City Lit's blog

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!

Wrapping up Banned Books Week

When you’re surrounded by shelves of books every day, it is sometimes easy to take for granted the limited access some people have to great books. It is also easy to feel a little spoiled by all the great conversations we get to have. Every day we get to talk about what we’re reading with each other and with people who come in looking for their new favorite. Partly because of this, it still comes as a shock to me that in some communities those conversations don’t ever get a chance to start. Even as I’m writing this, a number of people have stopped and chatted about their surprise at seeing certain books on our Banned Books display. Some examples seem completely ridiculous: banning the Diary of Anne Frank for being “too depressing,” or Where the Sidewalk Ends for promoting cannibalism… really? But other books, the kind meant to spark a conversation, don’t get the chance to do that. So we treat Banned Books Week as a time to highlight those missed opportunities, to bring those books that some have tried to hide from the shelves out on full display.

Since we’re wrapping up Banned Books Week, we wanted to leave a few thoughts about some of the books we’ve featured this week at City Lit:

I have to admit I always get annoyed when I read negative criticism of Barbara Ehrenreich's Nickel and Dimed, so of course I was upset to find out it was challenged (though not ultimately banned) in a Pennsylvania school district in 2011. Obviously the parent who wanted to knock it off the reading list simply didn't want students to be exposed to the truths that Ehrenreich helps bring to light: namely, that America treats people in poverty grossly unfairly, and that life is extremely hard when you're only making minimum wage. This is an important book! Everyone should read it!
- Maddie, on Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich

Brave New World and 1984: I'm going to stick with a couple of classics. Whether you see the world around you as suffering from doublethink or too much soma, these dystopian tales unfortunately continue to become more and more relevant. Personally, I see it as a frightening combination of the two (especially since the election) and it felt necessary to revisit both of these. So, I'd suggest grabbing yourself a copy-- JUST in case they get pulled away again.
Seriously though, an article was just published about an Idaho school district considering a ban of 1984Check it out here!
- Jordan, on Brave New World by Aldous Huxley and 1984 by George Orwell

Where the Wild Things Are - one of my favorite books as a kid, and maybe one of my favorites as a not-so-kid, too. It holds up, and it has been challenged for as long as it has been on shelves. Longer even - Sendak tried to get it published for years before it was finally brought to the public! Maybe it’s the unflinching story of rebellion and fear that caused so many to question its merit, but it has been celebrated as often as it has been challenged, winning awards, being a best seller,  and even getting a dramatic reading by President Obama on the White House lawn. The Cleveland Press’ review  of Where the Wild Things Are said “Boys and girls may have to shield their parents from this book. Parents are very easily scared." Too bad for those parents, they’re missing out on a great book.
- Matty, on Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Banned Books Week was first celebrated in 1982, and now every year the American Library Association tracks challenges and complaints about books across the US. You can find their list of the most often challenged titles by year at this website.

By Matty, Jordan, and Maddie

Come Discuss Infinite Jest!

In June, 2008, three months before news broke of David Foster Wallace's death, I plowed through Infinite Jest over one long hot summer, usually reclining in my parents' backyard, enjoying the comforts of home and the time to read for pleasure after my sophomore year of college. As a freshman I had grown enamored of Wallace's short stories and essays, and it seemed like that summer was my chance to give his magnum opus a try. It took me six weeks, but I made it to the final page, the final footnote. I read every word devoted to tennis, every aside that supplied the scientific name of a name-brand drug, every discourse on optics or nuclear fusion.

Was it worth it? Sure. Would I ever read it again? No way.

In July, 2017, three months after getting laid off from a full-time job, I plowed through Infinite Jest in my off hours after I began working here, at City Lit. I don't know what possessed me to give it another go. Maybe I was just curious to see if I could finish it again, or maybe I was watching too much TV and needed something that required sustained attention. Whatever it was, I did read the whole thing again, and I'm glad I did. 

It's a lot easier the second time around. The plot, which often resembles a Gordian knot, becomes looser and more manageable when you know what you're getting into, and the extravagently boring passages--those that caused my eyes to glaze over nine years before--reveal exquisite turns of phrase that remind you that Wallace had poetry, not just hyperarticulate prose, at his fingertips. 

Have you read Infinite Jest? Did you read the first hundred pages and need to be cajoled into picking it up again? Come join us at City Lit for discussion and conversation on Tuesday, September 19th, at 6:30 PM. Bring your insights, aggravations, and, if you like, snacks or wine to share!

Infinite Jest Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780316066525
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - November 13th, 2006

September Book Club Update!

We’ve had a busy summer at City Lit Books; new booksellers, our 5th Birthday, some really cool author events, and lots of great new reads, but September is here and soon the season will be over! Don’t let the cooling weather get you down though - there are lots of great new books being released this Fall, and we’ve got some great authors coming for readings in the store. Here’s an update on what our book clubs are reading this month, so grab one of these titles while you’re soaking up the last of the summer sun, then come hang out and tell us what you think!

Wilde Readers Book Club, our reading group for LGBTQ+ literature, is kicking off September with another classic novel: Confession of a Mask by Yukio Mishima.

One of the classics of modern Japanese fiction, it is the story of an adolescent who must learn to live with the painful fact that he is unlike other young men. Mishima's protagonist discovers that he is becoming a homosexual in a polite, post-war Japan. To survive, he must live behind a mask of propriety.

Confessions of a Mask tells the story of Kochan, a boy tormented by his burgeoning attraction to men: he wants to be "normal." Kochan is meek-bodied, and unable to participate in the more athletic activities of his classmates. He begins to notice his growing attraction to some of the boys in his class, particularly the pubescent body of his friend Omi. To hide his homosexuality, he courts a woman, Sonoko, but this exacerbates his feelings for men. As news of the War reaches Tokyo, Kochan considers the fate of Japan and his place within its deeply rooted propriety. Confessions of a Mask reflects Mishima's own coming of age in post-war Japan. Its publication in English--praised by Gore Vidal, James Baldwin, and Christopher Isherwood-- propelled the young Yukio Mishima to international fame.

Wilde Readers book club will meet on Tuesday, September 12th at 6:30 pm. You can email matt@citylitbooks.com with any questions.

Some of us have been reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace this summer, and to celebrate the end of the marathon we'll be hosting a special book club meeting to discuss the book. Whether you've taken the challenge and read it this summer, read it in the past, or given up halfway through - come hang out!

A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America Set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are. Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.

Our Infinite Summer Challenge celebration will be Tuesday, September 19th at 6:30 pm. Email maddie@citylitbooks.com with questions.

This month our Found in Translation Book Club, where we dive into fresh English translations of stand-out fiction from around the world, is reading Adua by Igiaba Scego.

Adua, an immigrant from Somalia to Italy, has lived in Rome for nearly forty years. She came seeking freedom from a strict father and an oppressive regime, but her dreams of becoming a film star ended in shame. Now that the civil war in Somalia is over, her homeland beckons. Yet Adua has a husband who needs her, a young man, also an immigrant, who braved a dangerous crossing of the Mediterranean Sea. When her father, who worked as an interpreter for Mussolini’s fascist regime, dies, Adua inherits the family home. She must decide whether to make the journey back to reclaim her material inheritance, but also how to take charge of her own story and build a future.

The Found in Translation Book Club will meet Thursday, September 21st at 6:30 pm. Email devon@citylitbooks.com with questions.

Tell Me How It Ends, our reading group for nonfiction titles focusing on current events and social justice, is reading Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson for September.

Bryan Stevenson was a young lawyer when he founded the Equal Justice Initiative, a legal practice dedicated to defending those most desperate and in need: the poor, the wrongly condemned, and women and children trapped in the farthest reaches of our criminal justice system. One of his first cases was that of Walter McMillian, a young man who was sentenced to die for a notorious murder he insisted he didn't commit. The case drew Bryan into a tangle of conspiracy, political machination, and legal brinksmanship and transformed his understanding of mercy and justice forever.

Come on Monday, September 25th at 6:30 pm to discuss Just Mercy. Email jordan@citylitbooks.com with questions.

Our book club exploring collections of short stories from writers new and established, In Brief, is reading If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler by Italo Calvino.

If on a Winter's Night a Traveler turns out to be not one novel but ten, each with a different plot, style, ambience, and author, and each interrupted at a moment of suspense. Together they form a labyrinth of literatures, known and unknown, alive and extinct, through which two readers, a male and a female, pursue both the story lines that intrigue them and one another.

Italo Calvino imagines a novel capable of endless mutations in this intricately crafted story about writing and readers.

Join In Brief on Tuesday, September 26th at 6:30 pm. Email matt@citylitbooks.com with questions.

Our monthly celebration of the weird, be it science fiction, speculative fiction, fantasy, magical realism, or any genre otherwise strange, the Weird & Wonderful Book Club, has chosen Cold Hand in Mine by Robert Aickman for September.

Cold Hand in Mine was first published in the U.K. in 1975 and in the U.S. in 1977. The story 'Pages from a Young Girl's Journal' won the Aickman World Fantasy Award in 1975. It was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction in 1973 before appearing in this collection.

Cold Hand in Mine stands as one of Aickman's best collections and contains eight stories that show off his powers as a 'strange story' writer to the full, being more ambiguous than standard ghost stories. Throughout the stories the reader is introduced to a variety of characters, from a man who spends the night in a Hospice to a German aristocrat and a woman who sees an image of her own soul. There is also a nod to the conventional vampire story ('Pages from a Young Girl's Journal') but all the stories remain unconventional and inconclusive, which perhaps makes them all the more startling and intriguing.

Weird & Wonderful will meet Wednesday, September 27th at 6:30 pm.

As always, there’s no sign up or obligation for our book clubs – just stop by the store for the book (with our book club discount), then come ready to join the conversation!

City Lit is 5!

City Lit is five!

Hard to believe!  But when I think about all of the wonderful people, conversations, events, and interactions we have had since August of 2012, the meaning and magnitude of “five years” really starts to sink in. 

People ask me if opening a bookstore was a dream. While I planned and hoped to build a lovely place around books, there was no way I could imagine or anticipate the wonderful experiences that began as soon as we opened our doors.  Something amazing occurs every single day – children rushing to get to the back of the store, tourists from other countries visiting us for a second time, and customers finding a book that they couldn’t find anywhere else.

It is a privilege to be here every day.  All of us at City Lit Books thank you for your constant support and for sharing our passion for books and this place where thinking people gather.  We have learned a lot from you and how to serve our community of avid readers.  Stay tuned for what’s next!

This is an exciting milestone.  Yet even more exciting are all of the future conversations that we can’t imagine but know will come our way.

August Book Club Update!

This month we are celebrating a couple of our recent favorites by making them book club picks! You can join our book clubs anytime, but we are really excited about some of these choices, so if you haven’t been before come join the conversation!

 

 

 

This month's Wilde Readers book is Christodora by Tim Murphy.

In this epic, ambitious, and deeply poignant novel, Tim Murphy follows a diverse group of people whose fates intertwine in an iconic building in Manhattan's East Village, the Christodora. Moving kaleidoscopically from the Tompkins Square Riots and the activism of the 1980s to a future New York City of the 2020s where subzero winters are a thing of the past, Christodora recounts the heartbreak wrought by AIDS, portrays the allure and destructive power of hard drugs, and brings to life a bohemian Lower Manhattan of artists and idealists.

On Avenue B in the East Village, the Christodora is home to Milly and Jared, a privileged young couple with artistic ambitions. Their neighbor, Hector, a gay Puerto Rican man who was at one point celebrated for his work as an AIDS activist but has now descended into the throes of drug addiction, becomes connected to Milly and Jared's lives in ways none of them can anticipate. Meanwhile, Milly and Jared's adopted son Mateo grows to see the opportunity for both self-realization and oblivion offered by New York City. As the junkies and protestors of the 1980s give way to the hipsters of the 2000s and they in turn to the wealthy inhabitants of the glass towers of the 2020s, enormous changes rock the personal lives of Milly and Jared and the constellation of people around them.

Christodora is a panoramic novel that powerfully evokes the danger, chaos, and wonder of New York City--and the strange and moving ways in which its dwellers' lives can intersect.

We hosted author Tim Murphy almost a year ago for a great talk about Christodora and his experience in covering HIV/AIDS as a journalist. Teresa and Matt both loved this novel. Come chat about it Tuesday, August 8th at 6:30 pm! Email matt@citylitbooks.com with questions.

This month, for our Found in Translation book club, we're reading Notes of a Crocodile by Qiu Miaojin, translated by Bonnie Huie.

The English-language premiere of Qiu Miaojin's coming-of-age novel about queer teenagers in Taiwan, a cult classic in China and winner of the 1995 China Times Literature Award.

Set in the post-martial-law era of late-1980s Taipei, Notes of a Crocodile is a coming-of-age story of queer misfits discovering love, friendship, and artistic affinity while hardly studying at Taiwan's most prestigious university. Told through the eyes of an anonymous lesbian narrator nicknamed Lazi, this cult classic is a postmodern pastiche of diaries, vignettes, mash notes, aphorisms, exegesis, and satire by an incisive prose stylist and major countercultural figure.

Afflicted by her fatalistic attraction to Shui Ling, an older woman, Lazi turns for support to a circle of friends that includes a rich kid turned criminal and his troubled, self-destructive gay lover, as well as a bored, mischievous overachiever and her alluring slacker artist girlfriend.

Illustrating a process of liberation from the strictures of gender through radical self-inquiry, Notes of a Crocodile is a poignant masterpiece of social defiance by a singular voice in contemporary Chinese literature.

Check out Notes on a Crocodile at our book club meeting Thursday, August 17th at 6:30 pm! Email devon@citylitbooks.com for questions.

In Brief meets this month to discuss Temporary People by Deepak Unnikrishnan.

In the United Arab Emirates, foreign nationals constitute over 80 percent of the population. Brought in to construct the towering monuments to wealth that punctuate the skylines of Abu Dhabi and Dubai, this labor force works without the rights of citizenship, endures miserable living conditions, and is ultimately forced to leave the country. Until now, the humanitarian crisis of the so-called "guest workers" of the Gulf has barely been addressed in fiction. With his stunning, mind-altering debut novel Temporary People, Deepak Unnikrishnan delves into their histories, myths, struggles, and triumphs.

Combining the irrepressible linguistic invention of Salman Rushdie and the satirical vision of George Saunders, Unnikrishnan presents twenty-eight linked stories that careen from construction workers who shapeshift into luggage and escape a labor camp, to a woman who stitches back together the bodies of those who've fallen from buildings in progress, to a man who grows ideal workers designed to live twelve years and then perish--until they don't, and found a rebel community in the desert. With this polyphony, Unnikrishnan brilliantly maps a new, unruly global English. Giving substance and identity to the anonymous workers of the Gulf, he highlights the disturbing ways in which "progress" on a global scale is bound up with dehumanization.

In Brief will meet Tuesday, August 22nd at 6:30 pm! Email matt@citylitbooks.com for questions.

In August our monthly celebration of the weird, the Weird & Wonderful book club, will meet to discuss A Cure for Suicide by Jesse Ball.

A man and a woman have moved into a small house in a small village. The woman is an “examiner,” charged with teaching the man a series of simple functions—this is a chair, this is a fork, this is how you meet people. Still, the man is haunted by strange dreams, and when he meets a charismatic, volatile young woman named Hilda at a party, it throws everything he has learned into question. What is this village? And why is he here?

A fascinating novel of love, illness, despair, and betrayal, A Cure for Suicide is the most captivating novel yet from one of our most audacious and original young writers.

Stop by on Wednesday, August 23rd at 6:30 to talk about A Cure for Suicide.

Tell Me How It Ends is our newest reading group for nonfiction titles focusing on current events and social justice, hosted by Jordan. This month's book is No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein.

This month No Is Not Enough by Naomi Klein is our Tell Me How It Ends book.

"This is one attempt to uncover how we got to this surreal political moment. It is also an attempt to predict how, under cover of shocks and crises, it could get a lot worse. And it's a plan for how, if we keep our heads, we might just be able to flip the script and arrive at a radically better future." -From the Introduction

Donald Trump's takeover of the White House is a dangerous escalation in a world of cascading crises. His reckless agenda--including a corporate coup in government, aggressive scapegoating and warmongering, and sweeping aside climate science to set off a fossil fuel frenzy--will generate waves of disasters and shocks to the economy, national security, and the environment. Acclaimed journalist, activist, and bestselling author Naomi Klein has spent two decades studying political shocks, climate change, and "brand bullies." From this unique perspective, she argues that Trump is not an aberration but a logical extension of the worst, most dangerous trends of the past half-century--the very conditions that have unleashed a rising tide of white nationalism the world over. It is not enough, she tells us, to merely resist, to say "no." Our historical moment demands more: a credible and inspiring "yes," a roadmap to reclaiming the populist ground from those who would divide us--one that sets a bold course for winning the fair and caring world we want and need. This timely, urgent book from one of our most influential thinkers offers a bracing positive shock of its own, helping us understand just how we got here, and how we can, collectively, come together and heal.

We’ll have our Tell Me How It Ends book club meeting on Monday, August 28th at 6:30 pm! Email jordan@citylitbooks.com

And don’t forget our Infinite Summer Challenge! We’re reading Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace before the end of the summer. Think you can make it?

A gargantuan, mind-altering comedy about the Pursuit of Happiness in America Set in an addicts' halfway house and a tennis academy, and featuring the most endearingly screwed-up family to come along in recent fiction, Infinite Jest explores essential questions about what entertainment is and why it has come to so dominate our lives; about how our desire for entertainment affects our need to connect with other people; and about what the pleasures we choose say about who we are. Equal parts philosophical quest and screwball comedy, Infinite Jest bends every rule of fiction without sacrificing for a moment its own entertainment value. It is an exuberant, uniquely American exploration of the passions that make us human - and one of those rare books that renew the idea of what a novel can do.

If you think you’re up to it, grab a copy of Infinite Jest and meet us on Tuesday, September 19th at 6:30 to celebrate! Email matt@citylitbooks.com for questions.

No sign up necessary for any of our book clubs - just grab a copy and come ready to talk about the book! And don’t forget our book club discount!

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