Heather Ann Thompson$18.95 $17.43
Heather Ann Thompson’s minute-by-minute account of the 1971 Attica uprising is my pick for best nonfiction book of the past decade. Blood in the Water is exhaustively researched and chillingly relevant, and Thompson brings humanity and context to an event that has become, to too many, a glossed-over historical touchstone.
Sarah Rose Etter$17.98 $16.54
Super weird, kind of gross, really good.
Jon Krakauer$17.00 $15.64
In Under the Banner of Heaven, Jon Krakauer combines the best of crime journalism and historical research to take us on a deep dive into the short yet wild history of Mormonism. I made my whole family read this just so I would have people to talk about it with--now it's your turn. When you're done and need another fix, try Going Clear.
Anne Sexton$15.99 $14.71
It’s tempting to dismiss Sexton as a poet of her time--resist! She tells us: “I write for you. I entertain. But frogs come out of the sky like rain.” Come for the entertainment; stay for the frogs. You’ll tear through this once and return to it often.
Jean Rhys$15.95 $14.67
Good Morning Midnight is the epitome of glamorous self-destruction. Rhys lays bare the depths where wallowing can take us, never apologizing for her characters' choices but not letting them off the hook, either. A cozily devastating read.
Kate Zambreno$17.95 $16.51
I marked up my copy of Heroines so much that someone asked me if I’d read it in school; really, I paid more attention to Kate Zambreno’s work than to anything I was ever assigned. And I have no regrets—Heroines aims to be both a sweeping critical study of women relegated to the shadows of literary history and a meditation on what it means to be a woman academic now, and it achieves both goals and then some.
Dave Cullen$19.99 $18.39
Columbine is a weighty but essential read. School shootings are a difficult topic to talk about without resorting to platitudes and cliches, but Cullen never veers into that territory, instead giving the reader a minute-by-minute, journalistic account of Columbine that never loses its humanity.
Promising Young Women is a striking and underrated addition to what I lovingly call the Crazy Women Canon. Scanlon is an expert at picking apart the nuances of complex, intimate experiences. Whether or not you find Scanlon’s Crazy Woman relatable, you will be drawn to her story. Dorothy Project books are always a sure bet, and this one continues the pattern.
Gunnhild Øyehaug$17.00 $15.64
This book's subtitle is "A Perfect Picture of Inner Life" and it does not disappoint. Øyehaug uses a narration style that evokes a sort of royal "we"--she includes the reader in her observations, making us complicit in her invasive dive into the minds of an interconnected web of Norwegian artists. Kari Dickson provides an extremely satisfying translation; the tone of the original is preserved to the extent that it's accessible without feeling anglicized. Reminds me a bit of Siri Hustvedt's work.
Isa Chandra Moskowitz$32.00 $28.80
I'm looking for some incentive to get the gas turned on in my new apartment, and Moskowitz is the only person in the world who gets me excited about cooking. Her recipes are simple but never boring, and are somehow also fun to read. There are just a few cookbooks that make me step away from the microwave, and they’re all by Isa Chandra Moskowitz.
Rebecca Gans has been working coast-to-coast in bookstores and libraries for over ten years, with stints at Book Soup, Book Culture, and most recently, McNally Jackson. She holds a deep love and appreciation for the bookselling community. You can reach her at rebeccadgans[at]gmail[dot]com with any professional inquiries or for recommendations of books about unstable women.