You may notice some new names in our newsletters. In addition to Christine, Emily, Jenn, Molly, Simone, and Chad, let us introduce: Zach, who will be the manager of the Jersey City store; CJ, the new Brooklyn events assistant; and Amy and Jenny, who work with schools and kids programming. We hope you enjoy!
WORD recommends these books this June:
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Hardcover Fiction We Love:

  Lullaby of Polish Girls     Illusion of Separateness     Son    lexicon

The Lullaby for Polish Girls by Dagmara Dominczyk (ebook available)
While I could go on and on about how wonderful I think my dearest friend Dag's debut novel is, I think I'll let Manager Emeritus, Stephanie Anderson, share her thoughts instead: "Little is as precious or as treacherous as a friend when you're a teenage girl, and Dagmara Dominczyk clearly understands this; friendship is the beating heart of her debut novel, The Lullaby of Polish Girls. The book follows Anna, Justyna, and Kamila, three very different girls who spend their summers together in Kielce, Poland and then grow into different lives on either side of the Atlantic, but stay close. As the book flashes between the past and the present and through some startling revelations, Dominczyk expertly pries at how the life you're born into shapes the life you make, developing all three girls so well that I could imagine running into them on the streets of Greenpoint (and I truly wish I could, just to make sure they're doing okay!)." (Christine and Stephanie)

The Illusion of Separateness by Simon Van Booy (ebook available)
This was my first introduction to staff favorite Simon Van Booy, and I was extremely impressed. Such spare prose and such deep and heartfelt observations. Sometimes interwoven novels that jump from era to era, person to person, continent to continent can feel disjointed, but Van Booy's narrative is masterful, and truly does allow you to believe that seemingly disparate lives can connect in the most beautiful ways. (Emily)

The Son by Philip Meyer (ebook available)
This western saga is told through the voices of three generations of white Texan ranchers. From the Comanches to early white settlers to Mexicans, no one remains innocent in the battle for control over their destinies and that of the land. Not for the faint of heart! The violence is extreme. But the world Meyer reconstructs is haunting and fully alive. (Simone)

Lexicon by Max Berry (ebook available)
This one sits in a particular place between The Flame Alphabet and Snow Crash -- a fun-smart-affecting-thoughtful-absurdly-enjoyable thriller in which language's power as a weapon and a tool is massively heightened in the hands of "poets" who hone their scary skills in a special school (of course). Barry neatly combines a love story, a globe-trotting adventure, and nifty ideas about identity, love, and the compelling power of the right words. (Molly)

Paperback Fiction We Love:

        where there's love            mr. fox             conquered city

Where There's Love, There's Hate by Adolfo Bioy Casares & Silvina Ocampo
Oh man, this book is such a charmer! Mary, an attractive young translator, is found dead in the seaside resort Bosque Del Mar, which is slowly being consumed by beach sand. Charming, right? Yup. Anyway, for better or worse (hint: it's for the worse, but the results are hilarious), the bumbling, not-exactly-brilliant Dr. Humberto Huberman, who just happens to be on a work-cation, is on the case. As light as it is literary, Where There's Love, There's Hate is a loving send up of the mystery genre. But it's more than that! Penned by two of Latin America's best and least appreciated writers, Adolfo Bioy Casares and Silvina Ocampo, this is "genre fiction" and something else entirely: a spirituous curiosity, a literary experience as smart as it is enlivening. (Chad)

Mr. Fox by Helen Oyeyemi (ebook available)
Oyeyemi's latest novel is a twisty, slippery little game between Mr. Fox, a novelist, and his muse, Mary Foxe, who challenges Mr. Fox's treatment of his female characters. Their argument plays out as a series of stories that are as compelling as they are elusive. Mr. Fox is excellent for book group discussions; we had at least as many theories as we had group attendees! (Molly)

Conquered City by Victor Serge
Narrated through the peepholes of the Russian Revolution, Serge's Conquered City is totally relentless, a crazy labyrinthine detective literary romp. Characters appear and reappear. Some characters are hungry for power; others are just really really hungry for food. Meanwhile, the Revolution is hunting these characters down, questioning them, jailing them. Sometimes these characters reappear. Serge's pen is there (Serge was there!), writing it all out, and trying to make sense of it all. Also, there is a really beautiful scene with a botanist. Incredible stuff. (Chad)

Thrilling & Scary:

Summer Reads with a Twist
    shining girls    locke & key   House of Leaves    Malice of Fortune

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes (ebook available)
I don’t read a lot of horror. But when Lauren Beukes writes something (have you read her yet? READ HER), I read it. She’s smart, she’s political, and she’s one of those writers who manages to turn the world on its ear while making it look easy. Her newest novel, The Shining Girls, just came out and wow. It’s a serial killer story, with time travel, set in Chicago between the 1930s and the 1990s. It’s complicated and dark and gory and almost gave me nightmares, and I feel like if you have a beach visit or a plane ride coming up, you need it. (Jenn)

Locke & Key (comics series) by Joe Hill and illustrated by Gabriel Rodriguez
Three kids and their mother are coping with a tragedy that has brought them to live alone in the (possibly haunted) mansion their father grew up in -- and they discover keys that each have a different purpose. One unlocks your brain, one allows you to emerge anywhere, one allows you to switch genders. And others have much darker purposes: one allows you to become a ghost temporarily and one is called simply "The Black Key." Joe Hill demonstrates writing skill that rivals that of his father (Steven King), and Gabriel Rodriguez does really wonderful work with thick and thin lines, giving it the mythological feel of a woodcut. (Emily)

House of Leaves by Mark. Z Danielewski
Here’s the thing about House of Leaves: once you commit to reading it, you will love it. The book’s format is detailed, wildly original, and not nearly as intimidating as it appears. It shifts points of view to tell stories of both love and horror. The main story centers around Will Navidson and Karen Green, who have moved into a house that is larger on the inside than it is on the outside. An inch becomes a room, which becomes a hallway, which becomes a dark, seemingly infinite space. A good friend demanded that I read House of Leaves when I was sixteen, and I have since returned to it again and again. It is the only book that has me looking over my shoulder in fear when I read it alone. Prepare to be disoriented, frightened, and moved.

This book hits the sweet spot for summer -- it's a thriller, so there's lots of action (not to mention gore) and conspiracies and plotting, but it's also historical, so you can feel like you're learning things! Which -- if you're like me, and got through British history classes by reading Sharon Kay Penman -- will be right up your alley. The Borgias, Leonardo da Vinci, Machiavelli, murder, intrigue, and suspense: it's the whole package. (Jenn)

Nonfiction We Love:

Freeloading   Butterfly in the typewriter   Thinking, Fast and Slow   if it's not one thing

Freeloading by Chris Ruen
Chris Ruen's Freeloading offers a personal history and interest in the effects of illegal downloading, derived most prominently from his own experience and that of several musicians he met while working at his neighborhood coffee shop in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. If you're looking for a general history of how widespread downloading came to pass, he's got that, too, but this book is unique for its subjectivity, a welcome addition to the growing number of books that try to treat the piracy issue as though it occurs without user-end complicity. For Mr. Ruen, and probably the rest of us, the question of stealing is ultimately a moral one, a question of what we're willing to do when no one is looking and what the short- and long-term consequences of our choices are and might be for artists, labels, and listeners alike. (Zach)

Butterfly in the Typewriter by Cory MacLauchlin (ebook available)
It is astonishing that A Confederacy of Dunces, one of the most hilarious books I’ve read, was written by a man who considered himself a literary failure and took his own life at the age of 31. The novel was published years after his death, and went on to win the Pulitzer Prize. MacLauchlin has taken the limited information on Toole that is available and has written an unbiased, compelling biography of his short but fascinating life. Like the characters in Dunces, the people in Toole’s life were colorful, complex, humorous and a bit sad (especially his mother, Thelma Toole). This biography is best enjoyed after reading his novel. (CJ)

Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (ebook available)
I’m a sucker for accessibly-written, this-is-how-your-brain-works books (see also Why We Make Mistakes and The Power of Habit and The Shallows) and Kahneman does an excellent job of presenting the science without going over a normally-educated reader’s head. Kahneman lays out both his own research and that of others in a highly accessible style, with lots of mini-quizzes and examples to illustrate the bigger points. More than anything else, it’s got me mulling the priming effect and the ways in which the novels I read might be priming me emotionally. INTERESTING, Y’ALL. (Jenn)

In this hilarious and heartfelt book of personal essays, Julia Sweeney of Saturday Night Live fame (she created and played the androgynous character "Pat" in the 1980's) takes on motherhood from many angles - from adopting her daughter to finding the perfect babysitter to explaining the birds and the bees (look up Sweeney reading this particular essay on Youtube -- it's well worth it!). This book is like having conversations over coffee with your funniest friend. A really, really enjoyable read. (Jenny)

Books for the Younger Set
(and adults who love them):

   uses for boys    Dark is Rising    Wig in the Window     Twerp

Uses for Boys by Erica Lorraine Scheidt (ebook available)
Scheidt's YA novel about one young woman's journey stumbling toward adulthood broke my heart in the strangest ways. Anna's voice is dreamy and incisive at the same time, and her story is never pat or cautionary, just honest, difficult, and hopeful. (The YA Not? book group will be discussing Uses for Boys in August.) (Molly)

The Dark is Rising (series) by Susan Cooper (ebook available)
Looking to get lost in a fantasy adventure this summer? Why not rediscover one of the most celebrated series of all time? First published in the '60s and '70s, the five novels of the Dark is Rising series are often compared to the works of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis, and were a huge influence on the creator of everyone's favorite boy wizard. A timeless battle between good and evil, a stunning reinvention of Arthurian legend, and a classic quest all rolled into one, with imagery beautiful enough to stun even adult readers. The series starts simply and grows in complexity, making it hard to put down and easy to get lost in. (Amy)

The Wig in the Window by Kristin Kittscher (ebook available)
This is a great middle grade mystery about two best friends who fancy themselves talented sleuths. And that may be the case, but there's also a chance that they have over-active imaginations that create connections that aren't there (though what 7th grader doesn't do that?). Like most things in life, the real answer may lie somewhere in between. The Wig in the Window is a lot of fun for the young reader in your life. (Emily)

Twerp by Mark Goldblatt (ebook available)
Everyone loves a redeemed bully, but Julian Twerski (also known as the fastest kid at PS 23) might just be my favorite. When he's told he can get out of a report on Shakespeare by writing a journal about a notorious incident that got him suspended, Julian reluctantly puts pen to paper and discovers he might have a gift. Set in 1960's Queens and loosely based on the author's childhood, this book is great for fans of Freak the Mighty, Wonder, or anyone who knows what it's like to be a kid on the edge of being bad. (Amy)

  unicorn thinks he's pretty great   Mighty Lalouche  watermelon seed  giant jam sandwich

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea
That unicorn, he's so fancy -- and Goat just can't stand it. All his cool tricks just don't seem to compare with Unicorn's magical powers. But then, it turns out that Goat has some things going for him that Unicorn thinks are pretty great. Can Goat and Unicorn be friends? Maybe even ... fight crime together?! Or at least play nicely? There's only one way to find out. "Taste my cloven justice" is totally going to be our new motto. (Jenn & Molly)

The Mighty LaLouche by M Olshan and illustrated by Sophie Blackwell
This is a charming story of a petite french postman who goes in for boxing to make his rent. Lalouche is a great character with his fabulous (and historically accurate!) outfits and mustache and dream of the simple rewards of peaceful life delivering the mail. Sophie Blackwell's signature ink and watercolor style gets a new look with a cut out/collage/diorama treatment. You can feel the artist's hands all over the images. C'est bon! (Simone)

The Watermelon Seed by Greg Pizzoli
In this big, bright, pink and green picture book, a crocodile is enjoying his favorite fruit until - gasp! - he swallows a watermelon seed! What will happen, he worries! Will his stomach bulge out? Will vines grow out his ears?? Will he turn pink??? This is a fantastic read-aloud, one that will be asked for again and again. (Jenny)

The Giant Jam Sandwich by John Vernon Lord
What is the idyllic village of Itching Down to do when 4 million wasps buzz into town? First published in 1972, this rhyming classic follows the townsfolk as they attempt to construct the titular sandwich and trap the swarm inside! But the real joy of this book is in the details, and with characters that look like they jumped right out of Yellow Submarine, there are tons of kooky surprises hidden on each page. A great read-aloud for all ages! (Amy)

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

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