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WORD recommends these books this October:
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Fiction We Love:

The Humans    Marker to Measure Drift    Babayaga    

Bleeding Edge by Thomas Pynchon (ebook available)
This book is a moving target through and through, and trying to sum it all up feels impossible. Instead, here is a list of things you can expect: ‘90s and ‘00s references; mafioso and hackers and dotcom billionaires; unscrupulous government agents of uncertain affiliation; terrorism (this is, after all, a novel about 9/11); finances both legit and shadowy; conspiracy theories galore; underground videotapes and the Deep Web; murders; karaoke nights, parties, school playgrounds; and New York City, the most important character in the whole book, blazing and shady all at the same time. (Jenn)

The Daylight Gate by Jeanette Winterson
Says Emily: "Having read most of Winterson's books, I'd say this one fits with The Passion and Sexing the Cherry -- it weaves the historical and the fantastical to relate a truly horrific chapter in England's past to make for a powerful read. Perfect for Halloween season." Says Christine: "An intense and brutal read about the Pendle witch trials in 17th century England, this is a book to be gulped in one sitting. It has stuck with me months later." (Christine and Emily)

The Sound of Things Falling by Juan Gabriel Vasquez (ebook available)
With the rest of Colombia suffocating in his fist, drug kingpin Pablo Escobar opened a zoo. Many years later, two hippos escape. They are tracked and shot. This is the haunted madeleine gathering saliva in narrator Antonio Yammara's mouth. He remembers a sort-of-friend who was shot in the street following a game of billiards: Why? The Sound of Things Falling is Yammara's search for answers, and the ensuing pages are tragic: a sad, soft-spoken meditation on Colombia, memory, trauma, and flights in and out of each. (Chad)

Love Dishonor Marry Die Cherish Perish      

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo (ebook available)
NoViolet Bulawayo’s We Need New Names is a must-read, whether or not you find yourself drawn to international fiction. It follows a young girl who starts out as a child in Zimbabwe, first in a middle-class enclave and then a ramshackle village, and then goes to Michigan to live with relatives. It’s about alienation and suffering and being a kid and growing up too fast and what it’s like to try to find a home, and it’s affecting and wonderful. (Jenn)

The Signature of All Things by Elizabeth Gilbert (ebook available)
I was surprised to be so taken in by this book. It just reminded me that I shouldn't make assumptions about my own reading tastes, let alone anyone else's. In Alma Whittaker, we get to see firsthand the frustrations built in to being born privileged and brilliant -- and a woman -- in the early days of the American republic. And Gilbert has also crafted one of those rare novels that presents the reader with a life, a full life, and keeps your interest the whole time. I haven't read one done so well since John Williams' Stoner. (Emily)

Bridget Jones: Mad About the Boy by Helen Fielding (ebook available)
I never thought there would be another Bridget book -- what could possibly come after the triumphant reunion with Mark Darcy? Turns out: A WHOLE LOT. There are some serious sniffle-moments in Mad About the Boy, as well as the usual hilarity and hijinks. Watching Bridget tackle parenthood, texting, middle age, and many other trials and tribulations is like finally getting back in touch with a college roommate and getting tipsy (or squiffy, as Jonesy would say) as you hash out the last decade. Welcome back, Bridget. I missed you! (Jenn)

     

The Drowned World by J. G. Ballard (ebook available)
It's 2145 on Earth and as a result of solar radiation and global warming, civilization is underwater and overrun with vegetation, malarial insects, large reptiles, and oppressive heat.  Men and women boat or fly here and there, gathering data and looking for relics of the past, but more often they are asleep and dreaming: of an even more distant past, of the deep, primordial South. This is a science-fiction Heart of Darkness, complete with a Kurtz-like mad man. Haunting, sticky, and frighteningly prescient, the future is Triassic. (Chad)

The Missing Year of Juan Salvatierra by Pedro Mairal
After an accident as a child, Juan Salvatierra never spoke again. But he painted. And painted. And painted. He painted every day on rolls -- a diary of his life and the life of the village and its shifting landscapes -- and by the time he died there were hundreds of them. His estranged children had to decide what to do with them and became intrigued when they realized that one roll was missing. What kind of secret life did their father have that year? And is anyone still around who remembers it? (Emily)
 
High Fidelity by Nick Hornby (ebook available)
From About a Boy to How to Be Good, I've always found that the mastery of Nick Hornby lies in his knack for creating characters with whom readers can find camaraderie. Those found in High Fidelity (the story surrounding the owner of a small, London-based record shop) are no exception. While our leading man, Rob, knows what works in the world of music and has no qualms asserting his firm opinions on the subject, he's much less certain on how to feel about his girlfriend Laura getting together with the neighbor from upstairs. I often find myself re-reading the beginning of this book when I'm in need of a good laugh. The story unfolds with Rob listing off his top-five most memorable (and equally traumatizing) breakups and the lists only get better from there. (Katie)

Kids Books We Love:

Island of the Aunts   Monsters and Legends   Calvin Coconut    Who's On First?

The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two by Catherynne M. Valente
It seems impossible that Valente's Fairyland books just keep getting better, given how utterly magically the series began, but that's exactly what they do. In the third installment, September gets a new outfit and a new ride, is labeled a criminal, and goes in search of a Yeti who is purportedly causing trouble on the moon. But this is Fairyland, where things are almost never what they seem. Valente packs so much insight and heart into these slim, swift little volumes that finishing each book is a little heartbreaking -- and yes, this one made me cry. (Molly)

Battling Boy by Paul Pope
Pope's first all-ages book has so much to love: classic mythology and world-building all his own; two scrappy main characters who find themselves taking on tasks that the adults just can't seem to cope with; terrifying monsters; enchanted t-shirts; and last but certainly not least, his signature artwork. Its appeal is definitely all ages -- adults and kids alike will dig into this series and want the next installment ASAP. (Jenn)

Secret Pizza Party by Adam Rubin, illustrated by Daniel Salmieri
Poor Raccoon - he loooves pizza, but whenever he tries to get himself a slice, people are always chasing him away with brooms. What would be better than a secret pizza party, where Raccoon is the honored guest and can eat as much as he wants? Besides, everything is more exciting when it's secret: "Regular handshake? Dull. Secret handshake? Fantastic! Regular staircase? Tiring. Secret staircase? Awesome!" This picture book is silly, strange, and hilarious for kids and adults alike. Want more crazy animal/food combos? Check out the pair's other picture book, Dragons Love Tacos. (Jenny)

Little Owl Lost by Chris Haughton
A little owl falls out of his mother's nest while he's sleeping and ends up lost. His friend Squirrel offers to help him find his way back, but keeps mistaking different animals for the owl's mother. After reading this board book, I immediately bought it for my nephew, who is obsessed with it. Haughton's illustrations are ridiculously adorable and expressive, and the story pulls at my heartstrings every time I read it. (CJ)

Nonfiction We Love:

   Telling Room   Story of My People        Short History of Nuclear Folly     

The Book of Matt: Hidden Truths About the Murder of Matthew Shepard by Stephen Jimenez
Wow, this book is intense. There was so much complexity in the Matthew Shepard case that was overlooked or deliberately obscured. Jimenez makes the argument that the anti-gay hate crime explanation (rather than the reality of meth trafficking) was easier and more useful for pretty much every party involved: for the murderers who wanted to protect their drug collaborators; for police and prosecutors who knew that the meth trade was a much larger problem to tackle than homophobia; for heartbroken friends and family who needed a cause to channel their grief into; for activists who needed a martyr to catalyze a movement; for a president facing scandal and impeachment who needed a smoke screen; for media outlets who wanted a story before all the facts were known... Matthew Shepard's brutal murder will always be a tragedy, but this book suggests that the story is nuanced and complex, rather than the simplistic myth the public demanded and came quickly to accept. (Emily)

Heroines by Kate Zambreno

You don't have to know a thing about the Modernists to be fascinated -- and infuriated -- by Zambreno's compelling account of the women who lived and worked alongside them -- to much less acclaim. Part memoir, part history, part manifesto, part inspiring reading list (to think I'd never read Jean Rhys before!), Heroines is the book I want to press into the hands of every writing woman I know. I'll keep this one by my desk, to refer to its dog-eared pages when I need something to keep me going. (Molly)

My Heart is an Idiot by Davy Rothbart
I'll admit it: the cover of this book is what initially drew me in. The title, My Heart is an Idiot, is scrawled on a flexed bicep. However, my amused interest did not prepare me for the essays I was about to encounter. Rothbart puts it all out there, and I'm so glad he does. Whether he's flying across the country to meet a girl on a whim or waking up naked in New York City, he reflects on his adventures and follies with humor and humanity. I do the bulk of my reading on the subway, and I found myself getting frustrated when I'd reach my stop because I was only halfway through an essay. I ended up sitting on a bench underground for an extra ten minutes just so I could finish reading. Yes, these essays are that good! (CJ)

How to Be a Woman by Caitlin Moran (ebook available)
Caitlin Moran is a leader both in how women should be writing and what they should be writing about. She comes with her guns blazing but offers thoughtful debates for the choices women have to make. (Katie)

This has been another production of the book-lovin' fools at:

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