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Nick's Recommendations

Nick, Assistant Buyer Emeritus

Favorite Genres: Literary fiction (usually surreal, often foreign, and I'm always open to a fierce satire), science fiction (preferably with minimal military or governmental intrigue), weird graphic novels, non-fiction about dark political truths and astronomy, poetry, and biographies by artists and thinkers I admire
Favorite Authors: Boris and Arkaday Strugatsky, Leslie Marmon Silko, Simon Hanselmann, Alejandra Pizarnik, Cordwainer Smith, Catherynne M. Valente, Ikkyu

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Tender Is the Flesh Cover Image
By Agustina Bazterrica, Sarah Moses (Translated by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9781982150921
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Scribner - August 4th, 2020

A beautifully translated, relentlessly harrowing journey through just about every facet of "human-as-chattle." Shows a map of complicity with horror, and how our desperation can lead us into the kind of suggestibility that forces us to further the abuse of our fellow humans. The people in this book mirror us: they feed on propaganda, do its bidding, then complain about the results. An artful, harsh political parable.


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The King of Confidence: A Tale of Utopian Dreamers, Frontier Schemers, True Believers, False Prophets, and the Murder of an American Monarch Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780316463591
Availability: NOT on our shelves - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown and Company - July 14th, 2020

Cults, con artists, pirates, polygamists, ladies dressin' like fellas in old-timey times, government raids, the list goes on. This, much like Wild Wild Country, is the story of an American religious community so odd and large that it's a wonder the story isn't better known. Heck, my Mom regularly vacationed on Beaver Island and she never heard about the HUGE CULT that rose up there. Fascinating!


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Extraterrestrial: The First Sign of Intelligent Life Beyond Earth Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780358278146
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Mariner Books - January 26th, 2021

WAS that interstellar object crafted by aliens? I dunno. There's no definitive answer for 'Oumuamua yet, not in this book or in the hypotheses of Loeb's detractors (though there is a lot of promise in the notion that it was a chunk of nitrogen from a Pluto-like planet). It remains one of the most fascinating scholarly public debates with ET implications we've witnessed, so crack this open and get in on the action!


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The Dead Are Arising: The Life of Malcolm X Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9781631491665
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Liveright - October 20th, 2020

Ever wonder why they didn't call it "The Autobiography of el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz"? That's what he changed his name to, after all. But it's not a "brand." Anyway, this book is an incredible supplement to The Autobiography, filling in gaps and correcting/clarifying things which Malcolm glossed over in his own book. Things I'd wrongly presumed about him for years were corrected in the course of reading this. A+ journalism.


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His Master's Voice Cover Image
By Stanislaw Lem, Seth Shostak (Foreword by)
$17.95
ISBN: 9780262538459
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: MIT Press - February 18th, 2020

Like Contact, but written decades earlier by somebody smarter than Sagan (and better with prose). Hard sci-fi which, after a droll prologue, moves into an incredibly compelling thought experiment that will have you looking at life with eyes lit up by curiosity. Its science is limited by the needs of fiction, but the skepticism displayed by the narrator is rigorous, and the scenario yields an exceptionally refined story of discovery.


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Finding the Raga: An Improvisation on Indian Music Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9781681374789
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: New York Review Books - March 30th, 2021

Chaudhuri does a better job than almost any author of describing music on the page, both in terms of its feeling and its technical elements. This book's an invitation to a vast world of incredibly (though, like European classical music, class-ensnared) gorgeous music, and elucidates its complexities and context in a way that makes the listening experience richer. Throw on some Kaushiki Chakraborty and open this up.


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Popisho: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780374602451
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - April 20th, 2021

When lockdown hit I found myself unable to read fiction for over a year, which was a scary change. Recently I picked this book up and was pulled in by the joyfully rich writing and fantastical images that Ross deploys. It's a life-affirming book, not smarmy or "inspirational" but filled with what matters: love, fruit, wonderment, community. Perfect if you want a classy magical-realist read that's neither too bleak nor too rosy. 


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Bedroom Beats & B-Sides: Instrumental Hip-Hop & Electronic Music at the Turn of the Century Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9781913231040
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Velocity Press - December 1st, 2020

I can vouch for this book because I watched the world it is describing unfold in real time, as a devout listener through the evolution of the "beat scene," and as somebody who keeps his bedroom stuffed with MPCs and records. Fintoni has covered not only the hits, but also the forgotten groundbreaking stuff like Ricci Rucker, Heralds of Change, and others. Meticulous work on a hugely relevant artistic movement.


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Dhalgren Cover Image
$21.00
ISBN: 9780375706684
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Vintage - May 15th, 2001

This is my last month at BBS, and Dhalgren was the first book I bought here, almost 9 years ago. A masterpiece of gorgeously written sci-fi, depicting an anarchic city where some vaguely defined occurrence has led things into gang warfare, unfettered exploration of sexuality, and frightening disarray. It begins and ends in the middle of the same sentence, and has 17 points that could be considered its beginning. Truly unique. 


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How to Be Invisible: Lyrics Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780571350940
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Faber & Faber Social - January 8th, 2019

Kate Bush was the first woman in England to have a self-penned #1 single, and the first woman anywhere to have a platinum self-penned album. She's a genius. Take the song "Breathing": a fetus sings about the nuclear fallout it's taking in from its mother. But then she turns around and does tearful love songs, Broadway ballads, and glitchy computer funk. This is one of the all-time great lyric books.


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This Isn't Happening: Radiohead's
$17.99
ISBN: 9780306845673
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Hachette Books - June 8th, 2021

I heard Kid A when I was 11 and it was like finding religion. Hyden goes into a lot of cultural commentary, which I skipped because I only care about the album (his writing on the band/album is GREAT). Of course, Thom said the vocal effect on EIIRP was Jonny scrubbing a ProTools file, and Hyden says it was a Kaoss pad, but whatever. This book pointed out Ed's old blog to me! 


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Human Flow: Stories from the Global Refugee Crisis Cover Image
By Weiwei Ai, Boris Cheshirkov (Editor), Ryan Heath (Editor)
$29.95
ISBN: 9780691207049
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Princeton University Press - December 1st, 2020

First-hand accounts are absolutely necessary when approaching human issues. Numbers and sound bites can't convey the same nuance, or induce the same empathy. The mix presented here of refugees alongside "big-picture" political professionals allows us to have an intimate look at something which is all too easy to misunderstand when presented in the brief articles which normally make up our exposure to it. 


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The Melancholy of Anatomy: Stories Cover Image
$14.95
ISBN: 9780385721202
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Anchor - April 2nd, 2002

SHELLEY Jackson, not Shirley. These stories, all based on bodily parts/functions/failures, have engaging prose that's able to summon genuine emotion, and are also just the weirdest and funniest dang things I've read in ages. What do you do when the egg from your period keeps growing? My top story: the medieval guide to everyone's favorite, uh, I guess the term is "marital aid." An author having a great, surefooted ol' time!


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The Gucci Mane Guide to Greatness Cover Image
By Gucci Mane, Soren Baker (With)
$28.00
ISBN: 9781982146788
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Simon & Schuster - October 13th, 2020

No witness to his rise denies it: he worked obsessively hard on music (even when it wasn't close to profitable), battled his personal demons and won, and now he's a healthy, sober millionaire who clearly loves and respects his wife. I'm not normally one for self-help books, and especially not celebrity advice, but I believe Gucci, and absorbing these words from a trustworthy source made me feel empowered and alive. 


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Baseless: My Search for Secrets in the Ruins of the Freedom of Information Act Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780735215757
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Penguin Press - July 21st, 2020

Baker is an incredibly good writer, which makes it easy to digest the dark points brought up in this book, which is centered around his research into the USA's interest in (and possible deployment of) biological weaponry during the Cold War. It doubles as an indictment of the government's disdain for the Freedom of Information Act. If you didn't yet realize that our security apparatuses are evil, then ooooh boooy..........


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Cynicism (MIT Press Essential Knowledge) Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780262537889
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: MIT Press - May 5th, 2020

Diogenes rules! The ancient philosophy of Cynicism (as opposed to the modern definition) rejected those superfluous concerns of the world which people now increasingly realize have been integral to the downfall of nature and our collective sanity. This book often presents Cynicism as possessing a zen-like ineffability, but it still may help you articulate why what seems sane to many is truly insane, and vice versa.


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The WEIRDest People in the World: How the West Became Psychologically Peculiar and Particularly Prosperous Cover Image
$35.00
ISBN: 9780374173227
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - September 8th, 2020

Don't let the cover fool you: this isn't arguing that Western society is awesome. It's more a breakdown of how historical factors made the Western psyche so freakishly aberrant that it developed into the chimera we  see around and within us. A compelling book which makes plain that we are not experiencing consensus reality and "logical" views, but a cultural, anthropological mode by which we organize the world.  


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J R Cover Image
By William Gaddis, Joy Williams (Introduction by)
$24.95
ISBN: 9781681374680
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: NYRB Classics - October 20th, 2020

Thrilled to see a reissue of this book! Told entirely (or nearly) in dialogue, this is an overlooked classic of American satire which captures our post-Horatio Alger spirit of economic fervor through the entrepreneurial instincts of a precocious kid. The adults around him are represented in an equally wryly funny—but poignant—fashion. See if you can spot which '90s author stole their entire model for dialogue rhythm from Gaddis. 


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Soviet Texts Cover Image
$22.00
ISBN: 9781946433077
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Ugly Duckling Presse - February 1st, 2020

It's no surprise that we hadn't heard of Prigov until this moment, given how unabashedly Russian he was and how America long regarded that state of being. Now we have the pleasure of gazing through this window into the vastness of Soviet life. The universal beauty of washing dishes, looking back at the waning of youthful vigor. No need for me to gussy it up: the writing is great.


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Shredders: Girls Who Skate Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781984857385
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Ten Speed Press - August 11th, 2020

I wish I had a cool niece to give this to! An amazing book that runs the gamut of all kinds of people and skate styles. This operates as a technical manual for skating, a baseball-card-like guide to heroes and promising amateurs in the sport, and a discussion of gender in a community that has long been bro-centric. It's the perfect gift for that rad, kinetic person you know. 


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Kids Write Jokes Cover Image
$9.99
ISBN: 9781524851996
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Andrews McMeel Publishing - June 18th, 2019

The Kids Write Jokes Twitter is one of the four or five things that can make me smile right now, and I was over the moon when I heard they have a book. These kids are geniuses—we grown folk are NOT the masters of comedy. What did the big baby say to the little baby? "Where is the medium baby?" Why are snakes long? Because they are old. Often gut-bustingly funny. 


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