Megan's Staff Picks

By Underground Books

By Underground Books

The Midnight Bargain

C. L. Polk

$25.95 $23.87

Get ready for an utterly delightful romp through a Regency-era world full of romance, feminism, and infernal magic! The fortunes of her family rest on Beatrice forsaking magic and making a match this Bargaining Season, but she plans to make The Great Bargain between sorcerer and spirit instead. Then the Lavans arrive—feminist Ysbeta and her handsome, wealthy, compassionate brother Ianthe...Will Beatrice choose marriage or magic, family or freedom?

Klara and the Sun

Kazuo Ishiguro

$28.00 $25.76

Klara is an “Artificial Friend,” a highly observant robot made to alleviate the loneliness of adolescence, in this case for Josie, the sickly teenager who chooses her from the department store where Klara is on display. In Klara and the Sun, Ishiguro returns us to a world adjacent and just ahead of ours, yet again displaying his masterful talent of transforming the dull edge of the everyday into a crystalline truth about human tenderness. The ethics of advances in technology and artificial intelligence are present here, but it’s the truths about love, sacrifice, faith, and healing that resound on every page of Ishiguro’s first novel since winning the Nobel Prize. This is a beautiful and unforgettable book, sure to please fans of Never Let Me Go.

Every Heart a Doorway

Seanan McGuire

$17.99 $16.55

Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children offers a respite for kids returned to our reality after adventures elsewhere. After Nancy arrives, exiled from her own version of fairyland—the Underworld, gruesome murders commence. Crackling with all the enchantment of the classic tales of “wayward children,” like Alice or the Pevensies, with a delicious darkness all its own, Every Heart a Doorway will have you looking around every corner—for imminent death or for a door to another dimension...

Mexican Gothic

Silvia Moreno-Garcia

$27.00 $24.84

When her father receives a desperate plea for help from her newly-wed cousin, the stylish and spirited socialite Noemi Taboada finds herself on the case, packed off to High Place, an isolated old manor hiding a mass of secrets behind (and within) its walls. Her cousin’s letter was full of paranoia, ghosts, and poison, but far worse terrors await Noemi…and what she unearths is far stranger and more disturbing than any could guess. Sinister, strange, and oh so deliciously creepy, Mexican Gothic had this sworn scaredy-cat lingering at every line and taking her time exploring every intoxicating chamber in this house of horrors.

A Deadly Education

Naomi Novik

$28.00 $25.76

At the Scholomance--think Hogwarts in Hell--graduation is survival, and survival depends on the deaths of your fellow students. El, short for Galadriel, was born with an innate talent for extraordinary evil that she’s doing her best to avoid, along with Orion Lake, the school’s resident golden boy, saving lives whether they like it or not—and El does not. Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets Harry Potter meets Hunger Games, with a spellbinding, unputdownable humor, horror, and magic all its own!

Sorrowland

Rivers Solomon

$27.00 $24.84

When Vern, the differently-abled pregnant albino teen heroine of this newest novel from Rivers Solomon, escapes her religious compound, she emerges from the toxic swamp of America past and present as a vital force for healing and resurrection. Thrilling, strange, incisive, and historically and politically informed, Sorrowland is the rightful heir and a powerful successor to the sci-fi and speculative works of Octavia Butler and Margaret Atwood.

Uprooted

Naomi Novik

$17.00 $15.64

Your childhood fairytales and your grandmama’s folktales from the old country have grown up. Wild, earthy, sexy, smartly written, deeply satisfying, and, yes, magical, Uprooted is everything you ever wanted from a bedtime story. Don’t take it from me; it also won the Nebula Award for best novel.

City of Girls

Elizabeth Gilbert

$28.00 $25.76

THE FUNNEST BOOK I'VE READ IN YEARS! The newest novel from Eat, Pray, Love author Elizabeth Gilbert follows young Vivian as she grows from girl to grand dame surrounded by showgirls in dazzling 1940s New York City. Gilbert said she set out to write a book that would go down like a champagne cocktail and boy did she! SO MUCH FUN. Read this for the dizzy delightful fizzy effervescence of it all!

The Fifth Season

N. K. Jemisin

$16.99 $15.63

This book has the most high altitude world building I’ve ever seen. Tolkien may have written volumes and volumes of history of Middle Earth, but Jemisin’s world building goes beyond—considering how environment shapes culture, civilization, history, systems of oppression. At the same time, the series is so grounded in its utterly compelling characters. I can’t speak more highly of this series! Jemisin is brilliant, and with each book in this trilogy winning a Hugo Award for Best Novel, now she's the first person to ever win three times in a row!

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet

Becky Chambers

$17.99 $16.55

This is the funnest, tenderest, most lovable space romp you’ll ever take. There’s a fun plot but the real reason to read this book is the crew of the Wayfarer. Fair warning: You’ll want to follow them anywhere! With inter-species romance, plenty of pronouns, and space-age wisdom, this book made me feel more tender to our own young species of Homo Sapiens and to myself. Highly recommend for fun, for fans of science-fiction, and for self-care.

Daisy Jones & the Six

Taylor Jenkins Reid

$17.00 $15.64

This book is just so much fun. Follow rock band Daisy Jones and the Six through their meteoric rise to fame in the 1970s. This book has all the drugs and drama you’d expect, but also complex, human characters whose loves and losses you can’t help but be moved by. The audiobook is full cast and full production and truly blew me away. I can’t wait to see Reese Witherspoon adapt this for a limited series and for this book to get even bigger. All the praise is well deserved!

The Glass Hotel

Emily St John Mandel

$26.95 $24.79

The Glass Hotel, the newest novel from Station Eleven author Emily St. John Mandel, involves two seemingly disparate events: the collapse of a massive Madoff-ian Ponzi scheme and a woman’s disappearance from a ship at sea. Between these two points in time, Mandel sweeps us away across a landscape made of the invisible countries around us, the kingdom of wealth and the shadow country of poverty, a company’s corporate culture, a shipping freight’s crew, each with their own rules, their own secrets, each subject to greed and delusion. The Glass Hotel examines the house of cards each of us finds ourselves invited into at one time or another—the failure of morality or courage, the willing delusion. I knew this book would be a hard one to describe, but don’t miss out on it—The Glass Hotel is a work of true, unmistakable brilliance.

Get a Life, Chloe Brown

Talia Hibbert

$15.99 $14.71

I don’t usually read romance but SO MANY fellow indie booksellers have raved about this book to me, I had to give it a try! I think I’m still blushing but I’m so glad I did! This is a RED HOT romance between two very well-drawn characters, each with their own past traumas to resolve on their way to each other, touching on chronic illness, race, class, abusive relationships...and it's somehow hilarious at the same time? I'm going to have to give romance books a try more often!

For Small Creatures Such as We: Rituals for Finding Meaning in Our Unlikely World

Sasha Sagan

$26.00 $23.92

“For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love." ―Carl Sagan and Ann Druyan, Contact. I feel honored to share with you this debut book by Sasha Sagan, daughter of Carl and Ann, who taught their daughter that science reveals the wonder and majesty of a world greater than the limits of myth or fable. Here, Sasha writes with such reverence, beauty, and tenderness about how we can find meaning as humble humans on a pale blue dot through creating and participating in ceremony, celebration, and ritual. Part memoir, part guidebook, and part social history, For Small Creatures Such as We reminded me of the grandeur of the universe and the magic of finding our own place within it.

The Great Pretender: The Undercover Mission That Changed Our Understanding of Madness

Susannah Cahalan

$28.00 $25.76

Susannah Cahalan, author of Brain on Fire, is back with another riveting true story of madness and the mental health system. In pursuit of the truth about a highly influential 1970s psychiatric experiment, Cahalan leads us into the greater landscape of the history of psychiatry, the DSM, and the culture of mental health in the United States. The Great Pretender is not-to-be-missed narrative nonfiction for anyone interested in scientific mysteries, how scientific research impacts culture, and in how we decide who is sane and who is mad.

Living in the Woods in a Tree

Sybil Rosen

$19.95

Country music legend Blaze Foley, writer of songs sung by Willie Nelson and Merle Haggard and John Prine, once lived right here in Carroll County in a treehouse in the woods of Roopville in the 1970s with our friend, writer Sybil Rosen. This memoir of those years together, their West Georgia romance, and Blaze’s tragic and untimely death is the basis for the 2018 independent film Blaze, which Sybil co-wrote with director Ethan Hawke. Country music fans, local history fans, and literary memoir fans will all find something to move them to tears in this gorgeous book. Read the book, watch the movie, listen to Blaze’s hauntingly beautiful songs, and feel your heart beating away in your chest.

A People's History of the United States

Howard Zinn

$21.99 $20.23

What this classic, alternative, and, yes, overtly leftist history of the United States most impressed upon me is that the history of American protest is just as vital and as old a tradition as the stars and stripes. The American people have always protested, gone on strike, marched—for suffrage, abolition, labor rights, civil rights, education, peace, a living wage, and more…Read this book to understand where we come from and that protest is an American right and an American tradition we can be proud of.

Secondhand Time: The Last of the Soviets

Svetlana Alexievich

$20.00 $18.40

In 2015, Svetlana Alexievich became the first non-fiction writer to receive the Nobel Prize in Literature since Winston Churchill in 1953. Alexievich’s distinctive history writing is immersive, oceanic. Submerged in the historical moment, voices arise like tides, and each story, full of the exhilarations and horrors of humanity, carries you away. This is a fascinating study of those left behind in the wake of the USSR. These stories left a deep impression on my understanding not only of history but of how humans cope with the creation and destruction of an idea. 

From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

Caitlin Doughty and Landis Blair

$15.95 $14.67

Mortician, death activist, and host of popular YouTube channel Ask a Mortician, Caitlin Doughty has been doing the work of raising awareness and acceptance of death for many years now. Here, she takes us on a journey through death rites, sites, and trends around the world and here at home. From Here to Eternity is a valuable meditation on what we get right and what we get wrong in caring for our dead and ourselves in times of death, and it will give you much to think about!

Native Tongue

Suzette Haden Elgin

$17.95 $16.51

Published the year before The Handmaid’s Tale, Native Tongue is your 1980s feminist sci-fi cult classic trilogy, finally back in print from the Feminist Press at CUNY! In a future America where women have no legal rights, aliens are major economic players, and linguists are in high demand, the women of the Lines (the 13 families trained from birth in language acquisition) labor in secret to craft a language of their own—a women’s language that may finally have the power to change everything. Native Tongue is definitely not a subtle book but it is a fascinating one, full of linguistics and aliens and madcap feminist conspiracies!

The Rag and Bone Shop of the Heart: Poetry Anthology, a

Robert Bly

$17.99 $16.55

With sections like "I Know the Earth and I Am Sad" and "The Spindrift Gaze Toward Paradise," this poetry anthology is unlike any other. Though ostensibly for men, I got this in high school and it continues to be one of my favorite anthologies, full of gorgeous poems, many international and newly translated by Bly. A lush anthology full of great depths to plumb!

Three Women

Lisa Taddeo

$27.00 $24.84

I read this book in practically one sitting, unable to tear myself away from the emotional complexity and narrative force of these women’s lives—at times, they read like fiction, the sex and love and betrayal, but always with the underlying and even unsettling resonance of recognition. Taddeo disappears into her prose, allowing a focus, deep and respectful and unreserved, on these three women and on a desire pulsingly alive but previously lost amid the rote scandals of male desire in America. What emerges is a bitter truth, perhaps, but a kind of victorious one, finally being lifted into the light.

Vita Nostra

Sergey Dyachenko

$26.99 $24.83

Husband and wife writing team the Dyachenkos have been masters of science fiction for over twenty years in their native Russian, and English translations of their works are long overdue! As a big fan of unique systems of magic, magic academies (but listen, this ain't Hogwarts!), and over-achieving female characters (but listen, this ain't Hermione!), this book was right up my alley. If dark, twisty, and arcane systems of magic speak to you, this is a must read, and it's my number one pick for fans of Lev Grossman’s The Magicians.

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: A Therapist, Her Therapist, and Our Lives Revealed

Lori Gottlieb

$28.00 $25.76

Lori Gottlieb is a successful therapist immersed in the lives of her clients (a fascinating crew including an aggressive TV big shot, a dying newlywed, a suicidal septuagenarian, and a 20-something train wreck), when her boyfriend suddenly breaks up with her and lands her back on the therapy couch herself. In the course of this book, you fall in love with each of Gottlieb’s clients in all their tragedies and triumphs and with therapy itself. Maybe You Should Talk to Someone is a powerful and moving and funny exploration of therapy from the viewpoint of both the client’s couch and the therapist’s chair, and a fiercely felt reminder that we are all human and we do the work of growing together.

Spinster: Making a Life of One's Own

Kate Bolick

$17.00

I'm happily married, which is why I put off reading this for so long! But this book is for everyone, married or not. Bolick's personal journey of historical and self-discovery is compelling, eye-opening, and a joy to read. I love books that encourage living intentionally. Spinster will make you think hard not only about what you take for granted about relationships or what your own needs are when it comes to independence, but also about grief, art, and what we give our lives to.

The City in the Middle of the Night

Charlie Jane Anders

$18.99 $17.47

The City in the Middle of the Night is a feat of world building and a fierce and deeply felt examination of what it means to be human. This world is so rich I️ couldn’t possibly name everything that entranced me. Politics, relationships, sexuality, communication, culture, technology, climate, time itself—this book questions everything as it follows Sophie from and to and between two opposing human cities and then into The City in the Middle of the Night.

Love Is a Mix Tape: Life and Loss, One Song at a Time

Rob Sheffield

$16.00 $14.72

My 1994 Pontiac Bonneville has a tape deck, and I plan on driving with a tape popped in for Renee Sheffield this winter. Rock and pop culture critic for Rolling Stone magazine Rob Sheffield’s memoir of his late wife, lost after only 5 years of marriage, is of course, a heartbreaker of a book. But Love is a Mix Tape is also full of wisdom (though the author might disagree), kindness, laughs, epic love, and lots of great tunes.

Flight Path: A Search for Roots Beneath the World's Busiest Airport

Hannah Palmer

$16.95 $15.59

 Years after leaving the South, Hannah Palmer returns to Atlanta ready to start a family and searching for her roots. Pregnant, she hits the pavement, intent on finding out what happened to her childhood homes, which have disappeared along with entire neighborhoods and cities beneath the sprawling complex of the busiest airport in the world. In gorgeous prose at turns poetic and wry, Palmer investigates not only how Hartsfield-Jackson has shaped the city that gave birth to it, but how a city shapes a person, the human relationship to place, and how much anyone can really know "home." 

The Hazel Wood

Melissa Albert

$10.99 $10.11

The Hazel Wood was thrilling, creepy, delightful, and full of surprises. I loved each and every one of Melissa Albert's deftly handled twists and turns, especially because nothing is merely plot in this novel; every detail speaks to fairy tales and folk lore, the readers who love these stories, and the scholars who collect and study them. A fascinating, thought-provoking, and most of all fun read I'll be recommending to teens and adults alike, especially for fans of Angela Carter's The Bloody Chamber, Naomi Novik's Uprooted, and Lev Grossman's The Magicians.

My Brilliant Friend

Elena Ferrante

$18.00 $16.56

Elena Ferrante’s Neapolitan Novels are a fierce, intimate, and beautifully unflinching account of female friendship--believe the hype--a fever dream that leaves you impossibly clear-headed.

The Sparrow

Mary Doria Russell

$18.00 $16.56

Jesuits in space! A philosophical, psychological, moral, theological, anthropological science fiction novel that explores the intersections of science and faith, this book asks all the big questions and resolutely faces all the sweetest and most bitter moments that arise from great discovery and horrifying sacrifice. This novel is a true work of art and won all the big science fiction awards upon its publication. It’s an utterly brilliant, wondrous, and harrowing tale that will leave you both satisfied and shaken.

Women Who Run with the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype

Clarissa Pinkola Estés

$8.99 $8.27

I️ wasn’t so sure about this one when I️ started it, but so many women I️ admire love it, so I️ thought it was time to give it a try. I’m sure there are probably some fair criticisms of this book or those who find it problematic, gender-essentialist. All I️ can say is that while reading it, I️ felt very nourished and that on some deeper, intangible level of consciousness, I️ could feel good work being done.

The Handmaid's Tale

Margaret Atwood

$15.95 $14.67

A tour de force, urgent and relevant, this is a book I’d be willing to die for. Speculative fiction, this novel imagines a U.S. in which American fundamentalist Christianity’s rhetoric about women is taken to its logical conclusions, with the establishment of a theocratic military dictatorship that employs biblical brutalities. Read this if you want more from your dystopian fiction (and prepare for more than you bargained for). Nolite te bastardes carborundorum!

Good Poems

Various and Various

$23.00 $21.16

My middle school librarian—bless you Ms. Phillips—gave this poetry collection to me when I was 13, and it’s been a major touchstone throughout my life since. An eclectic collection, this book has a poem for everyone, each one featured on Keillor’s popular public radio show “The Writer’s Almanac.” Beginners will find much to like, and poetry veterans will rediscover many of their favorites.

Spinning Silver

Naomi Novik

$17.00 $15.64

Fans of Uprooted, rejoice! Naomi Novik always delivers rich fantasy, surprising and satisfying. I loved that Uprooted explored Novik’s mother’s side of the family and Polish folklore traditions, and now we have Spinning Silver! This new fantasy draws from Novik’s father’s side and Lithuanian Jewish traditions. With 6 narrative voices, this book feels expansive and does such interesting work with fairy tales! I loved every second!

Sophie's World: A Novel about the History of Philosophy

Jostein Gaarder

$17.00 $15.64

I’m so glad I finally read this. It was recommended to me by a philosophy professor friend of my father’s when I was eleven, and it was just beyond me at the time. It’s intimidated me since! This is an enchanting, surprising, fascinating, and even disturbing way to learn the history of Western philosophy that I think will be staying with me for many years to come.

All Over But the Shoutin'

Rick Bragg

$16.95 $15.59

This is a book to make you cry, fill your heart, slap your knee laughing, & look around with new eyes at the bitter-sweetness & tragedy in life & see some dignity, tenderness, & even beauty. Bragg writes gorgeously & there were so many passages I had to stop and read out loud, but even more importantly, he writes with so much humility, respect, & love for his family, his people, & humanity at large, whether in NYC, Haiti, or Possum Trot, Alabama.

The Bear and the Nightingale

Katherine Arden

$17.00 $15.64

#1 recommendation for fans of Uprooted by Naomi Novik! Deep in 14th Century northern Rus’ (Russia) lies a village surrounded by a forest as thick with magic as it is with snow, and in that village, a fearless girl caught between the old household gods and the Holy Trinity. Katherine Arden’s debut novel is a brave-hearted, richly woven tale that simply enthralls.  

First, We Make the Beast Beautiful: A New Journey Through Anxiety

Sarah Wilson

$26.99 $24.83

Reading this book is like having the best, deepest, most therapeutic and raucous and tearful and cathartic conversation with a friend and then the feeling afterward, maybe at 4 in the morning, when you’re resting together in the peace of laying all your cards on the table and knowing and being known. This is a book you’ll want to hug about a 100 times, then launch out into the world (or stay at home!) with your beautiful beast beside you.

Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear

Elizabeth Gilbert

$17.00 $15.64

I love Elizabeth Gilbert’s earnestness, sincerity, and enthusiasm. Gilbert speaks about inspiration as a magical, living being, and she also instructs us to be responsible adults, to not torture ourselves or others, and to play. I like the mix of pixie dust and house dust in this book, perfect for anyone who is in a rut, doubting their creative choices, or feeling conflicted about their work.

The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate--Discoveries from a Secret World

Peter Wohlleben

$24.95 $22.95

I don’t know how I could ever look at trees the same way again after reading this book. Wohlleben writes with such warmth, sincerity, and enthusiasm, and it makes what would usually be a slow read for me a wonder, transportive. I feel like I live in a different world after finishing this—one with more wonder, mystery, and magic. I was hoping to gain a greater appreciation for nature from this book, and I definitely have!

The Power

Naomi Alderman

$16.99 $15.63

My mind is all kinds of messed up from this book, a very disturbing, thrilling, and thought-provoking meditation on power, gender, religion, and history, plus super morally ambiguous and compelling characters. This one is for all Margaret Atwood fans and anyone who loves a speculative or science fiction story that pushes their buttons and makes them think!

All the Birds in the Sky

Charlie Jane Anders

$15.99 $14.71

This Nebula Award and Locus Award winner sets magic and science on a collision course, delights in the resulting wreckage, and then deftly and lovingly pieces them back together. Magic academies, transfiguration, high tech corporations, artificial intelligence, assassins, and talking trees abound, along with all your favorite themes from both science fiction and fantasy. This book will keep you on your toes, and I’d recommend it for any science fiction or fantasy reader who likes to tinker with the genre even as they worship it.  

Room

Emma Donoghue

$16.99 $15.63

I always describe this book as the perfect balance between literary fiction and airplane reading. Told through the eyes of a boy who has grown up in captivity, held in a small room by his kidnapped mother, Room is thrilling and thoughtful, and it plays with the mother-child relationship, gender, captivity, postmodernism, television and the media, and the ways in which we come to interpret the world around us. Because this novel is so smart and fast paced, I’d recommend it to those who loved Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.

Parable of the Sower

Octavia E. Butler

$16.99 $15.63

Heartbreaking, disturbing, inspiring, and powerful, Octavia Butler’s The Parable of the Sower is the OG young adult dystopian lit, written before the genre even came into being. This book will make you stay up all night reading, and it is full of big ideas that will give you tools to face the challenges that face our world and country today and tomorrow.

Pretty Is

Maggie Mitchell

$17.00

Two girls are taken by a mysterious man to a cabin in the woods. Twenty years later, their paths cross again. Suspenseful and meditative, Pretty Is is a page-turner that examines how time alters our relationship to the truth, to each other, and to ourselves. Like Gone Girl or Room, Pretty Is is thrilling, fun, and incredibly smart.

The Hero and the Crown

Robin McKinley

$8.99 $8.27

I have no idea how many times I read this book growing up. With a dragon-fighting princess, her faithful steed, and a dire threat to the kingdom, this book could easily fall into gratuitous YA fantasy, but, trust me, it doesn’t. Well crafted, the heroine is no mere strong-willed, butt-kicking female character, but smart, persevering, introspective, and struggling with common self-limitations as well as limitations put on her as a mixed-race, mixed-class woman. This is an excellent book for young people of all genders that stands up to more mature reading as well. Also: a Newberry Award winner. Check out the companion to this novel, The Blue Sword!