Mark's Picks

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The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois: An Oprah's Book Club Novel Cover Image
$23.19
ISBN: 9780062942937
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Published: Harper - August 24th, 2021

An epic of the American identity as much as the single American family at its center, this debut novel is as ambitious as it is remarkable. Both the book’s titular figure and its centuries-spanning pages impel us to remember: the souls and stories and traumas of black and indigenous folk are those of our country itself.


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Where Tomorrows Aren't Promised: A Memoir of Survival and Hope Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781982160593
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Published: Gallery Books - September 14th, 2021

Instead of focusing on his NBA career, Carmelo tells the tale of everything that would lead him to draft day and the success that followed. It’s a touching story of family and friendship and a young man’s search for meaning—and it made me love Melo even more than I already did. Plus, D. Watkins with the assist doesn't hurt one damn bit.


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On Freedom: Four Songs of Care and Constraint Cover Image
$21.60
ISBN: 9781644450628
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Published: Graywolf Press - September 7th, 2021

Maggie Nelson’s writing—from the personal to the political to the poetic—always manages to perform brilliant acts of synthesis. Sometimes an array of emotions come together, at others, rhetorical variations crash into a larger whole. Regardless, the breadth of her knowledge and expert tact help churn together consensus thought and her own intellectual explorations to form something that wasn’t there before. These thoughts on freedom, and how much that word and idea and feeling can move before we ever have a chance to find its true shape, are another example of Nelson’s undeniable prowess and a concentrated description of our most raggedly human aspects.


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Three Novels: Kingdom Cons, Signs Preceding the End of the World, the Transmigration of Bodies Cover Image
By Yuri Herrera, Lisa Dillman (Translator)
$25.95
ISBN: 9781913505240
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Published: And Other Stories - September 14th, 2021

Herrera’s three short, stunning novels collected and wrapped in one beautiful hardcover volume is the kind of book you just have to have on your shelf. His magisterial writing about Mexico and the American border exhibits a transcendent care for his characters and an undeniable mastery of craft.


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The Glassy, Burning Floor of Hell Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781566896115
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Published: Coffee House Press - August 3rd, 2021

Evenson is one of my favorite short fiction writers, and a new collection always guarantees another dozen or two blasts of his harrowing creativity. Picture H.P. Lovecraft with better emotional aim, but the same full quiver of penetrating disquiet.


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Breaking the Social Media Prism: How to Make Our Platforms Less Polarizing Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9780691203423
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Published: Princeton University Press - April 6th, 2021

Taking into account both his own research into social media and similar studies by others, Bail explains how our general perception of the online world doesn't quite fit into how the gears truly turn. He provides no silver bullet for how to fix what ails our discourse, but by examining the full weight of online extremism and outlining how to do some social media self-reflection, he shows how we might wrest back control from those on the right and left that continually muddy the waters.


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The Storm Is Upon Us: How QAnon Became a Movement, Cult, and Conspiracy Theory of Everything Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781612199290
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Published: Melville House - June 22nd, 2021

At this point the big Q is an online version of the big C. Almost everyone knows someone who’s been affected in some way, shape, or form—and this book just so happens to be a superb crash course in Qanon’s ways, shapes, and forms. How did it start? Why does it persist? Where is it headed? Time to do your own research . . .


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The Thousand Crimes of Ming Tsu Cover Image
By Tom Lin
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316542159
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Published: Little, Brown and Company - June 1st, 2021

I'm going to get a little interdisciplinary here and describe this one as a KILL BILL-type story with a DEADWOOD vibe that moves with the momentum of a train Butch and Sundance might have robbed. Throw in a solemn exploration of the souls of both men and nations, and you’ve got yourself a damn fine debut novel.


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On Juneteenth Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781631498831
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Published: Liveright - May 4th, 2021

Using her personal history in Texas alongside her scholarly acumen, Gordon-Reed examines both the state and our nation alike with a practiced and pointed mien. These essays describe what creates our shifting concept of America, but insist we first and foremost remember what that idea means to a people united in their former bondage.


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Empire of Pain: The Secret History of the Sackler Dynasty Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780385545686
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Published: Doubleday - April 13th, 2021

Few authors can make a true tale cook quite like PRK, and with a story like the Sackler Family’s, things are all the more enthralling. Peel back the museum dedications and artistic philanthropy, and you’ll find a family tree rotting from the inside out by dint of a truly American mixture of avarice and cunning.


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Twice Alive Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780811230292
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Published: New Directions - May 4th, 2021

Anyone who says they don’t like poetry probably hasn’t read Forrest Gander, whose pristine verse always unlocks some old trunk inside me I thought I’d lost the key to. His starting point here is the lichen, which he explains, but what’s impossible to explain is how far and wide he'll move your spirit from that lovely little natural launchpad.


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The Quiet Boy Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316505444
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Published: Mulholland Books - May 18th, 2021

This is probably as close as Ben Winters will ever come to writing a Grisham novel, and it’s a ton of fun to wade through such litigious waters with him. Winters has a gift for crossing up a reader’s expectations while a deeper theme churns in the background, and his latest is another example of why I like his crime fiction so damn much.


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The Final Revival of Opal & Nev Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982140168
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Published: 37 Ink - March 30th, 2021

What Seth said!


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The Man Who Lived Underground: A Novel Cover Image
By Richard Wright, Malcolm Wright (Afterword by)
$22.95
ISBN: 9781598536768
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Published: Library of America - April 20th, 2021

Often, the idea of a posthumous novel by a literary luminary makes me queasy, but just a few pages into this unreleased marvel, my stomach stopped rumbling. Then—of course—Wright turned it into a knot, as only he can. His is an essential American voice, and I am grateful to hear it once again.


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Life for Sale (Vintage International) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525565147
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Published: Vintage - April 7th, 2020

Look, if Hanio Yamada is cool with his failed suicide attempt, we should be too right? As funny and slapstick and swinging as it may be, this book's grin flashes to a scowl often enough to make sure you don't miss its deadly serious point.


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A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781984856029
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Published: Random House - January 12th, 2021

This right here is the most enjoyable, portable, and fulfilling college course you’re likely to find at its cover price. Saunders' short fiction chops are unassailable, and letting him guide you along the museum of Russian masters of the form provides spectacular insight into life, art, meaning, and above all, how to read well.


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God-Level Knowledge Darts: Life Lessons from the Bronx Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525512332
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Published: Random House - September 22nd, 2020

THE BRAND IS STRONG. I'll be honest I was a little skeptical that Desus and the Kid could make the transition to the written word, but it turns out that I had nothing at all to worry about. I was laughing out loud from page one, and can't recommend this highly enough for fans of the world's most dangerous podcast and the number one show in late night.


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Duplex: A Novel Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781555976910
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Published: Graywolf Press - October 7th, 2014

Kahtryn Davis constantly pushes ideas about plot and place outward into a book’s aura, where they float and shift around an eternal humanity at the heart of her fiction. If I could explain exactly why Duplex works so well, it would likely spoil its ineffable magic.


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The Silence: A Novel Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781982164553
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Published: Scribner - October 20th, 2020

The front cover of THE SILENCE says that it's a novel, but really it's not. It's a short story dressed up like a novel, but who really cares? It's brilliant. And prescient. And of-the-now too. It's a story of connection and disconnection, and how close the two have become. It's another 100 pages or so inside the DeLillo-verse, and we likely don't have many of those left, so please, cherish them like I do.


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Tyll: A Novel Cover Image
By Daniel Kehlmann, Ross Benjamin (Translated by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525562726
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Published: Vintage - March 9th, 2021

Can you describe a book set during the Thirty Years' War as a delight? Well hell, I'm gonna, because this book's tone and tenor somehow make enjoyable a series of dark vignettes that twist politics, religion, fear, and epistemology around the origin story of one of the world's legendary tricksters. Bloody fun, this one.


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Trick Mirror: Reflections on Self-Delusion Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780525510567
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Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - July 14th, 2020

From title to design to subject matter to style, everything about this collection echoes and undulates and folds back in on itself in a spectacular way. For Tolentino, personal insight springs from larger issues just as often as a private matter explodes into a deft deconstruction of the bigger point.


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Fat City Cover Image
By Leonard Gardner, Denis Johnson (Introduction by)
$15.95
ISBN: 9781590178928
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Published: NYRB Classics - September 8th, 2015

A devastating novel about guys who get beat up in the ring, and how life beats all of us up outside of it. Throw some Steinbeck and The Fight and Jesus' Son in a blender and drink it all down. You might not feel good after, but it'll feed your soul all the same.


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Say Nothing: A True Story of Murder and Memory in Northern Ireland Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780307279286
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Published: Anchor - February 25th, 2020

The man who is the "Michael' in "Carmichael's" told me this one was good and man is he right! Nothing about this story is easy on the soul, but Keefe's masterful account of "The Troubles" is worth every minute spent between the first and last pages of this essential book, which is the best one I've read so far in 2019.


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Go Ahead in the Rain: Notes to a Tribe Called Quest (American Music) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781477316481
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Published: University of Texas Press - February 1st, 2019

If you're a Tribe fan this one is easy: stop reading this right now and buy the damn book. For the rest of you, know that Abdurraqib's writing here is personal and poignant, as he weaves a sublime exegesis of one of the most important rap groups of all time.


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Savage Gods Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781937512859
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Published: Two Dollar Radio - September 17th, 2019

The supremely creative Mr. Kingsnorth (see: The Wake) offers an ontological exploration of what writing really is, and what it very much isn't. His personal prism helps us ponder both the freedom and stricture that come when we attempt to turn human language into the written word.


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SprawlBall: A Visual Tour of the New Era of the NBA Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780358329756
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Published: Mariner Books - October 13th, 2020

Goldsberry is one of the smartest guys talking NBA hoops, and this book ties together all of what makes his writing great: the data, the stats, the trademark graphics—and just the right amount of acid wit. He explains how the NBA arrived at the three-chucking, five-out, wide-open state that it's in right now, and will make you a smarter fan, page after vivid page.


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Knots: Stories Cover Image
By Gunnhild Øyehaug, Kari Dickson (Translated by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781250182449
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Published: Picador - July 10th, 2018

A fantastic collection of short stories written the way they oughta be: brief, powerful, and engaging. That, and what I assume is a very Norwegian sense of humor. Fans of Lydia Davis and Joy Williams, this book is for you!


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Oreo Cover Image
By Fran Ross, Danzy Senna (Introduction by), Harryette Mullen (Afterword by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780811223225
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Published: New Directions - July 7th, 2015

A loose retelling of the tale of Theseus, OREO is an overlooked classic now back in print after 40 years. It is a wickedly funny look at race, culture, and betweenness—even if it's sometimes hard to tell what truly lay on either side.


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