Maria's Picks

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Maria's accent comes from Sweden, but she is not so sure about the rest. Most of her books had to stay on the other side of the ocean and the rest she gave away while building a tiny house, which is probably why she wants to work in a bookstore.

Leonora in the Morning Light Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982120511
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - April 6th, 2021

The painter and writer Leonora Carrington lends herself to a captivating story as she was part of the surrealist circle of creatives in Paris at the onset of WWII; had a romantic relationship with Max Ernst; and a mind living in the twilight of sanity and insanity. Michaela Carter has done more than write historical fiction at its very best, giving us a meticulously researched, nuanced, and well rendered portrait of a powerful woman, Leonora In the Morning Light is a passionately written love story about artists that shows intimate truths beyond the weight of history and war. Carter's admiration for Carrington is prominent, yet she does not glamorize her complicated mind and tumultuous life. I was utterly swept away by the story, the writing, and the people, and I couldn't recommend it more. 

Solutions and Other Problems Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982156947
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gallery Books - September 22nd, 2020

The long-awaited follow-up to Hyperbole and a Half doesn't disappoint. Brosh manages to show the humor and absurdity of our neurosis and quirks without making light of depression or life's struggles. Both very funny and touching.

Swann's Way: In Search of Lost Time, Volume 1 (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Marcel Proust, Lydia Davis (Translated by), Lydia Davis (Introduction by), Lydia Davis (Notes by), Christopher Prendergast (Editor)
ISBN: 9780142437964
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - November 30th, 2004

Proust's classic is by many considered "the first novel." Swann's Way celebrates phenomenology and memory and its rapturous descriptions of the minutia of everyday perceptions wouild elevate any life to a novel-worthy story. Proust's elegant yet luscious language makes most other writing seem pale and dull in comparison.

On Truth and Untruth: Selected Writings Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062930842
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - August 6th, 2019

Nietzsche remains one of the msot relevant and provocative philosophers of all time. On Truth and Unruth is a collection of his writings on truth and its relation to language. He humorously criticizes how we invent names and concepts, yet turn back to them as if they exist separately from us. This is an easy read and a good introduction to his thinking.

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The Ramayana: A New Retelling of Valmiki's Ancient Epic--Complete and Comprehensive (Tarcher Cornerstone Editions) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143111801
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: TarcherPerigee - September 6th, 2016

I was surprised how touched I was by The Ramayana, and that I would come to consider it my favorite spiritual text. On more than one occasion, I was moved to tears by Rama's and Sita's commitment to the dharma and their unfailing goodness. This particular version is written in a very clear and simple prose; helping turn ancient mythology into a heart-wrenching page-turner. 

The Hole Cover Image
By Hiroko Oyamada, David Boyd (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811228879
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - October 6th, 2020

Oyamada creates her quietly magical stories with a talent for evasion - she evades plot as we know it and solutionas and answers of any kind. We glide through the main character's experiences, sharing her mild confusion and growing curiosity as to what kind of story she has found herself within. The result is sparse, elegant, and mysterious.

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Master Class on Writing, Reading, and Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9781984856029
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - January 12th, 2021

What a treat it is to sit in on George Saunders's master class in Russian literature! He takes us through several selectively picked short stories by Chekhov, Turgenev, Tolstoy, and Gogol - showing us how they create the magic that they do. It is an invitation for aspiring writers, but also the curious reader, to look behind the curtain of the craft. The stories are naturally also a joy in themselves.

Ada, or Ardor: A Family Chronicle (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679725220
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - February 19th, 1990

I'd read Nabakov just for his language virtuoso - he writes like nobody else with exactly chosen passionate, playful, and precise. (With plenty of alliteration.) His stories are erotic and romantic, as well as philosophically intersting. Yes, they are very disturbing (incest and pedophilia to begin with), but also tender.

Stranger Than Kindness Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063048089
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperOne - March 16th, 2021

A must-have for Nick Cave fans, but als for any fan of curiosities, the creative process, art, music, and photgraphy. From handwritten lyrics and drawings to photos from Cave's rich inner and outer life - it is like getting to dig through the boxes in the attic of the person you're the most curious about, who happens to be an immensely multi-talented artist.

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The Case Against Reality: Why Evolution Hid the Truth from Our Eyes Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393254693
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 13th, 2019

Our senses have developed to give us a functional picture of reality-- not an "accurate" mirroring of the world. Hoffman makes the case that evolutionary adaptation has made us perceive reality through heavily filtered lenses. Fun and easy to read. 

In Love with the World: A Monk's Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525512530
Availability: Available from our Warehouse (Not in store currently)
Published: Random House - May 7th, 2019

I absolutely loved this book- one of the most direct explorations of what it means to be enlightened while living in the human form. It is a memoir of a monk's escape from his monastery, to self-imposed homelessness to find his true home in the world. From dealing with intense anxiety on train rides, to embarrassment while having to beg for food, we follow Yongey's journey toward freedom, His near-death experience illuminates his life-long Bardo training and shows the deep peace and generous love that is there for all. 

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Zen and the Birds of Appetite Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811201049
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions -

Merton himself was a Catholic mystic, but had a deep understanding of the essence of Zen philosophy that I've ever read. I appreciate Merton's insistence on interfaith respect and understanding. 


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Lack & Transcendence : The Problem of Death and Life in Psychotherapy, Existentialism, and Buddhism Cover Image
ISBN: 9781614295235
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Wisdom Publications - November 13th, 2018

The one philosophy book you need! Loy pulls insights from both Eastern and Western philosophy, in particular Buddhism, Existentialism, and Psychololgy and blends them into an enlightening whole. It is interesting as history of thought, but also a hopeful way out of the nihilism left in the wake of much of Western thought. 

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

I love Murakami's surreal universe-- Dark and violent, it possesses soulful beauty and inner quietness. A cast of solitary characters search , often in vain, for something or someone lost. Kafka on the Shore, Dance, Dance, Dance and Killing Commendatore are all as  moody and dreamy with glimmers of sweetness.  

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In Praise of Shadows Cover Image
ISBN: 9780918172020
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Leete's Island Books - December 1st, 1977

In this exquisite essay on the Japanese sense for aesthetics, Tanizaki muses on everything from architecture and design to natural beauty and electric light. He praises the shadows, the dark corners, the weathered and used, over the sparking and pristine. A certain beauty can only be found with "the glory of grime" as he so aptly writes. 

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The Master and Margarita: 50th-Anniversary Edition (Penguin Classics Deluxe Edition) Cover Image
By Mikhail Bulgakov, Richard Pevear (Translated by), Larissa Volokhonsky (Translated by), Boris Fishman (Foreword by), Christopher Conn Askew (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780143108276
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - May 3rd, 2016

The devil visits Moscow in this satirical, darkly funny, and philosophical novel Relying on symbolisms to be able to critique Stalin's regime, Bulgakov still got censored for his masterful work. With visits to the insane asylum, a talking cat, Pontius Pilate's headache of Yeshua's execution, and a rompous dance in hell- the story keeps you awake and amazed, In the midst of the seeming madness is tenderness and deep humanity. 

The Waves Cover Image
ISBN: 9780156949606
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mariner Books -

I recommend anything by Woolf, but on the top of my list are The Waves, To the Lighthouse, Mrs. Dalloway, Orlando, In Between the Acts, and her diaries. I love to spend time with her gorgeous mind- hyper rational yet poetical. Her self-insight is pitiless and piercing, but never falsely modest (something I loathe), which often makes her unintentionally funny (something I love). I'd read her grocery lists. 

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Dear Los Angeles: The City in Diaries and Letters, 1542 to 2018 Cover Image
By David Kipen (Editor)
ISBN: 9780812984439
Availability: Available from our Warehouse (Not in store currently)
Published: Modern Library - December 10th, 2019

I picekd up this book randomly and was immediately drawn into the world of movie producers and writers and randomly famous and not so famous people. Side-by-side are letters and diary snippets from the 1500's to no-- giving you a historical snapshot. 

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Unquiet: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393357653
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - January 14th, 2020

A new facorite-- I devoured it in little over one sitting. It is a fictionalized memoir centered on Ullman's relationships with her world-renowned parents Ingmar Bergman and Liv Ullman. Dream and hyper-realism merge to creat a subtle yet rich book that almost reads like a haiku-- just gorgeous.