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WORD recommends these books this October.
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Fiction We Love:

         

Neverhome by Laird Hunt (ebook available)
Hunt has crafted a fabulous unreliable narrator in Ash Thompson. She is a tough farm wife who decides to pose as a man and take her husband's place on the front lines in the Civil War. She's loyal and she betrays, she kills and she saves lives, she lies and she seeks truth. This felt a bit like Mark Twain to me -- Huck Finn with his picaresque adventures and big social issues rolled into one narrative. The end of the novel gutted me, a real punch the last few pages. Powerful stuff. (Emily)

The Children Act by Ian McEwan (ebook available)
Like all my favorite McEwan books, The Children Act is about discovering you don't know yourself at all. High Court Judge Fiona Maye is settled and confident in her work and her marriage -- until her husband announces that he's about to have an affair. To make matters worse, she is faced with a surprisingly difficult decision: should she compel devout seventeen-year-old Adam to receive treatment that could save his life, against the wishes of his family and his faith? What should be a routine decision sets in motion a crisis that will change Fiona's life as well as Adam's. This powerful and emotional book asks us to consider everything carefully, including ourselves. (Nikki)

A Little Lumpen Novelita by Roberto Bolaño (ebook available)
Haven’t read any Bolaño yet? This late novella is a surprisingly good place to start, as it introduces the power and poetry of the great writer (not to mention the author's trademark abyss), while managing to remain welcoming, warm even. Here's a pair of orphans in bad company, a strong female lead, a life of unclear crimes, and a blind former Mr. Universe. Yep, you're in Bolaño-land. Or maybe you're a Bolaño resident, returning home again? In that case, welcome back, it's still great and terrifying here, let's get a coffee sometime. Need even more? Try Mónica Maristain's new book on the writer, Bolaño: A Biography in Conversations. (Chad)

A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing by Eimear McBride (ebook available)
McBride is telling a theoretically simple story; A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing follows the growth of a young woman whose family life has centered around her ill older brother. In her hands it becomes not only a beautiful example of the flexibility of prose, but a story with layer upon layer of emotional depth and complexity. The writing itself is fragmented and circuitous, so much so that the sentences themselves aren’t really sentences. The fragments are as sharp and jagged as the narrator’s struggles with family, with abuse, with religion, with identity, with finding personal freedom. A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing is a difficult read but an essential one. (Jenn)

 

  

 

The Penguin Book of Witches edited by Katherine Howe (ebook available)
Spanning two continents and three centuries, The Penguin Book of Witches is a comprehensive and intriguing look at the history of witchcraft. Howe has curated nearly fifty primary sources        -- including warrants, court records, and even a witch hunting manual -- which, with help from her insightful introductions, give the reader an entirely new perspective on witchcraft and early American history. If you've ever wondered about the judgement of our ancestors or our continuing fascination with witches, this book will certainly satisfy. (Emma)


The Wrenchies by Farel Dalrymple (ebook available)
Neither Farel Dalrymple's art nor his stories go in straight lines -- they follow something more like the logic of dreams, where everything is connected, but it takes you a while to figure out how. The Wrenchies takes place in a disconcerting sideways world, where fierce children fight the monsters of adulthood, and everything connects to a boy and a comic book. There's so much going on here that it will take more than one reading to find all the details, but on first reading, this beautiful, unsettling book left me strangely wistful, and entirely looking forward to whatever Dalrymple does next. (Molly)

The Shadow Hero by Gene Luen Yang and Sonny Liew (ebook available)

A remarkable graphic novel that details the origin of the Green Turtle, the (rumored) first Asian-American superhero (created by Chu F. Hing in 1944 for Blazing Comics). The Shadow Hero is the story of Hank Chu, a mild-mannered Chinese-American teenager who finds his calling fighting crime on the streets of 1930s Chinatown. This book has mystical spirits, gangsters, romance, and even a training montage! The artwork, color palette, and panel direction are simply masterful. Members of the WORD Jersey City Graphic Novel Book Group unanimously agree that The Shadow Hero is a must-read! (Jasper)

Jimmy Corrigan: The Smartest Kid on Earth by Chris Ware 
This is an amazing graphic novel. Ware's work is visually stunning, a stark contrast to the bleakness of the story and the world the characters inhabit. Jimmy Corrigan is a lonely, socially inept 34-year-old man who only truly lives in his imagination. After Jimmy receives a letter from his long absent father, he is forced to confront old painful memories, family history, and the nature of father-son relationships. (Nancy)

Nonfiction We Love:

    

The Secret History of Wonder Woman byJill Lepore (ebook availalable) (available October 28th)
Did you know the man who invented the lie detector also created Wonder Woman? Me either. And while William Moulton Marston might have conceived of her, it was the women in his life that inspired her creation. Deeply researched, this book pulls from newly uncovered diaries and letters to reveal an interesting and complex history behind our favorite Amazonian princess. (Katelyn)

This Changes Everything by Naomi Klein (ebook available)
I'll read anything Naomi Klein writes (and will watch any interview she does) because I have a HUGE intellectual crush on her. In This Changes Everything, she tackles climate change and capitalism, and she makes accessible so many issues that perhaps you hear about but don't really understand or bother researching because it just seems depressing (like fracking and natural gas, tar sands, geoengineering, extractivism, divestment, carbon offsetting, etc). Her argument is huge -- that we are almost (but not quite) out of time and pretty much the whole system needs to change. But Klein somehow manages to make the reader feel smarter, angrier, and more hope-filled at the same time. (Emily)

Dataclysm by Christian Rudder (ebook available)
As the internet becomes an increasingly integral part of our daily lives, there is an unprecedented ability to collect and examine large swaths of data about how we think, act, and portray ourselves, both on and off-line. Rudder, one of the founders of the dating site OkCupid, deftly parses through the mass amounts of data that is regularly collected by our online actions to demonstrate how we perceive ourselves and others, how disparate our actions are from our words, and what big data can tell us about human nature. (Kim)

Comradely Greetings by Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Slavoj Žižek (ebook available)
Comradely Greetings collects the letters shared between Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek. Exchanged during the period when the Pussy Riot member was imprisoned for her participation in the 2012 performance of "Punk Prayer" at the Cathedral of Christ the Savior in Moscow, these letters give audience to two activist and intellectual figures in close conversation, not just about the immediate circumstances, but also the histories and political systems that led there, the importance of a never-ending "quest for miracles," and much more. Even more invigorating than the intellectual dexterity on display, however, is the duo's presiding spirit. Nadya and Slavoj are never hopeless or fatalistic. Instead, they exemplify a temperament of diligence and rigor that is, if not overtly hopeful, absolutely steadfast. (Chad)
 

   
 

120 Ways to Annoy Your Mother (And Influence People) by Ana Benaroya
Although I'm technically a grownup, Ana Benaroya's 120 Ways To Annoy Your Mother brought me right back to those awkward teenage years in late 1990s New Jersey. Part guidebook and part journal, this collection is filled with riotous advice and witty how-tos including "How To Be Rebellious Within The Confines Of Society" and "How To Tie The Perfect Ponytail." Not to mention that Benaroya is a super talented illustrator who drew every last piece of the 120 pages. (Kirby)


1913: The Year Before the Storm by Florian Illies (ebook available)
In the year before World War I, culture flourished. Proust started his Recherche. Kafka fell in love. Louis Armstrong first picked up a trumpet. This extraordinary book explores, with joy and regret, the magical calm before the storm. (Kerry)

Ties That Bind by Dave Isay (ebook available)
StoryCorps does storytelling right. This collection of interviews is sincere, heartwarming, and so fantastically human. The stories are told by estranged siblings, neighbors, coworkers, lovers, teachers, and students, and touch on all the large and small connections strangers make.
There is a little piece of life in each one. (Alyssa)

Double Lives, Second Chances: The Cinema of Krzysztof Kieslowski by Annette Insdorf
Annette Insdorf is a longtime professor of film studies at Columbia University, and has been a proponent of foreign cinema for even longer. She worked as Francois Truffaut's interpreter on his visits to the U.S., and authored a terrific biography on the filmmaker that doubled as a film-by-film analysis of his work. Likewise, with Double Lives, Second Chances, Insdorf examines the many and profound works of Polish filmmaker Krzystof Kieslowski within the context of his life, evincing an intimate, if somewhat indirect, personal history as much as a catalog of works. Insdorf is a rare critic who accesses her subjects with reverence, expertise, and strong prose that braids anecdotes and analysis. (Jaye)

Books for Teens, Tweens, and Littles:

   
 

Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel by Sara Farizan (ebook available)
High school is rough. Particularly for Leila, an Iranian American who finds herself crushing hardcore on the new girl in school. Light-hearted and charming, Tell Me Again How a Crush Should Feel follows Leila's misadventures as she navigates coming out and coming of age, while learning that maybe she's not the only one with a secret. (Kim)


Afterworlds by Scott Westerfield (ebook available)
Two books in one, Afterworlds follows Darcy Patel -- as she revises the novel she wrote during NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) and tries to navigate her new life in New York -- and Lizzie, the protagonist of Darcy's novel, as she deals with the mysterious Afterworld and the ghosts who live there. An incredible book with a diverse cast and an intriguing look behind the scenes of the publishing world. (Arielle)


Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King (ebook available)
Glory O'Brien's best friend lives on a commune, her dad never leaves the couch, and all she has left of her mom are memories, an interest in photography, and a basement darkroom. High school is coming to an end, but Glory's future doesn't look like much -- until a spontaneous decision results, unexpectedly, in Glory gaining the ability to see people's pasts and futures. King's novel slips easily between Glory's ordinary yet trying life and her terrifying visions, which she records, hoping to stop a horrible future only she can see. Unabashedly feminist, wickedly smart, and painfully on the money about small-town teenage life and friendships, Glory O'Brien is a brilliant and beautiful novel that we can't recommend highly enough. (Molly and Katelyn)

Poisoned Apples: Poems For You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann (ebook available)
I didn't know I wanted a feminist fairytale poetry collection, and then I read Poisoned Apples. This is the book I wish my 13-year-old self had had; the book that belongs on your shelf next to Ophelia Speaks, Go Ask Alice, Wintergirls. Using a framework of fable and metaphor, Heppermann looks long and hard at body issues, eating disorders, abuse, and consumerism. Some of them are funny, most of them are heartbreaking, and all of them are wonderful. (Jenn)

  

Once Upon an Alphabet by Oliver Jeffers (ebook available)
I love it so much. You can find really cool stuff in the pictures every time you read it. The art is cool and you can learn letters and learn how to draw nicely. (Adrian, our five-year old bookseller)

Christine says: Not only is this book beautifully illustrated, as all of Oliver Jeffers' books are, but it's a fantastic read aloud and alphabet book, too. The perfect gift for any child under ten. We love it.

The Smallest Girl in the Smallest Grade by Justin Roberts (ebook available)
An incredibly sweet look at how even the littlest person can make a difference. No one really notices Sally, the smallest girl in the smallest grade, but she notices everything -- like kids being bullied or flowers getting trampled. But she takes a stand and encourages everyone to pay more attention to the little things and to be a little nicer to everyone around them. (Arielle)

The Farmer and the Clown by Marla Frazee (ebook available)
In this lovely, wordless picture book, a young clown is accidentally left behind by his troupe. A farmer nearby takes him in, and the two don't quite know what to make of each other. You'll find yourself giggling as the clown attempts to farm and the farmer clowns around. A meditation on home and family with a happy ending, The Farmer and the Clown is funny and sweet in all the right places. And there's nothing like a wordless picture book to foster imagination and story-telling skills. (Emma)

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

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