Sam's Picks

Sam has been selling books for over 30 years, working at local indies Pages & Pages and Hawley-Cooke before coming to Carmichael's in 2014, where she is the Trainer and Floor Manager of the Frankfort Avenue location. Often an unoffical spokesperson for the store, she is a frequent guest on the literary podcast The Perks of Being a Book Lover, she appeared in the documentary "Bookstour" and interviewed author Leesa Cross-Smith for A Mighty Blaze's "Authors Love Bookstores".

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7ZnnD43LYQ

https://soundcloud.com/wfmp-forward-radio/perks-ep-91-bookseller-sam-miller-summertime-and-the-reading-is-easy-5-26-21

https://soundcloud.com/wfmp-forward-radio/perks-ep-67-sam-miller-buy-books-before-the-bedlam-11-4-20

https://soundcloud.com/wfmp-forward-radio/perks-ep-49-sam-miller-reading-for-summer-sun-and-solidarity-6-10-20

https://soundcloud.com/wfmp-forward-radio/perks-ep-14-sam-miller-backlist-party-in-the-bookstore-9-4-19

https://www.thebookstourfilm.com/

Sam is also one of the featured booksellers in Reading is Magic: A Book Log for Families (9781419741401) published by Abrams Image.

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The Three Billy Goats Gruff By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Mac Barnett, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9781338673845
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Orchard Books - October 18th, 2022

I am so happy that my favorite picture book dynamic duo is applying their signature wit and darkness to classic fairy tales. Their retelling of the Three Billy Goats Gruff is gross and fun, a perfect read aloud, which secures their place in this reader's mind as the inheritors of the twisted tale mantle.


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We All Want Impossible Things: A Novel By Catherine Newman Cover Image
$25.99
ISBN: 9780063230897
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Harper - November 8th, 2022

I loved, loved, loved this debut novel by one of my favorite magazine writers (Newman is the advice columnist for Real Simple). A life affirming story about being present at the end for a beloved friend, this book will make you laugh as often as cry and you'll beg to be adopted by this big, messy found family. It also has my favorite cover of the year- great before you read, and perfect after.


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Galatea: A Short Story By Madeline Miller Cover Image
$9.60
ISBN: 9780063280519
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Ecco - November 8th, 2022

Booktok fans rejoice-there is new Madeline Miller on the horizon! It's just a short story, sadly, but so perfectly done it could function as a master class in the form.  Reading like a cross between a myth and an arty reworking of Charlotte Perkins-Gilman's classic "The Yellow Wallpaper" shot through a #metoo lens, it tells the story of a sculptor, Pygmalion, who wills one of his statues to life and then, at least in Ovid's retelling in The Metamorphoses, falls in love with her. (If it sounds familiar it's the inspiration for "My Fair Lady", among many other works.) In Miller's retelling Galatea, far from the meek love the sculptor imagined, is a force to be reckoned with making this one perfect for the many readers enjoying the current 'myths reworked for our times' trend. 


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This Story Is Not About a Kitten By Randall de Sève, Carson Ellis (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Randall de Sève, Carson Ellis (Illustrator)
$18.99
ISBN: 9780593374535
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Random House Studio - October 4th, 2022

The title says it all, it's not that the stray kitten gets rescued, it's that the neighbors all come together to do it and then form a bond that dismantles the barriers that had been keeping them apart. This warmhearted picture book, with its lively repeating and predictive text, makes for terrific balm on your next 'people are terrible' day.


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Foster By Claire Keegan Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802160140
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Grove Press - November 1st, 2022

Originally published in The New Yorker in 2010, this expanded version is now being published as a standalone in the US. A seemingly simple story about a young girl in 1980's Ireland who goes to stay with relatives while her overwhelmed mother is preparing to have yet another baby, this one staggers with its profundity.  As always with Keegan it's about the negative space with the narrative power coming from what is left unsaid.


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Marmee: A Novel By Sarah Miller Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9780063041875
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: William Morrow - October 25th, 2022

Continuing her trend of writting about the hidden lives of literary moms (her last novel Caroline was about Ma Ingalls) Miller tells the story of Margaret March, better known to millions of readers as Marmee in "Little Women". Her loneliness and struggles to keep the family afloat while her husband is away are vividly portrayed, this time from the other side. Also, questions that true blue fans may have long wondered about-how did the Marches lose their fortune? How could they afford to keep Hannah, their maid? -are answered to great nostalgic satisfaction. A must for the Little Women fan in your life!


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Inciting Joy: Essays By Ross Gay Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781643753041
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Algonquin Books - October 25th, 2022

No one writes (or is it overwrites?) like Ross Gay, with his giddy use of footnotes and abandon with language.  This essay collection sprawls but also rigorously addresses the question of whether joy is a worthy topic for a grown (black) man to write a book about. In listing his 12 incitements, which run the gamut from pickup basketball to cover songs, the reader is, of course, convinced that not only is joy a worthy topic, in 2022 it's an essential one.


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The Hero of This Book: A Novel By Elizabeth McCracken Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780062971272
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Published: Ecco - October 4th, 2022

This book is written by a female novelist on a trip to London who is mourning the death of her beloved idiosyncratic mother. The subject of this book is a female novelist on a trip to London who is mourning the death of her beloved idiosyncratic mother. Novel or memoir? When the reader is in the capable hands of Elizabeth McCracken my best advice:don't get caught up in nailing it down, instead enjoy the narrative formbending verve. My dad always says a person's best book is the one they write about their mom, this poignant gem could prove his case.


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Farmhouse By Sophie Blackall Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316528948
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - September 13th, 2022

When Caldecott Award winner Sophie Blackall discovered an abandoned farmhouse on her rural property she decided to honor it in her latest picture book by imagining its history. In addition to researching the family who lived there for generations, she physically used pieces of the house including its wallpaper and other scraps she salvaged. The result is a warm and loving look at 'the good old days' perfect for for fans of vintage or Virginia Lee Burton and her Folly Cove artists.


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Ducks: Two Years in the Oil Sands By Kate Beaton Cover Image
$39.95
ISBN: 9781770462892
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Drawn and Quarterly - September 13th, 2022

A "Harlan County USA" for the 21st century, (i.e. a woman made narrative that shines a light on how rapey the mining industry is in every sense of that verb) this graphic memoir tells the story of how the author was broken and remade by her time working in the Canadian oil sands. Like in the classic author advice Beaton shows, not tells, by manipulating the traditional graphic format, trusting the reader to do the heavy lifting without elbowing them to signal how and what to feel. It also has the most perfect, fitting-in-a-hundred-ways title. A great place to start for people who have never read a graphic novel but think they'd like to try. I read it in one setting and suggest you do the same!


The Weight of Blood By Tiffany D. Jackson Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063029149
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - September 6th, 2022

If Jordan Peele directed a 21st century version of Stephen King's "Carrie" and set it in the part of the South where segregated proms are still a thing, it would read a lot like this crackerjack YA horror novel. Teen angst, an examination of light skin privilege, what it means to pass in 2022 and, of course, telekenesis, all combine for far more than just a clever retread.


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The Crane Wife: A Memoir in Essays By CJ Hauser Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780385547079
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Published: Doubleday - July 12th, 2022

This collection more than lives up the promise of the title essay, which went viral after being published in The Paris Review in 2019. C. J. Hauser is everything I want in a memoirist-smart, funny and unafraid to put themselves out there on the page. Whether it's being a runaway bride who goes to study cranes in the wild to a deep dive dissection of Katherine Hepburn's romantic choices in "The Philadelphia Story", Hauser's honesty shines.


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Promise, Witness, Remembrance By Speed Art Museum, Stephen Reily, Allison Glenn Cover Image
$45.00
ISBN: 9781734248517
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Published: Speed Art Museum - August 9th, 2022

Usually when a museum has major exhibition there's a tie in book that captures the show in print and helps defray the cost but, to their credit, the Speed Art Museum decided alacrity was more important than merchandise when staging their Breonna Taylor exhibit in 2021. Only now, in 2022, is the book available and it's a great way to revisit one of the most important exhibits in recent art history. In addition to photographs of the artwork, including the gorgeous and instantly iconic Amy Sherald portrait, it features thoughtful essays by the curators that break down the process of implamenting such an exhibition so quickly (in museum time at least) and telling a timely story in a timeless fashion.


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The Long Ride Home By Stephanie Graegin Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780593426029
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Random House Studio - June 28th, 2022

The subject of friendship and the picture book format go together like peas and carrots. Buoyed by tender illustrations, this bittersweet story of a koala missing her cheetah best friend who has recently moved is recommended for readers of any age who are too far away from their favorite person.


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My Old Kentucky Home: The Astonishing Life and Reckoning of an Iconic American Song By Emily Bingham Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780525520795
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Knopf - May 3rd, 2022

Emily Bingham is the perfect person to write this deep dive into the history of our state song. A Kentucky native and historian whose name, locally, is synonymous with 'liberal' yet who counts slaveholders on both sides of the family tree, her complications mirror the song's which is often mistaken for a Civil War soldier's lament, even though it was written as a minstrel song years before. This is a carefully written and clear eyed counter to the nostalgia lovers 'it's just a song' arguement, a local example of the systematic dismantling work that is so necessary.


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This Time Tomorrow: A Novel By Emma Straub Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780525539001
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Riverhead Books - May 17th, 2022

In this kitchen table time travel novel, it's not the the fate of the world that's at stake, but a single human life (and the others it touches). According to this tender love story there's not a version where the person you love most gets to live forever, but there is one where you can live your most authentic life, valuing what is truly important without distraction and it's worth fighting for.  A lovely Valentine to the ties that bind.


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Win Me Something By Kyle Lucia Wu Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781951142735
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Tin House Books - November 2nd, 2021

This debut artfully captures the yearning and wistfulness inherant in a quarterlife crisis in a way that reads as fresh. Ideal for readers struggling with the same challenges, no matter their age.


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The Fast Ride: Spectacular Bid and the Undoing of a Sure Thing By Jack Gilden Cover Image
$34.95
ISBN: 9781496230508
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: University of Nebraska Press - April 1st, 2022

This behind the scenes, warts and all portrait of horse racing in the 1970's will take the reader back to the end of the decade when, after the glory that was Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, fans were poised to celebrate yet another Triple Crown winner. But that's not how the story ended. From the infamous safety pin, abuse of all kinds, to rampant racism-Gilden spares no wiseguy detail as he deconstructs the familiar narrative to reveal what REALLY happened.  


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Run Towards the Danger: Confrontations with a Body of Memory By Sarah Polley Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593300350
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Penguin Press - March 1st, 2022

Canadian actress, director and activist Sarah Polley seems to excel at everything she does so the fact that she has written a stellar essay collection surprised me not at all. What did surprise is the book's intimacy. From essays about her illness struggles, cautionary tales about her childhood actor days, to a #metoo essay about being a victim who doesn't come forward, Polley truly lays herself bare and the reader is the better for it. Highly recommended for readers of Leslie Jamison or Carmen Maria Machado.


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Sea of Tranquility: A novel By Emily St. John Mandel Cover Image
$25.00
ISBN: 9780593321447
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Knopf - April 5th, 2022

Emily St. John Mandel is one of modern fiction's most reverie inducing writers, which can make her books difficult to describe and sell. Not that she doesn't have compelling plots, she does, it's just her novels are so much more than mere plot. Her latest, a kind of companion book to her The Glass Hotel, tells the story of a time anomaly (a glitch in The Matrix if you will) that affects an exiled Earl's son, a novelist on the literal last book tour on Earth and a detective from the future sent to investigate it. It's literary fiction/time travel science fiction whose mood lingers long after reading.


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Chorus: A Novel By Rebecca Kauffman Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781640095182
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Counterpoint - March 1st, 2022

This novel is actually a collection of short stories told at different times by different members of the Shaw family, forming the chorus of the title. The matriarch's mental illness and death, the surprise teen pregnancy of one of the daughters and other, more prosaic, family events are recounted "Rashomon" style to build a tapestry that invites the reader to view the messy back side, where the knots are.


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Joan Is Okay: A Novel By Weike Wang Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525654834
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Random House - January 18th, 2022

As fans of Weike Wang (or any reader of current literary fiction really) could guess from the title, Joan is certainly not okay. In fact, Joan can't even see okay between her bereavement for the death of her father back in China to her high pressure family who are never satisfied (even though she is a successful doctor in NYC). And now there's a pandemic turning up the heat and the anti Asian sentiment. All of which could make for a drag of a read in lesser hands but Wang's deft touch and Joan's wry sense of humor combine to paint a compelling human portrait that reads as very now.


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Shackleton By Ranulph Fiennes Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781643138794
Published: Pegasus Books - January 4th, 2022

The only biography of a polar explorer written by another polar explorer, this reads like a pub conversation with the most interesting guy in the bar. If the recent discovery of the wreck of the Endurance has you curious, this would be a good place to start.


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The Verifiers By Jane Pek Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593313794
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Vintage - February 22nd, 2022

Part immigrant story, part literary mystery- The Verifiers tells the story of Claudia Lin, an investigator for a mysterious online datine service and how she finds trouble when digging into a client's death. Both twisty fun and a clear eyed commentary on how we find love in the 21st century, readers who take a chance on this debut will be glad they did. 


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An Elegant Woman: A Novel By Martha McPhee Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781501179587
Availability: The book is not currently in stock at our stores. Please call us for price and availability.
Published: Scribner - June 15th, 2021

National Book Award finalist McPhee tells the sweeping 20th century history of one Amercan family through the stories of four generations of its women. As Isadora, the family historian, investigates the family matriarch's tales what she finds runs the gamet-extreme poverty, child abandonment, fantastic wealth, switched identities and thwarted love. Readers who love a good family saga need to carve out time for this delight.


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Lost & Found: A Memoir By Kathryn Schulz Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780525512462
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Random House - January 11th, 2022

A beautifully poetic memoir chronicling a time of loss and wonder, Lost and Found uses natural phenomena like meteorites and systems like alphabets to tell of the overlapping months when the author lost her beloved father and found her beloved wife. Sad and joyous in equal measure, this book is precious find, the kind you can't keep on your own shelves because you keep giving it away.


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Small Things Like These By Claire Keegan Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780802158741
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Grove Press - November 30th, 2021

When it comes to difficult choices there's the right thing or the easy thing. These moments of decision that take a person's measure make for compelling fiction. One such is this small novella-without a single wasted word it is so perfectly written it could function as master class on character building and plotting. Would make a great gift for writer friends!


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Smile: The Story of a Face By Sarah Ruhl Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982150945
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 5th, 2021

This illness memoir recounts the author's years living with Bell's Palsy and her struggles navigating the world as a wife, mother, and artist with one side of her face paralyzed. By turns funny, grave and uplifting, Smile offers comfort to fellow chronic condition sufferers and delight in life for everyone. 


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The Beatryce Prophecy By Kate DiCamillo, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Kate DiCamillo, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)
$19.99
ISBN: 9781536213614
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Candlewick - September 28th, 2021

Lifting up all lives, human or animal, is what DiCamillo does best, never more so than in her newest. This medieval tale reads both like a fairy tale you missed as a child and like a story you've always known. A must read for people of all ages!


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Your Guide to Not Getting Murdered in a Quaint English Village By Maureen Johnson, Jay Cooper Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781984859624
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Ten Speed Press - September 14th, 2021

If you have a favorite kind of tea, this might be the humor book for you. If you have ever argued in a pub about who is greater Miss Marple or Poirot, this might be the humor book for you. If you own a PBS "Masterpiece Mystery" pledge drive tote that your cat likes to sleep in this is definately the humor book for you!


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Where the Devil Don't Stay: Traveling the South with the Drive-By Truckers (American Music Series) By Stephen Deusner Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9781477318041
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: University of Texas Press - September 7th, 2021

More than just a chronological band biography, this is far reaching music and social criticism, written by a fellow Southerner, that tells the store of the Drive-By Truckers regionally, by the cities they are associated with. This structure allows the author to inform the musical examination with the history of DBT's "Dirty South" - from Buford Pusser to Cooley Birds - that makes their music so distinctive.


The Fortnight in September: A Novel By R.C. Sherriff Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781982184780
Availability: On Our Shelves in the last 24 hours. Click to see a specific store location's stock.
Published: Scribner - September 7th, 2021

Written with a precise clarity, this British novel from 1931 tells the story of a working class British family's seaside vacation. Though the plot seems low stakes by 21st century standards, its tender attention to the ups and downs of everyday life makes it that rare unicorn of reads- a well written feel good book.


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The Paper Palace: A Novel By Miranda Cowley Heller Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593329825
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Riverhead Books - July 6th, 2021

This debut novel is gripping generational family saga where, by clever narrative trick, the story takes place both in one day and over fifty years. It reads like a new prestige TV show everyone is talking about about, (the author WAS a the head of drama series at HBO) so clear your schedule because you won't want to put it down.


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Great Circle: A novel By Maggie Shipstead Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780525656975
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Knopf - May 4th, 2021

This great sweeping epic with richly drawn characters tells two stories-one of a 20th century aviatrix seeking to fly around the world and a 21st century Hollywood actress attempting to salvage her self sabotaged career by playing the flier in a movie. How these two stories amplify and mirror one another while examining women's choices and the joy/difficulty of shaping one's life narrative is the great joy of this book. Take it on a journey of your own today!


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The Night Always Comes: A Novel By Willy Vlautin Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780063035089
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Harper - April 6th, 2021

Vlautin's new novel is an of the moment story of gentrification in Portland that shows how economic desperation puts the squeeze on everyday working people. But unlike his other novels, which also highlight the struggles of similiar folk, this one is paced like a thriller (albeit with kitchen table stakes) unfolding over a breathless 48 hours with nailbiting suspense and no good choices. A must read for anyone who has ever had to sweat the rent.


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Red Comet: The Short Life and Blazing Art of Sylvia Plath By Heather Clark Cover Image
$40.00
ISBN: 9780307961167
Availability: Not currently on our shelves, but available to order (usually within a few days)
Published: Knopf - October 27th, 2020

This new massive, but surprisingly quick reading, biography stands out from the plethora of Plath books in two important ways-it uses previously unavailible materials (especially medical documents) and it seeks to put the emphasis squarely on the work, not the personality cult built around the poet in the years since her suicide. This approach is refreshing and eyeopening whether the reader is new to Plath, or a huge fan.


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The Poison Garden: A Novel By Alex Marwood Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143110521
Availability: The book is not currently in stock at our stores. Please call us for price and availability.
Published: Penguin Books - January 14th, 2020

You survived a cult-great job! Now what? You have no life skills for the 'real world'. (Your herbal medicine skills and the other end of world prep only gets you so far when the Armageddon you readied for has yet to materialize). You also have no belief system to replace the old, which leaves you susceptibile to dark overtures from the other surviving cultists who are coping even worse than you. A pitch black "Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt"-that's the juicy premise of The Poison Garden. Gripping and full of rich psychological detail!


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