Staff Favorites List
Each of these titles is personally recommended by one of our Brilliant Booksellers. The list features both newly published and older books for readers of all ages and draws from a wide array of writers, styles, and genres, making for a list as eclectic and unique as our Brilliant customers. Find past lists in our Staff Favorites Archive.
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A powerful, thought-provoking memoir from an author who writes with beauty and grace, exposing the reader to her insecurities and vulnerabilities as well as her strengths and courage. Her passion for all things wild and her deep,unwavering love of the natural world and the creatures within it shapes her narrative and her writing. As a reader, she invites you to spend time on her ranch in the Colorado mountains, experiencing it in all seasons. You see the beauty of place through her eyes and how owning that ranch helped her to find herself, her voice, and her story. Pam feels like a kindred spirit to me and Deep Creek is a beautiful narrative of the human spirit.
Little bites of speculative fiction are such a treat, and this batch from John Lanchester mixes some interesting ideas. In one story, an unimaginative academic finds himself the victim of a digital vampire. In another, reality show contestants spend their days calculating every move and gesture for an audience that may not actually exist. It's a good blend of typical horror and digital disconnect--there's often a faint sense of satire to the stories, which makes them that much more unnerving, as if there's a punch line that never quite comes. A quick read and a good one.
Red, White, and Royal Blue fans rejoice, Casey McQuiston is back and better than ever! This book has everything I wanted and more. We've got time warps, we've got a found family dynamic, we've got a diner to save, and, of course, we've got Casey's delightfully funny writing style. What more is there to ask for? If you're looking for a fun sapphic rom-com with a bit of a sci-fi twist, this book is a fantastic way to kick off your summer.
Nobel Prize winner Kahneman's 2011 masterwork Thinking, Fast and Slow is enjoying a well deserved renaissance on the bestseller lists. He explains the two ways we think: first swiftly and intuitively, from the gut, and second more analytically and with consideration. It turns out humans are very good at making bad decisions. We allow emotions and preconceived values to triumph over consideration and logic. When read with Gladwell’s Blink one comes to understand why, as Gladwell puts it, unless you have the 10,000 hours of training and experience to decide in a blink, it's probably best to slow down and think.
In a world where super heroes and super villains are commonplace, there are some very interesting opportunities for employment. For example: henching, or signing on to handle basic (and usually boring) tasks for your local villain--think data entry. But when Anna's employer is brought down by the hero Supercollider and she's badly hurt in the process, she starts to wonder what the difference is between the good guys and the bad guys. If you've ever watched a superhero movie and wondered who's going to pay for all the damage after the baddies are beaten, this is a book you will enjoy. Anna's dry humor and astute understanding of human nature makes her a delightful narrator--and Alex McKenna, who performs the audiobook, does a superb job of bringing her to life.
Bro! This is not your English teacher's Beowulf. Maria Dahvana Headley's "radical new translation" takes the familiar story of man versus monster and turns it into something both completely new and also as timeless as the original. What happens when Beowulf is less hero and more party boy? Or when Grendel's mother isn't a monster but just a woman trying to avenge her son? Get it from libro.fm to experience this epic oral tale as it was meant to be (smoky mead hall sold separately).
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.
It has been a long, long time since I found a fantasy book I enjoyed as much as this one. It blends real history with magical elements so seamlessly it's stunning. The characters are complex, as are the politics they're navigating, and it's fascinating to see the currents under the surface that push them in different directions. As usual, I enjoyed this one in audio (Andrew Kingston does a superb job of handling accents from across Britain, as well as the continent and beyond), and it was such a fantastic story that as soon as I'd finished it, I listened to the whole thing again. Can't wait for the sequel!
A biography of the most famous musician you've never heard of. In 1968 Wendy Carlos redefined the entire face of music with a Moog synthesizer. She won three Grammy Awards for her album "Switched on Bach", composed the film scores for "A Clockwork Orange" and "The Shining", and has even worked with Weird Al!
Middlegame is the kind of book that I thinks works best if you don’t know much going into it. All I knew was that it involved a set of twins named Roger and Dodger, (yes, it’s ridiculous) who may or may not be human, an alchemist on a power trip, and a quest for immortality, and WOW I was blown away. This is definitely not going to be the book for everyone, but if you want something strange, immersive, and filled to the brim with excellent villains and dynamic protagonists, this is a perfect place to start.
Reading "A Sand Book" is a vivid, intense experience, like watching a poet run down a staircase of knives while holding a full glass of water and not spilling a drop; she leaves bloody footprints on your mind/heart/body. Ariana's style is both intimate and free flowing, drawing you into her landscape so she can whisper all of her secrets into your ear.
"Bring me my gold
My serpent my rod
Pour hot gold into my teeth
Bind my silver tongue
Soak it in soft white gold
And unbind my tongue Jupiter
And loose it on the world"
This is probably the most introspective and thought provoking thriller I've ever come across. On the surface, it's a book about Evelyn Caldwell, genius scientist who's perfected human cloning, and her husband, Nathan, who's used her methods to create a clone of Evelyn--with a few tweaks to make her his ideal woman. There's plenty of secrecy, tension, and high stakes, but there are also questions I hadn't been expecting to consider in a thriller: is there a difference between a human and a person? What truly defines us, and can that every really be recreated? The audiobook, narrated by Xe Sands, sets the mood for this kind of thought experiment with understated, almost distant narration that's perfect for the clinical persona that Evelyn has constructed for herself.
Fernanda Melcho explores how society exploits its most vulnerable in this English-language debut. The Witch is dead: murdered. As the citizens of La Matosa investigate, the lines between myth and reality begin to blur rumors and suspicion spread. Prejudiced narrators, a complete lack of paragraph breaks, and prose that swirls like the titular storm mark this as one not to miss.
Not only is The Repeater Book of the Occult a collection of classic horror stories, but it is also a reflection on the philosophy of horror itself. The authors represented range from Mark Twain to Edgar Allen Poe to Charlotte Perkins Gillman, and each story has a new critical introduction from the Repeater author who chose it.
In this alternate-history novella Brooke Bolander answers the question no one ever asked: what if the Radium Girls had been elephants instead of people?
This should be required reading for any anxious person in 2021. Whether it’s doomscrolling on Twitter, watching other people’s highlight reels on Instagram, the creeping dread of your email inbox, or the constant inundation with news headlines that’s stressing you out, Matt Haig’s lighthearted and authentic approach to mental health will, if nothing else, make you feel seen.