The Idiot, by Elif Batuman

Staff Pick

Nominated for the Pulitzer, Batuman's 2017 The Idiot may seem like it was published a lifetime ago by Information Age standards. That said, this sprawling account of a Harvard freshman circa 1995 makes readers feel like they've bought a one-way ticket to a prehistoric era. It's a world full of Chekhovian emails sent from campus libraries, anticlimactic love-triangles, and sad dining-hall food. Timeless, though, is the unique sense of existential dread and fruitlessness shared by all college freshman. As protagonist Selin notes: "I hadn't learned what I had wanted to about how language worked. I hadn't learned anything at all."

The Idiot: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143111061
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Penguin Books - February 13th, 2018

Small Things Like These, by Claire Keegan

Staff Pick

Christmas 1985 for the Furlongs and their small Irish town is unexceptional. Bill Furlong delivers coal and collects payments, his wife bakes, and their five daughters attend choir practice, write to Santa, and finish their school exercises. But there’s more going on below this ordinary surface. When Bill opens the convent’s coal house, he finds one of the “girls in training” there. Disoriented, cold, dirty, and barefoot, Sarah begs Bill to help her escape. He takes her back to the nuns as he feels he should but, instead of dismissing the incident like a dutiful Catholic, he broods over what, in addition to its other unsettling elements, reminds him of both his daughters’ vulnerabilities and his own situation as the son of an unwed mother who never divulged his father’s identity.  As he gets more involved with Sarah, he rethinks the way he’s been taught to do things. From the opening page’s “long November winds,” Keegan’s novel brims with heart and exquisite craft—it only looks small.

Small Things Like These Cover Image
ISBN: 9780802158741
Availability: In Stock—Click for Locations
Published: Grove Press - November 30th, 2021

You Never Get it Back, by Cara Blue Adams

Staff Pick

Adams's award-winning debut collection is a series of interconnected vignettes that paint a lush portrait of a young woman in her young adulthood. Kate Bishop is knowledgeable enough about the world, but still carefully treading the waters of love, friendship, and loss. As she navigates these different moments in her life, they seem to leave her with more questions than answers, but Adams's deft prose sheds light in the cracks and fissures of seemingly banal moments, elevating the beauty of the ordinary. 

You Never Get It Back (Iowa Short Fiction Award) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609388133
Availability: Not On Our Shelves—Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: University Of Iowa Press - December 15th, 2021