Martin's Staff Picks

Country: A Novel Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780062940308
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Custom House - September 1st, 2020

Take The Iliad, and drop it into 90's Northrtn Ireland. Absolute -ing genius.
Anyone who doubts the relevance of the classics should read this book.
Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.


The Invention of Yesterday: A 50,000-Year History of Human Culture, Conflict, and Connection Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781610397964
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: PublicAffairs - October 1st, 2019

If I was going to a desert island, and could only bring ten books, this would be one of the ten. The Invention of Yesterday may at times seem casual in tone, but it is an exceptionally deep book. I would recommend this book to anyone who takes an interest in the world around them.My favorite book of 2020.


The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England Cover Image
$20.00
ISBN: 9780143125631
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Penguin Books - April 29th, 2014

This is history the way history should be taught. A knowledge of which battle took place when is only a little interesting, compared to what you would see, hear, smell and taste in mid to late 16th century England. Ian Mortimer is currently my favorite writer of history. The Time Traveler's Guide to Elizabethan England is a book I would recommend both to history buffs, and anyone who doesn't think they like history.


Piranesi Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781635575637
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - September 15th, 2020

Like a really cool fever dream. With great architecture.


The Wall: A Novel Cover Image
$15.95
ISBN: 9780393357776
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - March 17th, 2020

So, let's say we build a wall. A great big beautiful wall all around the country. What then? A wall without soldiers is just a physical barrier, not very hard to cross. So we staff the wall with an appropriate amount of soldiers. And to make the soldiers effective, they'll need ammunition, and a clearly defined set of orders to defend the homeland at all costs. What does that say about a country, that it is so afraid of 'the other' that it is willing to kill to defend what it sees as its rightful way of life? And what does one do with the 'others' who make it across the border? Sometimes the only difference between "us" and "them" is pure chance and luck. John Lanchester writes a tale eerily appropriate for our not so distant future.


Interior Chinatown: A Novel Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9780307907196
Availability: NOT on our shelves now. Usually ships from warehouse in several days.
Published: Pantheon - January 28th, 2020

We all make choices throughout our lives, choosing different paths to follow, different roles to play.  But who selects the options we choose from?  Interior Chinatown is like a rapier taken to stereotypes that inhabit society's attitudes towards Asian Americans.  The main character, Willis Wu, is a minor actor in an ongoing cop drama who wants to be more than a generic Asian male in the background, maybe even someday becoming "Kung Fu Guy." The novel bounces back and forth between the script Wu is inhabiting and an interior monologue.  And one of the strengths of this book, for this reader, is how thin the line sometimes feels between these stereotypical roles that Willis is acting, and the ridiculousness of the particular situations. Interior Chinatown is a brilliant novel, one that challenged this reader in the best possible ways.


Tyrant: Shakespeare on Politics Cover Image
$13.95
ISBN: 9780393356977
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 14th, 2019

Of all of the books that have come out trying to explain the last few years, Tyrant is hands down my favorite. It is also a very good piece of literary criticism. I should warn you that Stephen Greenblatt is not unbiased...but then neither was Shakespeare.


Up Jumped the Devil: The Real Life of Robert Johnson Cover Image
$30.00
ISBN: 9781641600941
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Chicago Review Press - June 4th, 2019

Excellent biography of one of the legends of American music. Johnson’s life was Shakespearean in scope and this book is the biography that this great musician deserves. Recommended both as a musical biography and as a look at times gone by.


San Francisco Year Zero: Political Upheaval, Punk Rock and a Third-Place Baseball Team Cover Image
$34.95
ISBN: 9781978807341
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Rutgers University Press - November 7th, 2019

An excellent even handed look at 1978, and the effects of that year in the history of San Francisco. Highly recommended

 


Staff Pick Badge
Three Stones Make a Wall: The Story of Archaeology Cover Image
By Eric H. Cline, Glynnis Fawkes (Illustrator)
$18.95
ISBN: 9780691183237
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Published: Princeton University Press - November 6th, 2018

"What an incredible book. For a history lover such as myself, Three Stones Make a Wall is like manna. Since most of we learn about our past comes from archeology, it behooves us to know a bit more about the subject than the lastest Indiana Jones film. TSMAW is a survey of archeology from the first excavations of Pompeii to the most current discoveries. It is a fascinating look at the details of a science that is usually known just for the lastest headlines. I think it is the best general audience book on archeology since Gods, Graves, and Scholars. I cannot recommend this book highly enough." - Martin


Staff Pick Badge
Passing Strange Cover Image
$15.99
ISBN: 9780765389527
Availability: NOT on our shelves now. Usually ships from warehouse in several days.
Published: Tordotcom - January 24th, 2017

"This is an incredible read. I will simply say this. There is a small shelf in my library of great novels about/set in San Francisco. Passing Strange is on that shelf, between The Maltese Falcon and Tales of the City." - Martin


Staff Pick Badge
The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories Cover Image
By Ken Liu
$17.99
ISBN: 9781481424363
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Gallery / Saga Press - October 4th, 2016

"These are some of the best short stories I've recently read. And while you may be thinking 'but I don't like science fiction', these stories transcend genre in the way very few writers are able to do. And so far, there is not a single story in this collection that I haven't thoroughly enjoyed. If you are in any way a fan of well written short stories, then I cannot recommend this collection highly enough." - Martin


Staff Pick Badge
Conversations in Jazz: The Ralph J. Gleason Interviews Cover Image
By Ralph J. Gleason, Toby Gleason (Editor), Ted Gioia (Foreword by)
Not available to order
ISBN: 9780300214529
Availability: Stock uncertain--should fulfill within 10 days or so
Published: Yale University Press - May 24th, 2016

"Some of the best interviews of jazz musicians that I've ever read. A must have for any jazz fans bookshelf." - Martin


Staff Pick Badge
The Vorrh (The Vorrh Trilogy #1) Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9781101873786
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Vintage - April 28th, 2015

"How much did I love this book! If one has to assign a genre to The Vorrh, I suppose it would be fantasy, although it could just as easily be called magical realism or a handful of other definitions. There are also bits of historical fiction, and a bit of what might be called steampunk. I won't try to summarize the story. The two weeks I spent reading this book were some of the most challenging, enjoyable and rewarding. I'm hoping for more from Mr Catling as soon as he is ready. Reading The Vorrh is like being admitted to a number of different worlds, each with it's own rules, and watching as these worlds coalesce." - Martin


Staff Pick Badge
Stalin: Paradoxes of Power, 1878-1928 Cover Image
Not available to order
ISBN: 9780143127864
Availability: Stock uncertain--should fulfill within 10 days or so
Published: Penguin Books - October 13th, 2015

"The first 'just the facts' biography I've read of Stalin, and easily the best biography I've read in the last few years. There are more than a few surprises in this book." - Martin


Staff Pick Badge
Eggshells Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9781612195971
Availability: NOT on our shelves now. Usually ships from warehouse in several days.
Published: Melville House - March 14th, 2017

"So many reasons to love this book. Great writing, interesting narrator , and the best literary stroll around Dublin since Joyce." - Martin


Staff Pick Badge
Alif the Unseen Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780802121226
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Grove Press - April 2nd, 2013

"The first novel from the author of Ms. Marvel. Alif The Unseen is an incredible fiction debut. The story of a middle eastern hacker on the run from the authorities, Alif is one of the best books yet about the passions and frustrations that led to the Arab Spring(s). It is also a welcome, and long overdue, use of middle eastern culture, legends, history, and other story elements in popular literature. There were moments in ATU that made me put the book down, to let what I'd just read sink in. Based on her first novel, G Willow Wilson is an author we will be enjoying for decades to come. Alif The Unseen is/are many great stories, wrapped together in one novel, very well told." - Martin


Staff Pick Badge
How to Listen to Jazz Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780465093496
Availability: ON HAND in at least ONE of our stores. Click through or call for up-to-the-minute availability.
Published: Basic Books - September 19th, 2017

"Hands down, one of the best books on jazz I have ever read. And easily the best book on trying to explain jazz. If you are just dipping a toe in the great ocean that is jazz, or if you have been enjoying this music for decades, this is a book that will increase your understanding and enjoyment of this music. It's already altered the way I listen to music, and I've been listening to jazz since the early eighties. I think it helps that Ted Gioia is a musician himself. How to Listen to Jazz is also very refreshingly free of ideology. Ted Gioia simply wants you to listen to and enjoy the music for its own sake. I cannot recommend this book highly enough." - Martin