Staff Favorites

Staff Favorites

290 E. Main St
Ashland, OR 97520
541-488-0029
bloomsburyashland
@gmail.com

Open 7-days:
M-Fri 8:30am-9pm
Sat 9am-9pm
Sun 10am-6pm

Home of the Oregon Shakespeare Festival
Specializing in contemporary fiction, children’s books, young adult, local authors, & a large Shakespeare & theater section

After shopping, enjoy your book at… Bloomsbury Coffee House
Organic eats, drinks, treats
Above Bloomsbury Books.
290 E. Main
(541) 708-0608
More about
the cafe…

STAFF PICKS

Sheila           Karen              Anita             Greg             John            Brandon           Becky
Susan        Mark        Sierra

THE TALE OF THE DUELING NEUROSURGEONS

Sam Kean

Like the abyssal depths of the oceans or the dark recesses of interstellar space, the human brain is home to a scattering of undiscovered peculiarities and mysteries. Just as important as brain function, brain dysfunction provides an intimate insight into the delicate balance of intricacies necessary to keep a human being within the bounds of sanity. But to study brain dysfunction requires the presence of brain dysfunction. Author Sam Kean chronicles with brilliant clarity the history of our understanding of the human brain’s darkest, most disturbing and most revealing moments and how they’ve contributed to the development and application of neuroscience.

FALTER
Bill McKibben

A disturbing, yet beautifully written book by one of our country’s leading environmentalists.  From climate change…to genetic engineering…to artificial intelligence…McKibben addresses a range of problems facing the world.  This is a levelheaded, well-researched book about where we are headed and what steps might still be taken to avoid the demise of humanity.  Very powerful, and deeply moving.

WOMEN’S WORK

by Megan K. Stack

When Stack gave birth to her son Max she left her prestigious job as a foreign correspondent to care for her newborn and to work on her novel. She discovered that, like birth, the experience of mothering a newborn can’t be anticipated. Despite the help of a full time nanny, instead of writing she was learning how to disappear. As time passed she began feeling her way first back into sanity, then her own skin, and the wider world. Then one child became two and her family relocated from China to India. Throughout the changes she reflected on the role of a nanny in her household. What must it be like to be a working mother, like herself, who leaves their child to go and care for another’s? Instead of reporting from a foreign war zone, Stack sends dispatches from the crossroads of domestic work and motherhood. Important. Compelling. WOMEN’S WORK is a study of motherhood, a work of cultural anthropology, a sociological argument, and a must read. -Becky

MACHINES LIKE ME
Ian McEwan
McEwan is near the top of my lists for “best living novelist.” MACHINES LIKE ME is brilliantly entertaining, yet morally layered and thought-provoking. Set in an alternative history of 1980’s London, the story revolves around Charlie, who has spent his inheritance on a new robotically developed human. Adam, on of 23 robots developed by Alan Turing, is capable of falling in love with Shakespeare and Charlies girlfriend, and making Charlie lots of money on the stock market. His strict moral code allows no deviance. His superiorities and refusal to deviate from his moral code ask the questions of what it means to be human and the difference between a brain and a mind.     -Sheila

ALL THE LIVES WE EVER LIVED
Katharine Smyth

“It’s difficult to believe in death for more than a few minutes at a time.”

Why is it that children seem to love the more tortured parent more? Maybe the same reason we love our tortured artists; we trick ourselves into believing their addictions and angers are marks of genius. Smyth grieves the loss of her father, the man she viewed with godlike reverence as a child, with increasing anxiety and fear as a teen and adult as his alcoholism consumed the man she knew, and with sadness and an ever deepening love as his failing body continued to carry him further from the living. Throughout this process she sought solace in Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. Just as Smyth has an instinct for Woolf (according to a college to tuor), she also has an instinct for combining memoir with literary criticism and for allowing the metaphor of Woolf’s work to tell deep truths about the love between parents and children. This book makes you want to read all of Woolf’s writing, and to reread Smyth’s once you’ve finished. Stunning.-Becky

DEEP CREEK
Pam Houston

“This book has been an effort to write my way to an understanding of how to be alive in the meantime, in the final days, if not of the earth, then at least of the earth as I’ve known her. Because it has only been in knowing her that I’ve come to know myself.”

In this unironic love letter to mother nature Houston tells the story of how an 120 acre ranch in Colorado, over the course of a quarter century and with the help of friends (human, canine, equus, and fowl), taught her, a woman who has literally run with near-mythical creatures, to be her own cowboy. There is death, of elk and chickens and dogs, and destruction by blight and fire, but there so much life and hope and beauty captured here too. Houston models how to remind ourselves to be the change, especially during the many moments every day when we are failing to do so, how to acknowledge that we are part of the problem, and how to “live simultaneously in the wonder and the grief without having to diminish one to accommodate the other.” An important, timely book that is for all times and for all of us. -Becky

THE DREAMERS
Karen Thompson Walker

This beautiful and haunting story captures the reader’s attention from the very beginning. In a small college town in Southern California, first one girl succumbs to a deep sleep from which she cannot be awakened. This sleeping sickness starts to rapidly spread throughout the college community and beyond. And the victims all exhibit extremely lively brain activity, indicating a heightened dream state. In fact, Walker magnificently explores the mysterious nature of dreams as opposed to “reality”. We witness how a variety of different people react to and cope with the terrifying situation. A fascinating and thought-provoking novel. I couldn’t put it down! –Anita

LULLABY ROAD
James Anderson

“What becomes of the broken-hearted?” Sometimes, they become inhabitants of Lullaby Road, a stretch of highway 117 in the Utah desert, along which Ben Jones, a truck driver with his own damaged heart, makes deliveries. Ben has found a small Hispanic child, abandoned in the snow at a gas station with a note that reads, “Please, Ben, help my son. Big Trouble.” Ben takes the child with him in the truck–and there is big trouble. Lullaby Road is a well-plotted, satisfying mystery; but it is Anderson’s broken-yet-resilient characters, who have chosen–or were forced–to live in the lonely desert, who make it memorable. Ben Jones is a great modern protagonist–funny, compassionate, flawed and so human. The solitude and sere beauty of the landscape are always present and the descriptions of the flat vistas and endless horizons are haunting on James Anderson’s fine prose. –Sheila

THE MERMAID AND MRS. HANCOCK
Imogen Hermes Gowar
Set in London during the height of the Georgian era, this is the story of a shipping merchant, who has made a fortune exhibiting an alleged mermaid corpse, and the most famed courtesan in the city, who woos him at the behest of her madam, who wants to exhibit the corpse in her brothel. Things get complicated in their romance when one of the merchant’s ships captures a real mermaid off the coast of Scotland and brings it home. It is a richly detailed historical fiction with a glaringly ahistorical element –  a true mermaid. If you’re weary of the proliferation of young-women-in-peril fiction and despairing political non-fiction, try this unique and and absorbing novel. -Sheila

THE STRANGER IN THE WOODS
Michael Finkel

A young man parks his car and disappears into the forest in Maine. For three decades he manages to survive through freezing winters with no contact from anyone. A fascinating true story of survival. –Karen

MANHATTAN BEACH
Jennifer Egan

Pulitzer prize-winning author Jennifer Egan paints a moving and captivating portrait of Brooklyn in the 1940s. The war is raging, people are experiencing hard times, and the New York mob is alive and well. Anna Kerrigan, an independent and capable young woman, is working in the parts department of the Brooklyn Navy Yard, supporting the war effort. But she is determined, against all odds, to be a professional diver who repairs vessels. When her father, who was working for the mob, suddenly disappears, Anna is ultimately driven to discover what has happened to him. While devoted to her mother and a severely, disabled sister, she fearlessly gets involved with the underworld to attempt to solve the mystery. Amidst a drastically changing world, Anna’s strength, resilience and passion create an extraordinary heroine. –Anita

THE FRIEND
Sigrid Nunez

“What we miss—what we lose and what we mourn—isn’t this that makes us who, deep down, we truly are.” An unnamed woman of  certain, also unnamed but implied, age inherits a giant of a dog, a Great Dane named Apollo, in the wake of her friend and mentor’s suicide. These two unlikely companions, as initial apprehension transforms to appreciation, wend their way through grief together. Written as though the woman were addressing her deceased friend, this is a uniquely beautiful and bitingly funny, bitter sweet treatise on grief, the art of writing, the state of the current literary landscape, and the powerful love between people and their “pets.” Unforgettable. –Becky