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Spring Booknotes 2021

Handpicked new releases, brought to you by the staff of Elliott Bay.

Playlist Tags: The Elliott Bay Book Company bookstore-created

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The Arsonists' City

By Hala Alyan
Narrated by: Leila Buck
Length: 19 hours 34 minutes

A rich family story, a personal look at the legacy of war in the Middle East, and an indelible rendering of how we hold on to the people and places we call home. The Nasr family is spread across the globe—Beirut, Brooklyn, Austin, the California desert. A Syrian mother, a Lebanese father, and three American children: all have lived a life of... Read more »

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Detransition, Baby

A Novel

By Torrey Peters
Narrated by: Renata Friedman
Length: 12 hours 31 minutes

NEW YORK TIMES EDITORS’ CHOICE • “An unforgettable portrait of three women, trans and cis, who wrestle with questions of motherhood and family making . . . Detransition, Baby might destroy your book club, but in a good way.”—Andrea Lawlor, author of Paul Takes the Form of a Mortal Girl
 
“A tale of love, loss, and self-discovery as singular as it... Read more »

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The Duke Undone

By Joanna Lowell
Narrated by: Mary Jane Wells
Length: 12 hours 34 minutes

An artist stumbles upon a naked duke and an unlikely love story begins in this captivating Victorian historical romance.
 
When Royal Academy painting student Lucy Coover trips over a naked man passed out in an East End alley, she does the decent thing. She covers him up and fetches help. Trouble is, she can't banish his muscular form from her... Read more »

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Fake Accounts

A Novel

By Lauren Oyler
Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman
Length: 10 hours 13 minutes

Fake Accounts

“This novel about our technological age is subversive from the very start. Its dense, wordy paragraphs seem the opposite of the endless bite-sized chunks of information we consume online. Yet within its density, it also mimics the internet experience through the stream-of-consciousness voice of its not-always-reliable narrator. It’s a fun story with lots to say about the incessant self-branding and impossible unreliability of our lives spent increasingly online.”

The Literate Lizard image Edward Newton, The Literate Lizard
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The Five Wounds

A Novel

By Kirstin Valdez Quade
Narrated by: Gary Tiedemann
Length: TBA

It's Holy Week in the small town of Las Penas, New Mexico, and thirty-three-year-old unemployed Amadeo Padilla has been given the part of Jesus in the Good Friday procession. He is preparing feverishly for this role when his fifteen-year-old daughter Angel shows up pregnant on his doorstep and disrupts his plans for personal redemption. With... Read more »

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Hot Stew

By Fiona Mozley
Narrated by: Nneka Okoye
Length: 9 hours 47 minutes

NEW FROM THE AUTHOR OF BOOKER FINALIST ELMET

Hot Stew tells the story of an unlikely group of individuals in contemporary London, those from the top echelons of society down to the lowest. All are in some way connected to a Soho building whose mysterious billionaire owner, Agatha, wants to convert it into condos and fancy shops.

The problem is,... Read more »

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The House on Vesper Sands

By Paraic O'Donnell
Narrated by: Charles Armstrong
Length: 10 hours 20 minutes

The House on Vesper Sands

“Paraic O’Donnell leavens the dark foreboding of a truly sinister, otherworldly mystery with distinctively clever storytelling and a decidedly marvelous cast of characters. You are in the best of hands with Inspector Cutter and Gideon Bliss on the case, along with the intrepid and resourceful reporter Octavia Hillingdon. Beautifully done!”

Wellesley Books image Peter Sherman, Wellesley Books
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How Beautiful We Were

A Novel

By Imbolo Mbue
Narrated by: Lisa Renee Pitts, Prentice Onayemi, Janina Edwards, Dion Graham, JD Jackson & Allyson Johnson
Length: 14 hours 7 minutes

A fearless young woman from a small African village starts a revolution against an American oil company in this sweeping, inspiring novel from the New York Times bestselling author of Behold the Dreamers.

“A novel with the richness and power of a great contemporary fable, and a heroine for our time.”—Sigrid Nunez, author of The Friend, winner of... Read more »

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Social Purpose Annual Report

Social Purpose Annual Report

As we look to the future as a Social Purpose Corporation, we’re committed to serving readers and independent bookstores. Read our 2020 Annual Report to see an overview of the year.

Read the Report

Klara and the Sun

A Novel

By Kazuo Ishiguro
Narrated by: Sura Siu
Length: 10 hours 16 minutes

Klara and the Sun

Klara and the Sun from Nobel-winner Kazuo Ishiguro is a radiant new novel about the bond between Klara, an Artificial Friend, and Josie, her human companion. The setting, a dystopian realm of genetic editing and stark class divisions, is not surprising given the author’s previous work, yet Ishiguro’s immense, unwavering portrayal of kindness is astonishing and revitalizing. Classic Ishiguro themes of loyalty, friendship, and sacrifice weave through the novel, but the thread of love runs deep, giving the book warmth and hope so that the earned twist feels more like a dawn than a sunset. Whether you’re returning to Ishiguro or discovering his voice for the first time, I’m excited for you. This is a chance to bask in the brilliance of one the greatest writers of our time.”

Books & Books image Caroline McGregor, Books & Books
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Remote Control

By Nnedi Okorafor
Narrated by: Adjoa Andoh
Length: 4 hours 7 minutes

If you enjoyed The Fifth Season, then you’ll love Remote Control.

“Once again delivering us a highly entertaining science fiction novella, Okorafor hits all the right notes with Remote Control. Okorafor weaves a very powerful and sad tale, combining the ancient feelings of folklore with a not-too-distant future (the comment about a new plague worse than the one in 2020 made me guffaw). You feel for Sankofa, who had her childhood stolen from her. While she feels powerful when she gets food and clothes easily from people, all she wants is to love and be loved and to just be a kid but even when she thinks she finds a safe place, the people slowly begin to turn against her. The public will always be scared of things they cannot explain and despite Sankofa being a child, this mysterious gift and curse that has been bestowed upon her frighten them. They want to use her when it benefits them but belittle and attack her when their feelings shift. The audiobook was brilliantly narrated by Adjoa Andoh, whose voice is so beautiful I almost listened twice. She gives such gravity to Sankofa while also making it clear that she is a child. Okorafor has mastered the novella—a quick but powerful story from end to end that often feels (in a good way) that it is is longer than it's 160 pages. It's truly a talent!”

Buttonwood Books and Toys image Kimi, Buttonwood Books and Toys
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The Removed

A Novel

By Brandon Hobson
Narrated by: Gary Farmer, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, DeLanna Studi, Katie Rich & Christopher Salazar
Length: 7 hours 6 minutes

The Removed

“In telling the story of a Native family in Oklahoma who lost a teenage son to a shooting, The Removed examines the power of inherited trauma and the strength of family to keep people together. The book is told in the voices of the various family members left after the death of their son/brother and explores the effects on their lives of their Cherokee ancestors who walked the Trail of Tears. Mixing several points of view along with Native myth, Hobson brings a powerful story to light where the reader really steps into the shoes of each character. The loss, sadness, and despair are palpable, but so are hope and healing, by the end. A truly beautiful book about something everyone should read more about.”

Bookbinders Basalt image Izzy Stringham, Bookbinders Basalt
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Aftershocks

By Nadia Owusu
Narrated by: Nadia Owusu
Length: 8 hours 32 minutes

In the tradition of The Glass Castle, a deeply felt memoir from Whiting Award–winner Nadia Owusu about the push and pull of belonging, the seismic emotional toll of family secrets, and the heart it takes to pull through.

“In Aftershocks, Nadia Owusu tells the incredible story of her young life. How does a girl—abandoned by her mother at age two... Read more »

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The Book of Difficult Fruit

Arguments for the Tart, Tender, and Unruly (with recipes)

By Kate Lebo
Narrated by: Tanya Eby
Length: 7 hours 50 minutes

A is for Aronia, berry member of the apple family, clothes-stainer, superfruit with reputed healing power. D is for Durian, endowed with a dramatic rind and a shifting odor—peaches, old garlic. M is for Medlar, name-checked by Shakespeare for its crude shape, beloved by gardeners for its flowers. Q is for Quince, which, fresh, gives off the... Read more »

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Broken (in the best possible way)

By Jenny Lawson
Narrated by: Jenny Lawson
Length: 8 hours 18 minutes

Broken (in the best possible way)

“Once again, Jenny Lawson has written a loquacious, hilarious, gorgeous, tear-inducing book that brought my soul some much needed comfort. As someone who struggles with a cornucopia of mental illnesses, Lawson’s books are uniquely enjoyable as she doesn’t sugar coat the awfulness of said struggles, but also gives space for the ridiculous hilarity or unexpected beauty that also comes with living with mental illness. While Broken has a stronger thread of sadness throughout its pages than her previous memoirs, it is also the one that I would describe as the most hopeful.”

Copperfish Books image Lucile, Copperfish Books
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Crying in H Mart

A Memoir

By Michelle Zauner
Narrated by: Michelle Zauner
Length: 7 hours 22 minutes

From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity.

In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far... Read more »

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Four Lost Cities

A Secret History of the Urban Age

By Annalee Newitz
Narrated by: Chloe Cannon
Length: 8 hours 14 minutes

In Four Lost Cities, acclaimed science journalist Annalee Newitz takes listeners on an entertaining and mind-bending adventure into the deep history of urban life. Investigating across the centuries and around the world, Newitz explores the rise and fall of four ancient cities, each the center of a sophisticated civilization: the Neolithic site... Read more »

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Land

How the Hunger for Ownership Shaped the Modern World

By Simon Winchester
Narrated by: Simon Winchester
Length: 13 hours 46 minutes

The author of The Professor and the Madman and The Perfectionists explores the notion of property—our proprietary relationship with the land—through human history, how it has shaped us and what it will mean for our future.

Land—whether meadow or mountainside, desert or peat bog, parkland or pasture, suburb or city—is central to our existence. It... Read more »

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A Little Devil in America

Notes in Praise of Black Performance

By Hanif Abdurraqib
Narrated by: JD Jackson
Length: 9 hours 38 minutes

A Little Devil in America

“Using Black performance as a loose organizing principle, Abdurraqib has written a brilliant, expansive, insightful, and personal book. There is something of Montaigne’s penchant for humility and brilliance in equal measure; of Susan Sontag’s use of cultural criticism to understand history and the self; of Zadie Smith’s verbal wizardry, playfulness, and wide-ranging curiosity; and Ross Gay’s sensitivity, sense of beauty and poignancy, and, ultimately, joyfulness. Another gift from this magical writer!”

Seminary Co-op Bookstores image Jeff Deutsch, Seminary Co-op Bookstores
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Tom Stoppard

A Life

By Hermione Lee
Narrated by: Stephen Crossley
Length: 37 hours 47 minutes

One of our most brilliant biographers takes on one of our greatest living playwrights, drawing on a wealth of new materials and on many conversations with him

One of our most brilliant biographers takes on one of our greatest living playwrights, drawing on a wealth of new materials and on many conversations with him

Tom Stoppard is a towering and... Read more »

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Under a White Sky

The Nature of the Future

By Elizabeth Kolbert
Narrated by: Rebecca Lowman
Length: 6 hours 21 minutes

The New York Times bestselling author of The Sixth Extinction and Field Notes from a Catastrophe returns to humanity’s transformative impact on the environment in Under a White Sky.

That man should have dominion “over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth” is a prophecy that has hardened into fact. So pervasive... Read more »

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