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MARY


Mary is the general manager of Skylight Books and also reads.


Book Recommendations: 
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Winter in the Blood By James Welch, Louise Erdrich (Introduction by), Joy Harjo (Foreword by) Cover Image
By James Welch, Louise Erdrich (Introduction by), Joy Harjo (Foreword by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143105220
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - July 29th, 2008

A gorgeously written novel about the hard lives of imperfect people, including a narrator whose grief and sense of detachment lead him to act with an aimlessness that merges into recklessness. First published in 1974, it's a classic of Native American literature, and an all-around must-read novel.


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The Go-Between By L.P. Hartley, Colm Toibin (Introduction by) Cover Image
By L.P. Hartley, Colm Toibin (Introduction by)
$16.95
ISBN: 9780940322998
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - March 31st, 2002

A classic summer novel, with one of the great first lines in literature: "The past is a foreign country; they do things differently there." Leo is a naive middle-class schoolboy invited to a much wealthier friend's estate in the summer of 1900, where he's enlisted to act as go-between between two participants in an illicit affair, with consequences he can't anticipate or comprehend.


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Trust By Hernan Diaz Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593420317
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Riverhead Books - May 3rd, 2022

The making of a vast fortune told four ways -- as a novel-within-a-novel; as a memoir of questionable reliability; as a first-person account from someone who was there; and in a final, honest depiction that I won't spoil here. This novel is a twisty little puzzle about money, who makes it, and how.


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The Candy House: A Novel By Jennifer Egan Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781476716763
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - April 5th, 2022

If you loved A Visit from the Goon Squad, you're going to love The Candy House, too. Written in the same style—internlinked stories, each told in a different voice or format—this novel is incredibly impressive. It's just so, so well done! It also keeps getting better as you go, with my two favorite sections coming toward the end. And don't worry if you've forgotten most of Goon Squad; you don't need to remember that book to love this one.


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Thank You, Mr. Nixon: Stories By Gish Jen Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780593319895
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - February 1st, 2022

These linked short stories are each great in their own right ("It's the Great Wall!" is a particular highlight), but together their narrators (at turns wistful, bewildered, and annoyed) beautifully illustrate the fast-changing relationship between China and the U.S., from the '70s to the present day.


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10 Minutes 38 Seconds in This Strange World By Elif Shafak Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781635575811
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - October 13th, 2020

A beautiful, bittersweet novel set during the last minutes of a dying woman's consciousness, surveying the events in her past that brought her to that moment, and at the same time painting a fascinating portrait of life in Turkey from the '40s to the '80s.


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Our Country Friends: A Novel By Gary Shteyngart Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781984855121
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Random House - November 2nd, 2021

An entertaining (and anxious) novel about a group of old friends quarantining together at a ramshackle country estate. It's as funny as Shteyngart's previous work, but much more expansive, with an omnicent narrator flitting into the minds of six characters and the ocassional groundhog. It's a fun read but also really very good.


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Matrix: A Novel By Lauren Groff Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781594634499
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Riverhead Books - September 7th, 2021

A novel about a medieval nun may be a hard sell, but this book is fantastic. The illegitimate daughter of a king, deemed unmarriageable, is banished to a failing abbey. In her isolation, she charts a path to power and riches, while setting her nuns to work on bizarre building projects. Unlike anything else I read this year, and so satisfying.


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The Transit of Venus By Shirley Hazzard, Lauren Groff (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Shirley Hazzard, Lauren Groff (Introduction by)
$18.00
ISBN: 9780143135654
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - March 9th, 2021

This novel, originally published in 1980 and just reissued this year, caught me completely by surprise. It has one of the most sophisticatedly structured endings I’ve ever read—all perfectly foreshadowed, and yet still a heartbreaking surprise—as well as drop-dead-gorgeous sentences, sly satire, and an intricate plot. Delight the literary fiction lover on your list with this modern classic!


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Harlem Shuffle: A Novel By Colson Whitehead Cover Image
$28.95
ISBN: 9780385545136
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Doubleday - September 14th, 2021

After winning Pulitzers for The Underground Railroad and The Nickel Boys, Whitehead’s latest is a crime novel set in vividly rendered late-’50s/early ’60s Harlem. Ray Carney is a “slightly bent” used furniture dealer who gets in over his head after a caper gone awry, and the pull between his criminal past and his hard-won present is a morality tale told in subtle shades of gray.


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The Book of Form and Emptiness: A Novel By Ruth Ozeki Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780399563645
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Viking - September 21st, 2021

This novel is just as delightful, sad, and strange as Ozeki’s A Tale for the Time Being. A boy loses his father, and as he grieves, he begins to hear the objects around him speak to him—including the very book you’re reading, which both narrates and carries on a dialogue with its main character. It’s a big-hearted and lovely novel.


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Transcendent Kingdom: A novel By Yaa Gyasi Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781984899767
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - July 6th, 2021

A beautiful examination of family, addiction, and mental health, told from the perspective of a young doctoral student from an immigrant family who is searching for the answers to her family's struggles in science and faith.


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Mothering Sunday: A Romance (Vintage International) By Graham Swift Cover Image
$15.00
ISBN: 9781101971727
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Vintage - January 10th, 2017

A moving, bittersweet, elegant little novel about a single day in 1924 -- featuring a clandestine meeting between two longtimes lovers from very different social classes -- that becomes a major turning point in the life of the main character, an orphaned maid. It's a novel about the end of an era, in more ways than one.


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A Month in the Country By J.L. Carr, Michael Holroyd (Introduction by) Cover Image
By J.L. Carr, Michael Holroyd (Introduction by)
$14.95
ISBN: 9780940322479
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: NYRB Classics - October 31st, 2000

The perfect novel for a hot summer weekend. A World War I veteran takes a summer job restoring a medieval painting in a church. Living in the bell tower, surrounded by idyllic English countryside, and uncovering the mural's depiction of the apocalypse, he begins to come to terms with his memories of the war and his failed marriage. It's a beautiful and haunting treasure of a book.


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Disappearing Earth By Julia Phillips Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780525436225
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - April 7th, 2020

Two young girls go missing one August day in the isolated Russian peninsula of Kamchatka. What follows is a fascinating exploration of the lives directly and indirectly affected by the kidnapping over the following year. It's a window into a one-of-a-kind place, where the issues facing women and girls are all too recognizable.


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Tokyo Ueno Station: A Novel By Yu Miri, Morgan Giles (Translated by) Cover Image
By Yu Miri, Morgan Giles (Translated by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593187524
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - June 22nd, 2021

Narrated by the ghost of a man who migrated to Tokyo to work on the preparations for the 1964 Olympics, fell into homelessness, moved into the enormous encampment in a public park, and ultimately died there. A humanizing portrait of homelesness, and a beautifully told story filled with love, luck, coincidence, and tragedy.


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The Mountains Sing By Que Mai Phan Nguyen Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781643751351
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - March 16th, 2021

A family saga set in Vietnam, starting in the 1940s. It's a beautiful portrayal of perseverance and the will to survive in unimaginable circumstances, with an emphasis on our shared humanity. Bonus: It really puts 2020 into perspective.


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Hamnet By Maggie O'Farrell Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781984898876
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 18th, 2021

A vivid rendering of the marriage between William Shakespeare and his wife (traditionally known as Anne, here as Agnes) and the death of their son Hamnet. Agnes is a fascinating central character, and between her premonitions and deep connection to the natural world, the novel shimmers with magic and possibility and fear and unknowability. For appreciators of beautiful descriptive language.


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Utopia Avenue: A Novel By David Mitchell Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9780812987218
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - May 4th, 2021

Set in 1960s London, this novel is a highly literary take on the classic rise-of-a-rock-band-and-ensuing-craziness story, as only David Mitchell could write it. Fans of Mitchell will find the genre-bending (and callbacks to earlier novels) that he’s famous for, and fans of the music will enjoy his evocative depiction of a scene like no other.


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Memorial: A Novel By Bryan Washington Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780593087275
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Riverhead Books - October 27th, 2020

At the center of this novel are Mike and Ben, separated suddenly by an ocean and not sure what’s happening with their relationship. From this, Bryan Washington spins a deeply affecting, beautifully crafted examination of love in many forms: relationships, family, the challenge of truly knowing those in our lives, and the act of caring for others.


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A Burning: A novel By Megha Majumdar Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780593081259
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 29th, 2021

This tightly plotted page-turner starts with a terrorist attack on a train in West Bengal, and follows the lives of three characters swept up in the aftermath: Jivan, a young Muslim woman from the slums; Lovely, a hijra with dreams of being a movie star; and PT Sir, a teacher with nationalist political ambitions. Timely, and a great read.


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Wittgenstein's Mistress (American Literature) By David Markson, Steven Moore (Afterword by) Cover Image
By David Markson, Steven Moore (Afterword by)
$16.95
Possibly out of print. Email or call to check availability and price.
ISBN: 9781564782113
Published: Dalkey Archive Press - May 1st, 1988

This book grabs your attention from the first page. The novel is told from the perspective of a woman who is either the last creature on earth or just insane. She repeats tidbits from the lives of historical figures (painters, composers, etc.) but changes the details every time, and jumbles them up with her own life story. By the end of book, you can piece together the truth about what happened to this woman, which makes for a beautiful, satisfying conclusion.


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The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Vintage International) By Haruki Murakami Cover Image
$17.95
ISBN: 9780679775430
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1998

This book starts out pretty simply, with a man looking for his wife's missing cat. Then the man's wife goes missing. As his search continues, he meets one fascinating character after another, and gets dragged into the surreal netherworld of Tokyo. It's a page-turning mystery story that's also a beautifully written surreal novel. If you're looking for a fresh read, this is it.


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Caribou Island: A Novel By David Vann Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9780061875731
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - January 3rd, 2012

David Vann is a fantastic, underappreciated novelist.  His writing is gorgeous, and his stories are dark and fascinating.  This novel is a study of a marriage gone horribly awry, set in the unforgiving, rural Alaskan landscape. Not a book for the feint of heart, but so very worth it.


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Tenth of December: Stories By George Saunders Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780812984255
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - January 7th, 2014

One of my favorite short story collections. Haunting, surreal, and so deeply human -- these ones will stick with you long after you're done reading.


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The Friend: A Novel By Sigrid Nunez Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780735219458
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 5th, 2019

I’m not a dog book person, but this isn’t your typical dog book. It’s also the funniest book about grief that I’ve ever read. A woman’s mentor dies, leaving her his Great Dane, a dog she doesn’t want and which is decidedly too large for her apartment. But as time passes, she and the dog grieve together, bond, nearly unravel, and finally heal. The novel is an absolute delight.


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Exhalation By Ted Chiang Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781101972083
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 30th, 2020

A truly remarkable collection, from the author of the story adapted into the movie Arrival. These nine stories are perfect little jewels—mind-benders filled with moral quandaries and dawning realizations. Totally brilliant, and perfect both for sci-fi aficionados and those who last dipped into the genre five years ago with Annihilation.


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On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous: A Novel By Ocean Vuong Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780525562023
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Penguin Press - June 4th, 2019

Written in jaw-droppingly beautiful prose, and framed as a letter from a son to his illiterate mother, this novel was my favorite of 2019. Vuong (who’s also a poet) draws from his own life in telling the story of a boy raised by a mother and grandmother who’d survived the Vietnam War, and the cycles of violence and trauma that follow their family to the U.S. 


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The Nickel Boys: A Novel By Colson Whitehead Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780345804341
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - June 30th, 2020

An incredibly powerful novel about two boys sentenced to a reform school in Jim Crow–era Florida. Whitehead is a masterful storyteller, and through the experiences of idealistic Elwood and his cynical friend Turner, he explores the durability of the human spirit in the face of cruelty and evil. A dark book, yes, but one of the very best novels of the year.


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Coventry: Essays By Rachel Cusk Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250619587
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - July 14th, 2020

Anyone who's read Rachel Cusk's Outline trilogy of novels won't need convincing to pick up her essays; her beautiful, precise sentences are just as captivating in her nonfiction. My favorite is the title essay, in which Cusk starts with an anecdote about her parents not speaking to her and expands that into an examination of the many kinds of silence in relationships. A great gift for anyone who wants to be wowed by perfect sentences and piercing insights.


The Topeka School: A Novel By Ben Lerner Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250758002
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - September 29th, 2020

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Girl, Woman, Other: A Novel (Booker Prize Winner) By Bernardine Evaristo Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780802156983
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Grove Press, Black Cat - November 5th, 2019

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Interior Chinatown: A Novel (Vintage Contemporaries) By Charles Yu Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307948472
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - November 17th, 2020

The Memory Police: A Novel By Yoko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder (Translated by) Cover Image
By Yoko Ogawa, Stephen Snyder (Translated by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9781101911815
Availability: Not in Stock. Available to Order.
Published: Vintage - July 28th, 2020