Ali's Picks

Ali is a writer, Positive Psychology & Creativity Coach, and educator, whose poetry and prose have been published in various literary journals around the country. While she's especially fond of short and long fiction, prose poetry, Zen, and self-development, she refuses to read nearly anything but middle grade fantasy at bedtime. Ali grew up on Reading Rainbow and loves getting to use her lifelong preoccupation with creative reading and writing, the power of the mind, and the magic of the imagination to help people discover new ideas--and great books! Her reading choices are all motivated by a deep sense of wonder and affection for the world and an endless curiosity about how we choose to live in it.

Stay Up With Hugo Best by Erin Somers

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Ali
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$17.00
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ISBN: 9781982102364
Published: Scribner - April 28th, 2020

Honest, bold, funny sometimes, casually tense (tensely casual?) all the time, and psychologically and emotionally complicated but wearing a disguise that makes its conflicts seem more innocent and more predictable than they actually are - like a teenager trick-or-treating in an angel suit. One of the most emotionally interesting novels I've read in a while!


Nothing to See Here by Kevin Wilson

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Ali
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$16.99
ISBN: 9780062913494
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Published: Ecco - September 1st, 2020

I saw a review somewhere that compared Kevin Wilson's work to (my all-time favorite filmmaker), Wes Anderson, and now that I've read a couple of his novels, I know why! Wilson's stories, like Anderson's, are quirky, charming, funny, bizarre, and offbeat, but with an edginess and a dark(ish) underbelly that lend them a wonderful depth and a nuanced velocity that hits just the right spot. Both of these ("The Family Fang" and "Nothing to See Here") are fantastic.


The Nest by Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney

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Ali
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$16.99
ISBN: 9780062414229
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Published: Ecco - April 4th, 2017

Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney's writing just sweeps me up and zooms off with me. In "The Nest", she does it brilliantly--vividly and SO convincingly!--as the story rearranges its shape and color from one character's experience of it...to another's and another's. Kaleidoscopic and intimate at the same time, this is literary time-and-space travel at its falling-apart-and-putting-it-back-together-again best! Absolutely loved it.


Little Weirds by Jenny Slate

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Ali
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$16.99
ISBN: 9780316485364
Availability: Not in stock. At Our Partner Warehouse: Usually Ships in 4-7 Days.
Published: Back Bay Books - November 24th, 2020

Jenny Slate's book is like a runaway charm bracelet banging and tinkling and zooming with all sorts of 'Little Weirds': a girl born in a Shirley Temple, a skirt that lights up like a lampshade, topplings and cakes, frightful bouncing, a mouse peering out of a teacup looking at the cheese. . . and that's just in the first 15 pages! An "expert at making treats out of tribulations", I love Jenny's sense of both literary and lived mischief, sincerity, love, and wonder. A generous, creative, and fun read.


Joyful: The Surprising Power of Ordinary Things to Create Extraordinary Happiness by Ingrid Fetell Lee

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Ali
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$18.99
ISBN: 9780316399272
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Published: Little, Brown Spark - June 8th, 2021

Honestly? I really don't know how to put into this little rectangle the MAGNITUDE of my LOVE for this book (Joyful) and for Ingrid Fetell Lee's work and enchanting, brighthearted, multidimensional investigation into "the aesthetics of joy", in general. It's like creative writing meets Positive Psychology (the science of happiness) meets design. An absolute wonder to read! Eye-opening, delightful, and dazzling literally every single time I pick it up.


Jacket Weather by Mike DeCapite

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Ali
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$16.95
ISBN: 9781593766931
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Published: Soft Skull - October 12th, 2021

Mike DeCapite writes like stringing pearls in fast forward, where each bead of imagery, conversation, interaction, character, and memory shimmers with its own related light to make the whole thing shine. Jacket Weather is an urban rediscovery-of-love story told in prismatically gorgeous, frank, and evocative flashes, with both longing and NYC vibrating through all of it, infiltrating everything, like a scent. Wherever you are in this book, as Mike says of the city, you're at the heart of it.


The House on Mango Street by Sandra Cisneros

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Ali
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$11.95
ISBN: 9780679734772
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Published: Vintage - April 3rd, 1991

It's hard to describe Sandra Cisneros' "The House on Mango Street" AND my wonder-filled experience of reading it. It's a whole world unto itself (Mango Street and its inhabitants), and following 12-year-old Esperanza around the neighborhood is like following a kitten through a hole in the fence to see where she goes and what mischief and magic she might get into there, her "green apple eyes" winking like coins in the gutter. Esperanza's narration skirts the fringe between the real and imagined all the way through, Sandra's language consistently inventive and vivid, image-rich and full of our heroine's pluck and shimmer as she navigates the gritty wonderland of growing up on Mango Street. This is one of my very favorite books and always an inspiration to write (live) with more openness, imagination, and heart.


Fight Night by Miriam Toews

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Ali
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$24.00
ISBN: 9781635578171
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Published: Bloomsbury Publishing - October 5th, 2021

"Fight Night" may very well be Miriam Toews' most delightful book yet. Bittersweet, as per usual with her work, laugh-out-loud funny, and with one of my new all-time favorite duos in all of literature (stressed-out yet hilarious 9-year-old narrator, Swiv, and her cheerful, wise, and reckless Grandma and BFF, Elvira). Nobody writes family dramedy quite like Miriam Toews! This one is lively, hilarious, and sneakily brilliant from start to finish, with a story and characters that come out swinging and win your heart over before you even know it's happening.


Creativity: A Short and Cheerful Guide by John Cleese

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Ali
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$14.00
ISBN: 9780385348270
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Published: Crown - September 8th, 2020

You probably know John Cleese from his iconic work with Monty Python -- but did you know he's also a sought-after teacher and speaker on creativity and the creative process? He's devoted much of his post-M.P. career to it. This little book is really wonderful - short and cheerful, as promised, and also wise, funny (of course), and valuable for any creative. Great creator, great teacher, great book! The audio version if fantastic (John reads it, of course) - ask us about our audiobook partner, Libro.fm!


The Wrong Heaven by Amy Bonnaffons

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Ali
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$15.99
ISBN: 9780316516181
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Published: Back Bay Books - January 14th, 2020

Every next story in Amy Bonnaffons' collection 'The Wrong Heaven' is sort of like wandering into a new alternate reality where all the regular things were still happening - but also ANYTHING might happen. Her writing is multi-dimensional: edgy, but often delicate; unsettling but also playful, using all the anythings to explore women's longing, power, bewilderment, uncertainty, and often casually surreal ways of negotiating our way through this weird, weird world.


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