18 Days of Picture Books

18 Books I Loved Reading to My Son

by Lisa

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As a parent and when it comes to Picture Books, it's wonderful to find ones you like since you'll be reading them over and over and over again. My son Jack LOVED reading and being read to from a young age, so we spent hours each day reading and rereading these wonderful books. Thanks to the amazing children's book authors for making these books so enjoyable for children and parents alike.

Jack's and my "Top 18" include:

The Antlered Ship by The Fan Brothers

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"Is it better to know what's going to happen?" wondered Marco. "Or better to be surprised?"

Just One More by Jennifer Hanson Rolli

"and what's this? Just one more kiss?"

Alma and How She Got Her Name by Juana Martinez-Neal

"The world is so big! I want to go see it, Daddy. You and me together."

The Rainbow Goblins by Ul de Rico

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The Lion & The Mouse by Jerry Pinkney

Herbert the Timid Dragon by Mercer Mayer

"Icky, sticky dragon soup-UHG!" cried the princess, and she threw it in his face.

Pirate Pete's Talk Like a Pirate by Kim Kennedy

Steam Train Dream Train by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Circus Ship by Chris Van Dusen

The Kissing hand by Audrey Penn

In My Heart A Book of Feelings by Jo Witek

Otis and the Kittens by Lauren Long

World on a String by Larry Phifer

"I miss you, friend," he whispered into the sky, "but I know your light was meant to fly."

Iggy Peck, Architect by Audrey Beaty

Outside by Deidre Gill

The Monsters' Monster by Patrick McDonnell

Locomotive by Brian Floca

"The engine HUFFS and Hisses, the engine Bangs and Clanks! Metal rolls on metal and the Locomotive MOVES."

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Du Iz Tak? by Carson Ellis

The Last Kids on Earth!

Max Brallier’s series Last Kids on Earth is on it’s way to Netflix and his latest book, Last Kids on Earth and the Midnight Blade is publishing in September. We’re so excited!

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Have you ever wanted to see your book If you pre-order his next book, your name will be included in the acknowledgements of the Midnight Blade. Oh, and you’ll also get some pretty cool slime and a bookplate signed just for you so you can place it in your book after it arrives with us!

The River by Peter Heller

A Cori and Lisa pick!

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Holy smokes! Despite its relative brevity, Heller has delivered a beautiful, heartbreaking, and engrossing adventure. I was immersed from the beginning, and I devoured this in a day. This is one of those books that can be hard to describe what it’s about, but its use of multiple themes is what will make it appealing to a wide range of readers. At its simplest, it is a best friends adventure story. Jack and Wynn are on an epic canoe trip on the Maskwa River in northern Canada before they head back to college in the fall. Their leisurely journey quickly begins to go sideways with a forest fire moving their way and the mysterious behavior of the few people they encounter in this isolated area, the tension begins ratcheting up immediately. The thriller aspect will keep you turning the pages as you strive to sort out the confusion along with Wynn and Jack. On yet another level, the deep, rich descriptions of nature read like some of the best narrative nonfiction. In particular, the water and the fire reflect the ebbs and flows of the experience, both its beauty, danger, and constantly changing pace. - Cori

From Penguin Random House:

Wynn and Jack have been best friends since freshman orientation, bonded by their shared love of mountains, books, and fishing. Wynn is a gentle giant, a Vermont kid never happier than when his feet are in the water. Jack is more rugged, raised on a ranch in Colorado where sleeping under the stars and cooking on a fire came as naturally to him as breathing. When they decide to canoe the Maskwa River in northern Canada, they anticipate long days of leisurely paddling and picking blueberries, and nights of stargazing and reading paperback Westerns. But a wildfire making its way across the forest adds unexpected urgency to the journey. When they hear a man and woman arguing on the fog-shrouded riverbank and decide to warn them about the fire, their search for the pair turns up nothing and no one. But: The next day a man appears on the river, paddling alone. Is this the man they heard? And, if he is, where is the woman? From this charged beginning, master storyteller Peter Heller unspools a headlong, heart-pounding story of desperate wilderness survival.


Stray City by Chelsey Johnson

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I was not ready for this one to end. In fact, I enjoyed the story and writing so much I found myself slowing down my normal reading pace to savor it more carefully as it unfolded. Quiet and lyrical, this book manages to create an amazing sense of place while also being character driven and introducing you to layered and interesting people that begin to feel like acquaintances and friends you know. In particular, late 90’s Portland is its own character. You develop a good sense of the scruffy and gritty city it used to be before it became the mecca for hipness and hipsters. But, the sense of place is carried expertly throughout the story as Johnson winds through the many locations in the west and midwest so that you can envision yourself there as she is describing them. The story itself could be described as many things including coming of age, LGBTQ, first loves and forever loves, and dysfunctional family (both the ones you are born with and those you chose). I don’t think it really matters which draws you in, and the reality is that these are all themes woven into our own lives in some capacity, which is probably what makes the story as a whole such a gift to us as readers. For me, I went to college and began the prolonged process of figuring myself as an adult at the same time as Andrea, so in some ways the time and cultural references were a flashback to some of my own adventures, confusion, and angst. The LGBTQ storyline did not feel like a manifesto or lesson, but yet introduced me to nuanced thoughts and ideas that I hope will help me continue to grow as a supportive and understanding friend to those in my life who have this as a central identity. - Cori

From Harper Collins:

A warm, funny, and whip-smart debut novel about rebellious youth, inconceivable motherhood, and the complications of belonging—to a city, a culture, and a family—when none of them can quite contain who you really are.

All of us were refugees of the nuclear family . . .

Twenty-three-year-old artist Andrea Morales escaped her Midwestern Catholic childhood—and the closet—to create a home and life for herself within the thriving but insular lesbian underground of Portland, Oregon. But one drunken night, reeling from a bad breakup and a friend’s betrayal, she recklessly crosses enemy lines and hooks up with a man. To her utter shock, Andrea soon discovers she’s pregnant—and despite the concerns of her astonished circle of gay friends, she decides to have the baby.

A decade later, when her precocious daughter Lucia starts asking questions about the father she’s never known, Andrea is forced to reconcile the past she hoped to leave behind with the life she’s worked so hard to build.

A thoroughly modern and original anti-romantic comedy, Stray City is an unabashedly entertaining literary debut about the families we’re born into and the families we choose, about finding yourself by breaking the rules, and making bad decisions for all the right reasons.

Amy

Portrait of a Bookseller

Where are you originally from?

Mulino, Oregon

What is the best part of your job?

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My awesome team! Meeting/Getting to know all of the locals that enjoy our bookshop.

When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?

Explore new places.

Recommend an author/book you think everybody should read:

The Lorax by Dr. Seuss

Walk us through your favorite route when browsing books at Bright Side:

I just pick one place to start and see how far I can get before my arms are full.

Do you collect any particular types of books?

I collect children’s books, especially Dr. Seuss, Jan Brett, and Jody Bergsma

What’s your favorite book to give as a gift?

The Coyote Daily by Shreve Stockton

What book do you want to be written into?

The Autobiography of David Attenborough….I love David Attenborough.

What is your favorite opening/closing line of a book?

“The first time I drank piss was on a fire escape overlooking downtown Los Angeles.” NOFX The Hepatitis Bathtub and Other Stories

Is there a book you reread annually?

What Now? by Ann Patchet

What would be the title of your autobiography?

“How to Argue with a Rabbit”

wHAT IS THE BEST ADVICE YOU EVER RECIEVED FROM A BOOK OR AUTHOR?

“In this life it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place” The Red Queen tells Alice in Lewis Carrols’s Through the Looking Glass. I have this line tattooed on my shoulder.

amey

Summer Eats

Cookbooks for the Summer!

By Amy

I love all the seasons, but summer is my favorite flavor. Don’t get me wrong, I like pumpkin spice as much as the next millennial, but nothing beats a leftover picnic by the creek or a slice of fresh peach cobbler for breakfast. And who doesn't drool over the thought of breaking out the grill?  Whether you’re avoiding the oven so you don’t overheat the house, or looking for the perfect recipe to use up all the veggies you bought at the farmers market, we have a cookbook for you.

Over Easy, by Joy Wilson: Summer Brunch Anyone? This book is the only guide you need for everything from breakfast cocktails to the perfect Hollandaise sauce for your eggs Benedict. It also has plenty you can make ahead to enjoy over the work week.

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Eating from the Ground Up, by Alana Chernilla: “Here are dishes so simple and quick that they feel more intuitive than following a typical recipe. Soups for year-round that are packed with nourishment, and ideas for maximizing summer produce” - BOTB. This book will take you way beyond a basic salad.

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Outlandish, by Morgan Sjogren: This book will have you plotting your next camping adventure, as well as the meals to go with it. An awesome summer read set all over the Southwest, with easy no-fuss recipes to fuel even the most extreme adventures. They also make for great home recipes when you don’t want to turn anything on in your kitchen.  

Pie in the Sky, by Susan G. Purdy: I avoid using my oven as much as possible in the summer, but with Flagstaff’s cooler evenings and this high-altitude baking guide, staying up a little later to eat a fresh baked pastry is well worth it.

The Bob’s Burgers Burger Book, by Loren Bouchard and Cole Bowden: For the pun-loving grill master, this book has everything you need to make your BBQ guests cringe from punny jokes and groan from delicious food.

Dirty Gourmet, by Aimee Trudeau, Emily Nielson, and Mai-yan Kwan: Perfect for the car camper or road tripper, this cookbook goes way beyond the hot dog on a stick. It will also teach you how to cook evenly on an open fire with anything from cast-iron to foil.

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Normal People by Sally Rooney

Cori says:

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“This coming of age story set in Ireland is about an on and off again couple, Marianne and Connell, starting with high school and moving through their university years.  On one level, this could be solely seen as the “will they or won’t they” story of their relationship.  Even though filled with complications and miscommunications, they continually return to each other as either friends or lovers. On a deeper level, this story explores pretensions and power differentials based on wealth and class differences. With constantly shifting sands, they navigate peer pressure and power dynamics while trying to manage their insecurities and find the courage to live their dreams and ideals.”

Soon to be a Hulu original in 2020, get ahead of the crowd and read this before the show starts!

From Penguin Random House:

At school Connell and Marianne pretend not to know each other. He’s popular and well-adjusted, star of the school football team, while she is lonely, proud, and intensely private. But when Connell comes to pick his mother up from her job at Marianne’s house, a strange and indelible connection grows between the two teenagers—one they are determined to conceal.

A year later, they’re both studying at Trinity College in Dublin. Marianne has found her feet in a new social world while Connell hangs at the sidelines, shy and uncertain. Throughout their years at university, Marianne and Connell circle one another, straying toward other people and possibilities but always magnetically, irresistibly drawn back together. And as she veers into self-destruction and he begins to search for meaning elsewhere, each must confront how far they are willing to go to save the other.

Sally Rooney brings her brilliant psychological acuity and perfectly spare prose to a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship.

Tell Me Everything by Cambria Brockman

Cori says:

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“I picked this one up because of its setting (a college campus), and the premise (four years of friendship that ends with a death). What I ended up with was something more nuanced and much darker than I imagined. Brockman is spot on with her descriptions of modern college life and student hi-jinks at an elite college in a small town. She also captures the nuances and dysfunction of college friendships that change and fragment over time as this group of six begins keeps secrets from each other and start growing apart. From the beginning, we know our narrator, Malin is hiding secrets from her past and there is something about her that seems just a bit off, giving us a touch of the unreliable narrator vibe. The fragmented structure that moves between their freshman year, Senior Day, and different points in Malin’s childhood leaves you unsettled and disoriented as the book quietly unfolds.  Despite a smart trail of breadcrumbs, I did not anticipate the ending. And I can’t really say much more because I will ruin the twists and turns that make this so fascinating. I really  need someone to read this so we can talk about it. “

From Penguin Random House:

“In her first weeks at Hawthorne College, Malin is swept up into a tight-knit circle that will stick together through all four years. There’s Gemma, an insecure theater major from London; John, a tall, handsome, wealthy New Englander; Max, John’s cousin, a shy pre-med major; Khaled, a wisecracking prince from Abu Dhabi; and Ruby, a beautiful art history major. But Malin isn’t like the rest of her friends. She’s an expert at hiding her troubled past. She acts as if she shares the preoccupations of those around her—dating, partying—all while using her extraordinary insight to detect their deepest vulnerabilities and weaknesses.

By Senior Day, on the cusp of graduation, Malin’s secrets—and those of her friends—are revealed. While she scrambles to maintain her artfully curated image, her missteps set in motion a devastating chain of events that ends in a murder. And as fragile relationships hang in the balance and close alliances shift, Malin must test the limits of what she’s capable of to stop the truth from coming out.

In a mesmerizing novel that peels back the innumerable layers of a seductive protagonist, debut author Cambria Brockman brings to life an entrancing story of friendship, heartbreak, and betrayal.”

Trees, trees, trees!

A Word from Cori:

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Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about trees. In part, I think it is the time of year. One of the most joyous experiences is watching the transformation of trees in the spring and early summer as they wake from their winter sleep and bring all shades of green back to our world.  Riding through a brilliant avenue of green as I go home at the end of the day always begins pulling me into a state of calm and relaxation. As we slip into summer, I am also anticipating taking my hammock out into the forest with a stack of books and reading while listening to the wind whisper through the branches and leaves. They are such a huge life giving force in our world and exist just about everywhere in the world. So, perhaps it is not surprising that they are surfacing regularly as a topic or character in the books I’ve been reading and finding. I wanted to share my thoughts and discoveries so you can add to your own TBR (To Be Read) List. You might be thinking to yourself, “I only read fiction (non-fiction).”  Okay, I get it. But, I highly recommend you stretch yourself a bit and explore something outside of your usual comfort zone.


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Peter Wholleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees: What They Feel, How They Communicate was transformative for me.  There’s a reason this science based book is a bestseller.  Wohlleben writes in a conversational way that makes plant botany approachable and fascinating.  After reading this one, you will begin to see trees as communities instead of individual organisms.  It is filled with beautiful drawings, and each essay can be a stand alone read. In fact, I would recommend taking your time with this one to allow information to be absorbed.

In Search of The Canary Tree by Lauren E. Oakes references the idea of the canary in the coal mine which was intended to warn miners of the increase in toxic gas. Oakes, a conservation scientist, heads to Alaska to study the tree equivalent for climate change, the yellow-cedar. Weaving together others’ research and her field experience in Alaska, she creates an interesting and relatable narrative about one of our most pressing world issues.


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There are some crazy (and maybe brave) people in the world who like to climb really tall trees for a living.  I cannot even imagine embarking on such adventures, but I sure do like reading about other people doing it! The Wild Trees: A Story of Passion and Daring by Richard Preston was an excellent page turner that is both character driven and filled my head with cool information.  This was the perfect fusion of nature writing and biography. Preston’s character development is spot on as he introduces you to Marie, Steve, and Michael and shares their journey up to the point where there lives intersect and when he met them.  With a story about scientists and tree climbers going to the top of 30 feet story California coastal redwoods, you should anticipate some scary and tense moments. Multiple times, I found myself holding my breath and anxious about what was to happen next.  Amongst their stories, you receive a fascinating and intricate botany lesson about the amazing and minimally explored ecosystems that exist hidden in the canopies of these majestic trees. If you still need to understand why people climb trees, James Aldred wrote The Man Who Climbs Trees: The Lofty Adventures of a Wildlife Cameraman as a memoir about his experiences. This one provides you a behind the scenes peek at how someone gets those amazing pictures of wild animals and birds in their natural habitat and describing his tree climbing experiences.


“There are more life forms in a handful of forest soil than there are people on the planet. A mere teaspoonful contains many miles of fungal filaments. All these work the soil, transform it, and make it so valuable for the trees.”
— Peter Wohlleben, The Hidden Life of Trees
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Annie Proulx’s Barkskins is a commitment at 717 pages. However, it was highly recommended to me by someone whose taste I trust.  Set in North America, this is a sweeping historical novel that begins in the late 17th century and ends in 2013.  “Barkskins” was a name for the wood cutters that early logging companies hired to clear the trees in this newly claimed world. This is a look at where colonization and deforestation has lead us to today.  Currently, The Overstory by Richard Powers is getting all the buzz and has been hanging out on bestseller lists for weeks.   In some ways, it has some similarities with Barkskins as a multigenerational saga and a story about the interactions between humans and the natural world.  With a more experimental structure, Story introduces nine characters who have a connection in some way to trees.  Their stories are nested amongst each other and progress through the book. A Pulitzer Prize winner, it seems readers either love the structure or hate it.  


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If you would like something a bit lighter and easier to follow, I will wrap up my recommendations with one of my top 2019 reads. Yes, we are only half way through, but I am confident it will still be on my list on December 31. Rules for Visiting by Jessica Francis Kane is absolutely enchanting. Trees are a secondary, but significant character in this book.  Our protagonist, May Attaway, is employed as a university gardner. A graduate writes an award winning poem about a yew tree that May planted. The university awards May for her role in this by giving her a month of paid leave to use however she likes.  She decides to begin a quest to understand what friendship means for her, how to be a better friend, and reconnect with the four people she has identified as her closest friends. May asks herself, what would have happened if The Odyssey’s Penelope had left? What kind of traveler, friend and guest would she be? Armed with hostess gifts, Emily Post’s guide to etiquette, and Grendel (her suitcase), May takes us on a journey that will fill your heart and make you laugh as she shares her funny, awkward, and mostly spot-on observations about 21st century connections and friendships. Additionally, her widowed father periodically leaves her sheets about different trees accompanied by gorgeous drawings by Edward Carey. The trees seem to serve as a way for him to both communicate information to May as well as suggest ideas for which tree to plant in memoriam after his death.  



 


Pride Month Reads

June is Pride Month! Celebrate with good reads and good people. Check out this list put together by some of your favorite booksellers just for you.

Check out our display in store, too!

Check out our display in store, too!


Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi

No one believes in them. But soon no one will forget them.

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It's 1889. The city is on the cusp of industry and power, and the Exposition Universelle has breathed new life into the streets and dredged up ancient secrets. Here, no one keeps tabs on dark truths better than treasure-hunter and wealthy hotelier Séverin Montagnet-Alarie. When the elite, ever-powerful Order of Babel coerces him to help them on a mission, Séverin is offered a treasure that he never imagined: his true inheritance.

To hunt down the ancient artifact the Order seeks, Séverin calls upon a band of unlikely experts: An engineer with a debt to pay. A historian banished from his home. A dancer with a sinister past. And a brother in arms if not blood.

Together, they will join Séverin as he explores the dark, glittering heart of Paris. What they find might change the course of history--but only if they can stay alive.

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Bingo Love

by Tee Franklin, Jenn St-Onge & Joy San

When Hazel Johnson and Mari McCray met at church bingo in 1963, it was love at first sight. Forced apart by their families and society, Hazel and Mari both married young men and had families. Decades later, now in their mid-’60s, Hazel and Mari reunite again at a church bingo hall. Realizing their love for each other is still alive, what these grandmothers do next takes absolute strength and courage. From TEE FRANKLIN (NAILBITER’s “THE OUTFIT,” Love is Love) and JENN ST-ONGE (Jem & The Misfits), BINGO LOVE is a touching story of love, family, and resiliency that spans over 60 years.


Stone Wall: Breaking out In the Fight for Gay Rights by Ann Bausum

Ann Bausum’s riveting exploration of the Stonewall Riots and the national Gay Rights movement that followed is eye-opening, unflinching, and inspiring.

Check Please by Ngozi Ukazu

Eric Bittle may be a former junior figure skating champion, vlogger extraordinaire, and very talented amateur pâtissier, but being a freshman on the Samwell University hockey team is a whole new challenge. It is nothing like co-ed club hockey back in Georgia! First of all? There’s checking (anything that hinders the player with possession of the puck, ranging from a stick check all the way to a physical sweep). And then, there is Jackhis very attractive but moody captain.

A collection of the first half, freshmen and sophomore year, of the megapopular webcomic series of the same name, Check, Please!: #Hockey is the first book of a hilarious and stirring two-volume coming-of-age story about hockey, bros, and trying to find yourself during the best four years of your life

The the Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali by Sabina Khan

Seventeen-year-old Rukhsana Ali tries her hardest to live up to her conservative Muslim parents' expectations, but lately she's finding that impossible to do. She rolls her eyes when they blatantly favor her brother, and saves her crop tops and makeup for parties her parents don't know about. Luckily, only a few more months stand between her carefully monitored life in Seattle and her new life at Caltech. But when her parents catch her kissing her girlfriend Ariana, all of Rukhsana's plans fall apart.
Her parents are devastated and decide to whisk Rukhsana off to Bangladesh, where she is thrown headfirst into a world of arranged marriages and tradition. Through reading her grandmother's old diary, Rukhsana gains some much-needed perspective and realizes she must find the courage to fight for her love without losing the connection to her family as a consequence.

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George by Alex Gino

When people look at George, they think they see a boy. But she knows she's not a boy. She knows she's a girl.
George thinks she'll have to keep this a secret forever. Then her teacher announces that their class play is going to be Charlotte's Web. George really, really, really wants to play Charlotte. But the teacher says she can't even try out for the part because she's a boy.
With the help of her best friend, Kelly, George comes up with a plan. Not just so she can be Charlotte, but so everyone can know who she is, once and for all.



David Bowie Made Me Gay: 100 Years of LGBT Music by Darryl Bullock

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Darryl W. Bullock reveals the stories of both famous and lesser-known LGBT musicians, whose perseverance against the threat of persecution during decades of political and historical turmoil—including two world wars, Stonewall, and the AIDS crisis—has led to some of the most significant and soul-searching music of the last century. Bullock chronicles these struggles through new interviews and archival reports, dating from the birth of jazz in the red-light district of New Orleans, through the rock ‘n' roll years, Swinging Sixties, and disco days of the '70s, right up to modern pop, electronica, and reggae. An entertaining treasure-trove of untold history for all music lovers, David Bowie Made Me Gay is an inspiring, nostalgic, and provocative story of right to be heard and the need to keep the fight for equality in the spotlight.


Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World by Alan Downs

In The Velvet Rage, psychologist Alan Downs draws on his own struggle with shame and anger, contemporary research, and stories from his patients to passionately describe the stages of a gay man’s journey out of shame and offers practical and inspired strategies to stop the cycle of avoidance and self-defeating behavior. The Velvet Rage is an empowering book that has already changed the public discourse on gay culture and helped shape the identity of an entire generation of gay men.

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Spinning by Tillie Walden

A graphic memoir

For ten years, figure skating was Tillie Walden’s life. She woke before dawn for morning lessons, went straight to group practice after school, and spent weekends competing at ice rinks across the state. Skating was a central piece of her identity, her safe haven from the stress of school, bullies, and family. But as she switched schools, got into art, and fell in love with her first girlfriend, she began to question how the close-minded world of figure skating fit in with the rest of her life, and whether all the work was worth it given the reality: that she, and her friends on the team, were nowhere close to Olympic hopefuls. The more Tillie thought about it, the more Tillie realized she’d outgrown her passion—and she finally needed to find her own voice.

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L'Appart: The Delights and Disasters of Making My Paris Home by David Lebovitz

When David Lebovitz began the project of updating his apartment in his adopted home city, he never imagined he would encounter so much inexplicable red tape while contending with perplexing work ethic and hours. Lebovitz maintains his distinctive sense of humor with the help of his partner Romain, peppering this renovation story with recipes from his Paris kitchen. In the midst of it all, he reveals the adventure that accompanies carving out a place for yourself in a foreign country—under baffling conditions—while never losing sight of the magic that inspired him to move to the City of Light many years ago, and to truly make his home there.


The Binding
by Bridget Collins

An unforgettable novel of enchantment, mystery, memory, and forbidden love, The Binding is a beautiful homage to the allure and life-changing power of books—and a reminder to us all that knowledge can be its own kind of magic.


We the Animals by Justin Torres

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Three brothers tear their way through childhood — smashing tomatoes all over each other, building kites from trash, hiding out when their parents do battle, tiptoeing around the house as their mother sleeps off her graveyard shift. Paps and Ma are from Brooklyn — he's Puerto Rican, she's white — and their love is a serious, dangerous thing that makes and unmakes a family many times.
           Life in this home is fierce and absorbing, full of chaos and heartbreak and the euphoria of belonging completely to one another. From the intense family unity that surrounds a child to the resilience and permanence of brotherhood to the profound alienation a young man endures as he begins to see himself in the world, this novel reinvents the coming-of-age story in a way that is sucker-punch powerful. It leaves us reminded that our madness is both caused by, and alleviated by, our families, and that we might not reconcile who we are with who our loved ones see, or who we want to be for them.
           Written in magical language with unforgettable images, We the Animals is a stunning exploration of the viscerally charged landscape of growing up, how deeply we are formed by our earliest bonds, and how we are ultimately propelled at escape velocity toward our futures.

Check out these other picks that we recommend!

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel  by Alexander Chee

How to Write an Autobiographical Novel

by Alexander Chee

Queer: A Graphic History  by MEG-JOHN BARKER  JULES SCHEELE

Queer: A Graphic History

by MEG-JOHN BARKER

JULES SCHEELE

Giovanni’s Room  by James Baldwin

Giovanni’s Room

by James Baldwin

Night Sky with Exit Wounds  by Ocean Vuong

Night Sky with Exit Wounds

by Ocean Vuong

Nimona  by Noelle Stevenson

Nimona

by Noelle Stevenson

Don’t Call Us Dead  by Danez Smith

Don’t Call Us Dead

by Danez Smith

What was Stonewall?

What was Stonewall?

Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story  by Jacob Tobia

Sissy: A Coming of Gender Story

by Jacob Tobia

The Great Believers  by Rebecca Makkai

The Great Believers

by Rebecca Makkai

Heavy Vinyl

Heavy Vinyl

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda  by Becky Albertalli

Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda

by Becky Albertalli

Against Memoir  by Michelle Tea

Against Memoir

by Michelle Tea

The Big Book of Less, a FLOW book

Amy says:

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The Big Book of Less, a FLOW book by Astrid Van Der Hulst and Irene Smit is my new favorite "Life De-clutterer". It covers everything from clearing out your house to limiting your social media intake. One of my favorite chapters was about how to clean up your schedule, and just DO less! (Complete with a guide to Dot journaling and a beautiful practice poster) Like all Flow books it comes with an abundance of paper goodies inside, and articles from a variety of authors. There is even a pop-out mini-house with accessories so you can visualize what your life could be like in a smaller space. Its basically an activity book for adults, and I love it.  “

From Workman Publishing:

From Flow, a beautiful, mindful guide to having less stuff. Less stress. Less distraction. Less everything.

In less comes the freedom of letting go. This thoughtful and surprising book shows us how to get there, by paring down not just the jumble of things around us, but the clutter in our heads, too. And to help, interact with special paper goodies, including a one-thought-a-day diary, a foldout tiny house to let you imagine the pleasures of living in a small and cozy space, and art posters that depict a beautiful picture of what it means to do less, not more.
Paper goodies from The Big Book of Less include:

  • 2 journals

  • A dot journal poster

  • 4 art posters

  • 1 foldout tiny house with 20 accessories

  • And even more hidden treasures


Decluttering your life and mind makes room for more—more listening, more focus, more wisdom, more time. More life.”

Daisy Jones and the Six

Cori says:

“100 percent worth the buzz.  Entranced from beginning to end.  Reid's use of an interview format is perfect and ingenious for exploring the rise and fall of an imaginary 1970's rock band.  It allows for an in- depth and realistic look at the complicated group dynamics and varying perceptions and memories of each person regarding each other and during key moments and interactions. “

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From Penguin Random House:

Everyone knows DAISY JONES & THE SIX, but nobody knows the reason behind their split at the absolute height of their popularity . . . until now.

Daisy is a girl coming of age in L.A. in the late sixties, sneaking into clubs on the Sunset Strip, sleeping with rock stars, and dreaming of singing at the Whisky a Go Go. The sex and drugs are thrilling, but it’s the rock ’n’ roll she loves most. By the time she’s twenty, her voice is getting noticed, and she has the kind of heedless beauty that makes people do crazy things.

Also getting noticed is The Six, a band led by the brooding Billy Dunne. On the eve of their first tour, his girlfriend Camila finds out she’s pregnant, and with the pressure of impending fatherhood and fame, Billy goes a little wild on the road.

Daisy and Billy cross paths when a producer realizes that the key to supercharged success is to put the two together. What happens next will become the stuff of legend.

The making of that legend is chronicled in this riveting and unforgettable novel, written as an oral history of one of the biggest bands of the seventies. Taylor Jenkins Reid is a talented writer who takes her work to a new level with Daisy Jones & The Six, brilliantly capturing a place and time in an utterly distinctive voice.”

The Guest Book by Sarah Blake

Annette says:

I recently finished The Guest Book by Sarah Blake published in early May by St. Martin’s Press.

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Prepare to be a guest in this book as Blake weaves you through three generations of the Milton family lives that revolve and center around an island off of the Maine coast.  This book begins during the period between WWI and WWII and concludes in the present day.  I found Blake’s rich storytelling mirroring many of the same social, racial, prejudice and privileged issues that we are still currently struggling with today.  Even though this is a work of fiction, I found myself asking "what has history taught us" and realizing that we as a society still have so much to learn.  This is a great summer read capturing all of the components that readers love - loss, family secrets, history and much more.  Once you are done reading, you feel like you can sign your own name in the Milton guest book having taken the journey with the family for three generations.

From Macmillan:

“A lifetime of secrets. A history untold.

No. It is a simple word, uttered on a summer porch in 1936. And it will haunt Kitty Milton for the rest of her life. Kitty and her husband, Ogden, are both from families considered the backbone of the country. But this refusal will come to be Kitty’s defining moment, and its consequences will ripple through the Milton family for generations. For while they summer on their island in Maine, anchored as they are to the way things have always been, the winds of change are beginning to stir.

In 1959 New York City, two strangers enter the Miltons’ circle. One captures the attention of Kitty’s daughter, while the other makes each of them question what the family stands for. This new generation insists the times are changing. And in one night, everything does.

So much so that in the present day, the third generation of Miltons doesn’t have enough money to keep the island in Maine. Evie Milton’s mother has just died, and as Evie digs into her mother’s and grandparents’ history, what she finds is a story as unsettling as it is inescapable, the story that threatens the foundation of the Milton family myth.

Moving through three generations and back and forth in time, The Guest Book asks how we remember and what we choose to forget. It shows the untold secrets we inherit and pass on, unknowingly echoing our parents and grandparents. Sarah Blake’s triumphant novel tells the story of a family and a country that buries its past in quiet, until the present calls forth a reckoning.”

Caterpillar Summer

Amy suggests:

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An intriguing middle reader that will appeal to all ages. Cat has gotten used to taking care of her brother, Chicken, who is likely on the spectrum of Autism. So much so, that Cat feels like she isn't allowed to be a kid herself sometimes. The summer they spend with their once estranged grandparents on Gingerbread Island will change everything. I love reading middle readers because it is fascinating to see the world through a child's eyes.

From Bloomsbury:

“This beautifully written, emotional debut perfect for fans of Lynda Mullaly Hunt or Ali Benjamin tells the story a girl, her special needs brother, and the summer they will never forget.

"An engaging, honest book." --Kimberly Brubaker Bradley, Newbery Honor-winning author of The War That Saved My Life


"A beautiful story of family, forgiveness, life on an island, and growing up.”--Kate Messner, author of Breakout and The Seventh Wish


Cat and her brother Chicken have always had a very special bond--Cat is one of the few people who can keep Chicken happy. When he has a "meltdown" she's the one who scratches his back and reads his favorite story. She's the one who knows what Chicken needs. Since their mom has had to work double-hard to keep their family afloat after their father passed away, Cat has been the glue holding her family together. 

But even the strongest glue sometimes struggles to hold. When a summer trip doesn't go according to plan, Cat and Chicken end up spending three weeks with grandparents they never knew. For the first time in years, Cat has the opportunity to be a kid again, and the journey she takes shows that even the most broken or strained relationships can be healed if people take the time to walk in one another's shoes. “

Portrait of a Bookseller: Cori

CORI

How would you describe your job to someone you just met?

I would describe myself as a book matchmaker.  I will make your literary dreams come true with the perfect book for you.

Last book you loved:

Rough Magic by  by Lara Prior-Palmer

Daisy Jones and the Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid

Where are you originally from?

Madison, Indiana

What did you do before you come to Bright Side?

I still do it… I work as a professor at NAU in the first year experience. I have worked in colleges for 15 years. I am also well versed in sustainability and career development.

What is the best part of your job?

Finding books customers are excited to read, and getting to read books before they come out!

When your not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?

Tennis, biking, hiking, and drinking good wine.

Recommend an author or book you think everyone should read:

The Nature Fix by Florence Williams. It describes all the health benefits of being in nature.

Do you collect any particular types of books?

Stephen King, and sometimes classics with pretty covers.

What book do you want to be written into?

I want to say Stephen King, but nothing is ever easy for his characters. A safer bet might be a character in a cormoran Strike mystery by Robert Galbraith, or Louise Penny’s Three Pines mystery series.

What would be the title of your autobiography?

Bookworm Problems

What is the best advice you ever received from a book or author?

“Reading should be an enjoyable experience. Don’t feel like you have to read something or check off everything on a list. Go with what excites or interests you.” James Mustich, author of 1000 Books to Read Before You Die

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine

Ben says:

“A truly refreshing addition to the Sci-fi/ Space Opera genre about a young woman, Mahit, who is sent across the galaxy to represent her seemingly insignificant mining community in the city-planet heart of an ever expanding empire. After arriving Mahit determines that her predecessor's death was almost certainly murder. She enlists the help of a few locals to uncover the truth behind the killing, and ultimately the impending "annexation" of her home. But, far from home and alone, who can she trust?
This story has compelling characters, and an expertly crafted setting that serves to place as much pressure on the main character, and her predicament, as any of the other players in the story. Imaginative and fun while attaining surprising depth and nuance, this should top your list for new fiction this spring. “

From the publisher:

“This incredible opening to the trilogy recalls the best of John le Carré, Iain M. Banks’s Culture novels and Ann Leckie’s Imperial Radch trilogy.

In a war of lies she seeks the truth . . .

Ambassador Mahit Dzmare travels to the Teixcalaanli Empire’s interstellar capital, eager to take up her new post. Yet when she arrives, she discovers her predecessor was murdered. But no one will admit his death wasn’t accidental – and she might be next.

Now Mahit must navigate the capital’s enticing yet deadly halls of power, to discover dangerous truths. And while she hunts for the killer, Mahit must somehow prevent the rapacious Empire from annexing her home: a small, fiercely independent mining station.

As she sinks deeper into an alien culture that is all too seductive, Mahit engages in intrigues of her own. For she’s hiding an extraordinary technological secret, one which might destroy her station and its way of life. Or it might save them from annihilation.

A Memory Called Empire is book one in the Texicalaan trilogy.”

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Amy says:

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I haven't read Esperanza Rising written by Pam Munoz Ryan, published by Scholastic, in a long time but its memory has certainly stuck with me. A historical fiction based on what the author imagines life could have been like for her grandmother this is a coming of age story will capture the heart of any reader. Great to read aloud to young kids, middle readers, or adults. I remember listing to the audio CD on a car trip with my mom and brother, and by the end we were all crying. Esperanza is an inspiring character and her story is very relevant to today's immigration. 

From the publisher:

“Esperanza thought she'd always live with her family on their ranch in Mexico, and that she'd always have fancy dresses, a beautiful home, and servants. But a sudden tragedy forces Esperanza and Mama to flee to California during the Great Depression, and to settle in a camp for Mexican farm workers. Esperanza isn't ready for the hard labor, financial struggles, or lack of acceptance she now faces. When their new life is threatened, Esperanza must find a way to rise above her difficult circumstance; Mama's life, and her own, depend on it. 
Pam Munoz Ryan eloquently portrays the Mexican workers' plight in this abundant and passionate novel that gives voice to those who have historically been denied one.”

Shadow of What Was Lost by James Islington

Ben says:

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I just finished “The Shadow of What Was Lost” by James Islington. Pretty standard Fantasy fare, but  with some novel elements that allowed it to succeed where other doorstop-fantasy has grown stale and predictable of late (for me, at least). The story (book 1 of 3) follows a group of characters whose lives become inextricably intertwined with each other’s as mysterious forces push them together and force them apart while they adventure through a world of magic and magical creatures.  And while that all falls pretty squarely into the fantasy paradigm (no big surprises there) what this book does offer is a very murky understanding of each character’s underlying motives, and therefore a deep sense of mystery. Generally PG-13 with occasional vivid descriptions of extreme violence. This series probably falls squarely in the Adult category along with anything by R. Scott Bakker, The Black Company series, or The Expanse series. 

From the author:

“It has been twenty years since the god-like Augurs were overthrown and killed. Now, those who once served them - the Gifted - are spared only because they have accepted the rebellion's Four Tenets, vastly limiting their powers.

As a Gifted, Davian suffers the consequences of a war lost before he was even born. He and others like him are despised. But when Davian discovers he wields the forbidden power of the Augurs, he sets into motion a chain of events that will change everything.

To the west, a young man whose fate is intertwined with Davian's wakes up in the forest, covered in blood and with no memory of who he is...

And in the far north, an ancient enemy long thought defeated begins to stir.”

Polaris Rising by Jessie Mihalik

Sam says:

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A space opera staring a tough princess who kicks ass all the way across the galaxy??? How could I not enjoy myself while reading this book! Smart, witty, and completely badass. A nice indulgence for those who love some cross galaxy/heart pounding adventure with a little romance thrown in, because every princess needs her Prince Charming.

From the author:

“A space princess on the run and a notorious outlaw soldier become unlikely allies in this imaginative, sexy space opera adventure—the first in an exciting science fiction trilogy.

In the far distant future, the universe is officially ruled by the Royal Consortium, but the High Councillors, the heads of the three High Houses, wield the true power. As the fifth of six children, Ada von Hasenberg has no authority; her only value to her High House is as a pawn in a political marriage. When her father arranges for her to wed a noble from House Rockhurst, a man she neither wants nor loves, Ada seizes control of her own destiny. The spirited princess flees before the betrothal ceremony and disappears among the stars.

Ada eluded her father’s forces for two years, but now her luck has run out. To ensure she cannot escape again, the fiery princess is thrown into a prison cell with Marcus Loch. Known as the Devil of Fornax Zero, Loch is rumored to have killed his entire chain of command during the Fornax Rebellion, and the Consortium wants his head.

When the ship returning them to Earth is attacked by a battle cruiser from rival House Rockhurst, Ada realizes that if her jilted fiancé captures her, she’ll become a political prisoner and a liability to her House. Her only hope is to strike a deal with the dangerous fugitive: a fortune if he helps her escape.

But when you make a deal with an irresistibly attractive Devil, you may lose more than you bargained for . . .”

Portrait of a Bookseller: Sam

How would you describe your job to someone you just met?

I am a book detective. I can find a book with little information and I can even help you find a book you didn’t know you wanted/or needed.

Where are you originally from:

Arkansas, a land where nature is everywhere, and nature is as good a place to read as any other.

What is the best part of your job?

Displaying the new fresh books who are looking for a good home.

When you’re not reading, what do you like to do in your free time?

Sam reading Priory of the Orange Tree

Sam reading Priory of the Orange Tree

Play with my dog, bake, decide what to read next, look at my books with longing, organize my books, talk about books.

Walk us through your favorite route when browsing books at Bright Side:

Start at new and noteable and thoroughly investigate that table and the windows and then bee-line for the YA Indie List, then back to the vinyl, then work through the wall of fiction starting with scifi and ending at the end of fiction.

What is the best “worst book” you have ever read?

Twilight. It’s terrible but I can’t stay away. It’s definitely a guilty pleasure.

Is there a book you reread annually?

The whole Eragon series. I love experiencing that story, I always pick up something new from it.

What is the best advice you ever received from a book or author?

“You can rattle the stars…you can do anything, if you only dared.” - Sarah J. Maas, Throne of Glass