The Underground Railroad
With a notable absence of melodrama, Whitehead imagines a real underground railroad system ferrying slaves to freedom, and the slave catchers who want to see it destroyed. The Underground Railroad is full of brutality, but its complex characters and evocation of a time and experience is well worth it. - Rhianna
Commonwealth feels both contemporary and instantly classic; it's a beautiful, empathetic novel that manages to be surprising but somehow comfortable. With each new book, Ann Patchett just keeps upping her game. - Jill
A Gambler's Anatomy
A Gambler's Anatomy is quintessential Lethem – Alexander Bruno, a good-looking, charming backgammon gambler who believes he's telepathic, is felled in Berlin by a blot in his vision that turns out to be an almost inoperable tumor. A bleak, funny, fascinating novel in Lethem's intelligent, generous voice. - Jill
On the surface, Swing Time is about two girls – only one with talent – who dream of being dancers. But what Zadie Smith gives us in her crisp, nuanced prose is a complex study of friendship, enmity, pop culture, roots, ambition, difference, and, underlying it all, race. - Gigi
Clever and absurd, The Sellout is one of the most unusual books I've read in years. "A biting satire" is a very fitting description: this book has teeth, and you're not going to make it through it without seriously reconsidering the state of contemporary society. Don't worry, though – it's also hilarious. - Ashleigh
Today Will Be Different
We need a term for a certain kind of book; let's call it a "Semple." It describes a caper, at the center of which is a woman – flighty, charming, with a mix of unrecognized genius and undiagnosed anxiety disorder. The plot widens as it thickens, and you read it in a day because you just can't stop. - Britt
Lib, a highly trained English nurse, is sent to a small town in Ireland where there is an 11-year-old girl claiming to no longer need food. The boggy town, almost too Catholic to function, is desperate for this little girl to be special. Lib wants to swiftly prove otherwise. I stayed up late to finish this patient, mysterious book. It is ridiculously engrossing. - Britt
Written as a deathbed confession, Moonglow charts the course of a Jewish delinquent's life from the hustle of Philly to the munitions factories of Hitler's Germany to the reaches of NASA's rocket program. A sly novel disguised as a memoir, Moonglow bursts with the prose fireworks and profound compassion of Chabon's finest work. - Rhianna
The Little Paris Bookshop
A powerfully romantic, vivid tale, The Little Paris Bookshop is the story of a floating bookstore, unlikely shipmates, and an unforgettable love. In this delightful novel, the right book can treat most any ailment. Read The Little Paris Bookshop, and I guarantee you'll feel revived. - Moses
A Man Called Ove
You'll laugh, you'll cry. Ove is a grumpy old man who finds his new neighbors, a boisterous family with two young girls, quite a challenge. But friendship can sometimes be found in the unlikeliest of people. Read this if you need a renewal of faith in your fellow citizens. - Tracey T.
Shelter in Place
Joseph March has a lot on his plate: he's bipolar, he's in love, and his mother has just beaten a stranger to death in a hardware store parking lot. By turns disconcerting and illuminating, Shelter in Place is a masterful evocation of mental illness and the limits of love and loyalty. - Rhianna
The Unreal and the Real: The Selected Short Stories of Ursula K. Le Guin
A truly majestic collection from one of our finest writers, The Unreal and the Real includes a wide range of Le Guin's short fiction. Filled with keen observations and splendid storytelling, Le Guin's prose is effortless and graceful, encompassing a multitude of worlds and the people who inhabit them. - Mary Jo
Bait: Off-Color Stories for You to Color
Outrageous and disturbing, Bait is everything we've come to love about Palahniuk, with a bonus: readers get a chance to collaborate in the creativity. This new short story collection combines Palahniuk's off-color storytelling with colorable pages. - Michal
The Rain in Portugal: Poems
Billy Collins is back with another irresistible poetry collection that showcases his ingenuity, charisma, and spirit. The Rain in Portugal both elevates the everyday and cuts unwieldy topics down to size. An exemplary collection from a beloved poet. - Moses
The Killing Forest (Louise Rick)
This remarkable Danish crime fiction writer is back at it again with a new book in her addictive series, and with another story that will keep you up at night. Blaedel's plotlines are creepy, complex, and wholly gripping. You'll be hard-pressed to find a better crime writer out there. - Moses
The Secret History of Twin Peaks
The Secret History of Twin Peaks is a gorgeously made artifact which expands upon the many mysteries introduced in the series, contextualizes the town and its people in a much longer, deeper history, and reveals new dimensions in every Twin Peaks story. It's as good as you were hoping it would be. - Jill
A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition (Song of Ice and Fire #1)
Crammed to the brim with artistic goodness, this special 20th anniversary edition features eight full-color plates and 73 black and white interior illustrations, drawn from a variety of sources. Whether this is your first reading or your 15th, this edition is chock-full of wonders. - Mary Jo
City of Weird: 30 Otherworldly Portland Tales
Portland is the City of Weird, but don't come to this book expecting bird-embellished messenger bags or artisan pickles. This is a fantastic and varied collection of fiction by authors from the Pacific Northwest that really gets at the anarchic, imaginative spirit that drives this city. - Ashleigh
The Girl on the Train
The Girl on the Train is an intense psychological thriller in which reality and perception seamlessly change positions and you can never be totally certain which is which. This is a terrific read that is most difficult to put down. - Tom L.
Once again, Irish mystery author Tana French doesn't disappoint, dishing up a psychologically rich murder mystery in which the detectives are as compelling as the whodunit. - Rhianna
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo
Yay! is how I felt when I found out Amy Schumer had a book deal. She's had my heart since her "Very Realistic Military Game" sketch. This book is exactly as hilarious, sharp, unapologetic, and awesome as you think it will be. - Britt
A Life in Parts
Best known for his portrayal of Walter White in Breaking Bad, Bryan Cranston takes us behind the scenes to reveal the secrets of his craft and the path that brought him to where he is today. Filled with insights about his process as an actor, A Life in Parts is a fascinating read. - Mary Jo
Born a Crime
Trevor Noah is a proven storyteller, and his life story is worth telling – the circumstances of his birth, the illegality and audacity of his very existence. He provides a somehow totally new critique of race, because it's South Africa, not America. This book was so good, I read it and then listened to the audiobook. -Britt
Drawing on his childhood spent in Appalachia and the Ohio Rust Belt, J. D. Vance explores and contends with the despair gripping America's white working class. Both empathetic and alarmed, Hillbilly Elegy's blend of family history and social criticism make for an absorbing and timely read. -Rhianna
Born to Run
The long-awaited autobiography from rock legend Bruce Springsteen offers candid, personal insights into his childhood, coming-of-age as a musician, and storied career with the incomparable E Street Band. A must-have for casual and lifelong fans alike: 'Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run! - Jeremy G.
Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop
Good Clean Fun is an irreverent look into America's woodshops by humorist Nick Offerman (of Parks and Rec fame). Expect a goofy read – but also expect to learn how to build stuff! While it's a deeply fun book, Offerman's respect for gorgeous wood and stunningly crafted wood furniture shines through. - Tracey T.
The Daily Show (The Book)
This is the book for fans of The Daily Show. It's the compilation of behind-the-scenes tales from everyone who made this show awesome, including guests. It should give you much-needed election-year catharsis, as well as tide you over until the beginning of Jon Stewart's new show. - Britt
Can't We Talk About Something More Pleasant? A Memoir
Roz Chast's cartoon memoir sneaks up and disarms you with its light tone and humor, but the specific story of losing her parents pulls you right in to the universal experiences of frustration, heartbreak, and guilt. But in a funny way. Seriously. - Doug C.
Sad Animal Facts
In Sad Animal Facts, 150 animals react to facts about themselves. A mayfly, who lives only a day, is curious about sunsets. A jellyfish is "sorry not sorry" about not having a heart. It's super funny and super cute. - Moses
How to Talk to Your Cat About Gun Safety
Finally! I have been wondering for years how to discuss these touchy subjects with my cat. If you want to protect your beloved feline from the temptations of contemporary life, this book has all your answers. And who knows – it might make you look at human society a little differently, too. - Ashleigh
I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir
Put aside all of the rumors you've ever heard about Brian Wilson. This is his story, told for the first time in his own words: it's recommended for both Beach Boys fans and anyone who has an interest in the musical legacy of the 1960s. -Ashleigh
The Princess Diarist
Carrie Fisher isn't just Princess Leia. In The Princess Diarist, though, she takes us back to her Star Wars days with a look at her diaries during filming. They're replete with her signature humor, but they also provide a fascinating look at life behind one of our most iconic films. -Ashleigh
The SAS is the inspiration for elite fighting units worldwide, but it was started by a dissolute nobleman and his company of rascals and eccentrics. In gripping, graphic style, Macintyre explores the first military team to parachute behind Nazi lines, shifting the war and setting the course of modern combat. - Rhianna
Hero of the Empire
Millard gives us the fascinating story of Churchill's escape from a prison camp. With nothing but four bars of chocolate and a handful of cash, he made his way to safety. Lively and thoroughly readable, this account of young Churchill during the Boer War is an illuminating glimpse into his early career. - Mary Jo
The Pacific Crest Trail
The Pacific Crest Trail stretches 2,650 miles across California, Oregon, and Washington. Revel in every mile with a plethora of photographs, unpublished documents, and a copy of the official PCT map. Perfect for every hiker, ambitious or armchair. Warning: may cause extreme wanderlust. - Mary Jo
SPQR: A History of Ancient Rome
History is so much more fun when the historian is having fun, and in SPQR, Mary Beard seems to be having the time of her life. The result is a thorough and entertaining study of the unprecedented rise of ancient Rome, including everything you vaguely remember, everything you totally forgot, and everything you never knew. It's awesome. - Britt
I don't think there is a more perfect coffee table book. It's not just beautiful (but it is really beautiful) – it's full of fascinating information about places I've never heard of. - Ashleigh
Fifty Places to Drink Beer Before You Die
You don't need to globe trek to appreciate the suggestions in this guide – you may find many of the locations in your own backyard. From Alabama to Zimbabwe, sprawling five continents, regional beer experts give you the insider tips on what to drink for your next cold one – and where to do it! - Kate L.
The Hidden Life of Trees
Have you ever imagined trees as having thoughts and feelings? The Hidden Life of Trees suggests that may not have been such a stretch. This book became a surprise sensation in Germany, and it completely surprised me too. I read it while camping and it made the experience so much richer. - Moses
The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World
Alexander von Humboldt was a German naturalist whose work helped shape our concept of environmentalism. Wulf brings this fascinating historical figure to life in all his globetrotting, visionary glory. Humboldt climbed volcanoes, descended into the depths, and greatly influenced Thoreau and John Muir. - Mary Jo
The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain
Humorist Bill Bryson is at his best when commenting on the minutiae of life. In The Road to Little Dribbling, he meanders and rants his way through the wayside villages of Great Britain. Armchair traveling through Bryson's travelogues is always a fun romp. - Tracey T.
Rivers of Oregon
Rivers of Oregon is a book of photography that reads like a love letter to the many rivers that flow through Oregon, from our lush coastal waterways to our eastern mountain streams. It's gorgeous and peaceful, and reading it is almost as good as being there in person. - Moses
Time Travel: A History
From H. G. Wells to Back to the Future, time travel has long been a part of our cultural milieu. Gleick offers a joyful and delightfully digressive riff that touches on many aspects and implications of time travel, including the hazy intersection of physics and fiction. - Mary Jo
Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Don't let the word "lessons" scare you, and don't let the word "brief" make you expect something trivial. With prose that is poetic, in depth, and completely accessible, Carlo Rovelli plumbs the nature of our universe in a way that is enchanting, easily comprehendible, and deeply moving. - Gigi
The Undoing Project: A Friendship That Changed Our Minds
Why do so many people base their decisions on intuition, not data? Lewis looks at the findings of two Israeli psychologists, Daniel Kahneman and Amos Tversky, whose work on judgment showed humans' predisposition to irrationality. A fascinating look at how and why we make the decisions we do. - Mary Jo
Wonderland: How Play Made the Modern World
This thoughtful celebration of our most playful pursuits is fascinating – and a pleasure to read. Wonderland offers a persuasive argument that popular entertainment is responsible not just for momentary thrills, but for significant technological advancements. - Renee P.
Upstream: Selected Essays
Lovers of Emerson, Shelley, Whitman, and Wordsworth rejoice! Oliver pays her deepest gratitude to these masters of the pen and their influence over her work. Part meditation on the discipline of the creative mind, part tribute to nature and her kinship with it. - Kate L.
Absolutely on Music
Award-winning writer Haruki Murakami and former Boston Symphony Orchestra conductor Seiji Ozawa get together and talk music. Expansive, meticulous, and now lovingly transcribed, the conversations in Absolutely on Music create a fascinating glimpse into the complexity of music through the eyes and hearts of two die-hard and well-spoken fanatics. - Gigi
@NatGeo: The Most Popular Instagram Photos
This book is something special for any photography lover. It brings together National Geographic's most charming, moving, and utterly astonishing Instagram photos into a compact little book. I've already found a permanent spot for it on my coffee table. - Renee P.
Art of Atari
Art of Atari is an amazing and comprehensive retro gaming book for fans of Atari and console gaming of the late '70s and early '80s. Backstories and original box artwork are featured from games such as Centipede, Dig Dug, Missile Command, and Berzerk. - Kim T.
The Best American Infographics 2016
I always enjoy the annual edition of the Best American Infographics, and the latest is no exception. This election year, there are a lot of startling political infographics, but there's so much more than the election here. I love flipping through this in my downtime; I always learn something new. - Ashleigh
The Canon Cocktail Book: Recipes From the Award-Winning Bar
If you're lucky enough to have visited Seattle's legendary Canon cocktail bar, you've no doubt had a drink to remember. Now we're all fortunate to get a cocktail book – complete with 100 recipes plus some solid advice for anyone getting serious about bartending – as fine-tuned as Boudreau's elevated creations. - Renee P.
Taste and Technique: Recipes to Elevate Your Home Cooking
I've been eagerly awaiting this collection of delicious recipes from the chef of Portland's beloved Beast restaurant. Each recipe has clear instructions, but I was delighted to find it also contains a wealth of tips and skills to learn that I believe will improve all of my cooking going forward. - JC
My Beer Year
Follow journalist and beer writer Lucy Burningham's thirst for beer knowledge to become Cicerone certified. Burningham is utterly honest and funny about unmasking the romanticism of her drink of choice – and yet your taste buds are more tantalized than when you started. Prost! - Kate L.
Appetites: A Cookbook
Appetites is full-force Anthony Bourdain; it's opinionated, creative, and one hell of a good cookbook. Culinary bad boy Bourdain is a daddy now, and these are the home recipes that he feeds his family. Appetites is a fun read and a delicious eat. - Tracey T.
Knives and Ink: Chefs and the Stories Behind Their Tattoos
This is an unexpected subject for a book – the crossover between tattoos and foodie culture – but it makes so much sense. I always want to see pictures of tattoos, and the thematic tie between them here offers a juxtaposition that makes this a more satisfying read than most tattoo books. - Ashleigh
We Found a Hat
We Found a Hat may be my favorite Jon Klassen book yet. This story is exquisitely and subtly profound, with such vast themes as want, friendship, sacrifice, the magic of dreaming, and the beauty of solidarity, all packed into the lovely, understated occasion of two turtles considering a hat. - Gigi
The Crayons' Book of Colors
Yellow crayon colors the sun. Red crayon colors strawberries. Green crayon colors a dinosaur, a frog – and recycling crocodiles! Kids will love learning about colors and guessing which crayon colors what in Drew Daywalt and Oliver Jeffers's fun board-book follow-up to the bestselling Day the Crayons Quit. - Gigi
A Child of Books
Lovely soft, dreamy art contrasts beautifully with the chunky, beady strings and swirls of words, the precipitous mountains of words, the roiling waves of words, the monsters built of words, in this story about the ways in which our imaginations are fed on and enriched by literature. - Gigi
In My Heart: A Book of Feelings
Happiness, anger, sadness, shyness, hope – no feeling is left feeling left out! In my Heart is an elegant picture book, with its fanciful narrative, whimsical art, and best of all, the die-cut heart that runs in a rainbow through its pages. - Moses M.
Du Iz Tak?
Du Iz Tak? is more than just Carson Ellis's trademark highly detailed, whimsical artwork. The creatures in her miniature forest speak a different language, so kids get to wonder over the mystery of words and story, using their imaginations to fill in the blanks. It's smart, inventive fun. - Gigi
Poor Penguin! His beak is cold. He doesn't like snow. He's not buoyant enough. He feels silly when he waddles. Can Walrus convince him to view life differently and appreciate all that he has? Local author Jory John and award-winning illustrator Lane Smith team up in this charming and hilarious picture book. - Kim T.
The Littlest Family's Big Day
Winfield fans will delight in another gorgeous book filled with whimsy. The Littlest Family's Big Day hearkens picture books of another era with its sweet and simple woodland story of a "little" bear family – and fox baby – wandering through the neighborhood of their new home. - Kate L.
Ada Twist, Scientist
Ada Twist loves science so much that her endless experiments are out of control! What's a frazzled family to do? Smart writing and fun, topsy-turvy art combine perfectly in this charming picture book about the tumult – and the blessings – of cultivating a passion for learning. - Gigi
All My Treasures
Cleverly tucked between the covers of this delightful picture book is a moral – everyday moments are something special. A girl is gifted a beautiful porcelain box from her grandmother, but what should she keep in it? She soon discovers what she treasures most are not "things" that will fit in her box. - Kate L.
A foggy coastal town in Northern California is the setting for Telgemeier's tale of two sisters, Catrina and Maya. The younger sister, Maya, has cystic fibrosis and needs the ocean air for her health. Telgemeier eloquently captures what it's like to have a sibling who is very ill. - Mary Jo
Double Down (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #11)
According to his parents, Greg Heffley needs to stop playing video games and find something else to do. One old video camera later, Greg and his friend Rowley decide to make a movie – a scary movie. What could possibly go wrong? Another hilarious and exciting chapter in this beloved series. - Mary Jo
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
It's been a magical year for Harry Potter fans, and the release of Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a great way to end it. The story recaptures the magic of the original series, and the screenplay is bound in an artful hardcover that makes it a perfect gift for the HP completist in your life. - Ashleigh
The Secret Keepers
Join this adventure involving Reuben and his newfound magical antique watch – along with an elderly watchmaker, an intriguing family that lives in a lighthouse, and a clever villain named The Smoke – and you will be entered into a mystery filled with clues, traps, and daring escapes. - Richard C.
The Hammer of Thor (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard #2)
Magnus Chase and friends return for more adventures and a quest: find Thor's missing hammer. They need to act quickly, or the world will be overrun by giants. Full of excitement, narrow escapes, and snappy comebacks, you won't want to miss the latest from powerhouse Rick Riordan. - Mary Jo
Wildwood Chronicles Complete Box Set
I love Wildwood. I love Colin Meloy and the Decemberists. I love Carson Ellis's striking illustrations. These books, set in a magically reimagined Forest Park, are lyrical and charming. This box set is the perfect gift for anyone who needs a little more magic. - Ashleigh
LEGO Star Wars: Build Your Own Adventure
LEGO Star Wars: Build Your Own Adventure comes with instructions for 50 different LEGO combinations to build awesome models like a Y-wing, a podracer, an imperial command post, even a Jawa junk shop! Or make up your own! A cool new Star Wars story is included. - Moses
The Reader (Sea of Ink and Gold)
A combination of stunning storytelling, a wonderfully diverse cast of characters, and an important message for our time about the importance of books, The Reader is a masterful debut. Get ready to be transported into a world of swash buckling and sharp shooting! - Richard C.
The Sun Is Also a Star
One fateful day in New York, Natasha and Daniel meet and fall madly in love. Brilliant, unexpected, and full of narrative twists, this romance between a poet and a scientist is a dazzling, sparkling rocket ride of delicious dialogue and connection. - Mary Jo
Master storyteller Marissa Meyer ventures into the world of Alice in Wonderland with a prequel. Catherine is being courted by the King of Hearts, but after attending a ball with all the cast of characters of Wonderland, she finds herself falling in love with a far more charming suitor: the court jester. - Richard C.
Dan and Phil Go Outside
For their latest adventure, YouTube favorites Dan Howell and Phil Lester actually left their homes and traveled the world. Dan and Phil Go Outside is filled with hundreds of photos and tons of funny stories that take you behind the scenes of their journey. - Mary Jo