Staff Pick

Alexander the Great has captured the imagination of history like few others have: Julius Caesar is said to have wept before a statue of this Macedonian king. Pompey allegedly wore a cloak that once belonged to this legendary general. Despite the fascination, questions still remain about who Alexander was, how he was able to achieve what he did, and, most importantly, the nature of his sudden demise. Anthony Everitt provides answers to these questions in his excellent new biography Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death (Random House, $30). Despite the immense scholarship surrounding Alexander, Everitt succeeds in providing a new and full portrait of the legendary figure. At the core of this remarkable book is the author’s stated goal of interpreting Alexander not through a modern lens, but through that of Alexander’s own time—providing insight into how the events of his life were viewed as they unfolded. What emerges is an eminently readable and compelling biography that captures the character of the man himself.

Alexander the Great: His Life and His Mysterious Death Cover Image
ISBN: 9780425286524
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Random House - August 27th, 2019

Staff Pick

Judging from the title, the premise of Jenny Odell’s How to Do Nothing (Melville House, $25.99) might seem straightforward. After all, doing nothing seems easy. Images likely flashed through your mind of a lazy day spent reading a book (this bookseller hopes) while putting off your chores until tomorrow. What Odell proposes, however, is a radical reorientation and reclamation of an important human trait: our ability to pay attention. Odell skillfully peels back the veil on what she calls “the attention economy” to show that while seemingly benign, the ultimate purpose of this economy is the monopolization of our attention for its own gain. In the process, our connection with the physical world is diminished. As fundamentally embodied beings, Odell demonstrates that our greatest chance for happiness occurs when we engage directly with each other and with our surroundings. For this to happen people need time and space to cultivate an awareness of the world around them. They need to be able to, seemingly, “do nothing." Odell’s book is not an angry screed railing against the evils of modern society and media. Ultimately, it is a compassionate and hopeful guide on how we can best care for ourselves, each other, and the planet.

How to Do Nothing: Resisting the Attention Economy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781612197494
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Published: Melville House - April 9th, 2019

Staff Pick

With her debut novel, Disappearing Earth (Knopf, $26.95), Julia Phillips shows she is an author to watch. With a surprising ease and deftness, Phillips transports the reader to the rugged and frozen terrain of the Kamchatka Peninsula in northeastern Russia. One August afternoon the Golosovsky sisters, age eight and ten, go missing. Each beautifully written chapter of the ensuing story takes place over the course of one month during the year after their disappearance. This story is not your usual mystery thriller. It is instead an examination of the ripples, at times barely noticeable, a tragedy can leave on a seemingly tranquil community. Each chapter is told from the point of view of a woman, most of whom don’t have a deep connection to the Golosovsky family. Yet each has been touched by this mystery in however small a way. As each woman’s story unfolds, Phillips reminds us that with every ripple there is a preceding point of impact. While the sisters’ disappearance contributes, Phillips shows that the real impact comes from the realities of life women face on the Kamchatka Peninsula: violence, betrayal, discrimination, mistrust, poverty, and physical hardship form the true tragedy here. This is an amazing story that will leave you yearning for more.

Disappearing Earth: A novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525520412
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Knopf - May 14th, 2019