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 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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Full Throttle: Stories By Joe Hill Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062200679
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: William Morrow - October 1st, 2019

It's one thing to spin an entire novel's worth full of horror, but to capture it in just a few short pages is another art altogether.  Joe Hill is a master.  These stories range from conventionally creepy to unexpectedly unnerving.  Several, like "You Are Released," I had encountered before, but they're no less haunting the second time around.  —Caitlin

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Don't Look Now: Selected Stories of Daphne du Maurier By Daphne du Maurier, Patrick McGrath (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Daphne du Maurier, Patrick McGrath (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781590172889
Availability: Ships Today - Not Currently In-Store
Published: NYRB Classics - October 28th, 2008

I discovered Daphne du Maurier when I first saw Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca, which was based off her novel of the same name.  When I learned that Hitchcock's film The Birds was also based off a du Maurier story, I absolutely had to check it out for myself.  This collection contains the story that inspired The Birds (which freaked me out more than the movie ever did), as well as several other psychological and macabre tales that gave me the creeps in the best possible way.  Best to leave all the lights on when you read these... —Lindsey

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This Is Going to Hurt: Secret Diaries of a Medical Resident By Adam Kay Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780316426725
Published: Little, Brown Spark - December 3rd, 2019

I read a lot, and there are plenty of books that I like, but this is one of the relatively few that I absolutely love, and I 100% recommend the audiobook read by Adam Kay himself.  This book is hard to listen to, but also un-put-downable.  It ricochets from cringe-worthy embarrassment to tender sentimental moments to terror to triumph with whiplash-inducing speed, which is about as close as a reader can come to understanding what it's like to work in healthcare.  Though the stakes are high and drama abounds, it's also one of the most deeply human books I've read, and one in which what isn't said resonates just as loudly as what is.  —Caitlin

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Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative? By Mark Fisher Cover Image
ISBN: 9781846943171
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Zero Books - December 16th, 2009

A founding text of the modern online left.  Written in 2009 by the late Mark Fisher in response to the Global Financial Crisis, it diagnoses the state and workings of capitalism in the post USSR world.  An essential read to understand the current American political climate/situation.  —Andrew

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Mary Toft; or, The Rabbit Queen: A Novel By Dexter Palmer Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781101871935
Published: Pantheon - November 19th, 2019

What I thought would be a quirky bit of historical fiction turned out to be that and more: a meditation on reason, belief, and reality. Through two parallel story lines set in 1726 England - a traveling "Exhibition of Medical Curiosities" and Mary Toft, the real-life woman who reportedly gave birth to 17 rabbits - Palmer explores what it means to be "real." Does a truly objective reality exist? Or does consensus create reality? And what tangible effects can belief have on the lives of individuals and society as a whole? This was an unexpectedly timely read that I would recommend to any fan of historical literature or philosophy.   —Lindsey

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Theft of Swords (The Riyria Revelations #1) By Michael J. Sullivan Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316187749
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Published: Orbit - November 23rd, 2011

An unlikely pair of vagabond 'heroes' attempt the heist of the king's sword for a massive amount of gold and find themselves accused of a murder they didn't commit. Filled with action and a fair share of quippy dialogue, this is a ripping good read from author Michael J Sullivan. Recommended for those who want great fantasy action without being bogged down with massive amounts of world-building.   —Jodie

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To Have and to Hoax: A Novel (The Regency Vows #1) By Martha Waters Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982136116
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Atria Books - April 7th, 2020

When Lady Violet Grey and Lord James Audley met five years ago, it was love (and engagement) at first sight. Now it's five years into their marriage and they have not spoken to each other for the last four after an argument puts them at odds and neither refuses to back down. To break their stalemate, Violet decides to pretend she has consumption and hires an actor to play her doctor. Unfortunately, James sees through the ruse at the very first and what results is nothing short of delightful in this historical romantic comedy. If you're a fan of Jane Austen or the Brontes, but always thought their writing and plots to be a bit too stuffy, this is the read for you!  —Anthony

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The Longing for Less: Living with Minimalism By Kyle Chayka Cover Image
ISBN: 9781635572100
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - January 21st, 2020

"Less is more if there's more of less."  This book explores the ideas underlying the current commercial trend of Minimalism, tracing them back through history.  Phillip Johnson and his austere glass house.  Donald Judd and his relationship with objects.  An Autobiography of Minimalism.  —Andrew


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First, Catch: Study of a Spring Meal By Thom Eagle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802148223
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
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

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The Book of M: A Novel By Peng Shepherd Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780062669605
Published: William Morrow - June 5th, 2018

What delighted me most about this book is that I couldn't predict anything that happened. All the standard tropes of post-apocalyptic fiction were tweaked in interesting ways: for example, the plague that is sweeping the globe consists of peoples' shadows disappearing, taking not only the victims' memories, but imbuing them with the ability to alter reality - in ways they can't control. Multiple story lines of both past and present narratives finally converge in a truly gut-wrenching twist at the novel's very end.  —Lindsey

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A Gathering of Ravens: A Novel (Grimnir Series #1) By Scott Oden Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250262295
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Published: St. Martin's Griffin - January 14th, 2020

Grimnir, a creature of the same line as Beowulf's Grendel, seeks vengeance for the slaughtering of his people, but this is much more then a story of revenge. It blends well-researched Dark Age mythology and folklore with an continent spanning adventure. There are discussions about belief and what it is to be strong, as well as what it is to be human. A wonderful start to a trilogy from bestselling author Scott Oden.    —Jodie

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Dead Astronauts: A Novel By Jeff VanderMeer Cover Image
ISBN: 9780374276805
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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

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When Women Were Birds: Fifty-four Variations on Voice By Terry Tempest Williams Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250024114
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - February 26th, 2013

When Williams was given her mother's journals after she died she was stunned to discover that every single one was blank, prompting the author to ponder what the blank pages were really saying about her mother and more specifically about women and their voices. In When Women Were Birds: 54 Variations of Voice, she creates her own story on those blank pages discovering that it is not just about voice but about silence stating "there is comfort in keeping what is sacred inside us not as a secret but as a prayer."  —Sandi

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Binstead's Safari By Rachel Ingalls Cover Image
ISBN: 9780811228466
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: New Directions - February 26th, 2019

Millie Binstead wants nothing more than to accompany Stan, her academic husband, on a research trip to Africa. Stan is reluctant, but can't protest when Millie offers to pay her own way. Once they are out of the country, Millie blossoms, going from mousy and subservient to the most interesting and beautiful woman in the room, much to Stan's confusion and chagrin. Content to leave Stan to his research, Millie stays at camp, learns to paint, and gets the dish on all the safari gossip including lion attacks and trysts in hot air balloons. Ingalls tackles race, gender, anthropology, and (of course) unconventional romantic pairings in this delightfully witty, and at turns quite cutting, novel.  —Anthony

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The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird By Joshua Hammer Cover Image
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ISBN: 9781501191886
Published: Simon & Schuster - February 11th, 2020

Jeffrey Lendrum is a criminal extraordinaire who grew up in South Africa, honing not only his love of birds but his heists—stealing the eggs of rare birds of prey to sell to egg collectors around the world. Soon he was selling falcon eggs to Middle Eastern buyers where falcon racing is a multimillion dollar business and one egg can sell for thousands. Detective Andy McWilliam with the UK's National Wildlife Crime Unit is determined to stop Lendrum and protect the world's birds of prey. This true crime story has it all: mystery, adventure, and danger, making for a great read from start to finish.   —Sandi