Daniel's Staff Recommendations

Daniel Goldin is the proprietor of Boswell Book Company. For more of his paperback recommendations, please visit the Boswell book club recommendations page.

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How to Read a Book: A Novel By Monica Wood Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780063243675
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books - May 7th, 2024

Violet has been recently released from prison after serving time for manslaughter. Harriet is the coordinator of the prison book club. Frank is a recently retired bookstore handyman but is also the husband of the woman who died in Violet’s car crash. Their lives collide at Wadsworth Books - a bit of a coincidence, but Portland, Maine isn’t that big a city. Violet’s family has abandoned her, and while Harriet has the support of her kids and niece, they are all planning to move away. And Frank is dealing with the complicated grief of widowhood. So, there it is - a story of found family, which I love, and a lot of book reading and discussion, which I love too. But it gets better – Violet gets a job in a Parrot lab at the local university, and it turns out they are both smarter than you know and an important part of the story. Dare I say it? If you’ve been looking for a book that captures all the joys of Remarkably Bright Creatures, I think you’ve got it here.


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Look Away: A True Story of Murders, Bombings, and a Far-Right Campaign to Rid Germany of Immigrants By Jacob Kushner Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9781538708118
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grand Central Publishing - May 7th, 2024

Jacob Kushner, a Milwaukee-raised international journalist, chronicles the crimes of two young men and a woman who, over the course of a more than a decade, brutally murdered Muslim immigrants. To support themselves and their killing spree, they would hold up banks, wearing only Halloween masks and getting away on mountain bikes. How could they have not been caught for so long? Despite Germany being a country so aware of its past and, for many years, so open to immigration, it’s not surprising that White supremacy continued to hold sway with a percentage of the populace. But Look Away also notes that the National Socialists continued to thrive not just because of donors and law enforcement sympathies, but because of a misguided attempt to rely on informants, a shocking source of government funding for these groups. If, having devoured Killers of the Flower Moon and A Fever in the Heartland, you are looking for a book that puts outrageous criminal acts in the context of history, I have got one for you!


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The Sicilian Inheritance: A Novel By Jo Piazza Cover Image
$25.20
ISBN: 9780593474167
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dutton - April 2nd, 2024

With a failed marriage and failed restaurant in her rearview mirror, Sara Marsala gets surprising news on the death of a relative - the will stipulates a trip to Sicily to spread Great Aunt Rosie’s ashes. But that’s not all, as Sara has also inherited a plot of land that was originally owned by her namesake relative Serafina. But wait, there’s more – the family story, that Serafina died of an illness before she could join her husband Gio in the United States, doesn’t ring true. Was she murdered? The Sicilian Inheritance alternates between the two timelines, keeping up the suspense and offering intriguing parallels. The result is a deliciously satisfying, action packed mystery, full of strong woman characters, some forbidden romance, and lots of Sicilian lore.


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I Cheerfully Refuse By Leif Enger Cover Image
$22.40
ISBN: 9780802162939
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press - April 2nd, 2024

Rainy has cobbled together a life with his beloved partner, a resourceful bookseller in a post-publishing world, living in an Enger-esque Minnesota town on the banks of Lake Superior. His fragile existence is upended by the appearance of a squelette, an indentured runaway on the run from his captors. No good can come of this, and catastrophe follows. Among the losses is a collection of essays that gives this novel its title, written by the legendary Molly Thorn, whose body of work is so vivid I can’t believe that folks won’t be searching for it. Rainy’s escape leads to a series of Odyssey/Gulliver like scrapes, and the despite the help of some sympathetic folks he meets along the way and one young resourceful girl, also sort of indentured (Rainy can’t help but help), a climactic confrontation is inevitable. So much tension! And desperation! But because this is still a Leif Enger book, there are some things that don’t change – his faith in community, a narrator you can’t help but love despite his flaws, and the joy that radiates from talking about things he loves - in this case sailing and music and books. Plus, the worldbuilding is fascinating.   


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The Great Divide: A Novel By Cristina Henriquez Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780063291324
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - March 5th, 2024

As Henríquez did in The Book of Unknown Americans, a chorus of voices come together to paint a larger narrative, this time about the building of the Panama Canal. Migrants from Barbados looking to better their lives, natives whose villages are due to be destroyed by flooding, a scientist hoping to eliminate malaria – The Great Divide gives voice to folks who aren’t always represented in history books while acknowledging the engineering marvel that is the Canal. A story filled with passion, humor, heartbreak, and romance.  


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The Road from Belhaven: A novel By Margot Livesey Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780593537046
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - February 6th, 2024

When Lizzie’s parents die and her grandparents take custody of her, it slowly becomes clear that she’s meant to inherit the family farm, with only a few complications. One, the boy she’s interested in has big-city plans. Two, Lizzie discovers she has an older sister. And three, Lizzie’s somewhat uncontrollable second sight predicts more complications. Yet despite not being able to control this gift, she can still make her own choices. Set in nineteenth century Scotland, Lizzie’s hardscrabble coming-of-age story is inspired by Livesey’s own grandmother. A compelling story, beautifully told (my favorite Livesey novel to date!), and likely appeal to fans of Claire Keegan and Jeannette Walls.   


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Selling the Dream: The Billion-Dollar Industry Bankrupting Americans By Jane Marie Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9781982155773
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - March 12th, 2024

Based on The Dream podcast, Jane Marie’s look at multi-level marketing captures the highs (Avon, maybe?), the lows (too numerous to mention), and everything in between. MLM is officially any business where the focus of the business is on building a network rather than selling a product, so we’re talking Amway, Mary Kay, Herbalife, Tupperware, NXIVM, the company with busily-patterned leggings. Sometime there isn’t even a product – you might be selling leadership training or NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), which, along with conservative values and girl-boss culture (most companies recruit heavily female, though that’s not so much at the top), seem to be joined at the hip to many MLM companies. Marie also follows the dogged but ineffective attempts to rein in many of these companies, often to little success. Entertaining, education, and a little disturbing.   


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Real Americans: A novel By Rachel Khong Cover Image
$23.20
ISBN: 9780593537251
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - April 30th, 2024

From the peasant farms of China’s Cultural Revolution to cutting-edge tech in San Francisco, Rachel Khong’s expansive second novel tackles money, class, genetics, family, and cultural identity, along with all the requisite secrets and betrayals that a story like this entails. The focus is on three generations of one family, Lily, Nick, and May, and my only complaint is that each time I got to the end of one character’s story, I didn’t want it to end. We can’t stop talking about this book among ourselves, and it’s likely that once you read Real Americans, you’ll want all of your friends to read it, too.  


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You Only Call When You're in Trouble: A Novel By Stephen McCauley Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781250296795
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Henry Holt and Co. - January 9th, 2024

Tom is a sixty-something architect whose personal and professional lives are on the ropes; he’s one lost commission and one argument away from losing his job and his boyfriend. His sister Dorothy’s got an ill-conceived scheme to open a retreat center in Woodstock with a flash-in-the-pan personal growth guru. And his niece Cecily’s teaching gig and relationship are also in trouble, due to a Title IX scandal and the meddling mother of her boyfriend. So what’s a family to do but gather together for the center’s grand opening? To my thinking, McCauley channels mid-20th Century English women writers, where love is longed for, but friendship is the true source of happiness, and adds a little (though in this case, not much) sexual energy. His latest, a mix of wry humor and emotional connection, poses the question: mistakes were made – now what?  


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Sipsworth By Simon Van Booy Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781567927948
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: David R. Godine Publisher - May 7th, 2024

Having lost her long-time husband and her adult son, Helen Cartwright has returned home to the town where she grew up, with no plans beyond dying there. But this end game is interrupted by the arrival of a mouse. As she figures out what to do, her solitary life is punctured by the folks she must consult to solve the problem – a hardware store owner, a librarian, a doctor. Imagine the twists of Fredrik Backman, the philosophy of Matt Haig, and the animal bonding of Shelby Van Pelt, all told in a playful yet heartfelt style that is recognizably Simon Van Booy’s.


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Solving the Price Is Right: How Mathematics Can Improve Your Decisions on and Off the Set of America's Celebrated Game Show By Justin L. Bergner Cover Image
$29.95
ISBN: 9781633888517
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Prometheus Books - March 15th, 2023

This is a fascinating but clearly offbeat book that looks at the popular game show through the eyes of probability, statistics, and behavioral psychology. There is analysis of how to bid on Contestants’ Row, strategies for the Showcase Showdown and for seventy-plus pricing games. What’s the best strategy for the first contestant bidding? Why do most people reject the first Showcase? What are the product categories where people seriously underbid? What is the one big prize that nobody seems to want? You have to plow through data and some math talk for the juicy bits, but it was all worth it - I couldn’t stop reading.


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Tom Lake: A Reese's Book Club Pick By Ann Patchett Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780063327528
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - August 1st, 2023

For every Jane Fonda or Rita Moreno, famous actresses into their eighties, there is a Kim Novak, who married an equine veterinarian and lived a quiet life in the countryside. Imagine if you had an acting career and then didn’t, but someone you know (the acclaimed Peter Duke) went on to a glorious career. Your family knows the story, but they don’t exactly have it quite right. More than that, each of your children has created their own mythology of the story. With the world locked down, Lara and Joe and their daughters Emily, Maisie, and Nell, are brought together to the family farm to unpack that story, set at a season of summer stock at Tom Lake, Michigan. I love how Lara’s career jump starts with a small production of Our Town, and that Thornton Wilder resonates through the rest of the story. And I love the way Patchett can write about the complications of families, even loving ones like the Nelsons. The story may be quiet, but it will stick with me for a long time.    


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Olivetti By Allie Millington Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781250326935
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Feiwel & Friends - March 26th, 2024

The Brindle family isn’t doing too well. Mother Beatrice has disappeared and so has Olivetti, the family typewriter. Young Ernest, the family loner, is the first to learn the secret – Olivetti has been pawned. Only the machine may hold the secret of what’s happened, but he’ll need the help of young Quinn at the pawn shop to help him. Like many under-represented voices in literature (I’m thinking of trees and space-exploring robots and octopi), Olivetti is simultaneously philosophical and wry, and the story itself is heartfelt and a good conversation starter. Who knew what typewriters hold in their barrels? 


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Anita de Monte Laughs Last: Reese's Book Club Pick (A Novel) By Xochitl Gonzalez Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781250786210
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Flatiron Books - March 5th, 2024

While Olga Dies Dreaming used the form of romantic comedy to tell its story, Xochitl Gonzalez merges the forms of historical fiction and magical realism to document the life of an artist (fictionalized but based on a real person) whose legacy is obscured by racism, sexism, and murder. Anita de Monte is making a name for herself in the mid-1980s when she hooks up with the modernist sculptor Jack Martin. Only 15 years later, Raquel Toro, Brown undergrad, whose mother toiled in the MOMA cafeteria so her daughter could achieve her dreams, now has one in a RISD fellowship, where she will be studying the work of that very artist, while navigating the major and minor aggressions a Brown girl must face in a White-run system. She certainly doesn’t know that her true mission is to right the wrong of de Monte’s literal and figurative disappearance. But can she avoid treading the same dangerous ground when she falls for a wealthy White artist? Gonzalez does a great job of immersing Raquel’s story in the student hip hop culture of the late 1990s, particularly through the lens of her radio station. And I love that the story is partly told through de Monte’s ghost, who can sometimes take the form of a bat. 


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The Anthropologists By Aysegül Savas Cover Image
$24.99
ISBN: 9781639733064
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - July 9th, 2024

Asya and her husband Manu live in an unnamed city, both foreigners from another unnamed country. They hang out with friends, witnessing one’s love triangle and another’s struggle with dementia, get occasional visits from family, and gather stories about visitors to a local park. Their direct goal is simple – to find a better apartment. But to do this, they need to understand who they are as people individually and as a couple together. Despite the lack of specificity, there’s a spirit of the flaneur that runs through the pages. And for a book so spare, Savaş writes with beauty and insight.


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When Women Ran Fifth Avenue: Glamour and Power at the Dawn of American Fashion By Julie Satow Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780385548755
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Doubleday - June 4th, 2024

Bonwit Teller, Lord & Taylor, and Henri Bendel were, at their peaks, three of the toniest stores in Manhattan. We take it for granted nowadays that if there’s one industry where women can make their mark, it’s retail, but Hortense Odlum, Dorothy Shaver, and Geraldine Stutz were rarities, and each was forced to make sacrifices to stand out in the business world. When you’re talking department stores in the twentieth century, there aren’t really any happy endings, but in the case of at least two of the three women, success and happiness were elusive. There were moments when I wish Satow had been able to include the footnoted Beatrice Fox Auerbach, who ended her stint at G Fox & Company by selling out for boatloads of money. Now that’s success in business! But alas, her store, while surely a beauty (I visited several times) was based in Hartford, meaning it hardly counts in publishing.  Fortunately her reputation lives on, as she was said to be the inspiration for the Rachel Menkin character in Mad Men. And that’s not the only pop culture reference – Hortense Odlum was apparently the real-life model for Mary Haines in The Women. And if I can become obsessed by the footnotes, you can only imagine how engrossed I was with the main story, of three women who despite all odds, were at least for a time, able to rise to the top of their field, and when that field is glamourous New York retail, so much the better. 


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While You Were Out: An Intimate Family Portrait of Mental Illness in an Era of Silence By Meg Kissinger Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781250793775
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Celadon Books - September 5th, 2023

In this engrossing memoir, long-time journalist Kissinger chronicles life in an old-school Catholic family in the Chicago and Milwaukee suburbs. Kissinger grew up with seven siblings, about four or five more than her mom could handle. With both parents self-medicating, it’s no wonder mental illness manifested in many of the next generation, to sometimes heartbreaking effect. If you loved Hidden Valley Road but wondered what it would have been like to hear the story from one of the children, While You Were Out is the book for you.


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Dogland: Passion, Glory, and Lots of Slobber at the Westminster Dog Show By Tommy Tomlinson Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781982149321
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - April 23rd, 2024

I love subculture books, and being that my prior knowledge is based on repeated viewings Best in Show, I figured I had a lot to learn about competitive dog shows. Why are so many of us obsessed with in-bred dogs that are prone to hereditary diseases and shorter life-spans? How did the French Bulldog rocket to the top breed? Tomlinson looks at the history of dog domestication and breeding, and the etiquette and the strategy of showing. After a general overview, the story focuses on Striker, a Samoyed who is in contention for this year’s best in show. But don’t judge a book by its title; Striker was not likely to win titles by slobbering. By its conclusion, Dogland zooms back out to get at the heart of the canine-human connection. I dare you not to get all choked up, even if, like me, you are at least temporarily dogless.


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The Cliffs: A novel By J. Courtney Sullivan Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780593319154
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Knopf - July 16th, 2024

Having possibly destroyed her marriage and her career at a Harvard history museum with her uncontrolled drinking, Jane Flanagan returns to Awadapquit, Maine, where she takes up residence in her late mother’s house, readying it for sale. On arrival, she discovers that the falling down mansion where she would escape in her teens has been, like so much of the town, fixed up beyond recognition by a new summer arrival; Jane, with her job in a holding pattern, is hired to research its story. Like so many folks in The Cliffs, as well as the town itself, that house is hiding a few secrets, which Jane slowly uncovers, spurred on by a local medium, no less. Sullivan takes on a lot here – alcoholism, indigenous history, family legacies, mysticism, historic preservation – and triumphantly puts them all together into an absorbing, philosophical, yet summer vacation-worthy package.


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Guilty Creatures: Sex, God, and Murder in Tallahassee, Florida By Mikita Brottman Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9781668020531
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Atria/One Signal Publishers - July 23rd, 2024

Mike, Denise, Brian, and Kathy grew up in the Southern Baptist tradition in Tallahassee – sports focused, no sex before marriage, and certainly no drugs. But their marriages and subsequent freedoms from their families’ restrictions led to a sort of delayed Rumspringa. When it came time for Mike and Kathy to settle down, their spouses Denise and Brian kept partying, a bond that led to an extramarital affair. And then Mike died in a tragic fishing accident. There were rumors, but no evidence. Guilty Creatures is a little more straightforward true crime than I normally read, but there is cultural context here too, with a culture that regards divorce as almost worse than murder (at least if you got caught) and an example of how with regained piety, you could explain away almost anything.  I love the image of the earnest subdivisions set amidst the swampy alligator ponds, an image that matches not just the place, but the people living there.


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Sandwich: A Novel By Catherine Newman Cover Image
$26.99
ISBN: 9780063345164
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Harper - June 18th, 2024

One family, one week – that’s the setup for Catherine Newman’s big-hearted brainy beach read. For those of us in the Midwest, I probably need to note that Sandwich is a town on Cape Cod. And Rocky, the heroine, is classic sandwich generation, dealing with her newly adult children, her newly fragile parents, a newly uncontrollably menopausal body, and a whole mess of secrets. Sometimes I find first person narratives claustrophobic, but Rocky’s voice is captivating, alternatingly funny, sad, angry, frustrated, and ten other adjectives you can discover yourself when you read Sandwich.   


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The Price You Pay (A Peter Ash Novel #8) By Nick Petrie Cover Image
$29.00
ISBN: 9780593540558
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - February 6th, 2024

I’m guessing when Nick Petrie talks to fans, a lot of them want to know when we’re going to read more about Lewis’s backstory. Well, here it is! Lewis’s former buddy Teddy has been living in the Northwoods, trying to achieve a normal life. But wouldn’t you know it, his therapist-lover blabs to another guy she’s sleeping with, and wouldn’t you know it, he has ties to a crime syndicate that knows that Teddy’s stories of the Ghost Killers, who are so legendary that there’s a quarter-million-dollar bounty on bringing the gang in alive. The Ghost Killers do indeed kill, but they have a code not unlike Dexter, the serial killer of serial killers – only the extreme baddies, only when necessary. This endangers the life not just of Lewis and the gang, but everyone they love, and that includes Peter Ash and June, once they decide to help out, which of course they do. This is one of the more brutal entries in the series, and though I consider myself to have a delicate stomach for these sorts of things, I couldn’t stop reading!  


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Let Us Descend: A Novel By Jesmyn Ward Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781982104498
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - October 24th, 2023

It’s hard to put into words how I felt while reading Jesmyn Ward’s fourth novel. The outer life of Annis, an enslaved teenage woman, is one of constant struggle. Starting at the plantation where her White father separates her first from her mother and then her closest ally, she is marched from the Carolinas to New Orleans, where she is put up for sale at a slave market, only to land at an equally dire sugar plantation in Louisiana. Along the way, she communicates with Aza, a spirit who has taken the name of Annis’s warrior grandmother. Let Us Descend might be more of a historical than its predecessors, but it shares the exquisite poetic language, a setting that is alternatingly bleak and ethereal, and memorable characters, centered by the unforgettable Annis.   


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Secrets of a Scottish Isle (A Jane Wunderly Mystery #5) By Erica Ruth Neubauer Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781496741189
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Kensington - March 26th, 2024

Jane Wunderly and her beau Redvers visit the Scottish island of Iona to investigate the worthiness of one Robert Nightingale as a potential intelligence contact. With Nightingale is leading a spinoff occult sect of The Order of the Golden Bough, Jane must pose as an initiate. Then one of the followers, a wealthy one at that, is found naked and dead on a pentagram, and not one but two wills are uncovered. Could it be…murder? Wunderly must work on her own this time – Redvers is lying low, likely to be recognized, and I guess Aunt Millie didn’t think the accommodations were up to par. Based on a true crime, Secrets of a Scottish Isle continues Neubauer’s historical series with a distinctive setting, engaging supporting characters (including WB Yeats!), a few secrets to be unlocked, some humorous moments (at several points Jane is flabbergasted that more people aren’t questioning her presence), and an important next step for the romance of Jane and Redvers.


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The Wild Journey of Juniper Berry By Chad Morris, Shelly Brown Cover Image
$19.99
ISBN: 9781639930999
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Shadow Mountain - August 15th, 2023

Juniper Berry has always lived in the wild with her parents and two siblings. But when her younger brother gets sick, they have no choice but to seek medical care in civilization, calling into question all the assumptions Juniper has made about life. When Juniper and her sister Skylark are left home alone at their newly revealed extended family, they wind up clogging the plumbing system, leaving the family no alternative than to attend school. In classic middle grade style, Sky loves fitting in with the normal kids, while Juniper cannot make heads or tails of the system. Last year I was recommending Pieces of Blue as a middle-grade novel for adults. Here is one written for kids that explores similar themes of differentness and starting over, in a unique and entertaining way. Jenny recommended this book to me, and my only regret now is taking so long to take her up on the suggestion. She was right in every way!


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Same As It Ever Was: A Novel By Claire Lombardo Cover Image
$24.00
ISBN: 9780385549554
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Doubleday - June 18th, 2024

A chance encounter with an old neighbor and failed friendship leads to memories of that fateful time, derailing Julia Ames’s carefully controlled life in the time leading up to her daughter heading off to college and her son’s marriage. Quandaries come at Julia like Whac-A-Mole, and while it doesn’t quite seem fair, it’s also hard to completely excuse Julia from some of the troubles - you might have to forgive her more than once before you get through Same As It Ever Was. But I think in the end, readers, like me, will be cheering her on, in this compelling and emotionally satisfying coming of (middle) age novel.


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Wellness: A novel By Nathan Hill Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780593536117
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - September 19th, 2023

Jack Baker and Elizabeth Augustine are two people who meet in college in 1990s Wicker Park and fall in love. Thirty years later they are hoping to move with their son to a condo in a wealthy Chicago suburb. That’s a good story in and of itself. But Hill’s second novel, following The Nix, is also about parenting, religion, sex, real estate, Minecraft, placebos, art, controlled Prairie burns, bats, psychology, cleanses, coyotes, conspiracies, and class. Wellness asks the question: do our stories reflect our reality, or do they create said reality? And with all that to cover, 600 pages actually seems a little too short. I loved this novel.