1375 Burlingame Ave
June 2016 Selection:
Even with 25 years experience as a journalist and investigator of the food chain, Joanna Blythman still felt she had unanswered questions about the food we consume every day. How natural is the process for making a natural flavouring? What, exactly, is modified starch, and why is it an ingredient in so many foods? What is done to pitta bread to make it stay fresh for six months? And why, when you eat a supermarket salad, does the taste linger in your mouth for several hours after?
Swallow This is a fascinating exploration of the food processing industry and its products not just the more obvious ready meals, chicken nuggets and tinned soups, but the less overtly industrial washed salads, smoothies, yoghurts, cereal bars, bread, fruit juice, prepared vegetables. Forget illegal, horse-meat-scandal processes, every step in the production of these is legal, but practised by a strange and inaccessible industry, with methods a world-away from our idea of domestic food preparation, and obscured by technical speak, unintelligible ingredients manuals, and clever labelling practices.
Determined to get to the bottom of the impact the industry has on our food, Joanna Blythman has gained unprecedented access to factories, suppliers and industry insiders, to give an utterly eye-opening account of what we re really swallowing."
May 2016 Selection: In "A Philosophy of Walking," a bestsellerin France, leading thinker FredericGros charts the many different wayswe get from A to B the pilgrimage, the promenade, the protest march, thenature ramble and reveals what theysay about us.
Gros draws attention to otherthinkers who also saw walking assomething central to their practice.On his travels he ponders Thoreau s eagerseclusion in Walden Woods; the reasonRimbaud walked in a fury, while Nervalrambled to cure his melancholy. Heshows us how Rousseau walked in orderto think, while Nietzsche wanderedthe mountainside to write. In contrast, Kant marched through his hometownevery day, exactly at the same hour, toescape the compulsion of thought.Brilliant and erudite, "A Philosophyof Walking" is an entertaining andinsightful manifesto for putting onefoot in front of the other.
April 2016 Selection:
In the summer of 1998, Walter Kirn then an aspiring novelist struggling with impending fatherhood and a dissolving marriage set out on a peculiar, fateful errand: to personally deliver a crippled hunting dog from his home in Montana to the New York apartment of one Clark Rockefeller, a secretive young banker and art collector who had adopted the dog over the Internet. Thus began a fifteen-year relationship that drew Kirn deep into the fun-house world of an outlandish, eccentric son of privilege who ultimately would be unmasked as a brazen serial impostor, child kidnapper, and brutal murderer.
Kirn's one-of-a-kind story of being duped by a real-life Mr. Ripley takes us on a bizarre and haunting journey from the posh private clubrooms of Manhattan to the hard-boiled courtrooms and prisons of Los Angeles. As Kirn uncovers the truth about his friend, a psychopath masquerading as a gentleman, he also confronts hard truths about himself. Why, as a writer of fiction, was he susceptible to the deception of a sinister fantasist whose crimes, Kirn learns, were based on books and movies? What are the hidden psychological links between the artist and the con man? To answer these and other questions, Kirn attends his old friend s murder trial and uses it as an occasion to reflect on both their tangled personal relationship and the surprising literary sources of Rockefeller's evil. This investigation of the past climaxes in a tense jailhouse reunion with a man whom Kirn realizes he barely knew a predatory, sophisticated genius whose life, in some respects, parallels his own and who may have intended to take another victim during his years as a fugitive from justice: Kirn himself.
Combining confessional memoir, true crime reporting, and cultural speculation, Blood Will Out is a Dreiser-esque tale of self-invention, upward mobility, and intellectual arrogance. It exposes the layers of longing and corruption, ambition and self-delusion beneath the Great American con."
March 2016 Selection:A kind of detective story, relating a cranky amateur scholar's search for the truth about Gustave Flaubert, and the obsession of this detective whose life seems to oddly mirror those of Flaubert's characters.
February 2016 Selction: "The Door" is an unsettling exploration of the relationship between two very different women. Magda is a writer, educated, married to an academic, public-spirited, with an on-again-off-again relationship to Hungary's Communist authorities. Emerence is a peasant, illiterate, impassive, abrupt, seemingly ageless. She lives alone in a house that no one else may enter, not even her closest relatives. She is Magda's housekeeper and she has taken control over Magda's household, becoming indispensable to her. And Emerence, in her way, has come to depend on Magda. They share a kind of love at least until Magda s long-sought success as a writer leads to a devastating revelation.
Len Rix's prizewinning translation of "The Door" at last makes it possible for American readers to appreciate the masterwork of a major modern European writer.
January 2016 Selection: On Friday noon, July the twentieth, 1714, the finest bridge in all Peru broke and precipitated five travelers into the gulf below." With this celebrated sentence, Thornton Wilder begins The Bridge of San Luis Rey, one of the towering achievements in American fiction and a novel read throughout the world.
By chance, a monk witnesses the tragedy. Brother Juniper seeks to prove that it was divine intervention rather than chance that led to the deaths of those who perished in the tragedy. His study leads to his own death -- and to the author's timeless investigation into the nature of love and the meaning of the human condition.
November 2015 Selection:
Virginia Woolf's To" the Lighthouse" is one of her greatest literary achievements and among the most influential novels of the twentieth century.
The serene and maternal Mrs. Ramsay, the tragic yet absurd Mr. Ramsay, and their children and assorted guests are on holiday on the Isle of Skye. From the seemingly trivial postponement of a visit to a nearby lighthouse, Woolf constructs a remarkable, moving examination of the complex tensions and allegiances of family life and the conflict between men and women."
October 2015 Selection: A soulful, humane, and sparklingly funny novel. Spend some time with Sheldon and company in the Scandinavian wilderness and you just might make peace with your god, your ghosts, and yourself. Gary Shteyngart, author of "Super Sad True Love Story"
Sheldon Horowitz widowed, impatient, impertinent has grudgingly agreed to leave New York and move in with his granddaughter, Rhea, and her new husband, Lars, in Norway a country of blue and ice with one thousand Jews, not one of them a former Marine sniper in the Korean War turned watch repairman. Not until now, anyway.
Home alone one morning, Sheldon witnesses a dispute between the woman who lives upstairs and an aggressive stranger. When events turn dire, Sheldon seizes and shields the neighbor s young son from the violence, and they flee the scene. As Sheldon and the boy look for a safe haven in an alien world, past and present weave together, forcing them ever forward to a wrenching moment of truth.
September 2015 Selection: "The Circle" is the exhilarating new novel from Dave Eggers, best-selling author of"A Hologram for the King, "a finalist for the National Book Award.
When Mae Holland is hired to work for the Circle, the world s most powerful internet company, she feels she s been given the opportunity of a lifetime. The Circle, run out of a sprawling California campus, links users personal emails, social media, banking, and purchasing with their universal operating system, resulting in one online identity and a new age of civility and transparency. As Mae tours the open-plan office spaces, the towering glass dining facilities, the cozy dorms for those who spend nights at work, she is thrilled with the company s modernity and activity. There are parties that last through the night, there are famous musicians playing on the lawn, there are athletic activities and clubs and brunches, and even an aquarium of rare fish retrieved from the Marianas Trench by the CEO. Mae can t believe her luck, her great fortune to work for the most influential company in the world even as life beyond the campus grows distant, even as a strange encounter with a colleague leaves her shaken, even as her role at the Circle becomes increasingly public. What begins as the captivating story of one woman s ambition and idealism soon becomes a heart-racing novel of suspense, raising questions about memory, history, privacy, democracy, and the limits of human knowledge."
August 2015 Selection: This new edition ofLabyrinths, the classic representative selection of Borges' writing edited by Donald A. Yates and James E. Irby (in translations by themselves and others), includes the text of the original edition (as augmented in 1964) as well as Irby's biographical and critical essay, a poignant tribute by Andre Maurois, and a chronology of the author's life. Borges enthusiast William Gibson has contributed a new introduction bringing Borges' influence and importance into the twenty-first century. "
July 2015 Selection: What’s the point in solving murders if we’re all going to die soon, anyway?
Detective Hank Palace has faced this question ever since asteroid 2011GV1 hovered into view. There’s no chance left. No hope. Just six precious months until impact.
The Last Policeman presents a fascinating portrait of a pre-apocalyptic United States. The economy spirals downward while crops rot in the fields. Churches and synagogues are packed. People all over the world are walking off the job—but not Hank Palace. He’s investigating a death by hanging in a city that sees a dozen suicides every week—except this one feels suspicious, and Palace is the only cop who cares.
The first in a trilogy, The Last Policeman offers a mystery set on the brink of an apocalypse. As Palace’s investigation plays out under the shadow of 2011GV1, we’re confronted by hard questions way beyond “whodunit.” What basis does civilization rest upon? What is life worth? What would any of us do, what would we really do, if our days were numbered?
June 2015 Selection: WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE 2013
A "New York Times" Notable Book
A "Washington Post" Notable Work of Fiction
A Best Book of the Year: "The Atlantic, "NPR, "San Francisco Chronicle," "Vogue," "AV Club"
In story after story in this brilliant new collection, Alice Munro pinpoints the moment a person is forever altered by a chance encounter, an action not taken, or a simple twist of fate. Her characters are flawed and fully human: a soldier returning from war and avoiding his fiance, a wealthy woman deciding whether to confront a blackmailer, an adulterous mother and her neglected children, a guilt-ridden father, a young teacher jilted by her employer. Illumined by Munro's unflinching insight, these lives draw us in with their quiet depth and surprise us with unexpected turns. And while most are set in her signature territory around Lake Huron, some strike even closer to home: an astonishing suite of four autobiographical tales offers an unprecedented glimpse into Munro's own childhood. Exalted by her clarity of vision and her unparalleled gift for storytelling, "Dear Life "shows how strange, perilous, and extraordinary ordinary life can be.
May 2015 Selection:
The acclaimed Ha-Joon Chang is a voice of sanity-and wit-in this lighthearted book with a serious purpose: to question the assumptions behind the dogma and sheer hype that the dominant school of neoliberal economists have spun since the Age of Reagan." 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism" uses twenty-three short essays (a few great examples: ""There Is No Such Thing as a Free Market,""""The Washing Machine Has Changed the World More than the Internet Has"") to equip readers with an understanding of how global capitalism works, and doesn't, while offering a vision of how we can shape capitalism to humane ends, instead of becoming slaves of the market.
Praise for" 23 Things They Don't Tell You about Capitalism"
"A lively, accessible and provocative book."-"Sunday Times"(UK )
"Chang, befitting his position as an economics professor at Cambridge University, is engagingly thoughtful and opinionated at a much lower decibel level. 'The "truths" peddled by free-market ideologues are based on lazy assumptions and blinkered visions, ' he charges."-"Time"
April 2015 Selection: In her comic, scathing essay "Men Explain Things to Me," Rebecca Solnit takes on what often goes wrong in conversations between men and women. She writes about men who wrongly assume they know things and wrongly assume women don't, about why this arises, and how this aspect of the gender wars works, airing some of her own hilariously awful encounters.
She ends on a serious note-- because the ultimate problem is the silencing of women who have something to say, including those saying things like, "He's trying to kill me!"
The updated edition of this national bestseller features two new essays, including Solnit's recent essay on the remarkable feminist conversation that arose in the wake of the 2014 Isla Vista killings.
March 2015 Selection: Doctor Julie Walker has just signed her divorce papers when she receives news that her younger sister, Heather, has gone into labor. Though theirs is a strained relationship, Julie sets out for the hospital to be at her sister's side - no easy task since the streets of San Francisco are filled with commotion. Today is also the day that Julie will find herself at the epicenter of a violent standoff in which she is forced to examine both the promising and painful parts of her past - her Southern childhood; her romance with her husband, Tom; her estrangement from Heather; and the shattering incident that led to her greatest heartbreak.
February 2015 Selection: "Stick and stones break bones. Words kill."
They recruited Emily Ruff from the streets. They said it was because she's good with words.
They'll live to regret it.
They said Wil Parke survived something he shouldn't have. But he doesn't remember.
Now they're after him and he doesn't know why.
There's a word, they say. A word that kills.
And they want it back . . .
"Best thing I've read in a long time . . . a masterpiece." --Hugh Howey, "New York Times" bestselling author of "Wool"
January 2015 Selection: Only the author of Flaubert's Parrot could give us a novel that is at once a note-perfect rendition of the angsts and attitudes of English adolescence, a giddy comedy of sexual awakening in the 1960s, and a portrait of the accommodations that some of us call "growing up" and others "selling out."
Novmber 2014 Selection: Area X has been cut off from the rest of the continent for decades. Nature has reclaimed the last vestiges of human civilization. The first expedition returned with reports of a pristine, Edenic landscape; the second expedition ended in mass suicide, the third expedition in a hail of gunfire as its members turned on one another. The members of the eleventh expedition returned as shadows of their former selves, and within weeks, all had died of cancer. In "Annihilation," the first volume of Jeff VanderMeer's Southern Reach trilogy, we join the twelfth expedition.
The group is made up of four women: an anthropologist; a surveyor; a psychologist, the de facto leader; and our narrator, a biologist. Their mission is to map the terrain, record all observations of their surroundings and of one anotioner, and, above all, avoid being contaminated by Area X itself.
They arrive expecting the unexpected, and Area X delivers--they discover a massive topographic anomaly and life forms that surpass understanding--but it's the surprises that came across the border with them and the secrets the expedition members are keeping from one another that change everything.
October 2014 Selection: The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.
Few American novels written this century have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury's unparalleled literary classic SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin.The carnival rolls in sometime after midnight, ushering in Halloween a week early. The shrill siren song of a calliope beckons to all with a seductive promise of dreams and youth regained. In this season of dying, Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show has come to Green Town, Illinois, to destroy every life touched by its strange and sinister mystery. And two boys will discover the secret of its smoke, mazes, and mirrors; two friends who will soon know all too well the heavy cost of wishes. . .and the stuff of nightmare.
Few American novels written this century have endured in the heart and memory as has Ray Bradbury's unparalleled literary classic SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. For those who still dream and remember, for those yet to experience the hypnotic power of its dark poetry, step inside. The show is about to begin.
September 2014 Selection: Hilariously picaresque, epic in scope, alive with the poetry and vigor of the American people, Mark Twain's story about a young boy and his journey down the Mississippi was the first great novel to speak in a truly American voice. Influencing subsequent generations of writers -- from Sherwood Anderson to Twain's fellow Missourian, T.S. Eliot, from Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner to J.D. Salinger -- "Huckleberry Finn," like the river which flows through its pages, is one of the great sources which nourished and still nourishes the literature of America.
August 2014 Selection: Walker meets Rachel at a glamorous party by the bay. When she turns up at his apartment two days later, there is a hint of erotic promise in the air. But it isn't Walker she wants--at least not yet. Her husband, Malory, has gone missing, and she wants Walker to find him.
So begins Walker's quest, as well as this beautiful novel that takes our hard-boiled knight across the vast landscape of an imaginary middle America that begins subtly to morph into something stranger. Walker's search intensifies, and soon it seems that somebody else is searching for him. In "The Search," his second novel, Geoff Dyer concocts a sophisticated and enthralling narrative puzzle.
July 2014 Selection: The international publishing sensation--over six million copies sold worldwide!
A reluctant centenarian much like Forrest Gump (if Gump were an explosives expert with a fondness for vodka) decides it's not too late to start over . . .
After a long and eventful life, Allan Karlsson ends up in a nursing home, believing it to be his last stop. The only problem is that he's still in good health, and in one day, he turns 100. A big celebration is in the works, but Allan really isn't interested (and he'd like a bit more control over his vodka consumption). So he decides to escape. He climbs out the window in his slippers and embarks on a hilarious and entirely unexpected journey, involving, among other surprises, a suitcase stuffed with cash, some unpleasant criminals, a friendly hot-dog stand operator, and an elephant (not to mention a death by elephant).
It would be the adventure of a lifetime for anyone else, but Allan has a larger-than-life backstory: Not only has he witnessed some of the most important events of the twentieth century, but he has actually played a key role in them. Starting out in munitions as a boy, he somehow finds himself involved in many of the key explosions of the twentieth century and travels the world, sharing meals and more with everyone from Stalin, Churchill, and Truman to Mao, Franco, and de Gaulle. Quirky and utterly unique, " The 100-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared" has charmed readers across the world.
June 2014 Selection: A special 25th anniversary edition of the extraordinary international bestseller, including a new Foreword by Paulo Coelho.
Combining magic, mysticism, wisdom and wonder into an inspiring tale of self-discovery, The Alchemist has become a modern classic, selling millions of copies around the world and transforming the lives of countless readers across generations.
Paulo Coelho's masterpiece tells the mystical story of Santiago, an Andalusian shepherd boy who yearns to travel in search of a worldly treasure. His quest will lead him to riches far different--and far more satisfying--than he ever imagined. Santiago's journey teaches us about the essential wisdom of listening to our hearts, of recognizing opportunity and learning to read the omens strewn along life's path, and, most importantly, to follow our dreams.
May 2014 Selection: In the early 1950s, an eleven-year-old boy in Colombo boards a ship bound for England. At mealtimes he is seated at the "cat's table"--as far from the Captain's Table as can be--with a ragtag group of "insignificant" adults and two other boys, Cassius and Ramadhin. As the ship crosses the Indian Ocean, the boys tumble from one adventure to another, bursting all over the place like freed mercury. But there are other diversions as well: they are first exposed to the magical worlds of jazz, women, and literature by their eccentric fellow travelers, and together they spy on a shackled prisoner, his crime and fate a galvanizing mystery that will haunt them forever. By turns poignant and electrifying, "The Cat's Table" is a spellbinding story about the magical, often forbidden, discoveries of childhood, and a lifelong journey that begins unexpectedly with a spectacular sea voyage.
April 2014 Selection: A Winner of the Alex Award, a finalist for the "Los Angeles Times" Book Prize for First Fiction, named a Best Book of the Year by NPR, "Los Angeles Times," and "San Francisco Chronicle
The Great Recession has shuffled Clay Jannon away from life as a San Francisco web-design drone and into the aisles of Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore. But after a few days on the job, Clay discovers that the store is more curious than either its name or its gnomic owner might suggest. The customers are few, and they never seem to buy anything--instead, they "check out" large, obscure volumes from strange corners of the store. Suspicious, Clay engineers an analysis of the clientele's behavior, seeking help from his variously talented friends. But when they bring their findings to Mr. Penumbra, they discover the bookstore's secrets extend far beyond its walls. Rendered with irresistible brio and dazzling intelligence, Robin Sloan's "Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore" is exactly what it sounds like: an establishment you have to enter and will never want to leave.
March 2014 Selection: Milkman Dead was born shortly after a neighborhood eccentric hurled himself off a rooftop in a vain attempt at flight. For the rest of his life he, too, will be trying to fly. With this brilliantly imagined novel, Toni Morrison transfigures the coming-of-age story as audaciously as Saul Bellow or Gabriel Garci a Ma rquez. As she follows Milkman from his rustbelt city to the place of his family's origins, Morrison introduces an entire cast of strivers and seeresses, liars and assassins, the inhabitants of a fully realized black world.
February 2014 Selection: This stunning and elegiac novel by the author of the internationally acclaimed Wind-Up Bird Chronicle has sold over 4 million copies in Japan and is now available to American audiences for the first time. It is sure to be a literary event.
Toru, a quiet and preternaturally serious young college student in Tokyo, is devoted to Naoko, a beautiful and introspective young woman, but their mutual passion is marked by the tragic death of their best friend years before. Toru begins to adapt to campus life and the loneliness and isolation he faces there, but Naoko finds the pressures and responsibilities of life unbearable. As she retreats further into her own world, Toru finds himself reaching out to others and drawn to a fiercely independent and sexually liberated young woman.
A poignant story of one college student's romantic coming-of-age, Norwegian Wood takes us to that distant place of a young man's first, hopeless, and heroic love.
January 2014 Selection: "What if your life was upended in an instant? What if your spouse or your child disappeared right in front of your eyes? Was it the Rapture or something even more difficult to explain? How would you rebuild your life in the wake of such a devastating event? These are the questions confronting the bewildered citizens of Mapleton, a formerly comfortable suburban community that lost over a hundred people in the Sudden Departure. Kevin Garvey, the new mayor, wants to move forward, to bring a sense of renewed hope and purpose to his traumatized neighbors, even as his own family disintegrates. His wife, Laurie, has left him to enlist in the Guilty Remnant, a homegrown cult whose members take a vow of silence but haunt the town's streets as "living reminders" of God's judgment. His son, Tom, is gone, too, dropping out of college to follow a crooked "prophet" who calls himself Holy Wayne. Only his teenaged daughter, Jill, remains, and she's definitely not the sweet "A" student she used to be.
Through the prism of a single family, Perrotta illuminates a familiar America made strange by grief and apocalyptic anxiety. "The Leftovers "is a powerful and deeply moving book about regular people struggling to hold onto a belief in their futures.
November 2013 Selection: Winner of the 2011 National Book Award A hurricane is building over the Gulf of Mexico, threatening the coastal town of Bois Sauvage, Mississippi, and Esch's father is growing concerned. A hard drinker, largely absent, he doesn't show concern for much else. Esch and her three brothers are stocking food, but there isn't much to save. Lately, Esch can't keep down what food she gets; she's fourteen and pregnant. Her brother Skeetah is sneaking scraps for his prized pitbull's new litter, dying one by one in the dirt. Meanwhile, brothers Randall and Junior try to stake their claim in a family long on child's play and short on parenting.As the twelve days that make up the novel's framework yield to their dramatic conclusion, this unforgettable family-motherless children sacrificing for one another as they can, protecting and nurturing where love is scarce-pulls itself up to face another day. A big-hearted novel about familial love and community against all odds, and a wrenching look at the lonesome, brutal, and restrictive realities of rural poverty, "Salvage the Bones" is muscled with poetry, revelatory, and real.
August 2013 Selection: This exquisite, resonant novel by PEN/Faulkner winner James Salter is a brilliant portrait of a marriage by a contemporary American master. It is the story of Nedra and Viri, whose favored life is centered around dinners, ingenious games with their children, enviable friends, and near-perfect days passed skating on a frozen river or sunning on the beach. But even as he lingers over the surface of their marriage, Salter lets us see the fine cracks that are spreading through it, flaws that will eventually mar the lovely picture beyond repair. Seductive, witty, and elegantly nuanced, "Light Years" is a classic novel of an entire generation that discovered the limits of its own happiness--and then felt compelled to destroy it.