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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Staff Pick Badge
The Other Black Girl: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781982160135
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Atria Books - June 1st, 2021

Billed as "Get Out meets The Devil Wears Prada," this was actually a good deal more of a thriller than I was expecting.  Saying too much will give it all away, so all I will say is read this.  It's fantastic in print, but I particularly enjoyed the audiobook performance, which is narrated by Aja Naomi King, Joniece Abbott-Pratt, Heather Alicia Simms & Bahni Turpin.

- Caitlin


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The Thirty Names of Night: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781982121495
Published: Atria Books - November 24th, 2020

This is a brilliant novel and an intimately beautiful story of love, loss, and art.  It won the 2020 Lambda Literary Award in Transgender Fiction, and for good reason.  Joukhadar's prose is warm and intimate, and his portrayal of queer, Brown lives and bodies is nuanced and achingly lovely.  The Thirty Names of Night tells the interweaving stories of two Syrian-American artists: one a contemporary New Yorker in the shadow of a mother's death, the other a bygone painter most famous for her artwork of birds.  Throughout the novel, these two stories dance around one another like courting birds: sometimes touching, sometimes placing whole continents between their floating, feathery forms.  I cannot recommend this novel enough (or the audiobook, which greatly brightened my commutes to and from Brilliant Books!).

- Leo


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The Names of the Stars: A Life in the Wilds Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9781250139191
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - October 3rd, 2017

As a fan of Indian Creek Chronicles, I was surprised I had missed Pete Fromm's new book when it had come around in hardcover. The Names of the Stars is Fromm, now a father in his mid-forties, returning to a fish egg guarding job similar to the one from his twenties in Indian Creek Chronicles. May and June in the Bob Marshall Wilderness making a 10 mile loop to monitor grayling eggs incubating in a creek. Fromm fills in some back story on his old life as a park ranger, as well as taking us on his rounds through country inhabited by grizzlies and elk. The relationship he has with his young children, and his struggle with both craving solitude and his family are what made the book for me.

- Jack


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Of Human Bondage Cover Image
By W. Somerset Maugham, Robert Calder (Introduction by)
$14.00
ISBN: 9780140185225
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Penguin Classics - March 1st, 1992

Philip Carey, a clubfooted orphan, who is raised by his Vicar uncle and unassuming aunt lives his life on the pages of W. Somerset Maugham's masterpiece.  The setting is early 20th century Europe, mainly Paris and London, and the plot is the first half of his life.  He attempts to make his dreams come true in both work and love and meets with failure on both accounts, but life must go on. This is a truly twisted love story.

- Andrew


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The Dangers of Smoking in Bed: Stories Cover Image
By Mariana Enriquez, Megan McDowell (Translated by)
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593134092
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hogarth - February 1st, 2022

An alluring and haunting short story collection from Argentina that will smear your mind with the scummy film of lost ghosts and the corruption of desire, Mariana Enriquez’s characters live in the darkness of moral ambiguity, a horror of an urban and sociopolitical reality that exists as a presence best left alone. Scared, burned, starved, disappeared, and exploited, no one leaves the room without the Void touching their skin and ravaging their psyche.

- Mike


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Nightbitch: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780385546812
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday - July 20th, 2021

 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


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Monstress Book One Cover Image
By Marjorie Liu, Sana Takeda (Artist)
$49.99
ISBN: 9781534312326
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Image Comics - July 9th, 2019

Monstress is some glorious graphic storytelling. In a world ravaged by war between Humanity and the descendants of gods, young Maika searches for the truth about her traumatic past, but her quest may threaten to unleash an even more devastating threat. This book has everything I love: weird technology, arcane sciences, elder gods, talking cats with swords. The art-style exists in a universe where H.R. Giger had an Art Deco period, but that's selling it short; its absolutely gorgeous. The care in which this world was crafted comes through on every page. I can't wait to see where this story goes.

- Stefen


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Into the Magic Shop: A Neurosurgeon's Quest to Discover the Mysteries of the Brain and the Secrets of the Heart Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780399183645
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Avery - February 14th, 2017

A work of manifestation, Dr. James Doty's life achievements are proof that our brains change when we truly want them to.  This memoir teaches the reader that faith in visualization can bring one's wishes to fruition.  Part magical story and part medical psychology memoir, Doty's writing is as captivating as any book off the mystery shelf.  If you're searching for a meaningful read that is lightweight and life changing, this is it!

- LC


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Black Leopard, Red Wolf (The Dark Star Trilogy #1) Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9780735220171
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 5th, 2019

Vicious, wondrous, and uncompromising in both its prose and its story, this violent fantasy debut of Booker Prize winner Marlon James proves he's out for blood. This is no "African Game of Thrones," its completely its own animal. For readers who want more from their genre fiction, and don't mind grappling with race, religion, and sexuality, this book is for you. 

- Stefen


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A Head Full of Ghosts: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062363244
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - May 10th, 2016

When doctors can't help with Marjorie's schizophrenic behavior the family turns to a Catholic Priest who becomes convinced Marjorie's is under demonic possession. This spirals out of control and next thing the family knows their house is filled with camera men turning their lives in to a television show. Marjorie's younger sister, Merry, retells this story for an interview 14 years later and goes well beyond the scope of the television show. This is a gripping story of psychological horror that's filled with to the brim with suspense.

- Justin


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Such Color: New and Selected Poems Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9781644450673
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - October 5th, 2021

I used to hate poetry and Tracey K. Smith's Life on Mars was the collection to smack me into place. Such Color features the very best of Smith's multifaceted voice plus a brilliant new sequence titled Riot.. A kaleidoscopic collection, "its voice seeps out and off, / Marries with the neighbors', / Makes a kind of American music / That holds everything in place."

- Miracle


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Assembly Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9780316268264
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - September 14th, 2021

If you're looking for a quick read that will stick with you like a popcorn kernel or dream, Assembly is the novella for you. It has the clean prose of an author in control, someone who knows what is necessary for a strong narrative. Not softened but calcified by poetic and precisely emotional moments,  this snapshot of the lived experiences of a successful black British business woman took me a day to consume. I feel as though I will be digesting it for the rest of my life. 

- Miracle


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Four Thousand Weeks: Time Management for Mortals Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780374159122
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - August 10th, 2021

A time management book that eschews the usual slew of tips and tricks encouraging us to squeeze even more from our days.  Instead it challenges us to consider why on earth we would want to do such a thing, when we only have on average 4000 weeks in which to do anything at all.

- Peter


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Noor Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9780756416096
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: DAW - November 16th, 2021

This short novel packs a serious punch.  Growing up, AO relied on cybernetic augmentations to offset the disabilities resulting from severe birth defects.  A car accident later in life forced her to incorporate even more dramatic assistive technologies in order to live life on her own terms, but her implants and prosthetics make her a target for those who believe she is less than human because of them.  Half furious cyberpunk escape story, half dreamy musing the line between technologies that help and those that hurt, this is an un-put-down-able read that lingers long after the final pages.

- Caitlin


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Impact: How Rocks from Space Led to Life, Culture, and Donkey Kong Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780063078925
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - February 1st, 2022

Impact is a sensical gem that reads with fluidity.  Meteoriticist, Greg Brennecka is no stranger to modern pop culture, language and influence, so the common nonscientist will follow along easily.  He uses humorous footnotes and witty quips in his diagrams to keep your attention sharp.  I haven't been this entertained by a history/ science teacher in quite some time.

- LC


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The 1619 Project: A New Origin Story Cover Image
By Nikole Hannah-Jones (Created by), The New York Times Magazine (Created by), Caitlin Roper (Editor), Ilena Silverman (Editor), Jake Silverstein (Editor)
$38.00
ISBN: 9780593230572
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: One World - November 16th, 2021

An important reframing of our understanding of American history, using language that more accurately describes the lived reality: there are no "slaves," only enslaved people, and the romantic facade of the grand Southern plantation masks its true nature as a forced labor camp.  This exploration of Black viewpoints has already led to the book being banned in schools and libraries across several states, making it all the more important for this story to be told.

- Peter


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The Book of Accidents: A Novel Cover Image
$28.99
ISBN: 9780399182136
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: Del Rey - July 20th, 2021

A masterful blend of thriller, fantasy, and cosmic horror. This book had me at the edge of my seat the whole way.

- Justin


Staff Pick Badge
Ninefox Gambit (The Machineries of Empire #1) Cover Image
$9.99
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781781084496
Published: Solaris - June 14th, 2016

This is one of my all-time favorites.  The opening to the Machineries of Empire trilogy, Ninefox Gambit is a brutal space opera following a mathematician/soldier who is paired up with an undead war criminal to crush a rebellion.  It's suspenseful, more than a little bit violent, and absolutely stunning.  I will say, this is not an easy read.  Lee's universe is incredibly complex, and he presents it minimal exposition, so reading this book can feel like assembling a puzzle in a storm, relying on flashes of lightning to illuminate the fractured whole.  I absolutely adored the challenge of this book, but if you're looking for an easier (or less violent) read, check out Dragon Pearl, an intergalactic middle grade adventure from the same author.

- Leo