Staff Favorites List Spring 2024

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.

Brilliant Books Members receive a 20% discount on all current Staff Favorites books — Learn More

 

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The River You Touch: Making a Life on Moving Water By Chris Dombrowski Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781639550852
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - October 31st, 2023

Reading Chris Dombrowski’s memoir, The River You Touch, felt like coming home. If you know me or have spent any time with me, there is a good chance that I’ve told you of my days living outside Yellowstone National Park in Montana. My husband and I spent the better part of a decade fly fishing, exploring and loving every second of our life on the edge of everything wild and wondrous. As things go, we started a family and life shifted us back to Michigan as proximity to family was important. Dombrowski’s story is so similar!  A Michigan transplant that couldn’t resist the allure of the west, he ended up in Missoula, Montana, with his soon-to-be wife, where they, too, were taken in by the magic of the place where they also started a family. His story is an exploration of fatherhood, wild places, choices we make as humans raising other humans. His writing is poetic—the way he writes about rivers floored me being a lover of moving water myself. I highly recommend this poetic memoir to anyone that appreciates nature writing as well as anyone parenting young people and balancing who we are in the midst of it.  —Rachel
 


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Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law By Mary Roach Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781324036128
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 30th, 2022

Fuzz is the book that got me hooked on both Mary Roach and fantastic nature writing. Roach is a science writer with a real sense of humor who goes down weird and wacky roads to understand our relationship wildlife, tagging along with animal-attack forensic investigators, human-elephant conflict specialists, bear managers, and "danger tree" fall blasters. This book is not only fascinating, well-researched, interesting, and insightful—it's also hilarious. It had me frantically searching for more Mary Roach to read!  —Tory


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The Narrator By Michael Cisco, Jeff VanderMeer (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Michael Cisco, Jeff VanderMeer (Introduction by)
$29.89
ISBN: 9781621051855
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Lazy Fascist Press - May 1st, 2015

There is no living writer like Michael Cisco. Encountering his writing for the first time was both exhilarating and shocking. "You're allowed to write like this?" I thought. Each of his books are their own little manic, alien universe, but this one is probably my favorite. Also his most accessible, though take that with a grain of salt. The Narrator is an incredibly bizarre, phantasmagorical "fantasy" about a reluctant student who is drafted into a war with "the blackbirds." It's a novel about the absurdity of war, clothed in the language of absurdism. Fans of Kafka and Ligotti will be enthralled.  —Stefen


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Ship of Magic: The Liveship Traders (Liveship Traders Trilogy #1) By Robin Hobb Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780593724309
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Del Rey - December 5th, 2023

This was actually the book I had in my bag when I first came to interview at Brilliant Books!  Of course, what I had was an ancient and mangled mass market copy, so I was thrilled to hear it (and its sequels) were being re-released in trade paperback format.  Most people discover the world Robin Hobb has created through her Farseer trilogy (starting with Assassin's Apprentice), but I came at it on an odd angle after discovering The Inheritance and Other Stories, a collection of short stories written "with" Megan Lindholm (both names are pseudonyms for the same author!).  There's a story in that collection focused on the Rainwilds, a different part of the same world from the Farseer books and which appears in the Liveship Traders trilogy.  So with Ship of Magic, I came for the worldbuilding, but I stayed for the characters, from pirates to sentient sailing ships to delightfully disobedient daughters.  And also the sea monsters.  And the magic.  And...well, just read it.  Trust me, you won't regret it.  —Caitlin


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After Sappho: A Novel By Selby Wynn Schwartz Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781324094470
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Liveright - January 9th, 2024

Like the poetry of Sappho herself, Selby Wynn Schwartz's After Sappho is told in fragments—fictionalized fragments of the lives of real 20th century European women, including Eleanora Duse, Romaine Brooks, and Virginia Woolf.  After Sappho is the story of the ways these women's lives intertwine at the start of the century, including themes surrounding the cultural and legal views on lesbianism.  Schwartz writes beautiful narratives of their love affairs and friendships with other women, connecting them with ancient heroines.  I found this book very easy to read and fell in love with the way Schwartz portrayed each of the women she writes about.  It also prompted me to do some research and learn more about each of them!  After Sappho was longlisted for the Booker Prize in 2022 and has quickly become one of my newest favorites.  —Carissa


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Bright Young Women: A Novel By Jessica Knoll Cover Image
$27.99
ISBN: 9781501153228
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: S&S/ Marysue Rucci Books - September 19th, 2023

A striking subversion of notorious serial killer mythology. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this book since I read it. When I picked up this book, I expected a more typical thriller, but was immediately captivated by the women's stories that beat at the heart of the novel. At times enraging, at other moments Knoll captures the complexity and breadth of women's lives. These characters are shown far beyond the ways in which they became caught up in the violence of one man, and a larger system unwilling and unable to protect them.  —Delaney


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Revelation Space (The Inhibitor Trilogy #1) By Alastair Reynolds Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780316462440
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Orbit - June 2nd, 2020

Epic scale, thought-provoking, insanely fun space opera. This novel is on my Top 3 list of favorite science fiction ever written. If you haven't read it, do so. If you've read it before, do it again, and then check out the rest of his novels in this series. They're absolutely bonkers, and cool, and wise.  Alastair Reynolds delivers the Cutting Edge with Weird Tech and even Weirder Aliens, and does so with a sense of adventure and awe that can't be denied.  —Stefen


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Rainbow Black: A Novel By Maggie Thrash Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780063286870
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - March 19th, 2024

The book can best be described as uniquely strange, yet in the best way. It follows the captivating and, at times, depressing journey of Lacey Bond, the child of two free-spirited parents who operated a daycare caught in the whirlwind of the Satanic panic gripping the United States.  Through her experiences, readers are drawn into a reflection on life's twists, the universal quest for self-improvement, and the inherent drive to shape our own fates, often resorting to unconventional methods. Lacey's character effortlessly evokes empathy, ensuring this thought provoking read lingers in the mind well beyond the final page.   —Sam


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Your Driver Is Waiting: A Novel By Priya Guns Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780593469330
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - January 9th, 2024

Inspired by the movie Taxi Driver, this gender-flipped dark comedy follows Damani, a ride share driver zooming quickly towards her breaking point. Things go from bad to better to worse as conditions in the city deteriorate. Jolene, Damani's rideshare-customer-to-lover, offers some hope until she threatens to take everything away.  —Delaney


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Cahokia Jazz: A Novel By Francis Spufford Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9781668025451
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Scribner - February 6th, 2024

Cahokia Jazz is one of those books that explores and explodes the expectations of what a given genre can do by smashing a few of them together. My favorite. In this case, it starts with a fantastic bit of alternate history: what if the famous Indigenous city of Cahokia had never fallen, but instead survived the threats of westward expansion of colonizers? What if it had not only survived, but thrived? (Fans of science fiction will love this "what if" scenario). Combine that with a dark, twisting detective noir story set in a gritty, glittering 1920s version of Cahokia, and you can begin to appreciate what makes this novel so special. Lovers of history, crime fiction, and/or social satire should definitely check this out.  —Stefen


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Hand in Hand with Love: An anthology of queer classic poetry By Simon Avery (Editor) Cover Image
By Simon Avery (Editor)
$14.99
ISBN: 9781529092660
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Macmillan Collector's Library - May 23rd, 2023

This anthology is small but mighty. Editor Simon Avery has skillfully collected poems from a wide array of queer poets throughout history. Chronologically complied, this collection walks you through centuries of queer history, queer love, and queer grief. Hand In Hand With love is a collection I will certainly be coming back too time and time again.   —Max


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What Moves the Dead (Sworn Soldier #1) By T. Kingfisher Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781250830814
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Tor Nightfire - December 26th, 2023

This quick and creep-tastic read is one of the best horror stories I've read in a long time.  A beautiful take on Poe's "The Fall of the House of Usher," it's got all the inexplicable dread of supernatural or eldritch horror but, at the same time, an eerie level of plausibility that makes it that much more grotesque.  Throw in a LOT of weird mushrooms and Beatrix Potter's (unfortunately fictional) aunt and it makes for very pleasant afternoon reading.  —Caitlin


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Disability Pride: Dispatches from a Post-ADA World By Ben Mattlin Cover Image
$21.95
ISBN: 9780807013335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Beacon Press - November 14th, 2023

Disability Pride is a great read for those just beginning to learn about the history and importance of disability activism. The writing is straightforward, succinct, and educational. I believe it should be a necessary read, especially for those in the medical field or who work with disabled individuals regularly. For those looking to dismantle their ableist biases, this is a great primer. I also appreciated the way that Mattlin acknowledges that though disabled, his viewpoint comes from a place of privilege as a white, cisgender, heterosexual man and gave space to other minority groups.   —Carissa


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Ghost Lover: Stories By Lisa Taddeo Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781982122195
Availability: Not Currently In-Store; May require 2-3 days before shipping
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - June 13th, 2023

Incisive, and a little bit unhinged (maybe sometimes more than a little bit unhinged), these short stories inhabit the different lives of women: their desires, their friendships, the things they want to be, and the things they are. I found myself with each new story anticipating what unexpected place I may be brought to next. Filled with perspectives and observations that are sometimes funny and often wounding.  —Delaney


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I Have Some Questions for You: A Novel By Rebecca Makkai Cover Image
$19.00
ISBN: 9780593490167
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - February 20th, 2024

Set at a boarding school in the woods, Rebecca Makkai's first foray into mystery/crime centers on Bodie Kane, who returns to her alma mater to teach and ends up deep in the case that still haunts her from her time there: the murder of her roommate in 1995. A novel magnificently written in the second person, I Have Some Questions For You interrogates the genre of true crime through a feminist lens. I couldn't put it down.   —Tory


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Bright Dead Things: Poems By Ada Limón Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9781571314710
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - September 15th, 2015

“...tell them -crazy sky and stars
between- tell them you didn't come
to disturb the night air and throw a fit,
then get down in the dark and do it.”

Ada Limón invites you into a conversation with herself where she explains her conflicts in a disarmingly approachable but emotionally complex way. Despite her poems being very singular to her life, she connects you to the universal human experience of navigating through a chaos of emotions, laying anchor to her grief and the changing of identities and place, weaving her generous, lush, and lived poetry into your inner landscape.  —Mike