Books I Love

By Dana McSwain

By Dana McSwain

The Summer Book

Tove Jansson

$14.95 $13.75

Perfect book is perfect. I double-dog dare you to read this book and not love it. If you are new to Finnish fiction, start here. Bright, blunt, poignant and subtle.

The Snow Leopard: (penguin Orange Collection)

Peter Matthiessen

$18.00 $16.56

Extreme ultra-light hiking before YouTube, this book is a great example of "it's about the journey, not the destination."


Madeline Miller

$28.00 $25.76

Achingly gorgeous, original voice, for every adult who was obsessed with mythology as a child and wished with their whole heart there was MORE.

Man from Primrose Lane

James Renner

$21.00 $19.32

Science fiction meets urban legend meets love story meets Shakespearean tragedy, you'll finish it in one sitting and take to the streets demanding a sequel.

Her Fearful Symmetry

Audrey Niffenegger

$18.00 $16.56

A haunting fantasy, an enthralling ghost story. This book is delightfully bizarre, oddly nostalgic, and nothing like The Time Traveler's Wife in case you were wondering.

The Eight

Katherine Neville


An international game of chess that spans hundreds of years. The prize? Immortality. Nuns, Russians, alchemy, chess grand masters, the Tuareg, The French Revolution, this book is awesome in scope and deeply satisfying.

The Brief History of the Dead

Kevin Brockmeier

$15.95 $14.67

You've heard the phrase, "no one is ever really gone if someone still remembers them." This book translates that literally. Chilling. (not just figuratively, it's partially set in Antarctica)

Powers of Darkness: The Lost Version of Dracula

Bram Stoker and Valdimar Ásmundsson

$29.95 $27.55

You know how everyone says they've read Dracula but in all honesty, they've abandoned the book ten pages in because the original never gets to the point? Read this Icelandic serialized translation instead. It's closer to Stoker's original vision before the bloodsucking publishers got their hands on it. It also has maps and diagrams of the castle for the visual learners among us.


Ben Bova

$27.99 $25.75

Ben Bova's The Grand Tour is a national treasure. Jupiter is possibly my favorite. Shady religious types, a sadistic captain, technology so astonishing just when you think you understand it... nope, you don't, and a young man coming of age in deep space in the middle of a conspiracy he doesn't understand. Oh, and giant, whimsical, achingly beautiful freaking Leviathan floating deep inside the terrifying gas giant that is Jupiter. I want Bova's reality minus the religious nuts. And you will, too.

Miss Iceland

Auður Ava Ólafsdóttir

$16.00 $14.72

Iceland. 1960's. Poetry and literature is a man's game but Hekla isn't playing their game. She's playing her own. A vivid portrait of sexism and homophobia, you will want to smack several characters, set up a time travel GoFundMe to get Hekla and her gay friend, Jon, to a time and place that celebrates their unique talents. Original voice, equally funny and heartbreaking.

City of Thieves

David Benioff

$17.00 $15.64

Lev and Kolya are given an impossible task during the siege of Leningrad: find a dozen eggs for a wedding cake behind enemy lines or be shot. A funny, terrifying coming-of-age story. I'm still half in love with Kolya, tbh.

The Unlounging: From a Belly Full of Beer to a Craw Full of Time



Selraybob is a hot mess. Fat, drunk, washed up and barely thirty, he can't be bothered to get out of his recliner. Until his wife leaves his sorry ass and he has an epiphany about time. He realizes it's only a count. And this simple realization sets him and his charming cast of unlikely friends off on a road trip you'll never forget.

The Secret Life of the Lonely Doll: The Search for Dare Wright

Jean Nathan

$22.00 $20.24

A biography of Dare Wright, author and photographer of The Lonely Doll books. A must read if you were lucky enough to discover her unusual books as a child. And if not, here's a great start.

The Lonely Doll

Dare Wright

$22.99 $21.15

Gorgeous original photography and mildly disturbing stoyline, this bizarre sort of children's book is one kids love to discover and one parents worry isn't quite appropriate.

The Raven Boys (the Raven Cycle, Book 1)

Maggie Stiefvater

$10.99 $10.11

Legends and ley lines, powerful characters and setting. You will never look at a mint plant without dying a little bit inside again. Will you ever be as happy again as you are reading this book for the first time? No. Team Gansey forever.

A Three Dog Life

Abigail Thomas

$13.95 $12.83

A poetic memoir. When an accident leaves her husband institutionalized with a traumatic brain injury, Abigail Thomas sets about building a new life in the midst of tragedy with the help of three dogs. Stephen King says it's the best memoir he's ever read and I have to agree. Read it over several cups of tea with a box of tissues.

To Stay Alive: Mary Ann Graves and the Tragic Journey of the Donner Party

Skila Brown


Free-form poetry about the Donner party NO REALLY IT'S BRILLIANT

Out of the Silent Planet

C. S. Lewis

$16.00 $14.72

Profound as only C.S. Lewis can be except this time IN OUTER SPACE. I know you can't spoiler a book written in 1938 but I refuse to divulge the plot; you can't make me. But I will say that that this book was the result of a bet between Lewis and his best friend Tolkien and if that doesn't make you read it nothing I say will.

The Ballad of Frankie Silver: A Ballad Novel

Sharyn McCrumb

$18.99 $17.47

Appalachian folklore, mystery, true crime, what more could a girl ask for? Lyrical and haunting, this book tells the story of 18-year old Frances Stewart Silver, the first woman put to death in Burke County, NC for the axe murder of her husband, Charlie. How many graves does Charlie have? Three. They couldn't bury him all at once.

The Shadow of the Wind

Carlos Ruiz Zafon and Jessica Hische

$30.00 $27.60

A love story set against the backdrop of Francoist Spain. Murder, madness, doomed lovers, a mysterious library that doesn't exist and a story that is being destroyed one book at a time. Sprawling and elegant. Buy it and then holy hell, buckle up.

Smilla's Sense of Snow

Peter Høeg

$22.00 $20.24

A deliciously Danish story set in Copenhagen and Greenland. Smilla Jaspersen is mean and kind of horrible and hates everyone and everything except snow and ice. You'll love her. When a Greenlandic child dies under mysterious circumstances, Smilla's personal vendetta to exact her own brand of justice might just get her killed. Also space worms.

The Song of Achilles

Madeline Miller

$16.99 $15.63

A vivid, visceral, gorgeous retelling of the Iliad that you won't be able to put down. Sorry, Homer, Madeline Miller dunked on you.

My Dearest Julia: The Wartime Letters of Ulysses S. Grant to His Wife

Ulysses S. Grant

$19.95 $18.35

Old U.S. was a hell of a writer (not much of a speller) and his love letters to his fiance/wife Julia paint a vivid portrait of both the man and the times he lived in. You will punch your significant other and ask them why they never write you long-winded, desperate letters that usually end with passionate postscripts like " P.S. my darling Julia, among the wounded on our side was Lt. SoAndSo very dangerously. In the Rifle Reg.t one officer Lt. Ewell, was killed. Mr Maurey lost a hand and Mason and Davis a leg each. I hope to get a letter from you soon, I have written you three and you have written me none."

The Family Man

Elinor Lipman


Elinor Lipman, how do I love thee? Let me count the ways... Elinor Lipman writes books that are about absolutely nothing at all and I can't put them down. Henry Archer, lonely, successful, gay, bit of a fuddy duddy, reconnects with his long-lost stepdaughter who manages to turn his predictable life upside down. Hilarious, every character is perfection. I want to vacation for two weeks every year inside one of Elinor Lipman's books.

The Sirens of Mars: Searching for Life on Another World

Sarah Stewart Johnson

$28.99 $26.67

I lack the education to read books about planetary science and space exploration so when I come upon a deep dive into both subjects written with a poetic, personal perspective for the layperson among us, just take all my monies. Stewart Johnson's book takes you through the history of Mars exploration; from the first time it was recognized in the sky as a planet through the Viking mission, Mariner missions, Sojourner, Pathfinder Opportunity, Spirit, Phoenix, Mars Global Surveyor, to what the future holds for Mars exploration. Bouncing around from Australia to Antarctica, the Mariner Valley to the relict river Delta's of the Jezero Crater, Stewart Johnson's poetic narrative made me feel less like I was reading reams of data and more like my hiking boots were crunching across the ancient surface of Mars, gifting me a glimpse of what the scale of the search for life in the universe might be.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration Into the Wonder of Consciousness

Sy Montgomery

$16.99 $15.63

You will be left in awe after reading about Montgomery's encounters with this magnificent, alien, clever, playful, sentient creature. If you don't come away from this book heartbroken and in love with the giant Pacific octopus, you don't have half the soul these creatures do. This book will make you question everything you think you know about intelligence and consciousness.