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Nick's Recommendations

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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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Law as Refuge of Anarchy: Societies Without Hegemony or State (Untimely Meditations #15) Cover Image
$19.95
ISBN: 9780262536585
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Published: MIT Press - April 2nd, 2019

(Since this is a hot-button issue, let me say that true anarchism is not about lawlessness, it's an alternate system of democracy.) This book's full of dense theory, but if you can handle that then it's an informative read, tackling a question currently on the minds of many: is anarcho-syndicalism possible in the real world? As Amborn skillfully proves, the answer is yes because it has existed in the world for a long time. 


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Black Mountain Poems Cover Image
By Jonathan C. Creasy (Editor)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780811228978
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: New Directions - November 26th, 2019

People are showing an increased interest these days in alternate forms of communal living. Well, why not turn to the fruits of one of the foremost 20th century experiments in it? Black Mountain was a project of shared responsibility as a way of unleashing shared creativity, and this book contains many of the fantastic works that came out of it. 


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Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra Cover Image
$24.95
ISBN: 9781478008415
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Duke University Press - May 15th, 2020

I love Sun Ra more than words can say. A hero of art and philosophy, an iconic visionary who made so many excursions into the farthest realms of music that it seems beyond human—and escaping humanness was, for him, the whole point. This book is the best resource on the whole of Ra's life, and is a testament to what is possible when someone truly, deeply believes in art and a more beautiful future.  


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My Baby First Birthday Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9781947793811
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Tin House Books - May 12th, 2020

Love it or hate it, Zhang is doing something interesting here. She takes chances, uses common parlance (even internet-style) in a way that seems honest and not an ironic affectation, and these poems are so charged with anger and neuroses and pseudo-incestuousness that they're hard to put down. These pieces aren't melodious odes to cranes, and I'm glad. 


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The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power Cover Image
$22.99
ISBN: 9781541758001
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: PublicAffairs - March 3rd, 2020

A meticulous book—maybe essential reading. This affects us all, and we have a chance to change it. It's increasingly the norm in tech and government for our digital lives to be tracked incessantly, and for the information mined from us to be used to manipulate our political, personal, and financial choices. Zuboff can help show the nature of the beast, and then it's up to us to fight for an age of ethical interconnection.


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The Three Christs of Ypsilanti: Movie tie-in edition Cover Image
By Milton Rokeach, Rick Moody (Introduction by)
$18.95
ISBN: 9781681375076
Availability: NOT on our shelves - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: NYRB Classics - January 22nd, 2020

I read this when it was out of print and loved it so much that I wanted to adapt it into a movie. "You snooze, you lose" is true, as you can see. Still, this is a great book. The experiment has some questionable attributes (it was still the Wild West of psychology), but witnessing the nuances in the symptoms of these three Jesuses is fascinating and humanistic. Very readable and rewarding.  


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Broken Stars: Contemporary Chinese Science Fiction in Translation Cover Image
By Ken Liu
$18.99
ISBN: 9781250297686
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Tor Books - April 14th, 2020

A few years after reading it, Ken Liu's last collection of Chinese SF in translation, Invisible Planets, stands out to me  as having been the most interesting sci-fi anthology I've read in a long time (maybe ever), and Broken Stars is just as strong. The stories here have a big range, and are often welcome departures from tired genre tropes. If you like your outer space tinted with beauty and sadness, give this a shot. 


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Social Anarchism or Lifestyle Anarchism: An Unbridgeable Chasm Cover Image
$14.00
ISBN: 9781873176832
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Published: AK Press - July 1st, 2001

Bookchin—an anarchist activist/theorist from Vermont—is the spiritual godfather of the North Syrian Kurdish autonomy movement, and was ahead of the curve on ecologically sound political models. This is a good primer for his work, and it forces you to take a hard look at whether you really care about changing anything or if you're just wearing a revolutionary attitude as a pretty badge on an ineffectual bourgeois lifestyle. 


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Why I Am Not a Buddhist Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780300226553
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Yale University Press - January 28th, 2020

I grew up in the Buddhist modernism this book describes. Over time, I realized that I was cherry-picking secular precepts from a religion which required types of faith and worship that were fundamentally at odds with my preferred "rationalist" interpretation of it. This book does a great job of articulating the strained relationship between the tradition itself and our pop-science rebranding of it. 


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Virtuoso Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781937512873
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Two Dollar Radio - January 14th, 2020

A story fueled by punk, confused, battered back-alley heart. Moskovich has a knack for embedding moments with unexpected, nonlinear metaphors that turn your brain in just the right way to make things come alive. Zorka, a feral child of late-Soviet emotional chaos, is an impressive character for anyone who understands a life of grimy rebellion. The literary equivalent of a My Bloody Valentine album. 


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Nothing Is True and Everything Is Possible: The Surreal Heart of the New Russia Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781610396004
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: PublicAffairs - November 10th, 2015

This book's so wild that I've been having dreams of talking to Vladimir Putin. Pomerantsev shows us a nation attempting to keep a smile on despite conflicted feelings under a new kind of dictatorship after a period of mafia rule and old dictatorships. Gangsters con their way into influential PR jobs. "Gold digging" becomes so accepted that manuals on how to do it are bestsellers. Viva la difference.


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The New Voices of Science Fiction Cover Image
By Hannu Rajaniemi (Editor), Jacob Weisman (Editor), Nino Cipri
$17.95
ISBN: 9781616962913
Availability: NOT on our shelves - Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Tachyon Publications - November 13th, 2019

Behold, these are the young bucks holding the keys to the kingdom! There's a range in material here, from abstract social allegory to comedy to classic adventure stories and hard SF, and you're bound to find something that you like. This is a medley, reflecting the breadth of the new generation, so find the authors in it that you like and then go explore their other work! I really enjoyed "The Sharing Place."


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Space Invaders: A Novel Cover Image
By Nona Fernández, Natasha Wimmer (Translated by)
$14.00
ISBN: 9781644450079
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Graywolf Press - November 5th, 2019

An incredibly sad and chilling little book that deftly sketches out childhood, political unrest, regret, the realm of dreams, and — of course — the hit video game Space Invaders. Fernandez's chapters are like poems, the language always a purified and unwavering memorial to those lost in horrendous circumstances. A wonderful new (to the USA) author with whom to acquaint yourself. 


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The Crystal World Cover Image
By J. G. Ballard, Robert Macfarlane (Introduction by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250144805
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Picador - June 12th, 2018

Consider this a grandparent of Annihilation (at least the movie, which directly references it). The world unleashed here is rendered almost touchable by Ballard's famously amazing prose, and the conceptual framework of what's happening is left shrouded in mystery which keeps it from getting pedantic. A classic adventure story. Get blasted by shotguns next to ruby trees! Melt into the pressurized sands of time! 


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Ice: 50th Anniversary Edition Cover Image
By Anna Kavan, Jonathan Lethem (Foreword by), Kate Zambreno (Afterword by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780143131991
Availability: On Our Shelves Now. Click on the title to see details.
Published: Penguin Classics - November 14th, 2017

A book subtly representing the pains of abusive marriages and drug addiction using a bevy of ingenious structural tricks and fantastical landscapes to take the reader's mind through emotional spaces. Jumps in time unmoor you, leaps between fantasy and reality show self-delusion, and a ceaseless, futile chase stands in for... well, probably a lot of stuff. Complex, genre-defiant, and expertly written.