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March Book Clubs!

               Raise your hand if you’re already feeling teased by Spring. The last few days of warmth and sunshine had me all excited, and today’s drizzly start had me drained of all hope... but now the sun is out again! Who knows if we are actually out of the dark and cold for good, but at least the new month brings more new reads for our book clubs!

               We’re starting the month with a book that really lives up to the “Instant Classic” name. This bestseller racked up the awards, winning the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Fiction, as well as being longlisted for the Man Booker Prize, and being named one of the best books of 2016 by The New York Times, The Washington Post, NPR, The Boston Globe, The Seattle Times, HuffPost, Esquire, Minneapolis Star Tribune. Colson Whitehead’s The Underground Railroad is our Instant Classics book club choice for March.

“Cora is a young slave on a cotton plantation in Georgia. An outcast even among her fellow Africans, she is on the cusp of womanhood--where greater pain awaits. And so when Caesar, a slave who has recently arrived from Virginia, urges her to join him on the Underground Railroad, she seizes the opportunity and escapes with him. In Colson Whitehead's ingenious conception, the Underground Railroad is no mere metaphor: engineers and conductors operate a secret network of actual tracks and tunnels beneath the Southern soil. Cora embarks on a harrowing flight from one state to the next, encountering, like Gulliver, strange yet familiar iterations of her own world at each stop. As Whitehead brilliantly re-creates the terrors of the antebellum era, he weaves in the saga of our nation, from the brutal abduction of Africans to the unfulfilled promises of the present day. The Underground Railroad is both the gripping tale of one woman's will to escape the horrors of bondage--and a powerful meditation on the history we all share.”

Come chat about this recent phenomenon with Maddie on Wednesday, March 7th at 6:30 pm.

               Next is our Graphic Content book club, exclusively for lovers of graphic novels and comics! This month we’re reading a graphic adaption of a novel, Voices in the Dark by Ulli Lust!

“Germany, in the final years of the Third Reich. Hermann Karnau is a sound engineer obsessed with recording the human voice in all its variations--the rantings of leaders, the roar of crowds, the rasp of throats constricted in fear--and indifferent to everything else. Employed by the Nazis, his assignments take him to Party rallies, to the Eastern Front, and into the household of Joseph Goebbels. There he meets Helga, the eldest daughter: bright, good-natured, and just beginning to suspect the horror that surrounds her...
Based on an acclaimed novel by Marcel Beyer, Voices in the Dark is the first fictional graphic novel by Ulli Lust, whose award-winning graphic memoir Today Is the Last Day of the Rest of Your Life appeared in English in 2013. It is the story of an unlikely friendship and of a childhood betrayed, a grim parable of naivete and evil, and a vivid, unsettling masterpiece.”

Voices in the Dark by Ulli Lust is based on a novel by Marcel Beyer, translated by John Brownjohn, translation adapted by Nika Knight, with English lettering by Kevin Cannon.

Hang out with Jordan and the Graphic Content book club on Monday, March 12th at 6:30 pm.

               Ah, to be young again. While some students are preparing for Spring Break this month, our Wilde Readers book club is reliving the high school days with Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli.

“Sixteen-year-old and not-so-openly gay Simon Spier prefers to save his drama for the school musical. But when an email falls into the wrong hands, his secret is at risk of being thrust into the spotlight. Now change-averse Simon has to find a way to step out of his comfort zone before he's pushed out--without alienating his friends, compromising himself, or fumbling a shot at happiness with the most confusing, adorable guy he's never met. Incredibly funny and poignant, this twenty-first-century coming-of-age, coming out story--wrapped in a geek romance--is a knockout of a debut novel by Becky Albertalli.”

This Young Adult novel is the subject of a film adaption being released this month, so read the book and chat with Matty and Wilde Readers on Tuesday, March 13th before you see the movie.

               Known for choosing fresh English translations of stand-out fiction from around the world, our Found in Translation book club is reading a story collection with a local connection this month. Osama Alomar, author of The Teeth of the Comb & Other Stories (translated by CJ Collins), was born in Damascus, Syria but now lives in Chicago!

“Personified animals (snakes, wolves, sheep), natural things (a swamp, a lake, a rainbow, trees), mankind's creations (trucks, swords, zeroes) are all characters in The Teeth of the Comb. They aspire, they plot, they hope, they destroy, they fail, they love. These wonderful small stories animate new realities and make us see our reality anew. Reading Osama Alomar's sly moral fables and sharp political allegories, the reader always sits up a little straighter, and a little wiser.”

Hang out with Devon and the Found in Translation book club on Thursday, March 15th at 6:30 pm.

               The Tell Me How It Ends book club choice for the month of March tells a story that began 37 years ago, and the lingering effects of that story on today’s race relations: The Lynching: The Epic Courtroom Battle that Brought Down the Klan by Laurence Leamer.

“In March 1981, Henry Hays and James Knowles, members of the United Klans of America, the largest and most dangerous Klan organization in the United States, picked up nineteen-year-old Michael Donald on the streets of Mobile, Alabama. They were seeking retaliation after a largely black jury failed to convict a black man accused of murdering a white policeman. Hays and Knowles beat Donald, cut his throat, and left his body hanging from a tree branch in a racially mixed residential neighborhood. Arrested, charged, and convicted, Hays was sentenced to death--the first time in more than half a century that the state of Alabama had given that penalty to a white man for killing a black man.

Morris Dees, the cofounder of the Southern Poverty Law Center, saw the case as an opportunity to file a lawsuit against the UKA. His colleagues said his lawsuit was impossible to win and a folly. But Dees had heard that before. On behalf of Michael's grieving mother, Mrs. Beulah Donald, Dees filed a first-of-its-kind civil suit and charged the Klan organization and its leaders with conspiracy. He proceeded to put the Klan leaders on trial, which produced some of the most audacious testimony of any civil rights case--as well as a stunning and precedent-setting verdict. Dees destroyed the UKA and created a weapon that the SPLC used time and again against other racist organizations.

The Lynching is a suspenseful true story that takes us into the heart of darkness, but in the end shows that Michael Donald and other civil rights martyrs did not die in vain.”

Jordan and the Tell Me How It Ends book club will meet on Monday, March 26th at 6:30 pm.

               In a recent book club meeting, I let slip that I’ve never read one of the supposed masters of the short story form, Raymond Carver. The audible, heart-stopping gasp that escaped the mouths of some of the In Brief book club crew made it quite obvious it was time to include him in our rotation again. So, this month’s book club choice is What We Talk About When We Talk About Love.

“In his second collection, including the iconic and much-referenced title story featured in the Academy Award-winning film Birdman, Carver establishes his reputation as one of the most celebrated short-story writers in American literature. Carver's characters are peripheral people--people without education, insight or prospects, people too unimaginative to even give up. Carver celebrates these men and women. A haunting meditation on love, loss, and companionship, and finding one's way through the dark.”

Skipped over Carver like Matty, or consider him a master? Join the In Brief book club on Tuesday, March 27th at 6:30 pm to talk it out.

John Darnielle, the Mountain Goats’ singer/composer turned novelist, is back after his hit debut, Wolf in White Van, which was nominated for the National Book Award and the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for First Fiction. This month the Weird & Wonderful book club is reading his new book, Universal Harvester.

 “It's the late '90s, and you can find Jeremy Heldt at the VideoHut in Nevada, Iowa--a small town in the center of the state. The job is good enough for Jeremy, quiet and predictable, and it gets him out of the house, where he lives with his dad and where they both try to avoid missing Mom, who died six years ago in a carwreck. But when a local school teacher comes in to return her copy of Targets--an old movie, starring Boris Karloff--the transaction jolts Jeremy out of his routine. "There's something on it," she says as she leaves the store, though she doesn't elaborate. Two days later, another customer returns another tape, and registers the same odd complaint: "There's another movie on this tape."

In Universal Harvester, the once-placid Iowa fields and farmhouses become sinister, imbued with loss and instability and foreboding. As Jeremy and those around him are absorbed into tapes, they become part of another story--one that unfolds years into the past and years into the future, part of an impossible search for something someone once lost that they would do anything to regain.”

Come get weird with the Weird & Wonderful book club on Wednesday, March 28th at 6:30 pm.

That’s our lineup for March! There’s no need to sign up for our book clubs, just show up ready to chat. Get your copy here for a discount, and feel free to email our booksellers with any questions or suggestions. If you’ve got a book club of your own and need a place to meet, or want to get your books at a discount – email matt@citylitbooks.com for more info!

February Book Club Update!

Here’s our book club line-up for February! It may not be Valentine’s Day yet, but we’ve fallen in love with this new batch of books - from novels to celebrate Black History Month, to much-loved bestsellers and prize winners, and even recent favorites! We hope you’ll love these books and join us to chat about them, too!

Graphic Content is our reading group exclusively for graphic novels and comics, and this month the club is reading March: Book 1 by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin. It’s the first volume in an awesome graphic novel trilogy based on the life of John Lewis, congressman from Georgia and a leader in the Civil Rights Movement:

March is a vivid first-hand account of John Lewis' lifelong struggle for civil and human rights, meditating in the modern age on the distance traveled since the days of Jim Crow and segregation. Rooted in Lewis' personal story, it also reflects on the highs and lows of the broader civil rights movement. Book One spans John Lewis' youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King, Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a stunning climax on the steps of City Hall.

Congressman John Lewis (GA-5) is an American icon and key figure of the civil rights movement. His commitment to justice and nonviolence has taken him from an Alabama sharecropper's farm to the halls of Congress, from a segregated schoolroom to the 1963 March on Washington, and from receiving beatings from state troopers to receiving the Medal of Freedom from the first African-American president. Now, to share his remarkable story with new generations, Lewis presents March, a graphic novel trilogy, in collaboration with co-writer Andrew Aydin and New York Times best-selling artist Nate Powell (winner of the Eisner Award and LA Times Book Prize finalist for Swallow Me Whole).

Many years ago, John Lewis and other student activists drew inspiration from the 1958 comic book "Martin Luther King and the Montgomery Story." Now, his own comics bring those days to life for a new audience, testifying to a movement whose echoes will be heard for generations.

March was the first graphic novel to win the National Book Award, and the first to be written by a member of the US Congress. We’re happy to be reading this during Black History Month, so Join Jordan and the Graphic Content book club on Monday, February 12th at 6:30 pm!

Happy Birthday to Pulitzer Prize winner Alice Walker – she turns 74 on February 9th! To celebrate her birthday and Black History Month, Wilde Readers, our reading group focusing on LGBTQ+ lit, has chosen The Color Purple:

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and published to unprecedented acclaim, The Color Purple established Alice Walker as a major voice in modern fiction. This is the story of two sisters--one a missionary in Africa and the other a child wife living in the South--who sustain their loyalty to and trust in each other across time, distance, and silence. Beautifully imagined and deeply compassionate, this classic novel of American literature is rich with passion, pain, inspiration, and an indomitable love of life.

Come celebrate the legendary Alice Walker and chat about her incredible novel with Wilde Readers on Tuesday, February 13th at 6:30 pm!

Another bestseller and award winner – The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon is next for our Instant Classics book club:

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay is a triumph of originality, imagination, and storytelling, an exuberant, irresistible novel that begins in New York City in 1939. A young escape artist and budding magician named Joe Kavalier arrives on the doorstep of his cousin, Sammy Clay. While the long shadow of Hitler falls across Europe, America is happily in thrall to the Golden Age of comic books, and in a distant corner of Brooklyn, Sammy is looking for a way to cash in on the craze. He finds the ideal partner in the aloof, artistically gifted Joe, and together they embark on an adventure that takes them deep into the heart of Manhattan, and the heart of old-fashioned American ambition. From the shared fears, dreams, and desires of two teenage boys, they spin comic book tales of the heroic, fascist-fighting Escapist and the beautiful, mysterious Luna Moth, otherworldly mistress of the night. Climbing from the streets of Brooklyn to the top of the Empire State Building, Joe and Sammy carve out lives, and careers, as vivid as cyan and magenta ink. Spanning continents and eras, this superb book by one of America's finest writers remains one of the defining novels of our modern American age.

Join Maddie and the Instant Classics book club to talk about why we love Michael Chabon on Wednesday, February 14th at 6:30 pm!

This month's Found in Translation book club pick is Record of a Night Too Brief by Hiromi Kawakami, translated by Lucy North:

Three young women experience unsettling loss and romance in these three haunting and lyrical stories, from one of the most highly regarded and provocative contemporary Japanese writers, winner of The Akutagawa Prize.

In a dreamlike adventure, one woman travels through an apparently unending night with a porcelain girlfriend, mist-monsters and villainous monkeys; a sister mourns her invisible brother whom only she can still see, while the rest of her family welcome his would-be wife into their home; and an accident with a snake leads a shop girl to discover the snake-families everyone else seems to be concealing. Sensual, yearning, and filled with the tricks of memory and grief, Record of a Night Too Brief is an atmospheric trio of unforgettable tales.This volume includes the three stories "Tread on a Snake," "Missing," and "Record of a Night Too Brief" which together won the Akutagawa Prize in 1996. Filled with fantastically multicoloured images and unexplained collapses in time and place, these highly surreal, meticulously worked stories of longing and disappearance, love and loathing are the work of an enormously talented writer at the top of her game.

Hang out with Devon and the Found In Translation book club on Thursday, February 15th at 6:30 pm!

Janesville: An American Story by Amy Goldstein is our Tell Me How It Ends book club pick for February:

This is the story of what happens to an industrial town in the American heartland when its main factory shuts down--but it's not the familiar tale. Most observers record the immediate shock of vanished jobs, but few stay around long enough to notice what happens next when a community with a can-do spirit tries to pick itself up.

Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter Amy Goldstein spent years immersed in Janesville, Wisconsin, where the nation's oldest operating General Motors assembly plant shut down in the midst of the Great Recession. Now, with intelligence, sympathy, and insight into what connects and divides people in an era of economic upheaval, Goldstein shows the consequences of one of America's biggest political issues. Her reporting takes the reader deep into the lives of autoworkers, educators, bankers, politicians, and job re-trainers to show why it's so hard in the twenty-first century to recreate a healthy, prosperous working class.

Jordan and the Tell Me How It Ends book club will meet on Monday, February 26th at 6:30 pm!

A recent favorite in our bookstore, as well as everywhere else, we’re reading Her Body and Other Parties by Carmen Maria Machado for our In Brief book club this month:

Finalist for the National Book Award for Fiction! In Her Body and Other Parties, Carmen Maria Machado blithely demolishes the arbitrary borders between psychological realism and science fiction, comedy and horror, fantasy and fabulism. While her work has earned her comparisons to Karen Russell and Kelly Link, she has a voice that is all her own. In this electric and provocative debut, Machado bends genre to shape startling narratives that map the realities of women's lives and the violence visited upon their bodies. A wife refuses her husband's entreaties to remove the green ribbon from around her neck. A woman recounts her sexual encounters as a plague slowly consumes humanity. A salesclerk in a mall makes a horrifying discovery within the seams of the store's prom dresses. One woman's surgery-induced weight loss results in an unwanted houseguest. And in the bravura novella "Especially Heinous," Machado reimagines every episode of Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, a show we naively assumed had shown it all, generating a phantasmagoric police procedural full of doppelgangers, ghosts, and girls with bells for eyes.

Earthy and otherworldly, antic and sexy, queer and caustic, comic and deadly serious, Her Body and Other Parties swings from horrific violence to the most exquisite sentiment. In their explosive originality, these stories enlarge the possibilities of contemporary fiction.

In Brief will meet Tuesday, February 27th at 6:30 pm, so join Matty to talk about one of his favorite books of the last year!

And finally, our longest running book club love affair – Weird & Wonderful! This month the club is reading The City & The City by China Mieville:

Named one of the Best Books of the Year by The Los Angeles Times, The Seattle Times, and Publishers Weekly! When a murdered woman is found in the city of Beszel, somewhere at the edge of Europe, it looks to be a routine case for Inspector Tyador Borlu of the Extreme Crime Squad. To investigate, Borlu must travel from the decaying Beszel to its equal, rival, and intimate neighbor, the vibrant city of Ul Qoma. But this is a border crossing like no other, a journey as psychic as it is physical, a seeing of the unseen. With Ul Qoman detective Qussim Dhatt, Borlu is enmeshed in a sordid underworld of nationalists intent on destroying their neighboring city, and unificationists who dream of dissolving the two into one. As the detectives uncover the dead woman's secrets, they begin to suspect a truth that could cost them more than their lives. What stands against them are murderous powers in Beszel and in Ul Qoma: and, most terrifying of all, that which lies between these two cities.

Join our monthly celebration of the weird on Wednesday, February 28th at 6:30 pm!

That’s what our book clubs are reading this month! Don’t forget that all of our book club choices get a discount in the store and there’s no need to sign up – just grab a book and come chat with us. And if you are already part of a book club or starting one, you can be a Book Club Partner here at City Lit Books! We can help you find your book club’s next read, and make sure we have plenty in stock for all your members. Our Book Club Partners receive the same discount on books as those hosted by our booksellers, and if you need a place to meet we can host you in our bookstore, too. Email matt@citylitbooks.com with questions. Happy reading!

Introducing ... Audiobooks!

We're excited to announce our partnership with Libro.fm!

Have you ever wished you could listen to audiobooks while supporting your favorite Logan Square bookstore?! We have good news: Audiobook memberships are now available at City Lit! 

Here's how it works: Powered by our audiobook partner Libro.fm, your first month is $0.99 and then $14.99 per month. The monthly fee equates to one audiobook credit which you can use at anytime, for any of the 70,000+ audiobooks available on our Libro.fm site. You can easily listen on any device (phone, tablet, PC) as all Libro.fm audiobooks are DRM-free.

Join Now!

How to get started:

  1. Visit libro.fm/citylitbooks, select your first book to purchase (a la carte or through the Libro.fm membership), and follow steps to create an account.

  2. After your purchase, you'll receive a confirmation email with instructions to download the iOS or Android App, for easy listening on your mobile device.

  3. Start listening. Sign into the app and download your book(s) to your device.

City Lit's recommended playlists: 

The Indie Next List
The Indie Next List, drawn from bookseller-recommended favorite handsells, epitomizes the heart and soul of passionate bookselling.

 

The New York Times Best Sellers
NYT bestsellers in fiction, nonfiction, and selections from advice, how-to, and miscellaneous.

 

Odyssey Award Audiobooks
An award for the best audiobooks produced for children and/or young adults available in English in the United States.

In Honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day..

In honor of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, I’m reading March: Book One by Congressman John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, and Nate Powell.

The graphic novel is Congressman Lewis’ first-hand account of his lifelong struggle for civil and human rights. Book One spans Lewis’ youth in rural Alabama, his life-changing meeting with Martin Luther King Jr., the birth of the Nashville Student Movement, and their battle to tear down segregation through nonviolent lunch counter sit-ins, building to a climax on the steps of City Hall.

March is a trilogy, so if Book One leaves you craving more you won’t have to stop there. Book Three was released in late 2016 and we have the whole series in store. The trilogy is classified as a young adult graphic novel (for ages 13-16), but its emotional depth and fantastic art rivals any of the best adult graphic novels of 2017.

March: Book One is also this month’s Graphic Content book club pick, so if you love it as much as I do join in on the conversation on Monday, February 12th at 6:30 PM.

-Jordan

Staff Picks: Start your year with Audie's Middle-grade recommendations!

Happy 2018, from all of us here at City Lit!   We have lots of exciting book clubs and events coming up (including a book release and tribute event for the great Denis Johnson), so stay posted for more on that!

In the meantime, if you're anything like me, then the cold weather, plus traveling, plus holidays, plus end-of-year feelings, plus beginning-of-year feelings may have sapped your ability to focus for extended periods of time.  So: might I recommend sinking into some excellent middle-grade fiction?  The benefit of children's books is that they are inevitably page-turners, designed to make you stay up all night, flashlight-under-the-covers-style.

If you're not anything like me, and have laser-like focusing abilities every day, all day, then congrats! You are a superstar.  And I still highly recommend this kids' lit:

The Inquisitor's Tale by Adam Gidwitz  

The subtitle of this book really tells you everything you need to know: this is The Story of Three Magical Children and their Holy Dog.  What more could you want? Set in the French countryside during the Crusades, the aforementioned magical children are pitted against intolerant folks of every sort, and ultimately must face King Louis of France in a fight to save their families, their villages, their heritage, and themselves.  This is a story of miracles, ethics, and bravery. Often surprising, sometimes unexpectedly serious, but always enjoyable, this is a rollicking epic that also manages to be thoughtful and thought-provoking.

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

This book is twisty-turny and heartfelt, with a voice I would follow anywhere. Both an homage to A Wrinkle in Time and a story that stands solidly on its own, this novel follows Miranda during her sixth-grade year, when she begins to receive notes from a stranger, one who knows just a little bit too much about her.  The notes request that Miranda write letters in return, hinting that she may be the only one who can prevent a future tragedy from happening. At its heart, this is a story about unexpected friendship, family, and love.  It's deftly written: mysterious but not confusing, with a plotline that will keep you guessing until the end, and a main character who will stay with you.

~Audie

January Book Club Update!

Happy New Year from City Lit Books! Thanks to all who joined our book club discussions over the last year, we hope you’ll come back for more great books and conversations as we start 2018!

So you’ve survived the holidays, said goodbye to 2017, and now you’re wondering how to start on those reading resolutions for the New Year. It’s the perfect time to join one of our book clubs! We’re starting the year off with our usual mix of great reads; from bestsellers to the newly translated, from books with award-winning film adaptions to local interest stories in beautiful graphic renderings, and even a new club – join us!

First up is our book club for graphic novel lovers – Graphic Content! This month Jordan has picked a local sensation, The Hunting Accident by David Carlson and Landis Blair.

It was a hunting accident--that much Charlie is sure of. That's how his father, Matt Rizzo—a  gentle intellectual who writes epic poems in Braille--had lost his vision. It's not until Charlie's troubled teenage years, when he's facing time for his petty crimes, that he learns the truth. Matt Rizzo was blinded by a shotgun blast to the face--but it was while participating in an armed robbery. Newly blind and without hope, Matt began his bleak new life at Stateville Prison. But in this unlikely place, Matt's life and very soul were saved by one of America's most notorious killers: Nathan Leopold Jr., of the infamous Leopold and Loeb. From David L. Carlson and Landis Blair comes the unbelievable true story of a father, a son, and remarkable journey from despair to enlightenment.

The Hunting Accident has been super popular since its release in September, and is one of our favorite graphic novels of recent months. Be here Monday, January 8th at 6:30 to talk about it! For more info, email jordan@citylitbooks.com.

If you haven’t heard of the movie Call Me by Your Name by now, I can’t begin to guess where you’ve been recently. One of the biggest movies of 2017, it has been critically acclaimed, nominated for awards from Sundance to the Golden Globes, and I personally have not heard a bad thing about it. So this month, Wilde Readers is jumping on the bandwagon and reading the novel by Andre Aciman.

Andre Aciman's Call Me by Your Name is the story of a sudden and powerful romance that blossoms between an adolescent boy and a summer guest at his parents' cliffside mansion on the Italian Riviera. Each is unprepared for the consequences of their attraction, when, during the restless summer weeks, unrelenting currents of obsession, fascination, and desire intensify their passion and test the charged ground between them. Recklessly, the two verge toward the one thing both fear they may never truly find again: total intimacy. It is an instant classic and one of the great love stories of our time.

Come out on Tuesday, January 9th at 6:30 to chat about Call Me by Your Name with Wilde Readers! For more info, email matt@citylitbooks.com.

New Year, New Me – New Book Club! Bookseller Maddie is kicking of 2018 with Instant Classics, a club devoted to recent fiction that's destined for classic status. These are the books that end up on bestseller lists, best-of-the-year lists, and wish lists alike. First up is Beloved by Toni Morrison!

Staring unflinchingly into the abyss of slavery, this spellbinding novel transforms history into a story as powerful as Exodus and as intimate as a lullaby. Sethe, its protagonist, was born a slave and escaped to Ohio, but eighteen years later she is still not free. She has too many memories of Sweet Home, the beautiful farm where so many hideous things happened. And Sethe's new home is haunted by the ghost of her baby, who died nameless and whose tombstone is engraved with a single word: Beloved. Filled with bitter poetry and suspense as taut as a rope, Beloved is a towering achievement.

What better way to stick to those reading resolutions than to join a group for books that’ll be talked about for years to come? Our Instant Classics book club meets for the first time on Wednesday, January 10th at 6:30 pm! For more info, email maddie@citylitbooks.com.

Our club for fresh English translations of standout fiction from around the world, Found in Translation is beginning the year with “a celebrated debut that animates the strange wonders of childhood in rural Poland, longlisted for the Man Booker International Prize.” Swallowing Mercury by Wioletta Greg and translated by Eliza Marciniak is our January book!

In this novel, Wiola looks back on her youth in a close-knit, agricultural community in 1980s Poland. Her memories are precise, intense, distinctive, sensual: a playfulness and whimsy rise up in the gossip of the village women, rumored visits from the Pope, and the locked room in the dressmaker's house, while political unrest and predatory men cast shadows across this bright portrait.

Found in Translation will have its first meeting of the year on Thursday, January 18th at 6:30pm! For more info, email devon@citylitbooks.com.

If one of your resolutions is to be a more informed and well-read citizen of the world, we’ve got the perfect book club to start you off. Tell Me How It Ends is our reading group for nonfiction titles focusing on current events and social justice, and this month we’re reading Being Mortal by Atul Gawande.

Medicine has triumphed in modern times, transforming the dangers of childbirth, injury, and disease from harrowing to manageable. But when it comes to the inescapable realities of aging and death, what medicine can do often runs counter to what it should. Through eye-opening research and gripping stories of his own patients and family, Gawande reveals the suffering this dynamic has produced. Nursing homes, devoted above all to safety, battle with residents over the food they are allowed to eat and the choices they are allowed to make. Doctors, uncomfortable discussing patients' anxieties about death, fall back on false hopes and treatments that are actually shortening lives instead of improving them. In his bestselling books, Atul Gawande, a practicing surgeon, has fearlessly revealed the struggles of his profession. Now he examines its ultimate limitations and failures-in his own practices as well as others'-as life draws to a close. Riveting, honest, and humane, Being Mortal shows how the ultimate goal is not a good death but a good life-all the way to the very end.

Tell Me How It Ends book club will meet Monday, January 29th at 6:30 pm! For more info, email jordan@citylitbooks.com.

For fans of all things strange, our Weird & Wonderful book club returns for Islanders by Christopher Priest!

A tale of murder, artistic rivalry and literary trickery; a Chinese puzzle of a novel where nothing is quite what it seems; a narrator whose agenda is artful and subtle; a narrative that pulls you in and plays an elegant game with you. The Dream Archipelago is a vast network of islands. The names of the islands are different depending on who you talk to, their very locations seem to twist and shift. Some islands have been sculpted into vast musical instruments, others are home to lethal creatures, others the playground for high society. Hot winds blow across the archipelago and a war fought between two distant continents is played out across its waters. THE ISLANDERS serves both as an untrustworthy but enticing guide to the islands, an intriguing, multi-layered tale of a murder and the suspect legacy of its appealing but definitely untrustworthy narrator.

Join our monthly celebration of the weird on Wednesday, January 24th at 6:30 pm!

Last but not least – our exploration of short stories from writers new and established, the In Brief book club, kicks of the New Year with an anthology of some of the best fiction of the last year: The Best American Short Stories 2017 edited by meg Wolitzer.

"If you know exactly what you are going to get from the experience of reading a story, you probably wouldn't go looking for it; you need, in order to be an open reader of fiction, to be willing. To cast a vote for what you love and then wait for the outcome," writes Meg Wolitzer in her introduction. The Best American Short Stories 2017 casts a vote for and celebrates all that is our country. Here you'll find a man with a boyfriend and a girlfriend, naval officers trapped on a submarine, a contestant on America's Funniest Home Videos, and a gay man desperate to be a father--unforgettable characters waiting for an outcome, burning with stories to tell. The Best American Short Stories 2017 includes T.C. Boyle, Jai Chakrabarti, Emma Cline, Danielle Evans, Lauren Groff, Eric Puchner, Jim Shepard, Curtis Sittenfeld, Jess Walter, and others.

Come chat about some new short stories with In Brief on Tuesday, January 30th at 6:30 pm. For more info, email matt@citylitbooks.com.

Don’t forget, all our book club choices are discounted when you buy them in the store, and there’s no sign up to get involved – just read the book and show up to talk about it!

Already part of a book club or starting your own for the new year? Be a Book Club Partner here at City Lit Books! We can help you find your book club’s next read, and make sure we have plenty in stock for all your members. Our Book Club Partners receive the same discount on books as those hosted by our booksellers, and if you need a place to meet we can host you in our bookstore, too! To get started, email matt@citylitbooks.com. Happy reading!

We're Celebrating Small Business Saturday!

On Saturday, November 25th, City Lit Books is celebrating Small Business Saturday! This friendlier, neighborhood-centric alternative to Black Friday is all about supporting locally owned businesses that are truly invested in the community. Here at City Lit, that investment means not just selling books, but also hosting weekly storytimes for kids, connecting with local and national authors, and holding monthly book clubs that welcome readers of all stripes--great experiences that you can't just "add to cart."

So, after you've had your fill of turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie, stop by City Lit on Saturday to pick up gifts for your loved ones (or for yourself!) and help support all that we strive to do. Along with our extensive collection of classic fiction, we have all of 2017's recent releases and big award winners, including Jesmyn Ward's Sing, Unburied, Sing (winner of the National Book Award), George Saunders' Lincoln in the Bardo (winner of the Man Booker prize), and Colson Whitehead's The Underground Railroad (winner of the Pulitzer prize for fiction AND the National Book Award). We also have books for history buffs and politicos (Ron Chernow's Grant, Nancy MacLean's Democracy In Chains), memoirs from all walks of life...and death (J. D. Vance's Hillbilly Elegy, Caitlin Doughty's Smoke Gets in Your Eyes), and plenty of books about you-know-who (David Cay Johnston's The Making of Donald Trump, Allen Frances' Twilight of American Sanity).

Did your BFF or sibling really dig one of the high-profile movie or TV adaptations this year? Turn them on to the source material! Along with Margaret Atwood's back-on-the-bestseller-list The Handmaid's Tale, we have Liane Moriarty's Big Little Lies, Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, and giftable editions of Agatha Christie's Murder on the Orient Express, still considered one of the best mysteries ever written.

Still not sure what to get for that hard-to-buy-for person in your life? Our staff is ready with recommendations across all categories, from children's books and sci-fi/fantasy to poetry and LGBTQ studies.

As always, we have free gift wrapping, so you can walk out of the store ready for the holidays!

Reading Now: The Witches by Stacy Schiff &The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson

Right now I'm reading Stacy Schiff's history of the Salem witch trials, The Witches. It's great for this time of year: not only does Schiff go into detail about day-to-day life in the Massachusetts Bay colony (birthplace of Thanksgiving), but she also gives a very well-rounded account of what exactly happened in 1692 (or what we can surmise may have happened), spooky apparitions and all. It's not a perfect book--conflicts with Native Americans, obviously a huge part of that day-to-day life, are only discussed in passing (at least thus far; I'm about halfway through), and occasionally it's weighted down by too much quotidian detail, but I still highly recommend The Witches for those with a casual interest in history and/or sociology and/or the occult.

I also want to do a quick review of The Argonauts by Maggie Nelson, Matt's pick for the Wilde Readers book club this month. It's a staff favorite for a reason: Nelson takes an inviting approach to an unusual situation, describing the months when she was pregnant as her husband transitioned with a mixture of warmth and candor; it's like reading the world's smartest diary. The interpolated lines from Judith Butler, Gilles Deleuze, et al. only serve to buttress the extreme approachability of her text, not distract from it. -Maddie

November Book Club Update!

Happy November! This month our book clubs are reading some classics and favorites, as well as a few brand new books. If you haven’t been to one of our book clubs before, come hang out! If you’re already loyal book club member, be sure to check the dates of our meetings since we’ve adjusted for the holidays.

Join in on the debate over graphic novels place in legitimate literature! Our newest book club, Graphic Content, is all about proving this genre is more than capes and tights. This month Jordan hosts with Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine on Monday, November 13th at 6:30!

Killing and Dying is a stunning showcase of the possibilities of the graphic novel medium and a wry exploration of loss, creative ambition, identity, and family dynamics. With this work, Adrian Tomine (Shortcomings, Scenes from an Impending Marriage) reaffirms his place not only as one of the most significant creators of contemporary comics but as one of the great voices of modern American literature. His gift for capturing emotion and intellect resonates here: the weight of love and its absence, the pride and disappointment of family, the anxiety and hopefulness of being alive in the twenty-first century. "Amber Sweet" shows the disastrous impact of mistaken identity in a hyper-connected world; "A Brief History of the Art Form Known as Hortisculpture" details the invention and destruction of a vital new art form in short comic strips; "Translated, from the Japanese" is a lush, full-color display of storytelling through still images; the title story, "Killing and Dying," centers on parenthood, mortality, and stand-up comedy. In six interconnected, darkly funny stories, Tomine forms a quietly moving portrait of contemporary life. Tomine is a master of the small gesture, equally deft at signaling emotion via a subtle change of expression or writ large across landscapes illustrated in full color. Killing and Dying is a fraught, realist masterpiece.

Already a staff favorite and bestseller at City Lit, Maggie Nelson’s The Argonauts is this month’s pick for our Wilde Readers book club! Come talk about this incredible genre-bending memoir Tuesday, November 14th at 6:30.

The Argonauts is a work of "autotheory" offering fresh, fierce, and timely thinking about desire, identity, and the limitations and possibilities of love and language. At its center is a romance: the story of the author's relationship with the artist Harry Dodge. This story, which includes Nelson's account of falling in love with Dodge, who is fluidly gendered, as well as her journey to and through a pregnancy, offers a firsthand account of the complexities and joys of (queer) family-making. Writing in the spirit of public intellectuals such as Susan Sontag and Roland Barthes, Nelson binds her personal experience to a rigorous exploration of what iconic theorists have said about sexuality, gender, and the vexed institutions of marriage and child-rearing. Nelson's insistence on radical individual freedom and the value of caretaking becomes the rallying cry of this thoughtful, unabashed, uncompromising book.

After many months of anticipation, Moonbath is finally available and is November’s pick for the Found in Translation book club! Join Devon on Thursday, November 16th at 6:30 to chat about this award-winning novel from Yanick Lahens.

After she is found washed up on shore, Cetoute Olmene Therese, bloody and bruised, recalls the circumstances that led her there. Her voice weaves hauntingly in and out of the narrative, as her story intertwines with those of three generations of women in her family, beginning with Olmene, her grandmother. Olmene, barely sixteen, catches the eye of the cruel and powerful Tertulien Mesidor, despite the generations-long feud between their families which cast her ancestors into poverty. He promises her shoes, dresses, land, and children who will want for nothing...and five months after moving into her new home, she gives birth to a son. As the family struggles through political and economic turmoil, the narrative shifts between the voices of four women, their lives interwoven with magic and fraught equally with hope and despair, leading to Cetoute's ultimate, tragic fate.

This month the Tell Me How It Ends book club is reading Tale of Two Americas, edited by John Freeman, a collection of essays and stories from thirty-six contemporary writers examining life in a deeply divided America –including Anthony Doerr, Ann Patchett, Roxane Gay, Rebecca Solnit, Hector Tobar, Joyce Carol Oates, Edwidge Danticat, Richard Russo, Eula Bliss, Karen Russell, and more. Join Jordan in discussing Tale of Two Americas on Monday, November 27th at 6:30 pm.

America is broken. You don't need a fistful of statistics to know this. Visit any city, and evidence of our shattered social compact will present itself. From Appalachia to the Rust Belt and down to rural Texas, the gap between the wealthiest and the poorest stretches to unimaginable chasms. Whether the cause of this inequality is systemic injustice, the entrenchment of racism in our culture, the long war on drugs, or immigration policies, it endangers not only the American Dream but our very lives. In Tales of Two Americas, some of the literary world's most exciting writers look beyond numbers and wages to convey what it feels like to live in this divided nation. Their extraordinarily powerful stories, essays, and poems demonstrate how boundaries break down when experiences are shared, and that in sharing our stories we can help to alleviate a suffering that touches so many people.

In Brief, our short story book club, is going back to the classics this month with James Baldwin’s Going to Meet the Man. Join Matty for the meeting on Tuesday, November 28th at 6:30 pm!

"There's no way not to suffer. But you try all kinds of ways to keep from drowning in it." The men and women in these eight short fictions grasp this truth on an elemental level, and their stories, as told by James Baldwin, detail the ingenious and often desperate ways in which they try to keep their head above water. It may be the heroin that a down-and-out jazz pianist uses to face the terror of pouring his life into an inanimate instrument. It may be the brittle piety of a father who can never forgive his son for his illegitimacy. Or it may be the screen of bigotry that a redneck deputy has raised to blunt the awful childhood memory of the day his parents took him to watch a black man being murdered by a gleeful mob. By turns haunting, heartbreaking, and horrifying--and informed throughout by Baldwin's uncanny knowledge of the wounds racism has left in both its victims and its perpetrators--Going to Meet the Man is a major work by one of our most important writers.

Weird & Wonderful – White Noise by Don DeLillo – Nov. 29th

For November the Weird & Wonderful book club takes on the 1985 National Book Award Winner: White Noise by Don DeLillo. Come get weird with us on Wednesday, November 29th at 6:30 pm!

White Noise tells the story of Jack Gladney, his fourth wife, Babette, and four ultra-modern offspring as they navigate the rocky passages of family life to the background babble of brand-name consumerism. When an industrial accident unleashes an "airborne toxic event," a lethal black chemical cloud floats over their lives. The menacing cloud is a more urgent and visible version of the "white noise" engulfing the Gladneys-radio transmissions, sirens, microwaves, ultrasonic appliances, and TV murmurings-pulsing with life, yet suggesting something ominous.

No sign up needed, just grab a book from us (with our book club discount), and join in on the discussion!

We’ve added another one - October Boo(k) Club Update!

Along with picking apples from the orchard and pumpkins from the patch (I can’t help myself, it's FALL), our booksellers have picked a new round of reads for our book clubs! We’re kicking off Fall by bringing a few spooky stories into our regular rotation of book clubs, and adding a new one: GRAPHIC CONTENT - A new book club for graphic novel lovers!

 

 

 

Graphic Content is our newest reading group and exclusively for graphic novels, hosted by Jordan. The first book for this club is winner of three Eisner Awards and one of the most critically acclaimed, best-selling comic books series of the last decade, Y: The Last Man: Book One by Brian K. Vaughn with art by Pia Guerra.

Y: The Last Man is that rare example of a page-turner that is at once humorous, socially relevant and endlessly surprising. Written by Brian K. Vaughan (LOST, PRIDE OF BAGHDAD, EX MACHINA) and with art by Pia Guerra, this is the saga of Yorick Brown--the only human survivor of a planet-wide plague that instantly kills every mammal possessing a Y chromosome. Accompanied by a mysterious government agent, a brilliant young geneticist and his pet monkey, Ampersand, Yorick travels the world in search of his lost love and the answer to why he's the last man on earth.

Graphic Conent will have its first meeting on Monday, October 9th at 6:30 pm!

This month's pick for Wilde Readers, our reading group focusing on LGBTQ+ lit, is Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was by Sjon, translated by Victoria Cribb.

The mind-bending miniature historical epic is Sjon's specialty, and Moonstone: The Boy Who Never Was is no exception. But it is also Sjon's most realistic, accessible, and heartfelt work yet. It is the story of a young man on the fringes of a society that is itself at the fringes of the world--at what seems like history's most tumultuous, perhaps ultimate moment.

Mani Steinn is queer in a society in which the idea of homosexuality is beyond the furthest extreme. His city, Reykjavik in 1918, is homogeneous and isolated and seems entirely defenseless against the Spanish flu, which has already torn through Europe, Asia, and North America and is now lapping up on Iceland's shores. And if the flu doesn't do it, there's always the threat that war will spread all the way north. And yet the outside world has also brought Icelanders cinema! And there's nothing like a dark, silent room with a film from Europe flickering on the screen to help you escape from the overwhelming threats--and adventures--of the night, to transport you, to make you feel like everything is going to be all right. For Mani Steinn, the question is whether, at Reykjavik's darkest hour, he should retreat all the way into this imaginary world, or if he should engage with the society that has so soundly rejected him.

Wilde Readers will meet Tuesday, October 10th at 6:30 pm.

This month the Found in Translation book club takes on a “chilling ghost story,” Such Small Hands by Andrés Barba.

Life changes at the orphanage the day seven-year-old Marina shows up. She is different from the other girls: at once an outcast and object of fascination. As Marina struggles to find her place, she invents a game whose rules are dictated by a haunting violence. Written in hypnotic, lyrical prose, alternating between Marina's perspective and the choral we of the other girls, Such Small Hands evokes the pain of loss and the hunger for acceptance.

Come chat about this chilling tale on Thursday, October 19th at 6:30 pm!

Our October short story selection for the In Brief book club is Bobcat & Other Stories by Rebecca Lee.

Rebecca Lee, one of our most gifted and original short story writers, guides readers into a range of landscapes, both foreign and domestic, crafting stories as rich as novels. A student plagiarizes a paper and holds fast to her alibi until she finds herself complicit in the resurrection of one professor's shadowy past. A dinner party becomes the occasion for the dissolution of more than one marriage. A woman is hired to find a wife for the one true soulmate she's ever found. In all, Rebecca Lee traverses the terrain of infidelity, obligation, sacrifice, jealousy, and yet finally, optimism. Showing people at their most vulnerable, Lee creates characters so wonderfully flawed, so driven by their desire, so compelled to make sense of their human condition, that it's impossible not to feel for them when their fragile belief in romantic love, domestic bliss, or academic seclusion fails to provide them with the sort of force field they'd expected.

The In Brief book club will meet Tuesday, October 24 at 6:30 pm.

Tell Me How It Ends, our reading group for nonfiction titles, is trying something new with At the Existentialist Cafe: Freedom, Being, and Apricot Cocktails by Sarah Bakewell.

From the best-selling author of How to live, a spirited account of one of the twentieth century's major intellectual movements and the revolutionary thinkers who came to shape it Paris, 1933: three contemporaries meet over apricot cocktails at the Bec-de-Gaz bar on the rue Montparnasse. They are the young Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, and longtime friend Raymond Aron, a fellow philosopher who raves to them about a new conceptual framework from Berlin called Phenomenology. 'You see,' he says, 'if you are a phenomenologist you can talk about this cocktail and make philosophy out of it!' It was this simple phrase that would ignite a movement, inspiring Sartre to integrate Phenomenology into his own French, humanistic sensibility, thereby creating an entirely new philosophical approach inspired by themes of radical freedom, authentic being, and political activism. This movement would sweep through the jazz clubs and cafâes of the Left Bank before making its way across the world as Existentialism. Featuring not only philosophers, but also playwrights, anthropologists, convicts, and revolutionaries, At the Existentialist Cafe follows the existentialists' story, from the first rebellious spark through the Second World War, to its role in postwar liberation movements such as anticolonialism, feminism, and gay rights. Interweaving biography and philosophy, it is the epic account of passionate encounters--fights, love affairs, mentorships, rebellions, and long partnerships--and a vital investigation into what the existentialists have to offer us today, at a moment when we are once again confronting the major questions of freedom, global responsibility, and human authenticity in a fractious and technology-driven world.

Tell Me How It Ends meets Monday, October 30 at 6:30 pm.

And last but not least, our monthly celebration of the weird, the Weird & Wonderful Book Club, will be talking about Shirley Jackson’s We Have Always Lived in the Castle.

Alone since four members of the family died of arsenic poisoning, Merricat, Constance and Julian Blackwood spend their days in happy isolation until cousin Charles appears. Taking readers deep into a labyrinth of dark neurosis, We Have Always Lived in the Castle is a deliciously unsettling novel about a perverse, isolated, and possibly murderous family and the struggle that ensues when a cousin arrives at their estate.

Weird & Wonderful will meet Wednesday, November 1 at 6:30 pm.

Start your fall with a new book, come check out our bOoOoOoOok clubs (I really can’t help, it, I love Halloween)! No sign up, just grab a book with our book club discount, and come chat!

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