Matthieu's Picks

Batman: Arkham Asylum New Edition Cover Image
By Grant Morrison, Dave McKean (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781779504333
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: DC Comics - June 30th, 2020

Grant Morrison and Dave McKean's timeless, genre-bending tale BATMAN: ARKHAM ASYLUM is brought back to its classic beauty in this New Edition!

Batman faces his most dangerous foes and his inner demons in order to retake Arkham Asylum from the grips of The Joker, Poison Ivy, Two-Face and many more.

The Penguin Book of Japanese Short Stories Cover Image
By Jay Rubin (Translated by), Jay Rubin (Editor), Jay Rubin (Notes by), Haruki Murakami (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780241311905
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Published: Penguin Classics - July 14th, 2020

I've never fallen for anything faster than I fell for Japanese literature, and I will now pitch you this book hoping you'll feel the same! First off, this book is a master class in selection...Jay Rubin is one of the most renowned translators of Japanese fiction in English and his picks for this collection are second to none. Not only that, but the stories are arranged in these nice little, topical blocks. This way, you get a feel for how Japanese writers past and present deal with particular issues such as the growing influence of Western nations during the Meiji period or the way the country came together after the massive Kobe earthquake of 1995. For my money, this is one of the best introductory collections someone looking to get into Japanese literature could ever ask for!

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The Big Sleep (A Philip Marlowe Novel #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394758282
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - July 12th, 1988

Chandler is one of the most significant figures in America's history of letters. His first novel has everything you could ever want out of a mystery (or any book really): Solid pacing, great dialogue, and a slew of murders that Chandler's detective must get to the bottom of. While Chandler can certainly write a simmering narrative, the real draw is his style. The primary characteristics being a pithy prose, snappy conversation, and his ever evocative metaphors: "I was as empty of life as a scarecrow's pockets." As far as hard-boiled detective fiction goes, you can't get much better than Chandler and The Big Sleep is a great introduction.

The Fall of Language in the Age of English Cover Image
By Minae Mizumura, Mari Yoshihara (Translator), Juliet Winters Carpenter (Translator)
ISBN: 9780231163033
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Published: Columbia University Press - January 15th, 2017

Literatures, customs, and ways of being are deeply married with the languages that give them life. So what happens when a foreign language begins to take precedence over a native one? This is the question Mizumura's book revolves around and how she frames her arguments against the forced inclusion of English into places where it is not the primary language. Mizumura always comes back to culture, and that to institute a universal language, even a de facto one, would surely put many distinct cultural practices at risk, if not extinguish them altogether.

The Anatomy of Melancholy Cover Image
By Robert Burton, William H. Gass (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780940322660
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Published: NYRB Classics - April 30th, 2001

So this book is long, real long. And it's not exactly the kind of book one normally reads through. Originally published in 1621, Burton's Anatomy is a medical treatise on melancholy, thought at that time to be caused by an imbalance of black bile, one of the four humors which were at that time believed to completely control a person's temperament. Now, Burton's medical opinions, as you might guess, haven't held up too well. But that's not why we're here! The Anatomy of Melancholy is a feast of anecdotes, quotes, and aphorisms stitched up not-so-tidily by a medieval clergyman. Take a few quotes before bed every night, have a few lines with breakfast, carry a copy everywhere to build moral and muscle fiber! (Also if you like lists, get ready, cause Burton loves lists).

The Black Lizard Big Book of Pulps: The Best Crime Stories from the Pulps During Their Golden Age--The '20s, '30s & '40s Cover Image
By Otto Penzler (Editor)
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ISBN: 9780307280480
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - November 6th, 2007

Listen, if you like damned detectives, popping pistols, goofy gangsters, femme fatales, next-level noir, and gruesome gore then this is the collection for you! Y'all know what pulp fiction is all about and Penzler's selections deliver in spades, there's plenty here to love. I think the pulp story is one of the most significant literary genres to ever come out of the States. Genre fiction is often maligned as lacking substance, being something for people who aren't ready to give up their plots in favor of philosophy. Well, that's hogwash as far as I'm concerned because I think there's plenty of weight in stories about murder, corrupt cops, and the ever lovable and grey P.I.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles Cover Image
By Hiro Arikawa, Philip Gabriel (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780451491336
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Published: Berkley - October 23rd, 2018

Arikawa puts together a story of maturity and innocence in The Travelling Cat Chronicles. Satoru, a thirty-something year old man and his cat, Nana, head out on a journey across Japan to visit Satoru's old friends in the hopes one will be able to take Nana into their home.  Death, the joy of pets, nostalgic meetings with old friends, and the exciting proposition of making new ones all crop up in this short, stirring read. Arikawa's themes are deep enough to benefit from the musings of adults, while her language and whimsy are sure to be a hit with middle grade readers also. In short, there's something here for everyone!

The Nakano Thrift Shop: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609453992
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Published: Europa Editions - June 6th, 2017

Some books manage to do alot with a little. The Nakano Thrift Shop is the story of a Japanese woman who works in a...thrift shop. She reminisces over pieces that come in, muses about the lives of the regulars, and goes out with a coworker. The book has a simple setup, each chapter is named after an item that appears within it and has some central meaning. Really it's like reading loosely connected short stories with recurring characters. Quaint, breezy, relaxing.

The Most Dangerous Book: The Battle for James Joyce's Ulysses Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143127543
Availability: Special Order
Published: Penguin Books - May 26th, 2015

A literary history, an American history, a constitutional history. I read Kevin Birmingham's book to learn about the publishing history of one of the most infamous novels of the 20th century. Things I learned: Suppression and flat censorship of literature in America extended well into the 1900s, that our nation once had vice societies designed to control consumption of "unsavory" entertainment, and Ernest Hemingway was a smuggler of contraband. An exempelary book on the importance of free speech and challenging the status quo.

My Struggle: Book 1 Cover Image
By Karl Ove Knausgaard, Don Bartlett (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374534141
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 28th, 2013

My Struggle is cringe-inducing, family drama, and oversharing to the next level. And I love every word of it. Karl Ove Knausgaard crucifies himself on a page while making his words universal. The book that has mattered to me the most for the past two years.

Milky Way Railroad (Stone Bridge Fiction) Cover Image
By Kenji Miyazawa, Joseph Sigrist (Translator), D. M. Stroud (Translator)
ISBN: 9781933330402
Availability: Special Order
Published: Stone Bridge Press - December 1st, 2008

This is the single most beautiful children's book I've ever read. A poignant rumination on death and the afterlife told through the voyage of a train across the galaxy.

The Rest Is Noise: Listening to the Twentieth Century Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312427719
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Picador - October 14th, 2008

Some people say that classical music  is boring and it's clear those people have never read The Rest Is Noise. This book is full to the brim with scandal, murder, and art. No prior musical experience needed.

Palm-of-the-Hand Stories (FSG Classics) Cover Image
By Yasunari Kawabata, Lane Dunlop (Translated by), J. Martin Holman (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780374530495
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Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - November 14th, 2006

The longest story in this collection is a mere nine pages. This is a delicate, airy, atmospheric group of concise, open-ended vignettes. They'll never take more than 10 minutes to finish but they'll always leave an impression.

Out: A Thriller (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400078370
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - January 4th, 2005

Rare is the thriller as socially critical as it is suspense filled. Out can satisfy someone seeking to understand the patriarchal culture of Japan or the reader looking for a heartracing tale of murder through the killer's eyes.

Norwegian Wood (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375704024
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - September 12th, 2000

I first read Norwegian Wood during my sophomore year of high school and have read it every year since, normally around winter. It was my first real taste of Japanese fiction (as Murakami often is) and I've been hooked ever since. Like the 60s? Read this book. Like love triangles? Read this book. Like a book to just unapologetically wreck you? Read this book.

Pan: From Lieutenant Thomas Glahn's Papers Cover Image
By Knut Hamsun, Sverre Lyngstad (Translated by), Sverre Lyngstad (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780141180670
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Penguin Classics - September 1st, 1998

Knut Hamsun's Pan was my introduction to Norwegian literature. Lieutenant Glahn is a young hunter living in the forest beyond Oslo, then Christiania, eking out a meager living with his dog, Aesop. We see the neuroses of a young man seeking love and happiness. Hamsun is a top-notch prose writer and his characters are always fleshed out and laid bare for his readers to soak in.

The Shooting Gallery (New Directions Classic) Cover Image
By Yuko Tsushima, Geraldine Harcourt (Translated by)
ISBN: 9780811213561
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Published: New Directions - May 17th, 1997

Japan is renowned for the short story and Tsushima upholds the legacy for sure. "A Sensitive Season" featured in this collection is probably my favorite short story of all time.

The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle: A Novel (Vintage International) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679775430
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - September 1st, 1998

A densely layered mystery involving a man and his missing wife. At once a novel about the collective unconscious, the self, and the polar opposites we find for ourselves. Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!

Ulysses (Gabler Edition) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780394743127
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Published: Vintage - May 12th, 1986

Ulysses is one of *those* books. The kind that sit on your shelf, the kind you'd love to brag about having read, the kind that you figure could change your life if only you had the time or opportunity to really dig into it. Well, I'm happy to say Ulysses really might be the greatest novel of all time. I had to read it for a class in spring of 2018 and loved every bit of it (well maybe not every bit). Sure, there's lots to miss but that also means there's plenty to get! A few episodes will make you want to bang your head on the wall because of how esoteric they are (looking at you "Oxens of the Sun"), while others will leave you absolutely speechless with Joyce's language. You'll definitely laugh, you might cry, and you might chuck the brick across the room! Ulysses is the only book I think everyone should read because it is that universal, that entertaining, and that essential.