1. Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto

Steve Almond

In a searing manifesto sure to enrage at least half the nation, New York Times bestselling author Steve Almond takes on America’s biggest sacred cow: football

On any given Sunday, football functions more like a national religion than a sport.

But simply put: the game isn’t good for us. Medical research confirms what the grim headlines keep reporting: football causes brain damage. Beloved Hall of Famers are now suffering from dementia, and taking their own lives. Children and teenagers are susceptible to the same sorts of injuries with the same long-term results.

But football’s psychological and economic hazards—though more subtle—are just as profound.

In Against Football, Steve Almond details why, after forty years as a fan, he can no longer watch the game he still loves. Using a synthesis of memoir, reportage, and cultural critique, Almond asks a series of provocative questions:
 
• What does it mean that our society has transmuted the intuitive physical joys of childhood—run, leap, throw, tackle—into a billion-dollar industry?
• How did a sport that causes brain damage become the leading signifier of our institutions of higher learning?
• Does our addiction to football foster a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia?

There has never been a book that exposes the dark underside of America’s favorite game with such searing candor.

    Against Football: One Fan’s Reluctant Manifesto

    Steve Almond

    In a searing manifesto sure to enrage at least half the nation, New York Times bestselling author Steve Almond takes on America’s biggest sacred cow: football

    On any given Sunday, football functions more like a national religion than a sport.

    But simply put: the game isn’t good for us. Medical research confirms what the grim headlines keep reporting: football causes brain damage. Beloved Hall of Famers are now suffering from dementia, and taking their own lives. Children and teenagers are susceptible to the same sorts of injuries with the same long-term results.

    But football’s psychological and economic hazards—though more subtle—are just as profound.

    In Against Football, Steve Almond details why, after forty years as a fan, he can no longer watch the game he still loves. Using a synthesis of memoir, reportage, and cultural critique, Almond asks a series of provocative questions:
     
    • What does it mean that our society has transmuted the intuitive physical joys of childhood—run, leap, throw, tackle—into a billion-dollar industry?
    • How did a sport that causes brain damage become the leading signifier of our institutions of higher learning?
    • Does our addiction to football foster a tolerance for violence, greed, racism, and homophobia?

    There has never been a book that exposes the dark underside of America’s favorite game with such searing candor.

  2. Tenth of December: Stories

George Saunders

NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

*NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY*
***People • The New York Times Magazine • NPR • *Entertainment Weekly • New York • BuzzFeed • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage • Shelf Awareness

Includes an extended conversation with David Sedaris**

One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.
 
In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill—the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.
 
Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.
 
Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
**
“The best book you’ll read this year.”**—*The New York Times Magazine*
“A feat of inventiveness … This eclectic collection never ceases to delight with its at times absurd, surreal, and darkly humorous look at very serious subjects… . George Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time.”—Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner
“The best short-story writer in English—not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the Best.”—Mary Karr, Time **
“A visceral and moving act of storytelling … No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.”—Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times*
*** 
“Saunders’s startling, dreamlike stories leave you feeling newly awakened to the world.”—People
** ** GEORGE SAUNDERS WAS NAMED ONE OF THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BY TIME MAGAZINE

    Tenth of December: Stories

    George Saunders

    NATIONAL BOOK AWARD FINALIST • NAMED ONE OF THE TEN BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY THE NEW YORK TIMES BOOK REVIEW

    *NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY*
    ***People • The New York Times Magazine • NPR • *Entertainment Weekly • New York • BuzzFeed • Kirkus Reviews • BookPage • Shelf Awareness

    Includes an extended conversation with David Sedaris**

    One of the most important and blazingly original writers of his generation, George Saunders is an undisputed master of the short story, and Tenth of December is his most honest, accessible, and moving collection yet.
     
    In the taut opener, “Victory Lap,” a boy witnesses the attempted abduction of the girl next door and is faced with a harrowing choice: Does he ignore what he sees, or override years of smothering advice from his parents and act? In “Home,” a combat-damaged soldier moves back in with his mother and struggles to reconcile the world he left with the one to which he has returned. And in the title story, a stunning meditation on imagination, memory, and loss, a middle-aged cancer patient walks into the woods to commit suicide, only to encounter a troubled young boy who, over the course of a fateful morning, gives the dying man a final chance to recall who he really is. A hapless, deluded owner of an antiques store; two mothers struggling to do the right thing; a teenage girl whose idealism is challenged by a brutal brush with reality; a man tormented by a series of pharmaceutical experiments that force him to lust, to love, to kill—the unforgettable characters that populate the pages of Tenth of December are vividly and lovingly infused with Saunders’s signature blend of exuberant prose, deep humanity, and stylistic innovation.
     
    Writing brilliantly and profoundly about class, sex, love, loss, work, despair, and war, Saunders cuts to the core of the contemporary experience. These stories take on the big questions and explore the fault lines of our own morality, delving into the questions of what makes us good and what makes us human.
     
    Unsettling, insightful, and hilarious, the stories in Tenth of December—through their manic energy, their focus on what is redeemable in human beings, and their generosity of spirit—not only entertain and delight; they fulfill Chekhov’s dictum that art should “prepare us for tenderness.”

    NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER
    **
    “The best book you’ll read this year.”**—*The New York Times Magazine
    *

    “A feat of inventiveness … This eclectic collection never ceases to delight with its at times absurd, surreal, and darkly humorous look at very serious subjects… . George Saunders makes you feel as though you are reading fiction for the first time.”—Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner

    “The best short-story writer in English—not ‘one of,’ not ‘arguably,’ but the Best.”—Mary Karr, Time **

    “A visceral and moving act of storytelling … No one writes more powerfully than George Saunders about the lost, the unlucky, the disenfranchised.”
    —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times*
    *** 

    “Saunders’s startling, dreamlike stories leave you feeling newly awakened to the world.”People
    ** ** 

    GEORGE SAUNDERS WAS NAMED ONE OF THE 100 MOST INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE IN THE WORLD BY TIME MAGAZINE

  3. Madame Bovary

Gustave Flaubert

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

    Madame Bovary

    Gustave Flaubert

    Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert

  4. The Grapes of Wrath

John Steinbeck


  The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers. First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads-driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity. A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America.  The Grapes of Wrath summed up its era in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin summed up the years of slavery before the Civil War. Sensitive to fascist and communist criticism, Steinbeck insisted that “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” be printed in its entirety in the first edition of the book—which takes its title from the first verse: “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics. This edition contains an introduction and notes by Steinbeck scholar Robert Demott.

    The Grapes of Wrath

    John Steinbeck

    The Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression, a book that galvanized—and sometimes outraged—millions of readers.

    First published in 1939, Steinbeck’s Pulitzer Prize-winning epic of the Great Depression chronicles the Dust Bowl migration of the 1930s and tells the story of one Oklahoma farm family, the Joads-driven from their homestead and forced to travel west to the promised land of California. Out of their trials and their repeated collisions against the hard realities of an America divided into Haves and Have-Nots evolves a drama that is intensely human yet majestic in its scale and moral vision, elemental yet plainspoken, tragic but ultimately stirring in its human dignity.

    A portrait of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, of one man’s fierce reaction to injustice, and of one woman’s stoical strength, the novel captures the horrors of the Great Depression and probes into the very nature of equality and justice in America.
     
    The Grapes of Wrath summed up its era in the way that Uncle Tom’s Cabin summed up the years of slavery before the Civil War. Sensitive to fascist and communist criticism, Steinbeck insisted that “The Battle Hymn of the Republic” be printed in its entirety in the first edition of the book—which takes its title from the first verse: “He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored.” At once a naturalistic epic, captivity narrative, road novel, and transcendental gospel, Steinbeck’s powerful landmark novel is perhaps the most American of American Classics.

    This edition contains an introduction and notes by Steinbeck scholar Robert Demott.
  5. You Shall Know Our Velocity

Dave Eggers

In his first novel, Dave Eggers has written a moving and hilarious tale of two friends who fly around the world trying to give away a lot of money and free themselves from a profound loss. It reminds us once again what an important, necessary talent Dave Eggers is.

    You Shall Know Our Velocity

    Dave Eggers

    In his first novel, Dave Eggers has written a moving and hilarious tale of two friends who fly around the world trying to give away a lot of money and free themselves from a profound loss. It reminds us once again what an important, necessary talent Dave Eggers is.

  6. Native Son (Perennial Classics)

Richard Wright

Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

    Native Son (Perennial Classics)

    Richard Wright

    Right from the start, Bigger Thomas had been headed for jail. It could have been for assault or petty larceny; by chance, it was for murder and rape. Native Son tells the story of this young black man caught in a downward spiral after he kills a young white woman in a brief moment of panic. Set in Chicago in the 1930s, Wright’s powerful novel is an unsparing reflection on the poverty and feelings of hopelessness experienced by people in inner cities across the country and of what it means to be black in America.

  7. July’s People

Nadine Gordimer


  Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature For years, it had been what is called a “deteriorating situation.” Now all over South Africa the cities are battlegrounds. The members of the Smales family—liberal whites—are rescued from the terror by their servant, July, who leads them to refuge in his village. What happens to the Smaleses and to July—the shifts in character and relationships—gives us an unforgettable look into the terrifying, tacit understandings and misunderstandings between blacks and whites.

    July’s People

    Nadine Gordimer

    Winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature

    For years, it had been what is called a “deteriorating situation.” Now all over South Africa the cities are battlegrounds. The members of the Smales family—liberal whites—are rescued from the terror by their servant, July, who leads them to refuge in his village. What happens to the Smaleses and to July—the shifts in character and relationships—gives us an unforgettable look into the terrifying, tacit understandings and misunderstandings between blacks and whites.
  8. Collected Stories of Carson McCullers, including The Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

Carson McCullers


  Carson McCullers—novelist, dramatist, poet—was at the peak of her powers as a writer of short fiction. Here are nineteen stories that explore her signature themes: wounded adolescence, loneliness in marriage, and the tragicomedy of life in the South. Here too are “The Member of the Wedding” and “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe,” novellas that Tennessee Williams judged to be “assuredly among the masterpieces of our language.” (A Mariner Reissue)

    Collected Stories of Carson McCullers, including The Member of the Wedding and The Ballad of the Sad Cafe

    Carson McCullers

    Carson McCullers—novelist, dramatist, poet—was at the peak of her powers as a writer of short fiction. Here are nineteen stories that explore her signature themes: wounded adolescence, loneliness in marriage, and the tragicomedy of life in the South. Here too are “The Member of the Wedding” and “The Ballad of the Sad Cafe,” novellas that Tennessee Williams judged to be “assuredly among the masterpieces of our language.” (A Mariner Reissue)
  9. The Poetics of Space

Gaston Bachelard

Thirty years since its first publication in English, French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s *The Poetics of Space *one of the most appealing and lyrical explorations of home. Bachelard takes us on a journey, from cellar to attic, to show how our perceptions of houses and other shelters shape our thoughts, memories, and dreams.

    The Poetics of Space

    Gaston Bachelard

    Thirty years since its first publication in English, French philosopher Gaston Bachelard’s *The Poetics of Space *one of the most appealing and lyrical explorations of home. Bachelard takes us on a journey, from cellar to attic, to show how our perceptions of houses and other shelters shape our thoughts, memories, and dreams.

  10. Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are with What We Buy

Tom Beaudoin

Tom Beaudoin’s Consuming Faith presents key questions about attempting to put our spirituality into practice by integrating who we are with what we buy Where do these products come from? Who made them and in what conditions do they work? How does what I buy affect others? What does my faith have to do with what I buy? When is enough, enough? Today, it is more important than ever to pay attention to our economic spirituality. Visit our website for sample chapters!

    Consuming Faith: Integrating Who We Are with What We Buy

    Tom Beaudoin

    Tom Beaudoin’s Consuming Faith presents key questions about attempting to put our spirituality into practice by integrating who we are with what we buy Where do these products come from? Who made them and in what conditions do they work? How does what I buy affect others? What does my faith have to do with what I buy? When is enough, enough? Today, it is more important than ever to pay attention to our economic spirituality. Visit our website for sample chapters!

  11. Bleak House (Penguin Classics)

Charles  Dickens


  Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done. Bleak House, in its atmosphere, symbolism and magnificent bleak comedy, is often regarded as the best of Dickens. A ‘great Victorian novel’, it is so inventive in its competing plots and styles that it eludes interpretation.

    Bleak House (Penguin Classics)

    Charles Dickens

    Bleak House opens in the twilight of foggy London, where fog grips the city most densely in the Court of Chancery. The obscure case of Jarndyce and Jarndyce, in which an inheritance is gradually devoured by legal costs, the romance of Esther Summerson and the secrets of her origin, the sleuthing of Detective Inspector Bucket and the fate of Jo the crossing-sweeper, these are some of the lives Dickens invokes to portray London society, rich and poor, as no other novelist has done. Bleak House, in its atmosphere, symbolism and magnificent bleak comedy, is often regarded as the best of Dickens. A ‘great Victorian novel’, it is so inventive in its competing plots and styles that it eludes interpretation.
  12. The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays

W. H. Auden

In this volume, W. H. Auden assembled, edited, and arranged the best of his prose writing, including the famous lectures he delivered as Oxford Professor of Poetry.  The result is less a formal collection of essays than an extended and linked series of observations—on poetry, art, and the observation of life in general.  The Dyer’s Hand is a surprisingly personal, intimate view of the author’s mind, whose central focus is poetry—Shakespearean poetry in particular—but whose province is the author’s whole experience of the twentieth century.

    The Dyer’s Hand and Other Essays

    W. H. Auden

    In this volume, W. H. Auden assembled, edited, and arranged the best of his prose writing, including the famous lectures he delivered as Oxford Professor of Poetry.  The result is less a formal collection of essays than an extended and linked series of observations—on poetry, art, and the observation of life in general.  The Dyer’s Hand is a surprisingly personal, intimate view of the author’s mind, whose central focus is poetry—Shakespearean poetry in particular—but whose province is the author’s whole experience of the twentieth century.

  13. The Significance of Religious Experience

Howard Wettstein

The loud debate between the New Atheists and defenders of traditional religion is beside the point for Howard Wettstein, in this plainly written, original study of the foundations of religious commitment. Wettstein sees religion—and specifically his own Jewish tradition—in a way that is at once new and Biblical. Wettstein is interested in the big questions. Among those in focus here: What is the role of religious experience in making sense of religious faith? What is the place of doctrine in the life of faith? How does the Bible’s concept of faith (*emunah) *differ from the philosopher’s notion of belief?


  
  
  
  
    Wettstein offers an original approach to these questions. And he provides new perspective on a variety of central topics: the nature of awe and its place at the heart of religious life; ritual; problems of evil and suffering, with special attention to the Book of Job and to the Akedah, the biblical story of the binding of Isaac; and the virtue of forgiveness. One of the book’s highlights is its literary (as opposed to philosophical) approach to theology that at the same time makes room for philosophical exploration of religion. Another is Wettstein’s rejection of the usual picture that sees religious life as sitting atop a distinctive metaphysical foundation, one that stands in need of epistemological justification.

    The Significance of Religious Experience

    Howard Wettstein

    The loud debate between the New Atheists and defenders of traditional religion is beside the point for Howard Wettstein, in this plainly written, original study of the foundations of religious commitment. Wettstein sees religion—and specifically his own Jewish tradition—in a way that is at once new and Biblical. Wettstein is interested in the big questions. Among those in focus here: What is the role of religious experience in making sense of religious faith? What is the place of doctrine in the life of faith? How does the Bible’s concept of faith (*emunah) *differ from the philosopher’s notion of belief?


    Wettstein offers an original approach to these questions. And he provides new perspective on a variety of central topics: the nature of awe and its place at the heart of religious life; ritual; problems of evil and suffering, with special attention to the Book of Job and to the Akedah, the biblical story of the binding of Isaac; and the virtue of forgiveness. One of the book’s highlights is its literary (as opposed to philosophical) approach to theology that at the same time makes room for philosophical exploration of religion. Another is Wettstein’s rejection of the usual picture that sees religious life as sitting atop a distinctive metaphysical foundation, one that stands in need of epistemological justification.
  14. See Under: LOVE: A Novel

David Grossman


  In this powerful novel by one of Israel’s most prominent writers, Momik, the only child of Holocaust survivors, grows up in the shadow of his parents’ history. Determined to exorcise the Nazi “beast” from their shattered lives and prepare for a second holocaust he knows is coming, Momik increasingly shields himself from all feeling and attachment. But through the stories his great-uncle tells him—the same stories he told the commandant of a Nazi concentration camp—Momik, too, becomes “infected with humanity.” Grossman’s masterly fusing of vision, thought, and emotion make See Under: Love a luminously imaginative and profoundly affecting work.

    See Under: LOVE: A Novel

    David Grossman

    In this powerful novel by one of Israel’s most prominent writers, Momik, the only child of Holocaust survivors, grows up in the shadow of his parents’ history. Determined to exorcise the Nazi “beast” from their shattered lives and prepare for a second holocaust he knows is coming, Momik increasingly shields himself from all feeling and attachment. But through the stories his great-uncle tells him—the same stories he told the commandant of a Nazi concentration camp—Momik, too, becomes “infected with humanity.” Grossman’s masterly fusing of vision, thought, and emotion make See Under: Love a luminously imaginative and profoundly affecting work.
  15. The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

Reif Larsen


  Discover The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet for iPad.A boundary-leaping debut tracing a gifted young map maker’s attempt to understand the ways of the world When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T. S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal—if you consider mapping dinner table conversations normal—is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T. S. from his family home just north of Divide, Montana, to the museum’s hallowed halls. There are some answers here on the road from Divide and some new questions, too. How does one map the delicate lessons learned about family or communicate the ebbs and flows of heartbreak, loneliness, and love?

    The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet

    Reif Larsen

    Discover The Selected Works of T. S. Spivet for iPad.

    A boundary-leaping debut tracing a gifted young map maker’s attempt to understand the ways of the world

    When twelve-year-old genius cartographer T. S. Spivet receives an unexpected phone call from the Smithsonian announcing he has won the prestigious Baird Award, life as normal—if you consider mapping dinner table conversations normal—is interrupted and a wild cross-country adventure begins, taking T. S. from his family home just north of Divide, Montana, to the museum’s hallowed halls.

    There are some answers here on the road from Divide and some new questions, too. How does one map the delicate lessons learned about family or communicate the ebbs and flows of heartbreak, loneliness, and love?

Otlet's Shelf theme by Andrew LeClair & Rob Giampietro.