Marcus' Staff Picks

By The Book Tavern

By The Book Tavern

Our resident ginger picks some of his favorites and recommendations!

Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened (Original)

Allie Brosh

$19.98 $18.38

Hyperbole and a Half is based on Allie Brosh’s popular web comic of the same name. Brosh accompanies stories from her life with hilarious and (intentionally) crude MS Paint-style illustrations. Her main subjects are childhood escapades, including her attempt (as a five year-old) to eat an entire birthday cake by herself in "The God of Cake", and her hapless rescue dogs, one if whom she runs cognitive ability tests on in "The Simple Dog". Brosh combines humor with insight into her life and the lives of her loved ones. My personal favorite is her two-part story "Depression", in which she chronicles her journey with mental illness. I consider her depiction of depression to be one of the most accurate I have ever encountered as someone who also lives with this very misunderstood illness. She manages to find humor in the numbness, and even a kernel of hope (that will be funny to you when you read the story). — Marcus

Rhett & Link's Book of Mythicality: A Field Guide to Curiosity, Creativity, and Tomfoolery

Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal

$21.00 $18.90

When asked to describe my favorite YouTubers, Rhett and Link, I often go with "professional 12 year-olds". That may not sound appealing to you, but I ask you not to think of any 12 year-olds you've known as an adult. Think of yourself at twelve. Remember the creativity of that time--how many possibilities existed in, say, the woods behind your house, or a drawing, or a crazy idea you and your best friend once had. Good Mythical Morning, Rhett & Link's hit YouTube show, is the culmination of many of their craziest ideas as best friends from childhood. Rhett and Link met on the first day of first grade when they were held in from recess for writing profanities on their desks. Their punishment: coloring in pictures of mythical beasts. That encounter resulted in a 35+ year friendship, the name of their flagship show and the Book of Mythicality. The Book of Mythicality is part memoir, part instruction manual for "curiosity, creativity, & tomfoolery". If you're already a fan of Rhett & Link, you'll enjoy this chance to peek behind the curtain and delve more deeply into their childhoods, creative process, and personal lives (including a section written by their wives). If you've never heard of Rhett & Link, I think you'll enjoy their warm, and often silly, voices as they endeavor to embrace their inner children (as 40 year-olds, now with children of their own) by coming up with fantastic inventions, funny songs, and wild ideas for the future. — Marcus

The Devil in the White City: Murder, Magic, and Madness at the Fair That Changed America

Erik Larson

$17.00 $15.64

The Devil in the White City is one of the most fascinating books I've ever read. Set amidst the 1893 Chicago World's Fair, Erik Larson's historical narrative interweaves the stories of two men who would come to define it, for better and for worse. One is Daniel Burnham, chief architect of the Fair, who threw his entire being into creating a landmark event in American history. The other is Dr. H.H. Holmes, a serial killer who built a hotel that became his "Murder Castle", luring many poor souls who came to Chicago to their death and dismemberment. Though you may expect Holmes' chapters to be more entertaining, I was amazed by the story of the World's Fair and its impact on American history. The first Ferris wheel debuted as the centerpiece of the Fair, the Pledge of Allegiance was written for its opening ceremony, and its use of alternating current electricity essentially ended Edison and Tesla's current war. If these bits of trivia excite your inner history nerd, come buy the book today! — Marcus

Buffering: Unshared Tales of a Life Fully Loaded

Hannah Hart

$14.99 $13.79

Hannah Hart rose to (internet) fame with her Youtube series, "My Drunk Kitchen" (now a cookbook we also have in stock). In "Drunk Kitchen" Hannah attempts, often haplessly, to cook dishes of varying difficulty at various levels of intoxication. She pairs witty (and relentless) puns with a fun-loving attitude. Buffering, her memoir, offers a look into an upbringing and life that starkly contrast her sunny exterior. Raised by a conservative Mormon father and a mother whose schizophrenia worsens as she grows up, Hannah struggles to raise herself and her younger sister while attempting to come to terms with her sexuality and mental health. It's an often devastating look at a young life, but is tempered by Hart's calm, thoughtful narration. It becomes obvious that although Hannah (accidentally) became an entertainer, her main ambition and strength is writing. The rougher chapters are usually split up by lighter fair, i.e. trading poems for water at Burning Man. The main subject of the later chapters becomes Hannah's quest to gain conservatorship over her mother, a nearly impossible task in her home state of California. Readers gain a look into our mental healthcare systems and their often inadequate interactions with the justice system. I came away inspired by Hannah's ability to face and overcome challenges, even while admitting that some will be lifelong struggles. I'd recommend this memoir to anyone interested in mental health, humor, pathos, and drunk lesbians! — Marcus

The Hobbit: Or There and Back Again

Christopher Tolkien and J R R Tolkien

$25.00 $22.50

I know, I know, it's an obvious pick, but I just read The Hobbit for the first time since childhood and had a rollicking good time. I love The Lord of the Rings thoroughly, but I have a few reasons to recommend Hobbit over Rings if you could never get into the series. First, it's shorter and more streamlined. Written as a children's book, Hobbit doesn't have the vast amounts of exposition author J.R.R. Tolkein included in Rings, and it is very self-contained, each chapter an episodic adventure all its own. Second, it's lighter in tone. Tolkein often interrupts the narration with his own asides, and it feels very much like he's telling you the story as a grandfather would to his grandkids. Third, the character development of Bilbo Baggins is possibly Tolkein's most relatable and enjoyable to behold. The story of this ordinary but good-hearted protagonist who assumes he's not the type to go on adventures but discovers he has talents and courage beyond his imagination warms the heart and invigorates the spirit. Hobbit is not without its faults, with no prominent female or nonwhite characters to speak of, and lacking dimensional characters beyond Bilbo, Gandalf, and Thorin Oakenshield. But I dare anyone to read this book without smiling to themselves at some point and staying up late into the night once hooked. — Marcus

The Cuckoo's Calling

Robert Galbraith

$10.99 $10.11

The literary world received quite a shock in 2013 when it was revealed that Robert Galbraith, who recently published a well-reviewed mystery novel entitled The Cuckoo's Calling, was none other than J.K. Rowling--author of the Harry Potter series--writing under a pseudonym. Sales skyrocketed, and Potter fans who picked up the book entered a world very different from Harry's, but filled nonetheless with rich characters and storytelling. The Cuckoo's Calling focuses on Cormoran Strike, a private investigator and disabled war veteran who takes up the case of a supermodel who fell to her death in an apparent suicide. Urged by her adopted brother to take a closer look, Strike and his new--but surprisingly adept--temporary secretary Robin delve into the glamorous, high-pressure world of fashion to uncover a darker truth. Cormoran's world is more adult and less magical than Harry's, but I felt the same intrigue and thrill while reading his story. After all, Rowling wove great mysteries into the Potter novels. I recommend this book to all Harry Potter fans who grew up, but still feel the urge to get lost in a world of words. — Marcus