May 21, 2024



Kittentits by Holly Wilson. Ten-year-old protagonist Molly finds some very graphic graffiti scrawled underneath a library desk. From there, her true voice opens up and the world better watch out! Teamed up with recently arrived halfway-house resident and new “best friend” Jeanie, giver of the Kittentits moniker, Molly tears off into the world in a highly unique and entertaining coming of age road trip. With plenty of magical realism along the way, it’s a sweet, tender, harrowing, and profane, moving, rollicking ride. If you don't mind a crude and rude 10-year-old (physically) narrator, I encourage you to come on along! - Eric

I’m Afraid You’ve Got Dragons by Peter S. Beagle. In a world where dragons are common, from small vermin to the legendary Kings (which haven’t been seen in a generation), it’s decent work to be a dragon exterminator. It’s not really what Gaius Aurelius (just call him Robert) wants to do, but he’s got his mother and siblings to support, and it’s what his late father would have wanted. Princess Cerise, meanwhile, has a castle full of dragons. Up until now, it has never bothered her much. But now, she’s met the prince of her dreams, and now, she wants them gone. NOW. As luck would have it, the prince needs to slay a great dragon to prove himself. And so the princess, the prince, and the dragon-exterminator set out on a quest together. The quest is pure Beagle magic. Nothing and no one is as they seem, and the triumph and terror are fresh, exciting, hilarious, surprising, and as deeply right as anything I’ve ever read. Buckle up and enjoy the ride. - Cynthia

The Guncle Abroad by Steven Rowley. In this follow-up to his big-hearted, Thurber Prize-winning novel The Guncle, Gay Uncle Patrick (or GUP, for short) is enlisted to help his niece and nephew navigate their emotions as they grapple with their father’s upcoming wedding in Italy - an event which has triggered the grief they’re all still feeling about the death of Sara, the kids' mom and Patrick’s best friend. GUP, Maisie and Grant set off on a journey through Europe on their way to Lake Como, with Patrick teaching the children his personal “love languages” in the hopes they’ll open their hearts and accept their dad’s fiancée; all while rediscovering what he wants and needs in his own life. A rich cast of characters, tenderhearted humor, beautiful locales, snappy dialogue and a heartwarming story made this a book I never wanted to end. - Carolyn

I Hope This Finds You Well by Natalie Sue. In this hilarious and deeply awkward (in the best way) office comedy, we meet Jolene who works a boring corporate desk job, lives alone, and is a big disappointment to her Persian family. When Jolene, for whom “existing in public” - a daily challenge, is reprimanded for sending a passive aggressive email to a coworker and accidentally gains access to all her coworkers' emails and DMs, her life gets a little more complicated and she starts to realize that everyone around her has something to hide. Jolene's constant social anxiety and corresponding coping mechanisms (siloing herself from family and friends, binge drinking) are flawlessly balanced out by Jolene's shrewd inner dialogue and endearing banter, and all the absurd work dramas unfolding around her. You'll laugh, you'll cringe, you'll'll totally root for Jolene. - Hannah

Coexistence: Stories by Billy-Ray Belcourt (in paperback). In this evocative collection of interconnected short stories set in Canada, Billy-Ray Belcourt, writer from the Driftpile Cree Nation and author of A Minor Chorus, once again proves that language is power. Belcourt is a wordsmith writing at the intersection of indigenous relationships and queer identity, about life on and off the "reserve," Grindr hook-ups, intimacy among men, and the Gordion knot of academia and colonialism. He unspools sentences that beg you to linger over their elegiac cadence and solemnity, sentences where the lurid and the exquisite tangle and coexist. - Hannah

If We're Being Honest by Cat Shook (now in paperback). This sparkling, funny and tenderhearted debut begins with a public eulogy that goes off the rails, forcing the Williams family to confront all kinds of issues and secrets over the course of a week. It's hard to hide in Eulalia, Georgia and each one of them has some stuff to unpack and reveal amidst the grief of losing their patriarch. Great character development and pacing as each person marches toward the wedding that bookends the story. So good! - Carolyn

Tired Ladies Take a Stand by Gretchen Anthony (in paperback). I loved the prismatic storytelling threading a story within a story. We follow the lives of four very independent, fun-loving women friends through their process of self-discovery and assertion with all of its funny nuance. A great book-club read! - Jessica

Invisible Son by Kim Johnson (now in paperback). Kim's second young adult novel is another social justice thriller like her debut This is My America. Set in Portland at the onset of the pandemic, 17-year-old Andre has been wrongly accused of a crime and is protecting one of his best friends who is now missing. Andre is determined to find out what happened to Eric amidst the chaos of quarantine, the racial injustices playing out on the daily news and the BLM protests, all while navigating the restorative justice program in which he's been placed. And why are Eric's white adoptive parents not trying to find him? The pacing and tension kept me riveted, and the many themes and storylines are sensitively and expertly handled.  - Carolyn

Dykette by Jenny Fran Davis (now in paperback). This novel is acerbic and witty, sexy and voyeuristic, a biting and mildly disenchanted millennial-perspective novel about three queer couples on a weekend trip away from NYC. Full of lesbian lingo, fashion hot takes, a smattering of literary name drops (read Maggie Nelson and Jordy Rosenberg and Eileen Myles references), latent desire, image posturing, and snarky dialogue. A little bit cringey (in a good way) and extremely readable.  - Hannah

The River We Remember by William Kent Krueger (now in paperback). The author of the Cork O'Connor mystery series delivers a stand-alone here, set in a small Minnesota town in 1958. When the murder of the town's most powerful citizen occurs, it brings old grievances and entrenched racism to the fore. Sheriff Brody Dern, nursing scars from his military service, has an obvious suspect - a Native American vet who has recently returned to the area with his Japanese wife and who refuses to defend himself. It should be an open-and-shut case. And yet... - Hut

All Fours by Miranda July. What ensues when a woman unbuttons her life and steps outside the midlife malaise gripping her marriage to take stock of her neglected interior self and sexual desire? This bangin' book... My god, is it bangin'. Miranda July makes me want to run outside in the dark of night and howl at the moon, howl at the world and all the other women in midlife also awake at 2am to read this dazzling and deeply sexy masterpiece. An all-time favorite. - Hannah

The Summer We Crossed Europe in the Rain: Lyrics for Stacey Kent by Kazuo Ishiguro. What a fun and unique book! In the intro, Ishiguro writes that he considers himself as much a songwriter as a writer of stories. Who knew??? Jazz singer Stacey Kent asked him to write lyrics for her, her only instructions were they had to have an element of hope, she having noticed Ishiguro’s writing was often ‘pretty sad’. Combined with dream-like illustrations from Italian comic artist Bianca Bagnarelli, the result is an engaging, thoughtful, and compelling book and for me fully fulfilled Ishiguro’s wish that the reader finds the book a ‘gateway to a special world’. Dip in and be swept away! - Eric

The Work of Art: How Something Comes From Nothing by Adam Moss. This is such a cool book (the cover notwithstanding) - an intriguing guided tour of artistic creativity, courtesy of former New York magazine editor Adam Moss. He interviews 43 artists across a range of disciplines in an effort to trace the evolution of their creations. Each chapter focuses on an artist and one of their works, as Moss uncovers the process that led to great art. And check out the layout of the pages, which is both original and graphically interesting. - Hut

The Quiet Tenant by Clémence Michallon (now in paperback). I flew through this book in two days and I was still thinking about it weeks later. A beloved widower of a small town is keeping many secrets which we learn about in alternating chapters from the three women in his life: his daughter, his new crush and the one he's held captive for five years. His tightly controlled world starts to unravel when he's forced to move to a new home. A riveting thriller that had me engaged to the very end! - Carolyn

This Summer Will Be Different by Carley Fortune (in paperback). For all the ladies out there who grew up reading and loving Anne of Green Gables, and who have grown into women who devour sweet contemporary romances, this one is for you. Carley Fortune (author of Every Summer After and Meet Me At the Lake) lands her newest romance on Prince Edward Island at the height of summer, think freshly-shucked oysters and glasses of crisp vinho verde, walks on sun-kissed dunes, and lots of Anne references (including a nostalgic trip to Green Gables). When Lucy arrives on PEI ahead of her best friend and meets super hot/charming/well read Felix, their chemistry is palpable. But when Lucy learns (a little too late) that Felix is her best friend's little brother and Lucy has been told he's strictly off limits, their attraction to each other gets a lot more complicated. - Hannah

Did I Ever Tell You? by Genevieve Kingston. Gwen Kingston’s mother passed away when she was just 11 years old but left her with letters and gifts meant for key, forthcoming milestones in her own life. In sharing personal keepsakes, stories, and life lessons, her mother continues to be a nurturing presence even in death. The book is a beautiful reverse love letter that honors her mother and the everlasting strength of legacy and maternal love. - Jessica


Did you read a review you liked and want to see more by that bookseller? We've created an archive of Staff Recommendations, organized by staff member and going back several months. You can visit our Recent Staff Recs page by clicking on the image, then choosing the bookseller whose blurbs you'd like to peruse.












Author ELIZABETH RYNECKI was in attendance at our event with Gretchen Anthony (see below) and was thrilled to find her book on our shelves. Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter's Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy is a memoir of her emotional quest to find the art of her Polish-Jewish great-grandfather, lost during World War II.


Oakland illustrator MINNIE PHAN gave an entertaining presentation of her new picture book Simone, written by Pulitzer Prize-winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen and telling an unforgettable story of a Vietnamese American girl whose life is transformed by a wildfire. Joining her in conversation was illustrator-author SOPHIE DIAO. Oh, did we mention the cupcakes?

Cultural historian CATHERINE HIEBERT KERST presented her new book California Gold: Sidney Robertson and the WPA California Folk Music Project, which offers a compelling cultural snapshot of a diverse California during the 1930s at the height of the New Deal, drawing on the career of folk music collector Sidney Robertson and the musical culture of often-unheard voices.

GRETCHEN ANTHONY read from and discussed Tired Ladies Take a Stand, a new novel following four 40-something best friends who make a pact to say No! to all the impossible expectations and mountains of busywork placed on them. Tired Ladies Take a Stand celebrates the bonds of female friendship and women reclaiming their autonomy in a world that expects them to do it all. Following the presentation, Gretchen and her friend and conversation partner RENEE RIVERA  - the inspiration for one of the characters in the story - saluted the book

Oakland author ELISSA STRAUSS celebrated her new book When You Care: The Unexpected Magic of Caring for Others in conversation with fellow author COURTNEY E. MARTIN. The book explores the powerful role caring for others plays in our individual and communal lives, weaving together research about care and stories from parents and caregivers with a feminist bent.



Here are just some of the wonderful children's books by AANHPI authors and illustrators you can find at the store. Click here for a list of more great books perfect for reading every month of the year, not just in May!



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