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Early Summer Faves: 31 Bookseller-Picked Listens

Our best-books-of-right-now list ranges from sweet odes upon fatherhood and warmly relatable stories about growing up to heart-stopping suspense and surreal sci-fi. Then there’s some humor and cooking, a little memoir... OK, we’re all over the place this month, but that’s the deal: booksellers pick their favorites, no rules. That’s what makes this list so good, right? Here are the books our staffers are reading, loving, and recommending most:

Pops

By Michael Chabon
Narrated by Michael Chabon /  2 hours 16 minutes

Pops

“It is a gift beyond measure when the guy who writes the best and biggest and most complicated novels of our age turns out a tiny book of nonfiction that can be read in a single sitting. Pops is a profound — and profoundly satisfying — examination of fatherhood. I loved it.”

Parnassus Books image Ann Patchett, Parnassus Books
Price:

$12.64

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Warlight

A novel
By Michael Ondaatje
Narrated by Steve West /  8 hours 36 minutes

Warlight

“With his usual virtuosity, master storyteller Michael Ondaatje delivers a mysterious, shimmering new coming-of-age novel. Warlight is the unexpected story of two teenagers abandoned by their enigmatic parents in post-war London. Casually watched over by a dodgy cast of characters - petty criminals, opera singers, and panting greyhounds - Nathaniel and Rachel try to make sense of their new world while struggling to define their parents' shadowy wartime pasts. Years later, Nathaniel embarks on a quest to discover the disturbing truth, and his own unwitting part in it. Balancing poignance with surprising comic touches, Warlight is a stellar addition to the Ondaatje canon.”

Odyssey Bookshop image Chrysler Szarlan, Odyssey Bookshop
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$24.00

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There There

A novel
By Tommy Orange
Narrated by Darrell Dennis, Shaun Taylor-Corbett, Alma Cuervo & Kyla Garcia /  7 hours 59 minutes

There There

“A stunning debut novel by an original voice. Twelve characters of Native American descent, interrelated by birth or chance, struggle with the competing forces of cultural history and modern urban existence. Their stories build separately before colliding powerfully in the book’s final pages at The Big Oakland Powwow. I was riveted.”

Parnassus Books image Keltie, Parnassus Books
Price:

$21.00

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Florida

By Lauren Groff
Narrated by Lauren Groff /  7 hours 59 minutes

Florida

“After wowing readers (former President Barack Obama included) with 2015’s Fates and Furies, Lauren Groff returns with a collection of stories just as wise and meticulously constructed. Within the sun-kissed, palmetto-strewn swampland of Groff’s Florida, we encounter a pair of abandoned sisters, anxious mothers, and a woman being pushed to the edge. Looking inward and out, Groff examines the lives of her characters with a surveyor’s eye, capturing the sense of dread and desire that pervades their existence. Floridais an exploration of time and place, both sensual and terrifying, and seems to me both timely and timeless.”

BookPeople image Uriel Perez, BookPeople
Price:

$21.00

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The Ensemble

A Novel
By Aja Gabel
Narrated by Rebecca Lowman /  11 hours 36 minutes

The Ensemble

“My goodness, I love the quartet of flawed and wonderful characters Aja Gabel brings to life. I felt the heartbreak and triumph each time the ensemble performed. The Ensemble captures everything from the relentless rehearsals to the particular hand injuries musicians worry over to the conflict within the group. Henry, Daniel, Jana, and Britt are each characters unto themselves, but together they create a fifth character: the quartet itself. An inventive novel about the lives of musicians and the world they inhabit, full of tension, ambition, confusion, and loyalty. The Ensemble is a remarkable achievement.”

Watermark Books image Sarah Bagby, Watermark Books
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$24.00

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The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky

A novel
By Jana Casale
Narrated by Rebecca Lowman /  12 hours 15 minutes

The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky

“Spend some time inside the mind of a modern everywoman named Leda, who narrates her sometimes hilarious, sometimes heartbreaking journey through adult milestones: friendship, dating, sex, marriage, motherhood, creativity, work — and the insecurities and choices that come with all those things. I read the whole book on a plane, and I couldn’t adore it more.”

Parnassus Books image Mary Laura, Parnassus Books
Price:

$27.00

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Still Lives

A Novel
By Maria Hummel
Narrated by Tavia Gilbert /  9 hours 29 minutes

Kim Lord is an avant garde figure, feminist icon, and agent provocateur in the L.A. art scene. Her groundbreaking new exhibition Still Lives is comprised of self-portraits depicting herself as famous, murdered women—the Black Dahlia, Chandra Levy, Nicole Brown Simpson, among many others—and the works are as compelling as they are disturbing,... Read More »

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$34.49

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Our Kind of Cruelty

A Novel
By Araminta Hall
Narrated by Eleanor Matsuura & Nick Hendrix /  7 hours 42 minutes

Our Kind of Cruelty

“Hall says she wrote the first draft "in a mad spurt of anger at the continued injustices perpetrated against women in our so-called civilized society," and it shows. I loved this disturbing, dark, utterly infuriating story. It still makes me want to scream.”

Buffalo Street Books image Kaitlyn, Buffalo Street Books
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$22.99

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Southernmost

By Silas House
Narrated by Charlie Thurston /  8 hours 19 minutes

In this stunning novel about judgment, courage, heartbreak, and change, author Silas House wrestles with the limits of belief and the infinite ways to love. In the aftermath of a flood that washes away much of a small Tennessee town, evangelical preacher Asher Sharp offers shelter to two gay men. In doing so, he starts to see his life anew—and... Read More »

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$34.49

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Uncommon Type

Some Stories
By Tom Hanks
Narrated by Tom Hanks /  10 hours 1 minute

Uncommon Type

“Wow! Here is a collection of stories that are at times funny, often moving, and really, really good, if not great. 'Welcome to Mars' is perhaps my favorite. It's Kirk's 19th birthday, and he joins his father to go surfing on what turns out to be a defining day in his life. And then there's 'Alan Bean Plus Four,' which is a hilarious telling of four friends' journey to the moon. Read it. You'll be pleasantly surprised by Tom Hanks' writing.”

Left Bank Books image Randy Schiller, Left Bank Books
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$24.00

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Plum Rains

By Andromeda Romano-Lax
Narrated by Elizabeth Wiley /  13 hours 22 minutes

Plum Rains

“Set in near future Japan: A Filipina nurse learns that her job is in jeopardy when her 100-year-old patient, Sayoko, develops a strong relationship with a robotic companion. Romano-Lax creates a subgenre of science fiction concerning international labor relations and empathetic machines. This book is for those who enjoy science fiction, but would also like to explore the social consequences of present day policies and artificial intelligence.”

Parnassus Books image Sydney, Parnassus Books
Price:

$28.74

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The Plot against America

By Philip Roth
Narrated by Ron Silver /  13 hours 23 minutes

The Plot against America

“This alternate history masterpiece imagines what would have happened if Charles Lindbergh won the presidential election in 1940 instead of Roosevelt. After the passing of Philip Roth, pay homage to this great writer by reading his work.”

Parnassus Books image Karen, Parnassus Books
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$26.39

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Calypso

By David Sedaris
Narrated by David Sedaris /  6 hours 38 minutes

Calypso

“If there is a "King of Audiobooks", it has to be David Sedaris. The absolute best way to enjoy the writing of Sedaris is to hear him perform it. Not only is his voice rather odd, immediately putting you in a mood to giggle, but he is such an effortless performer it's impossible not to get caught up in his world. And what a world! In his latest, and indisputably most accomplished, work to date, he takes us on his journey through midlife: the betrayals of the body, the loss, the wear and tear on long relationships. I found myself shedding tears for his heartbreaking regrets and laughing so hard I had to pull my car over at his observances of the absurdities of everyday life.”

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$31.03

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There Are No Grown-ups

A Midlife Coming-of-Age Story
By Pamela Druckerman
Narrated by Pamela Druckerman /  6 hours 41 minutes

The best-selling author of BRINGING UP BÉBÉ investigates life in her forties, and wonders whether her mind will ever catch up with her face.

When Pamela Druckerman turns 40, waiters start calling her "Madame," and she detects a disturbing new message in mens' gazes: I would sleep with her, but only if doing so required no effort whatsoever.

Yet... Read More »

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$17.50

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The Feather Thief

Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
By Kirk Wallace Johnson
Narrated by MacLeod Andrews /  8 hours 4 minutes

The Feather Thief

“The Feather Thief is true crime at its best — a tale starting with the Amazonian explorations of Darwin-era naturalists, rooted in the eccentric sensibilities of Victorian collectors, fueled by the obscure cult of fly-fishing tying, and culminating with a shocking 2009 British Museum heist by a shy American flautist. All of these elements are deftly brought together at a thriller’s pace by author Kirk Johnson, a veteran of the Iraqi reconstruction effort suffering from PTSD, who stumbles across the story while fly-fishing in New Mexico in 2011. I mean, you can’t make this stuff up.”

Parnassus Books image Keltie, Parnassus Books
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$27.00

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Rocket Men

The Epic Story of the First Men on the Moon
By Craig Nelson
Narrated by Richard McGonagle /  17 hours 5 minutes

"Celebrates a bold era when voyaging beyond the Earth was deemed crucial to national security and pride."
-The Wall Street Journal


Restoring the drama, majesty, and sheer improbability of an American triumph, this is award-winning historian Craig Nelson's definitive and thrilling story of man's first trip to the moon. At 9:32 a.m. on July 16,... Read More »

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$33.00

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Barracoon

The Story of the Last "Black Cargo"
By Zora Neale Hurston
Narrated by Robin Miles /  3 hours 49 minutes

A major literary event: a never-before-published work from the author of the American classic Their Eyes Were Watching God that brilliantly illuminates the horror and injustices of slavery as it tells the true story of one of the last known survivors of the Atlantic slave trade—abducted from Africa on the last "Black Cargo" ship to arrive in the... Read More »

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$20.69

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Move Fast and Break Things

How Facebook, Google, and Amazon Cornered Culture and Undermined Democracy
By Jonathan Taplin
Narrated by Jonathan Taplin /  8 hours 23 minutes

Move Fast and Break Things

“With the fallout from Cambridge Analytica still fresh in our minds, and the sense that our collective slide into tech dystopia is moving apace, Move Fast and Break Things — which is out now in paperback — provides an excellent primer on how we got to where we are, and why it didn’t have to be this way. Come for the power-hungry data collectors lobbying for lax regulation, stay for the Silicon Valley bigwigs saying things like, “I no longer believe that freedom and democracy are compatible.” This book connects a lot of important dots, and despite the urgency of its subject matter is a surprisingly enjoyable read.”

Parnassus Books image Steve, Parnassus Books
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$29.88

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The Order of Time

By Carlo Rovelli
Narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch /  4 hours 19 minutes

The Order of Time

“In thirteen succinct chapters, Rovelli shows us that time as we know it—continuous, smooth, regular—is an illusion. Our perception of time is limited and can’t take into account its true nature as a fluctuating, particulate field--“a network of relations that no longer holds together as a coherent canvas.” Step by step, Rovelli’s deconstruction of received notions of time is clear and accessible—our present is “a bubble around us” and can’t refer to far places in the universe; increasing entropy means “the entire universe is like a mountain that collapses in slow motion”—and his writing is elegant in all senses of the word, as breathtaking for the startling ideas as for his compact articulation of them. A theoretical physicist, Rovelli is also a true humanist; he doesn’t abandon us in a quantum universe ruled by entropy where “the difference between the past and the future refers only to our own blurred vision of the world,” but ends with Proust, music, and emotion. Overall, his book includes more poetry than equations, and he opens each chapter with an excerpt from Horace’s Odes—perhaps a subtle comment on standing the test of time.”

Politics & Prose image Laurie G., Politics & Prose
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$19.20

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God Save Texas

A Journey into the Soul of the Lone Star State
By Lawrence Wright
Narrated by Lawrence Wright /  11 hours 2 minutes

With humor and the biting insight of a native, the Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Looming Tower explores the history, culture, and politics of Texas, while holding the stereotypes up for rigorous scrutiny.

God Save Texas is a journey through the most controversial state in America. It is a red state in the heart of Trumpland that hasn't... Read More »

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$24.00

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