Meet Rachel

Rachel Sang is our Store Manager and director of our children's department.  That means that in addition to keeping everything running smoothly for the booksellers, she's the one choosing books for each of our Picture Book, Chapter Book, Middle Grade, and Young Adult Brilliant Books Monthly subscribers.  If you can't find her on the bookstore floor chatting about her latest staff favorite or an awesome upcoming kids' book, she's probably in the window, working on our next fantastic display!

Learn more about how she chooses books our young Brilliant Books Monthly subscribers!


Tell us a little about yourself.

I am a nature loving, art making, fly fishing mother of two children and two furry canines. When I'm not a work, it's likely I'm outside somewhere maybe working on a garden, walking dogs in the woods, or bike riding with my family. I'm happiest when I'm making things, whether it be art or a really good meal. If I've met you, I've probably told you I used to live in Montana. Everyone should live somewhere else for a while. I miss the mountains, but family brought us back to Michigan and the big lakes.


What's the quirkiest job you've ever had?

Not necessarily quirky, but awesome --  In Montana, we lived outside Yellowstone National Park where I worked at a fly shop and had the opportunity to guide fly fishing trips. In the winter, I worked for a snowmobile tour company that guided over snow tours of Yellowstone. Bison, geysers, wolves and so much snow!


What are the top five most interesting things about you?

I don't know about interesting, but here are five things:

  • I fly fish.
  • I make art and have had the chance to make posters for some great bands. Art and music were once a huge part of my life. I lived in Kalamazoo for many years and was part of an arts/music/coffee shop collective called the Space. Here at Brilliant Books, I get to use some of those skills making window displays, so much fun!
  • I cook really good food but rarely use recipes.
  • I've dabbled in homesteading, but we gave it up to live in town, because spending so much time in the car commuting was for the birds.
  • On birds, I can identify many of them.


Tell us about meeting a favorite author, or avoiding one!

I once ate continental breakfast in the same room as Jim Harrison. I didn't say anything -- who wants to talk to some stranger while eating rubbery scrambled eggs?


If you weren't a bookseller, what would you be doing instead?

In an ideal world, I'd be at home, making art in my art studio to support my family as a successful artist. I'd also like being a park ranger.


If you could invite five people, real or fictional, living or dead, for dinner, whom would you invite?

Kurt Vonnegut

Frida Kahlo

John Muir

David Lynch

Sir David Attenborough

That's today's list, I'm sure it would be different tomorrow.


(Some of) Rachel's Staff Picks:

Staff Pick Badge
The Cartographers: A Novel By Peng Shepherd Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062910691
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: William Morrow - March 15th, 2022

Do you like maps?  and libraries...and just a touch of magic?  Then this is the book for you!  Nell Young is from a family of cartographers but has been pushed out of the elite world of the New York Public Library by her own father after she discovered an old 1930s highway map that is not what it seems.  Nell digs deeper following an unexplainable murder and learns more about her family and her own history.  This book was exciting and fascinating.  I really enjoyed thinking about maps and how they help define our idea of space and time.  A great read for anyone that appreciates magical realism our a more thoughtful page turner.  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
Nightbitch: A Novel By Rachel Yoder Cover Image
ISBN: 9780593312148
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Anchor - July 5th, 2022

This book came to me as a recommendation from a fellow parent and artist and I am so glad! Rachel Yoder's book is about a mother and artist, in the depths of raising a small child, that believes she is turning into a dog. It is darkly funny and weird, an exploration of art, mothering and embracing all of it where you are. At the same time, Yoder satirically examines societal norms put on motherhood and those mothers put on themselves. As a mother and artist myself, I found this deeply relatable and found myself laughing at the absurdity of it all.  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
The Hurting Kind By Ada Limón Cover Image
ISBN: 9781639550494
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - May 10th, 2022

I brought this book with me on a family trip to the Upper Peninsula and would pick up up in quiet moments sitting by the lake.  It was perfect, beautifully written quiet observations of nature, deeply connected and moving. —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
Paradise Sands: A Story of Enchantment By Levi Pinfold, Levi Pinfold (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Levi Pinfold, Levi Pinfold (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781536212822
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick Studio - November 8th, 2022

Our booksellers were all in awe of this beautifully illustrated book.  It has this dusty dark color palette and reading it feels like you’re in a slightly spooky dream.  Definitely a great one for adult lovers of picture books.  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
Skandar and the Unicorn Thief By A.F. Steadman Cover Image
ISBN: 9781665912730
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - May 3rd, 2022

A magic school, dangerous unicorns and a ton of exciting adventure, what else do you need?  My 12 year old agrees — it’s fantastic and one of his all time favorite books.  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
Owls of the Eastern Ice: A Quest to Find and Save the World's Largest Owl By Jonathan C. Slaght Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780374228484
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 4th, 2020

This was just the kind of escape I needed: an epic adventure in a wild place and conservation story wrapped up in a skillfully crafted narrative. Jonathon Slaght engagingly tells the story of his PhD research project, tracking the Blakiston's Fish Owl in the wild reaches of eastern Russia. The world's largest owl, fish owls are super elusive, feeding on salmon in remote Russia, sharing its habitat with Amur tigers and humans trying to get by in extremely harsh circumstances. The owls haunt the pages, mostly unseen as Slaght and his team track them on snowmobile trips over treacherous ice and terrain. Encounters with the locals along the way add another layer to this conservation story. This is a go-to for birders, conservationists, and nature writing fans. —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
Migrations: A Novel By Charlotte McConaghy Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250204028
Availability: Backordered
Published: Flatiron Books - August 4th, 2020

Apparently I have a theme going with extinction and loss. Migrations appealed to the bird lover in me chronicling the migration of the last pair of arctic terns and a woman trying to reconcile her past as she tracks their final journey. Heartbreaking, gorgeous and also hopeful.  —Rachel

The Time of Green Magic By Hilary McKay Cover Image
ISBN: 9781534462779
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Margaret K. McElderry Books - July 6th, 2021

Hilary McKay's books are lovely to read, magical while navigating issues of trust and friendship. A mysterious house, a family tale and magical creatures make this book engaging for many kinds of readers.  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
An Inventory of Losses By Judith Schalansky, Jackie Smith (Translated by) Cover Image
By Judith Schalansky, Jackie Smith (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811229630
Availability: Out of Print - Sorry
Published: New Directions - December 8th, 2020

This is such a beauty of a book. Told through 12 different stories, Schalansky recounts lost places, animals, and things that only live on through memory and word. I thought this was a really thoughtful read at this time when we are feeling so much loss in our day to day -- it was nice to think about how we remember things and the role of storytelling in creating memory.  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
Skunk and Badger (Skunk and Badger 1) By Amy Timberlake, Jon Klassen (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Amy Timberlake, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781643750057
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Young Readers - September 15th, 2020

Skunk and Badger best compares to Frog and Toad, a curmudgeonly rock collecting badger and sweetly pleasant skunk brought together by a shared housing arrangement that Badger is not so sure about. I read this aloud with my family, and we all loved it, humorous, but also thoughtful. Bonus illustrations from Jon Klassen really put this book over the top!  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
Vesper Flights By Helen MacDonald Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802128812
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Grove Press - August 25th, 2020

Helen Mcdonald, author of  H is for Hawk, introduces her latest essay collection by describing the idea of Cabinets of Curiosities or Wunderkammer -- curated and eclectic collections of objects, often from the natural world that would represent their creators interests and fascinations. This does aptly describe her essays collected here, reflections on a lifetime of obsession with nature, animals and the human relationship to the world around us. At once sad and lovely, Mcdonald's essays are reflective but also encourage humans to look outside ourselves in our engagement with nature.  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
First, Catch: Study of a Spring Meal By Thom Eagle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802148223
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Grove Press - March 10th, 2020

A thoughtful meander through an early spring meal, this one made me excited for spring and the changing of the seasons. Thom Eagle, British chef and food writer, walks you through the making of a spring menu reading partially like a cookbook without recipes and  mainly as a meditation on the process of planning and preparing food -- thinking deeply on the ingredients we use and the things we often put little thought into, like salting, the water we cook with and how we source our food.  Fans of Alice Water and Samin Nosrat will enjoy this one, and may find some inspiration to spend time cooking  a lovely meal.  —Rachel

Staff Pick Badge
Dead Astronauts: A Novel By Jeff VanderMeer Cover Image
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9780374276805
Published: MCD - December 3rd, 2019

Set in the same world as his earlier works, Borne and Strange Bird, Jeff Vandermeer has continued to impress with his strange universe of conscious creatures existing in perilous post-apocalyptic circumstances. Taking place in a wild and dangerous landscape called the City which has been destroyed by the Company and overseen by a mysterious blue fox, three companions embark on an exploration of this destroyed world. Told from varied points of view, some human, some not, we as readers get to explore too. This novel can can be read independently, although those that have read Borne will enjoy the development of familiar elements. —Rachel