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Steven's Picks



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The Priory of the Orange Tree (The Roots of Chaos) By Samantha Shannon Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635570304
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - February 18th, 2020

For as cruel and surprisingly dark as this title is, I had a lot of fun reading it. It felt like all the best parts of Game of Thrones but much more reasonable. Shannon weaves a story about assumptions, blind allegiance and the danger of holding on to a belief rather than accepting a harsh truth.  Throughout the story you follow a cast of characters from their perspective, and through them you are immersed in complex East versus West politics. The author introduces different species of dragons, but not just mindless beasts, they are cunning, thoughtful, self-serving, and dope as hell. Shannon includes legends, myths, and magic that give the story depth and meaning. A very fine piece of fantasy and I'm looking forward to reading the next one.

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Babel: Or the Necessity of Violence: An Arcane History of the Oxford Translators' Revolution By R. F. Kuang Cover Image
ISBN: 9780063021426
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Voyager - August 23rd, 2022

I have to fangirl a bit, please forgive me. I cannot emphasize enough how fucking brilliant this author is. To write and finish the Poppy War Trilogy and then follow it with this piece is just insane. All while being a grad-student at Yale and Oxford?? Like, come on.  Anyway, this book is one of those books that you continue to think about days after finishing it: Can we influence true change through voting? Are marches and small acts of civil disobedience enough? I'm not so sure.  Kuang has crafted a novel about language and colonialism that explores the fascinating dynamic between the two. This title emphasizes how colonists extract and exploit the colonized without ever having to offer respect or compensation for the services provided. In this case the very basis of their power is derived from languages they do not speak, and the power imbalance would not exist if it weren't for the exploitation of the lands they occupy. A story about children taken from their homeland and used to further the empire that has nothing but disdain for their people. This narrative illustrates the futility of infiltrating the system and how the powers that be are beyond control by any conventional means. 

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The Poppy War: A Novel By R. F. Kuang Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062662583
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Harper Voyager - April 23rd, 2019

One of the most incredible books I have ever read. R.F Kuang has written a masterpiece from start to finish, complete with compelling politics, a believable magic system, and a cast of characters that, although flawed, are worth cheering on. Using the darkness of 20th Century Chinese history, Kuang crafts a story that has been mirrored throughout history all over the world.  It is often forgotten who suffers the most in wartime because we regularly focus on the particulars and Kuang captures that reality perfectly.  When you reach the end of the trilogy there is such clarity and starkness about the horrors of war and how important factors can be left by the wayside.

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Gathering Moss: A Natural and Cultural History of Mosses By Robin Wall Kimmerer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780870714993
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Oregon State University Press - March 1st, 2003

I’m going to be honest, I had to read this for a class and my first thought was “Seriously? Who gives a shit about moss?” Well, now that I’ve read it, I have an answer, I do, and we all should. Moss is incredibly fascinating, and Kimmerer has such a unique and caring perspective about nature, it is hard not to share this sentiment when reading her work. In each essay Kimmerer explores and shares her experiences with moss and shows how looking at such a small piece of nature can in turn show you something about yourself. We are all just a small piece of our larger society and our impact on the world is often lost or seems inconsequential. Kimmerer shows us that no matter how small, our presence has an impact.

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The Paper Kingdom By Helena Ku Rhee, Pascal Campion (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Helena Ku Rhee, Pascal Campion (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780525644613
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Random House Studio - February 18th, 2020

This is a super sweet book about a kid with extremely hardworking parents that are trying their hardest to provide for him. When they can’t find a sitter for their Night Shift, they bring him along and entertain him with tales about the Paper Kingdom that they take care of every night.