Staff Picks AliIt's so great being with Bookloft!  To be surrounded by books and people who love them is pure joy.  It feeds mind and soul.  I'm interested in all things sociology and psychology.  I also love true adventure and survival stories, and will happily summit a mountain, or survive a shipwreck or planecrash from the comfy crevasses of my easy chair :)  I am fascinated by true crime, mostly because of the deep delve into the criminal mind and the forensics.  Of course, an absorbing novel is always great, and I'm a huge fan of memoirs. "Really, Ali, more books?" is a question I often hear when I arrive home. My shelves are overflowing, so the ARCs have started to become building blocks for tables and tiny perches until I can get to them.  There are so many good ones, and so little time. Come on in and tell us which books YOU like best.  Thanks for being a reader~ and a supporter of independant bookshops!


Ali's Staff Picks:

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Caste (Oprah's Book Club): The Origins of Our Discontents By Isabel Wilkerson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593230251
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - August 4th, 2020

#4 as of 2/11/22
"Big and heavy, both in size and subject.  Isabel Wilkerson examines and illuminates how caste works, not just in Nazi Germany, not just in India, but also unnamed, unacknowledged, in the U.S.  I found myself reading, then re-reading many parts of this book, needing time to process and absorb information which, though expertly and beautifully presented, is searing to the soul of anyone who cares.  White privilege is just another name for caste. And yes, it exists in America.

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Kitchen Confidential Updated Ed: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly By Anthony Bourdain Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060899226
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - January 9th, 2007

I devoured this deliciously salty memoir.  From his first oyster (which he remembers as fondly as losing his virginity), to the bad-ass culture of NY city ,(you have to be tough as nails to succeed), Bourdain tells the gritty, raunchy stories of his early years with carving knife precision and gut busting humor.  You will be thoroughly entertained, quite possibly grossed out, and definitely enlightened. 
This is a great autobiography by a great legend, gone too soon.  But damn, what a life!  I can't wait to dig my fork into his other works.  A++++

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Bob Goes to Jail: A Memoir By Rob Sedgwick Cover Image
ISBN: 9781644281086
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Rare Bird Books - July 27th, 2021

OH NO!  drinking, drugging and living the high life, hapless Rob gets mixed up in a pot trafficking debacle.  Here's a memoir that starts out with a bang and never lets up.  Zigging and zagging between his privileged-yet-painful childhood and his eventual mishap with the law, Rob invites us, no holds barred, to his personal sh*t show. Segewick, ever the natural blue-blood despite his wreckage, is effortlessly erudite; his eloquence and wry humor are in full swing throughout his writing.  I for one, have high hopes that the affable, fallable Mr. Segewick will consider putting pen to paper for a sequel. What a gem. 
And YES he IS Kyra's brother ...

Thirty Five Days to Baltimore: 35 Dias de Camina a Baltimore By Alexis Portillo, Jana Laiz Cover Image
ISBN: 9780998313931
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Crow Flies Press - May 1st, 2022

Alexis. His story, as remarkable as it is, is only one among so many. Striving to make it to America for a chance at escaping violence, poverty and hopelessness, his journey is harrowing, and yet so typical. The danger and fear, the setbacks, exhaustion, the thirst and hunger.  With perseverance and guts, luck, and lots of faith, Alex is here and sharing his experience.  This pick is also a great tool for ESL students and teachers.  In a single book it is presented both in English and Spanish. 

Breathless: A Thriller By Amy McCulloch Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593315491
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - May 3rd, 2022

As a big fan of true survival climbing books, I was anxious to see if a work of fiction could be as exciting.  This did not disappoint.  Take the inherent risks of mountaineering, and add in a psycho killer who could be any number of your climbing companions, and brrrr you've got a chilling page turner!

Bless the Daughter Raised by a Voice in Her Head: Poems By Warsan Shire Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593134351
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - March 1st, 2022

I must admit it was the cover art which led me to open this small but powerful book of poetry. Once inside I could not look away from her words... one Somalian woman daring to speak the truth of many. Women gravely wounded, but not silenced.  Each poem, no, each line, and at times even each word will invoke an intake of breath, a twist to the gut, a startle of pain, a flash of understanding. 
Tip: I spent much of my first reading looking up the meaning of certain Somali words.  You don't need to!  The definitions are all there in the final pages.

The Tender Bar: A Memoir By J. R. Moehringer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780306828058
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hachette Books - November 30th, 2021

I loved this memoir so much. Raised by his loving but overburdened mother, hoping for any contact from his self absorbed father, JR receives an education in life, love, and becoming a man from his Uncle Charlie and the regulars at their neighborhood watering hole.  You'll laugh, you'll cry, you will root for this exceptional young man as he makes his tender way to adulthood.   

Behave: The Biology of Humans at Our Best and Worst By Robert M. Sapolsky Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143110910
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - May 1st, 2018

ASTOUNDING!  There is so much information packed into this book.  If you love psychology, biology and sociology, you've hit the jackpot.  Behave covers all the angles in the discussion about what makes us tick.  It's full of stats, research, and experiments, with examples and insights.  And if you need a quick basic lesson on neuroscience, RNA/DNA proteins, or endocrinology, it's here too.  I feel as though I have just completed a master class; a grand tour of the human psyche with Mr. Sapolsky as my smart, funny, (and rather well behaved) professor.  

A Better Man: A (Mostly Serious) Letter to My Son By Michael Ian Black Cover Image
ISBN: 9781643752044
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - May 10th, 2022

In a last ditch prep-before-departure, Michael Ian Black puts his two cents in on all things "life" in this loving, familial, and humorous letter to his college-bound son.  Filled with stories of his own growing up, in fits and starts, and ultimately finding balance in manhood: no subject is off limits.  Machismo, pride, violence, dating, consent, emotional IQ, love, intimacy, privilege and so much more. Finally, the importance of giving back to the world in whatever way makes sense, and finding one's own recipe for happiness.  I loved this one!

Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don't Know By Malcolm Gladwell Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316299220
Availability: NOT ON HAND, but usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - September 28th, 2021

I love Malcolm Gladwell!  Do you think that you're a good judge of character; that you can trust your instincts and all you've ever learned about people? Hmmm...don't be so sure.  From courtrooms to campuses, policing to politics, from our persona lives to international affairs, Malcolm takes a deep dive into the way our flawed conceptions of others can wreak havoc and even lead to disaster.  Another GREAT READ for Gladwell fans.  

Things I Learned from Falling: A Memoir By Claire Nelson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063070172
Availability: NOT ON HAND, but usually Ships in 2-7 Days
Published: HarperOne - May 25th, 2021

This is a great blend of memoir and true survival.  Claire endures days of pain, fear and hopelessness in the desert after a tragic fall. She is in a remote location and immobilized where she lays, with a shattered pelvis.  Her resourcefulness, bravery, and calm, are inspiring. Claire's writing segues beautifully between her past and present as she recounts her story. 

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Just Mercy: A Story of Justice and Redemption By Bryan Stevenson Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812984965
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - August 18th, 2015

This jarring book deepened my understanding of the rampant inequalities in our justice system.  I found it hard to sleep after reading the devastating stories of Walter McMillian and others in prisons, on death row, in solitary confinement... the children, unfairly there, the blatant disregard... it breaks my heart. 
I am in awe of Mr. Stevenson who has dedicated his career to help these forgotten souls.  He is, to them, and angel of relief and mercy.  It is an ultimately hopeful read.