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Book Reviews

The Natural Way of Things

Charlotte Wood’s The Natural Way of Things is a blistering, intense, often violent page-turner depicting a colony of 10 women imprisoned inside an electric fence in the Australian Outback. Each woman was central to some kind of notorious sex scandal, and is punished by being drugged and sent to this desolate encampment. The Natural Way of Things, Wood’s first novel available in America, is the feminist One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest: a brutal allegory, a searing feminist critique, a scathing satire. Yes, The Natural Way of Things may keep you up at night.

The Natural Way of Things Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609453626
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Published: Europa Editions - June 28th, 2016

"A Handmaid's Tale for the 21st century" (Prism Magazine), Wood's dystopian tale about a group of young women held prisoner in the Australian desert is a prescient feminist fable for our times. As the Guardian writes, "contemporary feminism may have found its masterpiece of horror."

The Girls

Emma Cline's The Girls is a gripping, thrilling coming-of-age story with a lot to say about gender and growing up. Set in a heady 1969 Bay Area, it follows Evie as she falls in and out with a cult deeply reminiscent of the Manson Family. It's a page-turner with a brain, a meditative book with a strongly argued point that nevertheless manages to thrill and titillate like a good summer read should. Recommended by Danny

The Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812998603
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Published: Random House - June 14th, 2016

THE INSTANT BESTSELLER - An indelible portrait of girls, the women they become, and that moment in life when everything can go horribly wrong

The Bridge Ladies

Embedded in the title of Betsy Lerner's The Bridge Ladies is the book's extended metaphor: by taking bridge lessons so she can participate in her mother's long-running bridge club, Lerner is able to renew what has always been a fraught relationship with her mother. At turns poignant and hilarious, this memoir potrays an all-too-common drama between mothers and daughters, crossing a chasm of misunderstanding to reach a patch of common ground of insecurities and affection they didn't know they shared. Recommended by Kelly

The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062354464
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Published: Harper Wave - May 3rd, 2016

A fifty-year-old Bridge game provides an unexpected way to cross the generational divide between a daughter and her mother. Betsy Lerner takes us on a powerfully personal literary journey, where we learn a little about Bridge and a lot about life.

Milk and Honey

Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur, is poetry directly from the spine of heartbreak and healing. Four chapters recount emotions and reactions to life, loss, feminism and recovery. This is a book so lyrically aware, that once fully tasted and digested, I was left in complete satiation. Milk and Honey is superb, sexy, and functions as a spiritual guide to one’s own innate desires. Recommended by Jenna.

Milk and Honey Cover Image
ISBN: 9781449474256
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Published: Andrews McMeel Publishing - October 6th, 2015

#1 New York Times bestseller Milk and Honey is a collection of poetry and prose about survival. About the experience of violence, abuse, love, loss, and femininity.

Religion for Atheists

Alain de Botton's Religion for Atheists makes the argument that those who do not claim a faith of their own shouldn't "throw out the baby with the bathwater." Without religion, we would be bereft of some of the greatest music, books, architecture, and art. Also, he maintains that the church has had some pretty excellent ideas about organizing our lives and communities that we would do well to follow. Recommended by Kelly

Religion for Atheists: A Non-Believer's Guide to the Uses of Religion (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307476821
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Published: Vintage - January 8th, 2013

What if religions are neither all true nor all nonsense? Alain de Botton's bold and provocative book argues that we can benefit from the wisdom and power of religion--without having to believe in any of it.

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks

Lovers of Terry Tempest Williams' writing (and those who never read her before--these are usually the only two categories) rejoice. In time for the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, her new book The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks chronicles one of America's best-known and beloved nature writer's visits to twelve national parks and monuments.

The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America's National Parks Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374280093
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Published: Sarah Crichton Books - May 31st, 2016

America's national parks are breathing spaces in a world in which such spaces are steadily disappearing, which is why more than 300 million people visit the parks each year.

Desert Boys

Chris McCormick’s Desert Boys is a remarkable collection of linked short stories (really, we can call it a novel) set in the desert north of Los Angeles. McCormick’s sense of place and landscape is completely immersive, and his characters are equally well-formed. Through humor, cleverness, pathos, and a bit of formal experimentation, Desert Boys effectively explores questions of leaving, coming home, and the pull of the big city.

Desert Boys: Fiction Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250075505
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Published: Picador USA - May 3rd, 2016

Winner of the Stonewall Book Award/Barbara Gittings Literature Award

Finalist for the Binghamton University's John Gardner Fiction Book Award

Longlisted for the Chautauqua Prize

"Hilarious, Devious, Original, and Unforgettable."--Karen Russell


Olio by Tyehimba Jess is a totally stunning, formally inventive tour de force of experimental poetry. The book charts the story of the first post-emancipation generation of black musicians, an important and relevant story, no doubt. But the most impressive aspect of Olio is its formal inventiveness—from split lines, to möbius poems, to conjoined sonnets about conjoined twins, this book explodes with poetic pyrotechnics.

Olio Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781940696225
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Wave Books - April 5th, 2016

Part fact, part fiction, Tyehimba Jess's much anticipated second book weaves sonnet, song, and narrative to examine the lives of mostly unrecorded African American performers directly before and after the Civil War up to World War I. Olio is an effort to understand how they met, resisted, complicated, co-opted, and sometimes defeated attempts to minstrelize them.

And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East

NBC war correspondent, Richard Engel, recalls 20 years of experience and history of the Middle East and North Africa. From the Arab Spring to the rise of major terrorist cells, he retells his life story as a writer, getting kidnapped, and coming home. He addresses questions such as how ISIS formed, why its numbers continue to grow, and whether or not the United States is at fault.

And Then All Hell Broke Loose: Two Decades in the Middle East Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781451635119
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Simon & Schuster - February 9th, 2016


"Gripping astute, fast-paced overview... Engel] gives us sharp, unnerving snapshots." --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

Dog Songs

Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver, is a touching collection of poems meant for the soul who thinks their coffee goes best with dog fur and their pillows best shared with wet noses. As an overly obsessed dog person, I loved this book. It is the ultimate, eloquently written, collection of dog commentary, or as I like to call it, 'Dogemmtary.' Dog lovers across the globe can relate to such a set of poems. Beautiful and true, painful and worth it. There is no beauty or misery quite like watching your dog get old. Recommended by Jenna.

Dog Songs: Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143125839
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Published: Penguin Books - September 29th, 2015

"The popularity of Dog Songs] feels as inevitable and welcome as a wagging tail upon homecoming." --The Boston Globe


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