WORD recommends these books this March.
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Fiction We Love:


Lucky Alan by Jonathan Lethem (ebook available)
Jonathan Lethem fans are a willing breed: willing to try different kinds of stories and storytelling, willing to dip their feet into almost any literary genre, willing to keep at a book to see if they won't like it later on. Lethem's latest collection of stories typically rewards such curiosity and does so with marvelous intelligence, breadth, despair, and humor. A fine introduction to his range, a fine affirmation for the already initiated. (Zach)

Night at the Fiestas by Kirstin Valdez Quade (ebook available)
Quade's short stories are some of the finest I've read this year. I have a soft spot for stories connected by geography and each story in this collection takes place in New Mexico. She digs into her characters and her setting unflinchingly; there are raw edges, arid vistas, and dry spells aplenty. But there's also a beautiful sense of family and connection, and an appreciation for the beauty that can be found in tough places. I'm still thinking about some of these stories weeks later, and I've reread a few -- and as a reader there's not much more you can ask for from an author. (Jenn)

An Exaggerated Murder by Josh Cook (ebook available)
This postmodern detective novel is anything but procedural, anything but formulaic, and likely unlike anything else you've read. It's smart, it's funny, it is baffling at times and insightful at times, and its chapters are short, making it the perfect commute read. Its ensemble cast of Trike, Lola, and Max are wildly entertaining (they even create drinking games to mock each other). Is the billionaire Joyce playing games with Trike? Is Cook playing games with his readers? Does it matter? My favorite sections are the ones where Cook gets experimental and tries to show us, on the page, the different ways that Trike's deductive mind works. Good for fans of Jasper Fforde and Pynchon's Inherent Vice. (Emily)

The Only Ones by Carola Dibbell (ebook available)

Before reading The Only Ones, I thought I was tired of reading dystopian novels. But Dibbell's unusual writing style and the narration of the story's main character Inez made the book hard to put down. In the near future, a pandemic has wiped out the majority of people. Because most survivors are now infertile, "hardy" women like Inez are important commodities. Inez is drawn into a dark world where economic status, gender, and motherhood dictate your social status. A very impressive debut novel. (Nancy)


Just So Happens by Fumio Obata (ebook available)
Yumiko chose to make her adult life in London, a decision that was unpopular with her father. Along the way she found both professional and personal satisfaction thanks to her choice. However, her sense of certainty is called into question when she is forced to return to Japan, the home of her youth, due to the sudden death of her father. Yumiko must face her past in order to make sense of her present, to figure out what it is she wants and needs. Just So Happens moves with simplicity, telling the story of a young woman stepping out farther than expected. Straightforward and intimate. (Katie) 

Safari Honeymoon by Jesse Jacobs
Things you may expect to experience while out safari honeymooning: flora, fauna, musket blasts, bare thighs, fine cheeses. Things you may not expect: anthropomorphic trees speaking in koans, being punched in the mouth by your hired guide. Safari Honeymoon has it all. Jacobs' graphic novel tracks a pair of newlyweds through a world of greens  as they encounter a beautiful but dangerous other world, one that demands respect and doesn't hesitate to punish the arrogant. (Chad)

After Claude by Iris Owens (ebook available)
At the edges of every capital-letter milieu of '70s New York there are fissures inhabited by characters with lives as dramatic and storied as an Andy Warhol or a Patti Smith. Enter Harriett, the pseudonymous heroine of Iris Owens' After Claude. As anxious as she is adamant to be heard, to be seen and acknowledged and given a place, Harriet eventually runs out of money, patience, and unlocked apartments in the brutal late-summer heat. She ends up at the Chelsea Hotel, amid the haze of pot smoke and self-liberation pablum of wolves in sheep's sideburns. It's an exhausting story, like Spalding Gray off-script and reeling on Dexedrine, but you're with Harriett all the way, even if there's no air conditioner. (Jaye)

Batman: A Celebration of 75 Years by various authors and illustrators
This spectacular book collects some of the Dark Knight’s most iconic moments, from his humble beginnings as a masked vigilante to becoming the greatest detective in pop culture history. Inside you’ll find 22 of the best single-issue stories, as well as a Brad Metzler and Chip Kidd "remix" of Detective Comics #27, the very first appearance of “the Bat-Man.” Journey through the past 75 years, the various costume changes, allies, villains, alternate timelines, future timelines, and everything in between -- all of which are presented beautifully in this hardcover format that’s sure to please, old chum. (Jasper)

Nonfiction We Love:


Dead Wake by Erik Larson (ebook available)
Possibly his best yet! Larsen's gripping new nonfiction chronicles the final, fatal voyage of the Lusitania. Alternating accounts of the German u-boat captain who sank the ship, daily lives of passengers aboard, newly revealed British secret intelligence data, and details of President Woodrow Wilson's private life, Larsen creates a shocking narrative that reveals how Winston Churchill may have purposely let it all happen. I couldn't put it down. (Ashanti)

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald (ebook available)
After the death of her father, Helen Macdonald, an experienced falconer, did something she always wanted to do. She trained a goshawk. These large, deadly, largely solitary birds are known for their ferocity, and in order to properly train them, the falconer must come to understand the hawk’s feral mind. In a parallel story, she examines the tragic life of T. H. White, author of The Once and Future King, who also trained a goshawk. Together these become a fusion of biography, memoir, and natural history and a beautiful meditation on memory, grief, and nature. (Kerry)

All the Wrong Places by Philip Connors (ebook available)
Sometimes, things haunt you for decades. They are the undercurrent to everything you do. Not necessarily the obvious waves on the surface, but something deeper, an undeniable influence. For Philip Connors, that thing was his brother's suicide. He had just moved to New York to become a journalist when he got the news, and coping with it shaded his experience of the city, no doubt. It took him 10 years of seeking, of burying himself -- in work, in love or sex, in dangerous situations, in denial, and in occasional moments of triumph -- before he found himself again (and a deeper truth about his brother) in a fire watchtower in the mountains of New Mexico. His writing is understated, but his storytelling is compelling, and he doesn't shy away from contradiction. The comparisons to Cheryl Strayed's Wild are well-earned. (Emily)

Eye of the Beholder by Laura J. Snyder (ebook available)
Johannes Vermeer, the artist, and Antonie van Leeuwenhoek, the scientist, lived just a few blocks from each other in the Dutch city of Delft. Laura Snyder tells the story of how, inspired by advances in optics and empowered by van Leewenhoek's remarkable lenses, these two men changed art, science, and the way we see the world. (Kerry)


Unremarried Widow by Artis Henderson (ebook available)
This book left me a bit broken. Artis Henderson's husband Miles was killed in Iraq, and in this memoir she recounts their relationship, her life as a military wife, and the aftermath of his death. Beautiful and raw. (Alyssa)

The Sound Book by Trevor Cox (ebook available)
Often we are reminded to stop and smell the flowers, but how often are we reminded to listen to the world around us? Trevor Cox is trying to bring our sense of hearing to the heights that our sight and smell are often regarded. He highlights sounds that are both man-made and natural to argue that sound is as important to our memories and well being as other senses. I found myself stopping on occasion and listening to the church bells ring out. I really loved how clearly he wrote about the science and how lovingly he encouraged wellness. (Katelyn) 

Mastering the Art of Soviet Cooking by Anya Von Bremzen (ebook available)
This is a thoroughly enjoyable, intelligent, witty, and sensitive history of the Soviet Union viewed through the lens of food. Von Bremzen takes a shot (or four) of vodka and recalls the disastrous Gorbachev administration, which in turn leads to a discussion of Russia's longstanding relationship with the libation; she remembers rare sweets and fleeting, privileged moments under Stalin; and she reflects upon the hard, black bread, the queues, the ration cards, the famine, the purges, the pogroms, and the pride -- in essence, the entire world of her family and millions of others. A food memoir, yes, a magnificent one, and so much more. (Chad)

Books for Teens, Tweens, and Littles:


Razorhurst by Justine Larbalestier (ebook available)
It's been too long since the last Larbalestier novel, but boy, was Razorhurst worth the wait. Set in bloody 1930s Sydney, it's the story of Kelpie, a girl who can see ghosts. It's a curse and a blessing for the orphaned street urchin; some ghosts help her survive, but it's also a ghost whose whispers send her into the scene of an ugly murder. It's there she meets Dymphna Campbell, the best girl of one of Sydney's crime bosses, who (naturally) has secrets of her own  -- and good reason to keep an eye on Kelpie. Vivid, bloody, historically fascinating and supernaturally spooky, Razorhurst is full of characters who are as sharply drawn as the razors its mobsters wield. (Molly)  

The Dark Water by Seth Fishman (ebook available)
Picking up right on track with the cliffhanger of The Well's End, this sequel dives to new, mysterious depths for a closer look at some of the questions raised in the first book. The adventure and suspense continue with an entirely new world to explore; a race against time and bad guys; and the eternal struggle between selfishness, selflessness, and the gray area in between that we all know so well. (Arielle)

The Keepers: The Box and the Dragonfly by Ted Sanders (ebook available)
I really liked this novel and it's hard for me to find a good middle grade book I can get into. This is a nice blend of action, science fiction, fantasy, and a little mystery. I enjoyed reading about Horace's unexpected journey and all the mysteriousness and questions it causes. This book kept me second-guessing. I never knew what to expect. (Lydia)


Rutabaga: The Adventure Chef by Eric Colossal (available March 24th)
Rutabaga has one thing on his mind: finding the most exotic and delicious new foods to cook and serve to the masses. He's certainly not brave or strong like the people he finds himself on adventures with! An absolutely hilarious graphic novel that kids and adults will both love reading and rereading. (Arielle)

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson (ebook available)
Becoming a teenager has never been fun or easy, but Jamieson knows how to make the awkward transition both poignant and funny in this graphic novel about friendship, roller derby and those "crazy mixed-up teenage feelings." Main character Astrid's inner monologue is brazenly charming; the clear, full-color artwork juxtaposes Astrid's reality and her perceptions in a way straight text could not capture. With its emphasis on confidence in oneself and one's friends, Roller Girl is perfect for any reader that's ever felt left out, second rate, or a little bit crazy -- so basically everyone ever. (Emma)

Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman, illustrated by Zachariah Ohora (ebook available)
When the Bunny family finds tiny baby Wolfie on their porch, it's only young Dot who seems concerned about bringing a wolf into their home. She's convinced he'll eat them all up, until a run-in with an even bigger foe... Oh, and don't miss out on a very special Wolfie storytime with the author, on March 29th. (Arielle)


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