Grace Recommends!

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Coraline By Neil Gaiman Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780063088238
Availability: On Our Shelves Now: Please call ahead to be sure inventory is not being held for other customers.
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - September 21st, 2021

Neil Gaiman’s young characters are whip-smart, bored, and endlessly disappointed in the adults around them for their complete lack of imagination. Coraline in particular is tired of her parents’ unending focus on their gardening magazine, especially when they’ve just moved into a boring new house. But Coraline is perhaps too clever for her own good – she discovers a secret passage in her new house, leading to an alternate version of her own reality, with better food, more attentive parents, a cat that can talk. It’s a dream come true! As Coraline explores, however, she discovers a sinister side to this new utopia, and must decide whether this excitement is worth giving up everything she knows.

            As an adult reader, this book scares me more than anything Stephen King has ever written. When I was a kid, though, it was one of my favorite books, and held no fear for me. I saw myself in Coraline’s unending curiosity, and I also saw what I as a child wanted to be: fearless, headstrong, bold. I also wanted the talking cat. Even now that I’ve grown up and out of my childhood home (full of secret passages, I might add), I return to Coraline in moments when I need her fearlessness, and also when I want to feel creepy and Halloweeny. A staple of childhood Octobers – best accompanied by a cup of hot chocolate and a cozy sweater.

Grace, Longfellow Books


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The Raven Boys (The Raven Cycle, Book 1) By Maggie Stiefvater Cover Image
$10.99
ISBN: 9780545424936
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Scholastic Paperbacks - July 30th, 2013

Blue Sargent is the only non-psychic in a family full of female psychics. None of them can agree on any future, but the one thing they can agree on is this: if Blue Sargent kisses her true love, he will die. This isn’t a problem until St Mark’s Eve, a night when the ghosts of next year’s dead reveal themselves, and she comes face to face with a boy her own age. The only reasons a non-psychic could see a ghost on St Mark’s Eve are these: either the ghost is your true love, or you killed him.

            So you see Blue’s problem.

            The story that follows is full of sleeping Welsh kings, psychic horrors, murder, and dark-academia-in-West-Virginia aesthetics. Stiefvater’s teenage characters are blisteringly sarcastic, with skinned knees and mommy issues – nobody here is angelic, unless of course you’re talking about Adam Parrish, who can do little wrong. The intensity of the friendship between this group of teenagers brings me back to my own high school friendships; the way we clung to each other in our insulated little town, as though we were all there was or ever would be.

Grace, Longfellow Books


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The Haunting of Hill House By Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller (Introduction by) Cover Image
By Shirley Jackson, Laura Miller (Introduction by)
$16.00
ISBN: 9780143039983
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - November 28th, 2006

I don’t even remember why I picked this book up in the first place, but I’m so glad that I did. I tore through this masterpiece in about five hours at my college desk job, and found myself deeply stuck in Hill House for days afterward, unable to think about anything else. Jackson’s prose is simple and yet makes your skin crawl, and the haunts of Hill House barely have to show themselves for you to be thoroughly uncomfortable reading in the dark.

The story follows a scientific investigation into Hill House led by paranormal scientist Doctor Montgomery, who has compiled a small team of people with psychic experiences. The narrative takes influence from traditional Gothic haunted house tales and, much like her predecessors, Jackson weaves a horror story that doesn’t so much terrify as it does inspire the reader to scare themselves. Unlike classic haunted houses, however, Hill House is not inhabited by a malevolent spirit – the bones of the house itself seem to be evil, malignant, diseased.

This remains one of my favorite books to reread, especially when the weather is dark and spooky. Nothing quite compares to the thrill of reading those first few words and knowing that, for better or worse, you’ve entered Hill House. You’ve put your trust in Shirley Jackson – and now she is going to tell you a story.

Grace, Longfellow Books


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Just Kids By Patti Smith Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780060936228
Availability: On Our Shelves Now: Please call ahead to be sure inventory is not being held for other customers.
Published: Ecco - November 2nd, 2010

A classic for a reason! As someone who studied art history in college and has always been a little pretentious (to my own detriment), I’m very familiar with Robert Mapplethorpe’s work, and Patti Smith’s music was the soundtrack to my teenage angst, so the interiority depicted in this gorgeous memoir felt like catching up with old friends – learning about their childhoods, where and how they met, the heartbreaks and successes. Smith is such a talented writer, and the portrait she paints of late 1960s and ‘70s New York City, infested with roaches and lice and yet somehow sparkling with promise and innovation, grabs you by the sheepskin vest and doesn’t let you go.

 

            Studded with cameos of everyone’s favorite ‘70s icons (Jimi Hendrix comforts our narrator in a stairwell! The Velvet Underground eats in the same restaurant as Patti and Robert! Our guys get invited into Andy Warhol’s circle!), this book dragged me out of a months-long reading slump. Smith’s writing feels deeply intimate – almost conspiratorial, as though the two of you are talking in hushed tones late into the night over glasses of cheap wine and a cigarette. Her relationship with Robert is the subject of much of the book as it shifts, but whether romantic, platonic, or collaborative, the reader is always sharply aware of some kind of specialness to it, a quality that makes the existence of this relationship vital and generative for both participants. If you don’t believe in soulmates, give this book a shot – by the end, you might just change your mind.

Grace, Longfellow Books


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The Ocean at the End of the Lane: A Novel By Neil Gaiman Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780063070707
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - May 18th, 2021

How much do you remember of your childhood? Do you remember the people who lived around you, the dysfunctions of your family, the brief but terrifying expeditions into other worlds? Our unnamed narrator doesn’t – until, deeply into middle age, he attends a funeral and finds himself following a long, winding lane back to the place he grew up, where his childhood home has been turned into prefab houses. The farm next door, however, remains, and upon entering the house looking for an old friend, our narrator is plunged into the past, into memories that have remained hidden for the entirety of his adult life.

This perfect little fairytale is pretty short, clocking in at just under 200 pages, but is powerful for its size. Gaiman perfectly encapsulates the overwhelming nature of childhood: wiser and more intuitive than the adults surrounding you, and yet in no position to do anything about it. It’s a completely different kind of story, melding the wonders of ancient folk tales and scientific myth. I read this book every October to ring in the soft misty autumns I crave, imagining myself alongside Lettie Hempstock and our narrator as they battle an interdimensional entity determined to shred its way into our reality. Every October I am newly enamored with Gaiman’s grasp of language (and his mouthwatering descriptions of farm-fresh dinners!); he builds a world that feels soft-edged, sleepy, and nostalgic, like a film photo of your childhood home, taken in the hazy hours before the day begins.

Grace, Longfellow Books


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The Stranger Beside Me: The Shocking Inside Story of Serial Killer Ted Bundy By Ann Rule Cover Image
$17.99
Email or call for price.
ISBN: 9781501139147
Published: Gallery Books - November 6th, 2018

            I listen to true crime podcasts every day. I was fairly certain I had a handle on the Ted Bundy story, and we all know the mythos: a whip-smart mastermind who manipulated women and outsmarted cops alike, whose victims resembled (for the most part) the woman who turned down his marriage proposal. Here are some of the things I did not know about Ted Bundy, in no particular order: his grandfather was also his father (ew). He liked Chablis. And on the weekends, he volunteered at a suicide prevention hotline, where he sat in the cubicle next to one ex-policewoman named Ann Rule.

            Rule and Bundy not only knew each other – they were friends; he walked her to her car at night. She used to say if she were 10 years younger, or if her daughters were 15 years older, he would have been the perfect man. As a result, Rule’s portrayal of Bundy is one of the most multifaceted and complex portraits of a modern serial killer I’ve ever read. Rule’s examination of the quintessential sociopath and his trial is a nail-biter and a must-read for any true crime fans. But read it with the light on and the door locked – how well do you really know your cute next-door neighbor?

Grace, Longfellow Books


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The Secret History (Vintage Contemporaries) By Donna Tartt Cover Image
$18.00
ISBN: 9781400031702
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - April 13th, 2004

This is it. This is the book for me – my all-time, ultimate, one-hundred-percent favorite book. I have bought multiple copies of this book at thrift stores with the sole intention of keeping a stash in case someone, somewhere, displays any modicum of interest in reading it. I love to be the guy that’s like “this is my favorite book! Here, don’t worry about buying it – I have an extra copy!” It is my MOVE – every single time I’ve wanted to date someone I’ve given them a copy of this book and EVERY TIME those have become long-term relationships. I am not kidding when I say this is my favorite book.

 

            The book that began the Dark Academia craze, Donna Tartt’s first novel follows a group of Greek students who are arguably too invested in their studies. There’s really no way to talk about the plot of this book without giving too much away so I will just say: it is about the vibes, my friend. A small liberal arts college in Vermont; a fanatical group of classics students following a charismatic teacher; a murder. For those who read and loved The Goldfinch, this is a sure hit: you’ll recognize the main character’s mid-narrative drug-assisted mental spiral, characteristic of Tartt’s work. It’s a book full of anti-heroes, grey morality, and the most beautiful prose you’ve come across in a long time. Crime! Moral crises! Snobbery! Drug abuse! A lot of very in-depth knowledge on very niche topics! What more could you need?

Grace, Longfellow Books


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Little Weirds By Jenny Slate Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780316485364
Availability: Not in stock, usually ships to store in 1-5 Days
Published: Back Bay Books - November 24th, 2020

            When I picked up this book, I was thinking of a Jenny Slate quote from her comedy special Stage Fright that stuck with me – tearing up and preparing to take the stage, she says “I don’t deserve the love unless something beautiful goes out”. Jenny Slate has always, whether in 240 characters on Twitter or an hour-long special, been able to verbalize experiences I have previously felt alone in experiencing, and completely unable to describe. When I bought Little Weirds, I was expecting it to be full of that same recognition – things I could point to and say yes, I have felt this, yes, my heart has hurt this way, yes, we are the same. I have never been more correct about a book before reading the first page.

 

            Slate’s writing is full of an authenticity that is beyond palpable. This book is a collection of short essays, some of which are entirely fantastical and some of which are directly related to Slate’s own experiences. I cried multiple times reading this book, both because I saw myself in it and because Slate is a wonderful storyteller. Whether you’re familiar with her from her work as Marcel the Shell (with shoes on), Mona Lisa Saperstein from Parks and Recreation, or her excellent tweets, Jenny Slate is a heartfelt force to be reckoned with, and Little Weirds will keep you laughing, even through your tears.

Grace, Longfellow Books