On the Shelves

August 2021

Kangaroo Notebook: A Novel

by Kobo Abe

This book is a surrealist romp, a bizarre fever dream that would be similar conceptually to Kafka and the Marx Brothers on their way to a dinner party at Dante Alighieri's place.

— David

The Third Policeman

by Flann O'Brien

A criminal act spirals into a surreal world of comedic terror and isolation.

— Josef

The Priory of the Orange Tree

by Samantha Shannon

Hit me with those 800 pages of high fantasy, 'cause that's the only acceptable way to murder me, fyi.

— Susannah

Fathers and Sons

by Ivan Turgenev, translation by Peter Carson

As many of the classic Russian writers, Turgenev was a great psychologist and existential philosopher, but also a masterful storyteller. You can never really tell if he makes fun of or praises his most famous character, the nihilistic Bazaro. It's probably a bit of both, which removes any sense of tedious lecturing from his thoughtful work.

 — Maria

Cave Carson Has a Cybernetic Eye, Vol. 1: Going Underground

by Gerard Way and Jon Rivera, illus. By Michael Avon Oeming

It's the story of a retired spelunker trying to reconnect with his teenage daughter as they dive deep into another cave adventure that might have something to do with her dead mother. The series blends action, character development and trippy art that makes you feel like you're on acid every time you flip the page. If you like weird, you'll like Cave Carson.

— Aaron

July 2021

Mescaline: A Global History of the First Psychedelic by Mike Jay

Along the lines of Paper or Salt by Mark Kurlansky, Mescaline is a fascinating history of mescaline and its use, ranging from South America to the plains of America and eventually in pop culture. It's a fascinating read. — David

Strangers on a Train by Patricia Highsmith

A brilliantly executed examination of human nature and (mis)communication. A classic in the mystery/suspense genre. — Josef

Circe by Madeline Miller

I read this book in one night. It is beautiful, flawless and intelligent. Despite knowing the fate of Circe, Miller brings the goddess impossibly to life, showing her to be at once divine and yet also heart-breakingly human. This book surpassed all my expectations and I cannot wait to see what Miller writes next. —  Susannah

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh

The long-awaited followup to Hyperbole and a Half doesn’t disappoint. Brosh manages to show the humor and absurdity of our neuroses and quirks without making light of depression or life’s struggles. Both very funny and touching. — Maria

Her Infernal Descent, Vol. 1

by Zac Thompson and Lonnie Nadler, art by Kyle Charles

A grieving mother is given the chance to descend to hell to find her family. Along the way she meets prominent literary figures and processes the five stages of grief as she travels the nine circles.— Aaron

June 2021

Irresistible: The Rise of Addictive Technology and the Business of Keeping Us Hooked by Adam Alter 

Why is it so hard to stop scrolling social media? Why do you feel a burst of dopamine when you get a like or a text? Irresistible is a look into modern studies of how screens and software affect our brains. It details the nature of addiction and how our screens have been intentionally designed to capture our attention for as long as possible. — Anika

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Written in 1953, Bradbury envisions a future in which the reading of books with complex, unregulated ideas is controlled by a totalitarian government, and firefighters no longer save houses from fires, but burn them down. Although he placed this future in 2053, some parts of this world feel eerily similar today. — Isaac

The Jazz of Physics: The Secret Link Between Music and the Structure of the Universe by Stephon Alexander

This book made me fall in love with John Coltrane and physics. It shows a link between improvisational jazz and quantum physics. I highly recommend listening to Coltrane's “Blue Train” while reading.  — Austin

College Hacks by Keith Bradford

I love life hacks. There are a bunch of neat life hacks in here that I had never heard of, including everything from helpful tips for studying to ways to find discounts. — Hollis

Gideon Falls Volume 1:The Black Barn by JeffLemire with art by Andrea Sorrentino and Dave Stewart 

Gideon Falls is the only book ever to send shivers down my spine and make me fear the darkness. A priest and a man on the fringe of society are haunted by an image of a black barn. What does it mean? And who is living there? Not to mention Sorrentino's sweeping panels, as captivating as they are terrifying. — Aaron 

First Person Singular: Stories by Haruki Murakami, translated by Philip Gabriel

Murakami's newest book drifts easily between fiction and memoir, the fantastic and the mundane. I love his writing style and the moods and worlds he creates and seemingly inhabits I read anything he writes. — Maria

May 2021

Tips from the Peregrine Bookstore Staff

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

A modern spy novel in which all the spies are screw-ups and misfits who haven't yet given up hope of being actual spies. The Slow Horses, as they are collectively known, have all done something to shunt them out of MI-5 proper and been left to gather dust. Slow Horses has a classic twisty storyline with plenty of backstabbing, conspiracies and doublecrossing, and introduces readers to a cast of witty, mismatched characters. I read it in one day and immediately started the next book. — Susannah

Filthy Beasts by Kirkland Hamill

Candid, authentic and heart-centered, Filthy Beasts made me laugh out loud and weep in public. An important book about alcoholism, coming out, and seeing oneself as part of a family system and also as an individual, who must draw boundaries and make hard choices. Hamill won me over completely. — Michaela

Leonora in the Morning Light by Michaela Carter

The painter and writer Leonora Carrington lends herself to a captivating story, as part of the surrealist circle of creatives in Paris at the onset of WWII, in a romantic relationship with Max Ernst, and as 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. —Maria

The Last Book On The Left by Ben Kissel,Marcus Parks and Henry Zabrowski

Serial killers, you just love to hate them. The people behind Last Podcast on the Left present a deep dive into the worlds of nine of the most dangerous serial killers to date, with sophisticated and sometimes crude humor to match. Enter the Crypt, and pray the BTK killer isn't in your closet tonight! — Aaron

Songs of a Dead Dreamer by Thomas Ligotti

A collection of horror short-stories that would make Lovecraft and Stephen King blush with immutable envy. — Jose

April 2021

Tips from the Peregrine Bookstore Staff

Later by Stephen King

As per usual, and because I couldn't put it down, I sped through King's latest novel within a couple hours. This is a horror, but also a coming-of-age story, mysterious and even  funny in places. King once again showcases his ability to immerse readers into his worlds. I'm reluctant to give any clues as to the plot, but I just have to say: don't let the grand pulp style cover art put you off. — Susannah

The Moth Presents Occasional Magic by Cathrine Burns

This book is seriously amazing! A collection of stories about life and all its wonderful and not-so-wonderful, moments. Truly a book about occasional magic! — Sienna

The Hole by Hiroko Oyamada

Oyamada creates her quietly magical stories with a talent for evasion — she evades plot as we know it, as well as solutions or 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. — Maria

Plunge by Joe Hill and Stuart Immonen

In a horror story paying homage to John Carpenter's The Thing, a salvage boat is tasked with recovering a lost research ship stuck in the ice. The art and story range from haunting to intense, emphasized with sharp colors and design. It’s easily one of my favorite books of 2020. — Aaron

The Collected Works of Billy the Kid by Michael Ondaajte

This is not your typical historical fiction, nor a biographical recapitulation of facts on a single life. This is experimental fiction at its finest. Ondaatje writes in poetic, often violent and lyrical prose through the eyes of Billy the Kid. The result is an unforgettable epistolary exploration of William Bonney in the landscape of the West. — Joe

What Could Be Saved by Liese O'Halloran Schwarz

Big in every sense, What Could Be Saved asks hard questions about personal redemption and the ways lives change when a child goes missing. Through the darkness, moments of humanity sparkle and sing. After finishing this novel, I didn't know what to start next. What else could possibly be this good? — Michaela

March 2021

Tips from the Peregrine Bookstore Staff

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

In an extraordinary exploration of slavery both in US and Africa, Gyasi somehow makes this difficult subject entrancing, with wonderful characters and a feeling of hope and even beauty. A unique take on an important subject. — Ty

East of West by Jonathan Hickman and Nick Dragotta

The Apocalypse is starting now, and the world only has three years left to live. One of the Four Horseman, Death, was abandoned, left to die by his brethren, and he is pissed! Hickman's world-building skills are unmatched, and East of West proves it. Cowboys meet occult meets dystopia meets war — what's not to love? —Aaron

Milk Fed by Melissa Broder

Milk Fed is sexy and wicked smart. I read it voraciously. —Michaela

A Swim in a Pond in the Rain by George Saunders

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

Every Last Fear by Alex Finlay

This was so much more than I thought it would be, and one of the best thrillers I’ve read in awhile. Even with its heart-thumping pace, the characters aren't relegated to dimensionless entities. Very well executed. I absolutely did not set it down. Even more impressive? It’s Finlay’s debut novel. —Susannah

The Development by John Barth

The absurd and near-juvenile exploits of senior living in a gated community. Humorous, slightly bizarre and coping with the inevitable, Barth's often overlooked novel is a world that exists with or without your permission. — Josef

January 2021

Tips from the Peregrine Bookstore Staff

Breath by James Nestor

Breathing has been on a lot of people's minds as a result of the coronavirus. But did you know that the way you breathe can have an effect on your immune system, and you can use your breathing to regulate your stress level? Check this book out for exercises you can try yourself.  — David

Houseplants: A Guide to Choosing and Caring for Indoor Plants by Lisa Eldred Steinkopf

When I first started my houseplant obsession, like a lot of people I thought I was destined to kill everything I brought into my house. This book helped me turn that around. Steinkopf does a wonderful job of breaking down what it is that plants need not just to survive, but to thrive in your space. She also includes over 150 specific plant profiles for some of the most common houseplants. — Sienna

The Radioactive Boy Scout: The Frightening True Story of a Whiz Kid and His Homemade Nuclear Reactor by Ken Silverstein

The weird, true story of a kid who tried building a nuclear reactor in a shed. The EPA caught wind of it and raided the shed, and that's only half of the story! — Josef

Woody Guthrie andt he Dust Bowl Ballads by Nick Hayes

This graphic novel is a fictional tale about the Depression, the Dust Bowl and one of the great musicians in Americana. Explore a possible origin of the man who brought us “Pastures of Plenty.”—Brett

Red Pill by Hari Kunzru

A surprisingly captivating page-turner! We follow an American writer's existential crisis brought on by what he perceives as society's dark descent into nihilism. While at a writing center in Berlin, we’re not quite sure whether he is getting increasingly paranoid or the threats he perceives are real. Intelligent and suspenseful, it brings up philosophical and moral dilemmas. — Maria

Sea Wife by Amity Gaige

Emotionally complex, beautifully written, Sea Wife is taut and engaging. I loved it! — Michaela

February 2021

Tips from the Peregrine Bookstore Staff

Gods of Jade and Shadow by Silvia Moren-Garcia

Set in Mexico during the Jazz Age, this book is a beautiful blend of mythology and Mexican culture! I enjoyed reading this more than I expected. Moreno-Garcia did a wonderful job of creating a world and characters that draw you in and keep you turning pages right to the end. — Sienna

A Children's Bible by Lydia Millet

Smart and masterfully crafted, A Children's Bible was impossible to put down. — Michaela

Monk!: Thelonious, Pannonica and the Friendship behind a Musical Revolution by Youssef Daoudi

An engrossing graphic novel about the longtime friendship between two people who would seemingly appear to be on the opposite ends of the social spectrum. The author does a fantastic job of making you want to more deeply explore the life and work of Thelonious Monk. — Josef

The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers

Powers is a veteran of the war in Iraq, where he was a machine-gunner, who just happens to hold an MFA in poetry. The author knows firsthand the unique context of Middle-East warfare and writes about it in terms both raw and poetic, for a moving portrait of the profound and lifelong effects of this unprecedented type of warfare on oh-so-young men and women. This short novel will fuel your empathy for those who have served, suffered and returned home to a world that can never understand what they have experienced. — Jimmy

The Hollow Places by T. Kingfisher

A breath of fresh horror — if you ever had a childhood dream of stumbling on a portal to another world, this book will firmly destroy it. Its weird, Lovecraft-inspired psychological and physical horror is supremely entertaining. — Susannah

On Truth and Untruth by Friedrich Nietzsche

Nietzsche remains one of the most relevant and provocative philosophers of all time. On Truth and Untruth 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. — Maria