn Tucker read from it at the annual Prairie Festival gathering last weekend at The Land Institute in Salina, Kansas. Because he has a substantial science background coupled with compassion and bravery, his call for humans to address the climate crisis and other ravages of our planet articulates what many other religious and political leaders have neglected to say. And his beautiful ecumenical call to love the planet's bounty will resonate with many, even atheists. Highly recommended by Kelly.

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