Left Bank Books
Collectively operated since 1973

Staff Picks by Subject


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Zines





Anarchism


Anarchism

by Sean Sheehan, reviewed by C

"Why are there anarchists? What do they believe? What do they want? What are the events of history that make anarchism an enduring social current? What does anarchism take from (or leave from) Marx and Nietzche? Sheehan answers clearly."
The Art of Not Being Governed

by James C. Scott, reviewed by Bo

Scott details an immense amount of hard data to back his interpretation of the Zomia peoples of South East Asia as intentionally evading States while preventing them from developing within their communities. His research is accessible for anyone who wishes to learn about cultures that renounce civilization!
At the Cafe

by Errico Malatesta, reviewed by Lucas

In the fashion of Plato's dialogues, Malatesta puts forward many basic anarchist ideas. Although at times simplistic in it's arguments, 'At the Cafe' is more fun to read than any anarchist primer and contains less dogmatic drivel than many.
Black Bloc, White Riot

by AK Thompson, reviewed by FG

A look into the strategy and philosophy of Black Bloc as a tactic through a postructuralist framework. Thompson traces the lineage of the Bloc through its North American inception in the 90's, and demystifies common misconceptions about race, gender and violence while laying compelling evidence for the continued use of this often attacked and misunderstood political act.
A Crime Called Freedom

by Os Cangaceiros, reviewed by Rudy

Os Cangaceiros: 'If we rob banks, it's because we have recognized money as the central cause of all our misery. If we smash the windows it's not because life is expensive, but because commodities prevent us from living at all costs. If we break the machines, it's not because of a wish to protect work but to attack the slavery of salary. If we attack the police its not to get them out of our neighborhoods but to get them out of our lives. The Spectacle wishes to make us appear dreadful, we intend to be much worse.' Enough said, read this.
The Ego and His Own

by Max Stirner, reviewed by Rudy

The literal translation being something along the lines of 'the unique and their property,' this book was a huge influence not only of Neitzche, but also on 'Individualist' strains of anarchist thought. Stirner uses his sexy dialectical prowess to argue his case, which, unlike much outdated anarchist programs, is still very much relevant to a sharp anarchist critique.
From Bakunin to Lacan

by Saul Newman, reviewed by Josh

In this incredible book, Newman uses poststructuralist thought to move past Marxism and push Anarchism to a deeper, more thorough critique of power. He shows how it is important to shirk the essentialist logic of classical Anarchism and redefine our limits and possibilities. A well written and readable book of great importance to modern Anarchist theory <3.
Killing King Abacus - For Relations Without Measure

by Wolfi, Sasha, Leila, reviewed by Rudy

Amazing, intelligent anarchist publications aimed at elaborating on discourse around insurrectionary anarchism. Wide range of topics are covered from strategy/tactics, alienation, material space, value science, and much more, including translations from Italian anarchist publications. Many anarchists will dislike their anti-political stance, but I find it quite refreshing.
Possibilities

by David Graeber, reviewed by Josh

This collection of essays is the follow up to the incredible 'Fragments of an Anarchist Anthropology' for which Graeber lost his position at Yale. In his likeable, conversational tone, Graeber uses anthropology to show up possibilities for egalitarian ways of living without a state, capitalisms origins in slavery, and ideas for forms of resistance. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
Realizing the Impossible

by Josh MacPhee and Eric Ruin, reviewed by Josh

This essential new book is so packed with incredible and diverse essays it would explode any minute! The pictures in it are worth checking out by themselves. If you've ever wondered where or how art and anarchism intersect then you should read on and be inspired!
Unforgiving Years

by Victor Serge

This is the last novel by VS, one of the 20th century's most inspiring revolutionaries. All of his novels were written 'for the desk drawer' and are impregnated with a beautiful sense of urgency required by a man on the run, trying to record the hopes, dreams and inner life of men and women with passionate ideals living through tumultuous times.
Vision of Fire: Emma Goldman on the Spanish Revolution

by Emma Goldman and David Porter, reviewed by xian

Invaluable insight into one of history's greatest social revolutions from one of history's greatest minds. Necessary also for revealing one of the more obscure aspects of Goldman's life.
Wobblies and Zapatistas: Conversations on Anarchism, Marxism, and Radical History

by Staughton Lynd and Andrej Grubacic, reviewed by Cndr

Takes you on a winding journey through radical history revealing direct democracy and consensus based decision making around every corner. Lynd is a wealth of knowledge...Grubacic is an anarchist historian...together, they remind us that we are but seeds beneath the snow.
Work

by Crimethinc, reviewed by FG

While not as poetic or dark as 'Expect Resistance,' 'Work' bluntly translates all of the ways capitalism colonizes life. A good intro to capitalism--more seasoned readers might have fun reading this in conjunction with 'Society of the Spectacle' by Guy Debord.

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Anthropology


Coming Home to the Pleistocene

Paul Shepard, reviewed by BC

This anthropological classic analyzes the changes that cultures go through when moving from the hunter/gatherer economic system that was dominant for the first 99% of human history (and is still present in small pockets around the world) into either a pastoral economic system or an agricultural system, as well as the effects these changes can have on the environment. These changes have had drastic effects on the attitudes of populations involved, ranging from religious beliefs to the overall structure of a society. Shepard's book is meticulously researched, well-footnoted, and surprisingly readable, not falling into the trap of inaccessible academic language so common in other anthropology texts. A must-have for anyone interested in the way different cultures work.
Coming Home to the Pleistocene

Paul Shepard, reviewed by FG

Paul Shepard wants you to know that there is still a wildness in you, and that certain conditions created by civilization (and Silvia Federici might argue, accelerated by Capitalism) are manufacturing sedentary and potentially damaging developmental psychological processes: our basic emotional and environmental needs, which should be considered one in the same, are not being met by our current living realities and thusly we are being held in juvenile states of maturity, or neoteny. This directly contributes to the conditions of depression and alienation so prevalent in Western society.

“Coming Home” proposes a “Pleistocene paradigm,” investigating which conditions create autonomy in individuals and collectively, suggesting that the ways humans have historically lived equitably amongst each other informs our current genetic makeup but is in a state of suspension. This book is as important as ever. As a burgeoning anthropology nerd, I found the connections Shepard makes fascinating, like how infant bonding creates such vital senses of self and safety later in life but modern medical standards have dictated a necessary, almost instantaneous separation between newborn and parent, and our work lives forbid the kind of necessary bonding intended to foster independence.

Shepard died before the book was published and his wife wove the remaining pieces together so at times it feels disjointed and flights of thought seem to come to an abrupt halt. But certain statements still ring starkly and poignantly, and Shepard retains a hopefulness after pages of illustrating all of the ways our emotional lives are not what they could be or have been. We are not as lost as many cynics believe, he firmly states. It is not necessary to go back in time to live fulfilling lives, but we must consider the environment that informed our genetic makeup.

‘To reenvision ‘going back,’ we look with our mind’s eye at time as a spiral rather than a reversal. We ‘go back’ with each day along an ellipse with the rising and setting of the sun, each turning of the globe…We cannot run the life cycle backwards, but we cannot avoid the inherent and essential demands of an ancient, repetitive pattern as surely as human embryology follows a design derived from an ancestral fish. Most of the ‘new’ events in each individual life are like a different pianist playing a familiar piece.’
the Continuum Concept

Jean Lidloff, reviewed by QR

Living for two and a half years with a tribe of indigenous South Americans, Liefloff tries to understand what childhood looks like in it's most natural state and unincumbered by civilization. The result is deeply moving and a return to what it means to be a human living in healthy community; in true relationship with our surroundings. (Please note! I believe Liedloff has some triggering and faulty logic about what creates homosexuality. The rest of the book is so amazing that I hate to write the whole thing off. But readers should be aware that it contains pieces of bullshit.)

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Anti-Civ


Entropy

by Peregrine, reviewed by FG

Peregrine uses a beautiful, deeply personal narrative interlaced with anti-civ ideas to construct a story of healing both as a survivor of sexual assault and as a part of a society caught in an abusive relationship with capitalism. In lucid poetry, he focuses on how trauma alienates people from their memories and bodies and juxtaposes that with capitalisms isolation of the self from all parts of nature while coming to a reconciliation of hope. It may be triggering and explicit at times, but the connections made of systemic and interpersonal abuse are sharp, well written and worth it.

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Cities & Architecture



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"Dis"ability & Deafness



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Education & Schools



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Environmental Studies


Lost Language of Plants: The Ecological Importance of Plant Medicines for Life on Earth

by Steven Harrod Buhner, reviewed by BC

This book is part critique of industrial medicine (particularly the insanely large amount of antibiotics that we put into the environment), part critique of the dominant universe-as-machine epistemology of mainstream science, and part description of the amazing things that plants can and will do to take care of themselves, their landbases, other plants, insects, and other animal creatures such as ourselves.

With a quite accessible writing style, Buhner takes us through the very recent history of modern medicine, and a plethora of its deleterious effects on the environment, including shockingly large amounts of radiation.

I have experienced first-hand the idiocy of the "scientific" testing regimen of the pharmaceutical industry. I can tell you that I trust much more the thousands of years of experiences with plants as medicine than the very recent and brief experience that the medical industry has with medicines designed in laboratories. These medicines are composed of chemicals our bodies have never had experience with, and inevitably flush through our bodies and into the greater environment, quite often to its detriment, and inevitably the detriment of ourselves.

At once poetry, science, reasoned critique, and appeal to conscience, this book shatters our everyday beliefs about the health of ourselves, as well as our land, and how we maintain that health.

I don't use the word "crucial" lightly, but the ideas put forth in this book are crucial for the survival of pretty much everything except the pharmaceutical industry.

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Fiction


Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian

by Alexie Sherman, reviewed by ER

Local authors Alexie and Forney pair up to write one of the most poignant and engaging young adult novels ever! Follow the misadventures of Junior, a teenager living on the Spokane Indian Reservation. This is a MUST READ.
Agaat

by Marlene Van Niekerk, reviewed by Cndr

Clearly an allegory for race relations in South Africa, this novel succeeds on numerous other grounds: a rich evocation of family dynamics; a chilling portrait of bodily and mental decay; and a successful experiment in combining diaries, the second-person, and stream of consciousness.
All the King's Horses

by Michele Bernstein, reviewed by JM

I couldn't put this book down. Finally translated from French, Bernstein takes us on a "fictional" tour of the sometimes dramatic and always fascinating social lives of Paris' beloved and reviled members of the Situationist International. A quick and fun read.
Atta

by Jarrett Kopek, reviewed by LS

A dark and slightly surreal fictionalized biography of Mohammed Atta, one of the 9/11 terrorists. Using the actual man's masters thesis as a point of departure, this novella posits the 9/11 attacks as much as a critique of Western architecture as religious/political statement. A very brave and excellent first work by Kopek.
Autonauts of the Cosmoroute

by Julio Cortazar and Carol Dunlop, reviewed by Erin

The playful book documents the couple's 'expedition' from Paris to Mauseille in their VW 'dragon.' Living in two rest stops a day, they explore the extraordinary other life of the freeway. With occasional ruminations on time, space, music, sex and demons, this travelogue reads like poetry. Cortazar's wit, intelligence, and imagination are rare finds.
Birth of Love

by Joanna Kavenna, reviewed by Cndr

In Kavenna's visceral novel, dual themes of childbirth and the human inclination toward internal resistance form to change link the stories of three women whose lives span four centuries. Has an air of 'A Handmaid's Tale.
The Brothers Karamazov

by Fyodor Dostoevsky, reviewed by KC

"If you have one week to live, READ THIS BOOK. Forget Shakespeare: if great literature is the art of portraying comparative humanity, then this hilarious, devastating novel is an archetype to follow.
the Chukchi Bible

by Yuri Rytkheu, reviewed by BC

Originally published in Russian in 2000, this book was translated into English in 2011. Rytkheu was of the Chukchi people, who have occupied the Easternmost point of the Eurasian continent, straddling the Arctic Circle, for thousands of years. This book is Rytkheu's novelization of the folklore/history of the Chukchi, beginning with their origin story, and moving through their history, including flirtations with pastoral Reindeer herding and interactions with colonizing Russians and Americans, up to Rytkheu's birth in 1930. The book is beautifully written/translated, and oftentimes quite humorous, giving insight into a culture's history that is generally neglected, using storytelling instead of a dry historical telling.
The City and the Mountains

by Eca da Queros, reviewed by AK

In the beginning of 'the City and the Mountains,' the narrow minded bourgeois city brat cares only about every latest gadget and new piece of technology available to make life more 'comfortable' and 'civilized.' By the end, we've seen a beautiful transition into someone aware of poor living conditions around him and who uses his vast resources towards helping his fellow people out of poverty, and who also appreciates nature in it's pure form.
Deathless

by Catherynne Valente, reviewed by AK

Classic Russian fairy tale revisited and set against the Russian Revolution, 'Deathless' is vastly entertaining. Two of my favorite genres combined--history and folklore--this book makes me look forward to my bus rides.
Demons in the Spring

by Joe Meno, reviewed by FG

Meno is equally dark, humorous, and poetic in this collection of short stories that serve as analogies for alienation in a diverse range of relationships. The stories work well together and are steeped in a magical realism that makes most of them feel like dreams.
Drag King Dreams

by Leslie Feinberg, reviewed by AK

From the intensely emotional author of 'Stone Butch Blues,' this book is less about drag kings and more about a genderqueer activist trying to find even a little piece of mind in post 9-11 NYC among protests, racism, and homophobia. Great read. Very personal.
Everything Flows

by Vasily Grossman, reviewed by JM

Soviet state repression, mass murder, and the pervasive sense of regret thread themselves through this beautiful novel examining the painful human experiences of suffering and loss written after the Soviets destroyed his first masterpiece.
The Farming of Bones

by Edwidge Danticat, reviewed by Javier

I will read this book again and again--have read it again and again. This book is set around the little known massacre of Haitian laborers at the behest of Trujillo in 1937. Danticat's narrator tells us how it is possible to survive even through a haze of impossible grief, and makes me wonder: who has it better: the dead or the living?
Fight Club

by Chuck Palahniuk, reviewed by KC

Irony is complicated. So it's not clear whether Panalniuk's first (and best) novel is misogynist or a satire of masculinity; revolutionary or hipster; thoughtfully violent or pretentiously vulgar. But it IS a smart, funny read which helped shape a generation (plus, Palahniuk's a sweetheart).
Final Exam

by Julio Cortazar, reviewed by JM

It was written in 1950, just before the fall of Peron's govt, and paints the picture of a surreal and melancholy Buenos Aires, in some ways seeming to represent Cortazar's final farewell to the city before a permanent self-exile to Paris the following year. Not published until 1986 due to the political climate of Argentina at the time, 'Final Exam' is rich with both social and political commentary, as well as obscure literary references that will inspire a 2nd and 3rd read. So good! A classic.
Fist of the Spider Woman

ed. by Amber Dawn

Perhaps I am easily frightened...But the subtle manipulation in these stories is too twisted to ignore. After the first story you'll be so hotly intrigued that you will be forced to read the others.
Freedom: A Novel

by Jonathan Franzen, reviewed by KC

Freedom; is the 'Anna Karenina' for the dawn of the 21st century. From the politics of environmentalism to the Iraq war, Franzen shows us the world through the lives of a middle-class family. Among the best novels I've ever read.
From A to X

by John Berger, reviewed by AK

This is a book of Letters to Xavier, the alleged founder of a 'terrorist cell' from A'ida, his lover. They are written over the years of his imprisonment, adorned by Xavier's margin notes (ranging from political exclamations to quotes about love and longing) and A'ida's sketches. A'ida puts on a 'happy' face for Xavier but tanks and helicopters haunt the margins.
From the Mouth of the Whale

by Sjon, reviewed by FG

Set in 17th century Iceland, Sjon has written an epic-folk-biography about a self-taught healer and poet who has been relentlessly persecuted as a heretic. Magically written in surreal prose, the protagonist distinguishes himself as someone interested in knowledge and beauty over primitive accumulation through several misadventures that paint breathtaking magical portraits.
Germinal

by Emile Zola, reviewed by Collin

Etienne the engineman quits the railroad and wanders into the French mining town of Montsou. Families of seven are hauling coal out of the earth for little more than enough for soup and bread for a week. Rotten conditions can't last for the 10,000 minors. A labor classic.
The God of Small Things

by Arundhati Roy, reviewed by Collin

Ammu's family is an odd one, caught between India's Hindu caste culture and the class system of property in a district where the Communist Party was once strong. Her kids are going to turn out okay, if she can manage to keep their curiosities--and their eccentric grandmother's--from ruining them. Telling their story backwards from a tragedy, Roy inspires laughter (she's wicked hilarious) and sorrow with the complexities of family in a world that changes so quickly, where power decides who will be made to change with the world while others watch the world move around them like a boulder in the current.
The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ

by Phillip Pullman, reviewed by BC

A retelling of the story of Jesus' life, not quite as blasphemous as the His Dark Materials trilogy, but blashpemous enough to be interesting. A quick read.
The Graveyard Book

by Neil Gaiman, reviewed by AK

This book is fantastic. If Time Burton and Edward Gorey were to write a young adult novel together this would be it. It's morbid yet completely endearing, plus has some really beautiful illustrations.
Hopscotch

by Julio Cortazar, reviewed by Josh

Julio Cortazar is one of Argentina's most important writers and 'Hopscotch' his masterwork. A strange and gripping novel meant to be read multiple times in different orders. Highly recommended.
I Wish There Was Something That I Could Quit

by Aaron Cometbus, reviewed by Josh

Chock full of vandalism, heartbreak, the eventual entropy of our sanity and everything else the kid's love. Way more enjoyable than his 'Mixed Reviews.
In Dubious Battle

by John Steinbeck, reviewed by Collin

Mac and Jim hop freight to Central California where apple pickers are about to harvest--for half the pay received last season. As the workers come together to halt the scabs and survive hunger on strike, the local militia come out to crack skulls. Labor struggle Americana.
Indestructable

by C. Road, reviewed by ER

The illustrated story of a wayward youth. A Cuban-American girl who has a hard time making friends in high school, finds punk rock, gets crushes on girls, makes art, and ponders the meaning of life. I read it in one night--straight through!
Ines of my Soul

by Isabel Allende, reviewed by AK

This is a historical fiction account of a real person, Ines Suarez, the first female conquistadora in Chile. 'The events are true,' says Allende. She doesn't gloss over the treatment of the indigenous people, or the bloody war against native Chileans, and she brings the danger, fear, love, uncertainty, and everyday hardships of giving it a go on an unknown continent to life.
Infinite Jest

by David Foster Wallace, reviewed by Lucas

Many things have been written about Infinite Jest, probably too many. But I am adding my two cents to the collection nonetheless.

Writing about this book is difficult: it is like trying to sum up a moment of my life, a passage of time, wherein so many things happened both within and without the book. This is something that anyone who perseveres and makes a little headway in this book quickly realizes: any attempt at a summation of this book is necessarily incomplete, any reading of this book is predicated on the reader (try explaining this book to your seatmate on the bus when they ask: they will ask) – something that could be said of any book, but in the case of Infinite Jest, due to its sheer volume alone, carries with it new implications. Having said that, this is only one person’s understanding of the book. Read More.
Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison, reviewed by Lucas

Holy shit! I wish this book would have come into my life years ago. It is stunning, beautiful, and at times heartbreakingly funny. Ellison's depiction of race in America is nuanced and insightful in brilliant ways that are still relevant today (sadly).
The Island Beneath the Sea

by Isabel Allende

This is one of those books that make me frustrated that there is a world going on outside of me reading this book. It's SO GOOD! It's such an amazing perspective of the Haitian Revolution and early New Orleans, told mainly from the point of view of Zarite, a slave woman. She will not be alive in your head and heart, and you will not want to return to daily life. Enjoy!
Lands of Memory

by Felisberto Hernandez, reviewed by JM

Julio Cortazar loved Felisberto, and so do I! This book is a collection of two novellas and four short stories, full of poetic imagery and fascinating observations about the twists and turns of the human mind. Music serves as a strong subtext.
Let's Never Do That Again

by Erik Larsen, reviewed by Roger

Seattle author's debut short story collection is solidly funny and well-written--snippets of cubicle hells, passive-aggressive talking cats, prescription-medication popping couples, and other train wrecks.
The Literary Conference

by Cesar Aira, reviewed by LS

This book is definitely as absurd as the back cover makes it out to be. Immersed in the nonsense is also a rather thoughtful study of language and metaphor. Aira's attention to detail and lucid stream of consciousness writing remind me of a lesser Borges, perhaps mixed with a little Hunter S. Thompson in this novella.
My Abandonment

by Peter Rock, reviewed by AK

Set mainly in or near Portland, this is one of those books that keeps you on the edge of your seat. I quickly became enraptured with the characters and worried about what was going to happen to them next. Worried in an 'I'm caught up in this really good book' way.
Mystery of Grace

by Charles de Lint, reviewed by AK

SEX WITH GHOSTS! Tattooed dead people, hot rod buggs and other worldly happenings about in de Lint's novel. Hot and spooky all in one!
Novels in Three Lines

by Felix Geneon, reviewed by Josh

Feneon was an interesting character, living both as a respected literary figure, publisher, art critic, editor, and also as an anarchist theorist, organizer, and suspected bomber. In 1906 he spent the year writing an anonymous column in the Parisian paper Le Matin, the columns collected here consist of the goings on of Paris reduced to 3 line vignettes. All thousand of them are masterpieces of compression, poetry and precision. Cool!
One Bloody Thing After Another

by Joey Comeau, reviewed by FG

This book is hilarious and dark--with themes surrounding very literal teenage alienation (ghost moms, monster moms, adolescent queer lust)--it is unlike any other horror I have read. A great 'pick me up' for fall and winter.
The Orange Eats Creeps

by Grace Krilanovich, reviewed by FG

If there were to be a book about riot grrrl's narratives on female isolation and internalized oppression, only told through a personal magical narrative by a postmodern vampire, this would be it. Haunting prose that is creepy, surreal, and sometimes confusing, this was definitely hard to put down.
Oryx and Crake

by Margaret Atwood

What is it with Margaret Atwood and dystopian novels? This book is, like 'the Handmaid's Tale,' a glimpse of a very horrible, and very possible future if the human race doesn't get a grip. In this case, it's genetic engineering and biological weapons mixed in with a dose of capitalism and voila! Welcome to the future! Oh, and this one isn't for the faint of hearted either.
Our Lady of the Flowers

by Jean Genet, reviewed by Fin

Genet dreams up characters from another world, that of his past and his fantasy. He brings you into the world he imagines where sex workers and criminals live and where he longs to be. While Genet's writing has you afloat in a world of desire, he keeps partially connected to the ground as he writes of the reality of prison.
The Postmortal

by Drew Magary, reviewed by Sascha

Think it might be nice to stop aging? This book will make you think again. The kind of sci-fi I love best, the near-future kind that seems all too possible. Magary takes ideas of near-immortality beyond the realm of philosophy and imagines the immediate effects such a discovery would have on every day life. Fascinating and all too believable!
Richard Yates

by Tao Lin, reviewed by CP

Hardly as risque as the tagline suggests, this book chronicles the emotionally abusive relationship of 16 year old Dakota Fanning and 22 year old Haley Joel Osment. Jaded, cynical and bored, they epitomize the alienation and individualism of the 'I-phone generation.' Not a lot of people can write like Tao Lin.
Reamde

by Neal Stephenson, reviewed by Javier

This is 1000 pages of pure thriller. You will not want to set it down. While it lacks some of the depth of his other work ("Cryptonomicon," "the Caroque Cycle," etc.) the craft behind such a blitzkrieg of plot and language is absurdly great.
The Road

by Cormac McCarthy, reviewed by xian

This generation's Faulkner (whatever that means) AKA author of 'All the Pretty Horses' pulls a southern gothic take on George Romero and '28 Days Later' out of his hat.
Season of Ash

by Jorge Volpi, reviewed by Lucas

In a break with the magical realism that has pervaded the literature of Latin America for so long, Volpi offers a science based look at the fall of the USSR and the 'victory' of global capitalism.
Senselessness

by Horacio Castellano Moya, reviewed by JP

This book alternately made me howl with laughter and cringe with fear. It is incredible how the protagonists (who is over-the-top outrageous) paranoid voice begins to merge with those of the testimonies he is editing, exposing the psychological trauma suffered under a murderous military dictatorship. Not for the faint of heart or overly PC.
Sex Wars

by Marge Piercy, reviewed by AK

'Sex Wars' examines the struggle for women's suffrage right after the Civil War when so many activists were focused on getting the vote for African Americans, and the Women's Movement was often put on the back burner. Post Civil War New York through the eyes of several feisty women.
Siddhartha

by Herman Hesse, reviewed by Eve

This is one of a handful of books that I can read cover to cover in one sitting. The novel's themes of loss, change, adaption, and acceptance make it an indispensable First Aid Kid for the soul.
So Many Ways to Sleep Badly

by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, reviewed by ER

This book was written two paragraphs per day over a period of a couple years by a brilliant transgender writer with Fibromyalgia in San Francisco, CA. The non-linear storyline is refreshing and addresses sex work, chronic pain, drug addiction, incest, gender chaos, capitalist critique, and more! In a fictional freeform style!
Today I Wrote Nothing

by Danill Kharms, reviewed by PM

Kharms paints very real scenarios--snapshots of soviet life--and then shatters them with the absurd and impossible. The translator, Tankeleurch, provides the context for a deeper view of Kharms' avant garde short fiction. Highly recommended!
Unforgiving Years

by Victor Serge

This is the last novel by VS, one of the 20th century's most inspiring revolutionaries. All of his novels were written 'for the desk drawer' and are impregnated with a beautiful sense of urgency required by a man on the run, trying to record the hopes, dreams and inner life of men and women with passionate ideals living through tumultuous times.
Voices of Time

by Eduardo Galleano

Though each story is less than a page, every one recalls some deep seated emotion or memory, starting off feeling slightly disjointed, but the more you read the more connected to the writing you become. Often funny, always meaningful, it's wonderful!
We Who Are About To...

by Joanna Russ, reviewed by Josh

[This book] will infect your thoughts like a virus and shake up your assumptions about civilization and social life. Lying somewhere between a fucked up Gilligan's Island episode and a Nabakovian literary masterpiece, this brutal, nihilistic novel can't be ignored any longer. Check it out!
What Can I do When Everything's on Fire?

by Antonio Lobo Antunes, reviewed by AK

...a dizzying parade of drag queens, drug addicts, and hallucinatory visions, 'luminously' translated by Gregory Rabassa. It will transport you to a dream world where things change in a moment and dark visions abound.
The White Tiger

by Aravind Adiga, reviewed by LS

Having never been to India I cannot speak to the veracity of this dark, dark satire. More generally, this story is a thoughtful and funny rumination on the moral frailty of humans and capitalist democracy. Kind of an Indian Vonnegut.
Wildwood

by Colin Meloy, reviewed by AK

WARNING: Do not read this book on the bus, you WILL miss your stop! (twice) This is the voice of experience speaking. Engaging from the get go, Wildwood is wonderfully entertaining and whimsical.
The Witch of Portobello

by Paulo Coelho, reviewed by Cndr

Truly an uplifting read! Coehlo has a knack for opening doors into parts of people that are often tossed aside or forgotten.
Woman on the Edge of Time

by Marge Piercy, reviewed by Stephanie

Phenomenal! Gripping fiction about Connie Ramos who's institutionalized and can slip into an anarchic future (gender-neutral pronouns!) and has to fight to keep it alive.
The Wrong Blood

by Manuel de Lope, reviewed by AK

Set largely during the Spanish Civil War, this novel brings human experience during wartime to light with beautiful detail, infused with sadness and mystery. This is a story of strangers helping each other through tragedies and lost love. Excellent read!

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Food


Stuffed and Starved

by Raj Patel, reviewed by AK

Having worked for the World Bank and the UN, Raj Patel has an insiders perspective on the politics of food and global trade. The stories and facts that he brings to light are at once horrifying and fascinating from the strangling of rural areas the world over to the absurdity of all of our 'choices' in modern consumer society. This book is essential to understand our fucked up world.

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Gender Studies


Intersex (For Lack of a Better Word)

by Thea Hillman, reviewed by ER

'Huh? What's Intersex?' you may ask. Don't feel intimidated by this topic--instead, read this wonderfully thoughtful book by Thea Hillman. Her personal insight and story telling is poignant, touching and educational. This is a great book in general, and a wonderful personal intro into what it means to be intersex.
The Marrow's Telling: Words in Motion

by Eli Clare, reviewed by ER

New gorgeous language from Transgender Disability activist Eli Clare. This is also one of the first books out on Homofactus Press, a wonderful new publisher of poetry, often by writers with disabilities. Even if you don't normally read poetry, this book is worth checking out.
Nobody Passes

by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, reviewed by ER

The best anthology by Mattilda yet! Check out the pieces of Nico Dacumos, Dean Space and Mary X-mas. The theme of this book is 'passing' in terms of gender, sexuality, race, not 'dis'abled, poor, rich, 'normal,' etc. Makes a lot of connections.
Ring of Fire

by Hellery Homosex, reviewed by Eli

This will set yr pants on fire. This zine instantly became one of my favorites ever-- this genderqueer genderfuct amputee is hot, brilliant, and unstoppable. For those of us who are all about queering shit up and being sex-positive, homos and genderqueers. YES.
Sexing the Body

by Anne Fausto-Sterling, reviewed by Jessi

Think you know the difference between MEN and WOMEN? Think again! Then read this entertaining and informative book about the creation of 2 sexes from a scientists perspective. Complete with graphs, charts, and cartoons (like the phall-o-meter) this book is a MUST READ!
That's Revolting!

ed. by Mattilda Bernstein Sycamore, reviewed by Eli

The radical queer and trans movements wouldn't exist to the extent they do were it not for the brilliant Mattilda--here, she picks the finest and fiercest challenges to homonormativity. This book is a call to resist assimilation, racism, ableism, classism, and all forms of oppression in our queer movements. It is life-saving.
Whipping Girl

Julia Serrano, reviewed by Fin

This is a powerful book for anyone interested in arming their critique of the patriarchy and burning up the loosely woven threads of misogyny ever present in societies representations of transexuality and femininity. Serano illuminates the ways that the demonization of femininity shapes our attitudes towards gender and sexuality as a whole. Julia Serano writes with personal experience and razor sharp knowledge. We need this book!

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Graphic Novels


As the World Burns

by Derrick Jensen and Stephanie McMillan, reviewed by Eve

I laughed, I cried, I read a scathing critique of pacifism, 'green' consumerism, and authoritarians who take advantage of others' good intentions to benefit from the wholesale destruction of life. Two thumbs up.
Black Hole

by Charlies Burns, review by CC

This beautiful graphic novel is set here in Seattle. It captures the angst of teenage existence while following the characters through a harrowing disease outbreak.
Chicken With Plums

by Marjan Satrapi, reviewed by ER

A new story by the author of 'Persepolis,' Marjan's Uncle decides to die because his beloved Tar instrument has been broken. This story is about Marjan's family, music, love, failed marriages, Iranian history, and friendship. A sad, beautifully illustrated story.
Embroideries, Persepolis I & II

by Marjan Satrapi

Marjan Satrapi takes us on a guided tour through the Iranian cultural revolution, fanatacism, resistance culture, expatriate life in Europe, a return home, and the growth of a girl caught in the midst.
Essential Dykes to Watch Out For

by Allison Bechdel, reviewed by ER

Allison Bechdel is a GENIUS. If you don't believe me, read her book, 'Fun Home.' Or, this anthology of her comics about a group of friends, lovers, and such. Her character development, humor, and plot lines are surprisingly thoughtful and riveting. And FYI: You do NOT HAVE TO BE GAY TO LOVE THESE COMICS!
I <3 Led Zeppelin

by Ellen Forney, reviewed by ER

Seattle's own darling of comics...this anthology covers over 10+ years of Ellen's comic career. Awkward stories about growing up, funny stuff about her mom, Seattle, sex, sexuality, donuts, etc. Well drawn and funny as heck.
I Still Live

by Annie Murphy, reviewed by ER

This is a gorgeous comic by local Portland artist Annie Murphy. It's a biography of the feminist spiritualist medium Achsa Sprague. Beautifully drawn and told from a personal perspective. Look out for future works by Annie Murphy, this is her first full length comic.
La Perdida

by Jessica Abel, reviewed by JP

This beautiful and haunting graphic novel is hard to forget. Abels visual depictions of Mexico City are fantastic and are complemented well by her liberal use of DF slang. The protagonist is funny, at times frustrating and overall effective in making me question my own pretentions and motivations in life.
Latino USA: A Cartoon History

by Ilan Stavans, reviewed by Dre

How do you track a history as diverse and wide reaching as 'Latino?' Write a thoughtful yet tongue-in-cheek cartoon book that addresses lies and omissions in 'traditional' texts while bringing light to why Brown is Beautiful.
Love and Rockets #1

by Jaime and Gilbert Hernandez, reviewed by ER

Okay, this is actually #21 in the new series, but in a new format. Instead of doing quarterly comics like before they are now doing one big annual graphic novel. AMAZING. I think I have become addicted to this comic. The character development, badass heroines, and sci-fi cuties always keep me coming back for more.
Safe Area Gorazde

by Joe Sacco, reviewed by CP

Sacco's comics journalism is the perfect medium for this story of a town struggling to survive the brutal war raging all around it. The personal accounts of being under attack interwoven with historical background and the uneasy peace of the present make this a highly compelling read.
Watchmen

by Alan Moore, reviewed by PM

Forget the film--the comic book was the ultimate medium for this story. Moore masterfully weaves multiple character developments through disparate texts, shattering the stale superhero genre with deep explorations of empire, nihilism, and utilitarianism. Gibbons mimics the pulp comic style flawlessly. Comic artists and writers are still scrambling to catch up.

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History


The Subversion of Politics

by George Katsifiacas, reviewed by JP

This classic study of Radical Autonomous movements is back in print! Worth the read just to revel in awe at how badass the autonomen or Rote Zora were.
The Subversion of Politics

by George Katsiaficas, reviewed by Collin

This detailed account of Germany, Italy and Denmark autonomous movements in the 1980s and 90s is the only work on the topic. Expansive squats and lengthy housing rights campaigns, anti-nuclear, anti-capitalist, and anti-fascist confrontations with authority were organized from the bottom, not the top. Engaging.

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Immigration Studies



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Kids


Blueberry Girl

by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Charles Vess, reviewed by QR

I love a kids' book that shows little girls who are brave and adventurous and independent. I love it even more when it isn't about marriage or princes or any of the other hetero-normative storylines that are often still the underscore of such books. In 'Blueberry Girl', Gaiman writes a beautiful incantation for an unborn child, wishing her strength and wisdom and freedom. He is also wishing her freedom from the trappings of the stories girls have been told for generations...

'Keep her from spindles, and sleeps at sixteen. Let her stay waking and wise.' The wishes are presented as a sort of prayer to feminine ancestors, or perhaps pagan goddesses watching over the child. I think that is is an empowering book for kids and adults alike. It's bright, charming illustrations, and lilting text are compelling to kids and even some references that may be lost on little ones will speak more to the adult reader.
The Dumpster Diver

by Janet S. Wong, illustrated by David Roberts, reviewed by QR

The art in this book is clever and compelling, and there is a nice diversity to the characters, though, per the usual format for most media, the main character is still a white man. The story shows a group of folks who take items they find in the trash and create new uses for them.

The premise is great, but the ending bugs me a little. They had to come in with some final moral about how "re-using is great and all, but you probably shouldn't dig through the trash."

The main character gets hurt while dumpster diving, and so the kids go around and ask their neighbors for their unwanted items instead of dumpstering anymore. Great idea, except that I would bet if you went to Safeway and asked them for the bread they were about to throw away, they probably wouldn't hand it over. It isn't a reality to keep the waste of a capitalist system from reaching the trash cans, and I think that a little nod to why people are taught to (encouraged to) be so wasteful would have been interesting. Either way, I think it is a cute book, that can bring up plenty of discussion about waste and re-use of things others call "trash."
The Table Where Rich People Sit

By Byrd Baylor, illustrated by Peter Parnell, reviewed by QR

A family tries to put a price on the things that are most important to them about their lives, and determine that they are very rich. Ok... Sounds cheesy, but it is truly a beautiful book. I am not entirely thrilled about the need to see ones life through a capitalist lens, but I realize that that is a lens that many can identify with, especially when contemplating ones economic class. The family portrayed in the story is also not typical in kids books, or much media, for that matter. They have chosen to live a life outside of the 'mainstream' where they can follow work that makes them feel passion, and live a life in rhythm with their surroundings, and created by their own hands.

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Labor & Economics


Debt

by David Graeber, reviewed by Lucas "Sassy" Smith

Graeber traces the three interweaving paths of debt, money and violence through all of recorded human history and many non-literate cultures the world over. But don't let his utterly readable writing style fool you -- some of the paths get a little hard to follow and I found myself rereading parts. Despite my backtracking, 'Debt' is well worth the effort: laying bare capitalism's grounding in physical violence and it's inevitable reduction of everything it touches to quantifiable units of exchange; emphasizing that markets aren't tied to capitalism and that exchange is a fundamental element of human sociality, albeit one element amongst many.

The books focus -- debt in all it's many facets -- leaves Graeber little room to explore alternate metaphors in which to base both morality and exchange, something that was intentional but left me wanting: Graeber is incredibly intelligent -- he could basically talk about anything and I would listen with rapt attention. Which is to say, everything he does include is informative, engaging, and so damn fun to read.

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Local



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Memoir


The Spiritual Journey of Alejandro Jodorowsky: Creator of El Toto

by Alejandro Jodorowsky, reviewed by AK

YES! Jodorowsky is the high priest of absurd wackiness. Learn, in his own words, how he metamorphosed from a general weirdo into a super surrealist demi-god!

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Native Studies


Columbus and Other Cannibals: The Wetiko Disease of Exploitation, Imperialism, and Terrorism

by Jack D. Forbes and Derrick Jensen, reviewed by BC

Recently republished and updated, Native American scholar Jack Forbes originally published this book in 1978. Forbes' book is a critique of the civilized way of life, and its corresponding mindset. Forbes theory is that civilized people have a mental illness, which he calls wetikoism (roughly translated as cannibalism), that causes them to have little to no respect for other humans and the rest of the natural world. The critique draws heavily on the history of the European colonization of the Americas, and the devastation that the colonizers wrought upon its original human inhabitants through murder, forced labor (Forbes objects to the use of the term slavery, being based on the name of the Slavic peoples), intentional spread of disease, and outright terrorism.

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Poetry


The Amputee's Guide to Sex

by Jillian Wise, reviewed by ER

This is NOT a sex guidebook - it is poetry. Simple and beautifully written poetry about the medical, the body, scars, stories, sex, life, growing up, pain and love. This is poetry you will actually like :)
Crush

by Richard Siken, reviewed by FG

Richard Siken writes poetry that renders everything else silent. His only published collection, 'Crush,' plays with the desperation and comfort of love and connection and the anxiety of it’s eventual, inevitable dissolution. He drenches each poem in staggering, sacramental narratives that solidify the panic induced with the understanding that in the end, nothing is ours to keep.
From the Observatory

by Julio Cortazar, reviewed by LS

This is worth it for the photos alone, but it's also Cortazar's most humanist work, echoing Walt Whitman in prose more swirling than the best of the Beats. "Go out on the streets, breathe the of men who live and not the air of the theory of men in a better society."
What have You Done To Our Ears to Make Us Hear Echoes?

by Arlene Kim, reviewed by FG

Kim turns personal narratives of continental and cultural dysphoria into lush fairy tales and folk parables that poignantly and somewhat darkly investigate the existential self. Intriguing and beautiful.
You and Three Others Are Approaching a Lake

by Anna Moschovakis, reviewed by FG

What does it mean to be human when your ability to define yourself in relation to other humans becomes estranged by technology, and incongruently technology develops and becomes more 'humanized?' This book is what happens when poetry reads as philosophy to write an analytical, existential thesis on the limitations of civilization and it's excesses. Darkly funny, these poems are meant to be read front to back in order to pick up the nuanced observations and connections of Moschovakis. She questions the mechanization of art and poetry in cold prose as well as the function-as-value mentality of many to thoroughly question life as imitation and the imitation of life.

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Parenting



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Political & Social Theory


The Complex

by Nick Turse, reviewed by PM

Did you know the U.S. military gives massive funding to the video games and film industries because, in their view, they clean up the military's image and teach kids how to kill? Turse reveals the barely hidden network of war profiteers that reaches everywhere. Highly informative and accessible.
Crack Capitalism

by John Holloway, reviewed by FG

Philosophy that reads like poetry proposing radical solidarity and attacking Capital from every part of our lives. Beautiful and inspiring.
Creating a Movement With Teeth: A Documentary History of the George Jackson Brigade

by Daniel Burton-Rose and Ward Churchill, reviewed by Sea

Queers bomb shit in Seattle! Learn more about Seattle's awesome radical history. This fascinating collection of documents relating to the George Jackson Brigade is hard to put down.
The Creation: an Appeal to Save Life on Earth

by E.O. Wilson, reviewed by KK

I love E.O. Wilson, a brilliant entomologist who is writing another impassioned plea to end environmental destruction. This book is in the form of a letter to a Southern pastor. Wilson asks that religious and scientific folks come together to save life on earth.
Declaration of the Rights of Human

by Raoul Vaneigem, reviewed by Collin

If the US Declaration of Independence and the Bill of Rights were a sandwich, it would taste like bread, salt and dirt--there's nothing in them. The same is so in France's Declaration of the Rights of Man, so Raoul Vaneigem updates the menu for human rights.
Dreamland: The Way Out of Juarez

by Charles Bowden and Alice Leora Briggs, reviewed by Cndr

What commentators and politicians call problems are no more than how these facts manifest themselves. There is no drug problem, there is a drug appetite. There is no immigration problem, there is a flight from poverty and a demand for cheap and docile labor. There is no violence problem. There is simply an economic engine running without lubricant and without much hope of lubricant unless you count blood as a possible source, something our ancestors would simply see as a typical unregulated market. And the Mexican War is actual and it is fought my Americans against Mexicans because such a war is preferable to Americans. The only alternative is to recognize the implications of our appetites and policies and no one wishes to do this. On the border it does not matter who is president or which party is in power. On this border the fact reminds the same, and the death houses remain open for carne asadas.
Evil Paradises

ed. by Mike Davis, reviewed by LS

A solid anthology. This book does a good job of making global patterns of economic inequality concrete by detailing the architectural, spatial, and social landscapes created by the globalized economy. Common themes arise in unexpectedly different countries and cultures from Asia, the Middle East, Africa, and the Americas. Definitely a worthwhile read.
Experimental Geography

ed. by Nato Thompson, reviewed by LS

If you're at all into Art, Geography, or Urban Studies, this book is the DOPESAUCE!! A guide to the exhibition of the same name, this book showcases some amazing work (participants include CLUI, Rags Media Collective, Trevor Paglen, and the Center for Urban Pedagogy) while also providing good commentary on the role of artists in culture. Overall, there's a good blend of the academic and working art worlds centered around ideas of place, the production of space and the landscapes we inhabit.
From Bakunin to Lacan

by Saul Newman, reviewed by Josh

In this incredible book, Newman uses poststructuralist thought to move past Marxism and push Anarchism to a deeper, more thorough critique of power. He shows how it is important to shirk the essentialist logic of classical Anarchism and redefine our limits and possibilities. A well written and readable book of great importance to modern Anarchist theory <3.
Ho's, Hookers, Call Girls, Rent Boys

ed. by David Henry Sterry and RJ Martin Jr., reviewed by Dre

In a culture where strippers, porn stars, and other sex workers are 'consumed' but not always respected, here is a glimpse into the lives of the people we pay for SEX.
In the Shadow of the Silent Majorities

by Jean Baudrillard, reviewed by Fin

Published for the first time in '78 in Paris, this book has been called the most important sociopolitical manifesto of the Twentieth century. Baudrillard characterizes the masses as a black hole which destroys all meaning, rendering communication meaningless. He uses examples to prove his point that revolutionary action feeds the media, calling instead of the social and political. This Semiotext edition also includes "Event and non-event published in 2003 which elaborates on Baudrillard's ideas about the end of history and terrorisms ability to disturb notions of progress/the future.
Infinitely Demanding: Ethics of Commitment, Politics of Resistance

by Simon Critchley, reviewed by LS

The bulk of this book contains a very thorough model of ethics and ethical subjectivity brought about by the combination of a very diverse set of philosophical and psychoanalytic theories. The author then, rather hastily, tries to tie this model to his own sort of post-Marxist, pro-Anarchism views of political action. He doesn't quite succeed at pulling the two together, but it's a worthwhile read anyhow.
A Paradise Built in Hell

by Rebecca Solnit, reviewed by Sea

You probably ought to read this book. Both heart breaking and incredibly hopefully, it provides an intimate portrait of the communities that arise in disaster. It provides a compelling case for our latent ability to organize without bosses or structure through in depth case studies of several recent disasters. Give this one to your friends when they say that anarchy will never work.
The Revolution Will Not Be Funded

by Incite! Women of Color Against Violence, reviewed by ER

The INCITE! Collective is on fire! This is their newest ground-breaking anthology with a critical look at how non-profits operate and how to hold them accountable to the communities that they serve.
Storming the Gates of Paradise

by Rebecca Solnit, reviewed by LS

Solnit's a great writer! These essays are fluid, personal, political,l and well-researched. With the broad purpose of discussing 'place' and it's meanings in the American West, she covers lots of ground: the border, Native Americans and their representation, the environment, consumerism, urbanism, activism, art, and a range of other topics. Well worth the read!
Work

by Crimethinc, reviewed by FG

While not as poetic or dark as Expect Resistance, Work bluntly translates all of the ways capitalism colonizes life. A good intro to capitalism--more seasoned readers might have fun reading this in conjunction with 'Society of the Spectacle' by Guy Debord.

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Prisons



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Psychology & Self Help


Living in Liberation

by Christien Storm, reviewed by ER

Local author and co-founder of self defense collective Home Alive, Christian Storm wrote this awesome book based on theories developed at H.A. over the years. Not just a guide on how to say 'no,' but also on how to say 'YES' and ask for what you WANT.
Trauma and Recovery

by Judith Herman, reviewed by Raven

First it was Hysteria, then it was shell shock...learn the political history of what is now known as PTSD...this book clearly shows that the world of psychology is only as advanced as the society it attempts to succeed in. Infuriating and very educational.
Why Does He Do That?

by Lundy Bankroft, reviewed by FG

Many people find abusive relationships difficult to wrap their heads around. People want to know why certain dynamics exist--and if they're toxic, why people stay. Considered a foundational text for many people int he field of domestic violence advocacy. In this book Bankroft explores the often confusing nature of some abusive relationships.

The most interesting pieces to me were the snippets from his life as a counselor for men trying to overcome their reliance on assault to get their needs met, and how he tries that into the relationship between manipulation, and emotional and physical violence. While there could be a tighter analysis around the complexities when race, class, and non-"normative" genders/sexualities are involved, over all this is a great information and alarming read.

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Queerdos


My Brain Hurts, vol 1.

by Liz Baillie, reviewed by Quinn

I'd never really been into comics before I read this book, and was immediately immersed in it. As a queer teenager, I'd read countless books about gay teens and found them mostly all lifeless. But the characters in 'My Brain Hurts,' were far from that. It's funny, awkward, and pretty great. Well worth a read.
Smash the Church, Smash the State

by Tommi Avicolli Mecca, reviewed by ER

Very easy to read and engaging! It is a compilation of stories of and about the people who were there during the early years of the radical queer civil rights movement in the 1960s and 70s. A great reminder that Stonewall wasn't the first time gays and trans folks resisted. Great history too about all the different political groups formed during that time. Gay Liberation Front, Homophile Action League, Radical Queens, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, Third World Gay Revolution, Radicalesbians...and how they each got started, and how they worked together and in opposition to each other. A great historical compilation.

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Race & Culture Studies

The Color of Violence

ed. by INCITE! Women of Color Against Violence, reviewed by ER

Check this book out!! Incite is a powerful collective of Women of Color working against violence in the U.S. This is their book. Check out the chapter by CARA (Communities Against Rape and Abuse) (Seattle's hometown heroes) on community accountability.
Sex at Dawn

by Cacilda Jetha and Christopher Ryan, reviewed by FG

You should read this fucking book! It provides a hilarious look into the ways in which culture has shaped our common conceptions of human nature and sex by taking apart evolutionary psychology in an engaging and entertaining way. Much of the book is spent debunking common cultural interpretations of science that reinforce an 'intrinsic human selfish gene,' which is totally refreshing and much needed. They veer safely away from suggesting any default genetic make up, and instead focus on how culture shapes these ideas and works with genetics to reinforce societal demand for certain behavior. Totally rad.
Stuff White People Like

by Christian Lander, reviewed by BO

As the winners of Manifest Destiny and colonization, white middle class America reaps the benefits of being at the center of globalization. Christian Lander uses humor to expose and examine consumerism, lifestyle, and white privilege.
To Die For the People

by Huey Newton, reviewed by JM

Mourning the recent anniversary of Fred Hampton's death and struggling for real racial equity in response to the tokenization of a black president, it's a perfect time to read this radical collection of Newton's amazing essays on black radicalism and the Black Panthers.
Women of Color and Feminism: Seal Studies

by Maythee Rojas, reviewed by ER

The intro of this book clearly explains why this book is for everybody, not just women of color. She lays out a comprehensive history in an easy-to-read way. She talks about how feminist movements of color connected with movements around class and homophobia and immigration and international politics.

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Science


Dreams

by Derrick Jensen, reviewed by BC

Dreams is a critique of the idea that Science is the only legitimate method for obtaining knowledge and wisdom. Jensen tears into popular scientists Richard Dawkins and Sam Harris (and others) for the insistence that the Universe is a cold, mechanistic place without meaning.

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Science Fiction


Aurorama

by Jean-Christophe Valtat, reviewed by FG

Aurorama is massively smart and funny entertainment. As an anarchist, I was somewhat perplexed by the layers of utopian thought and lines pulled straight out of other radical texts juxtaposed with the fantastical elements of the plot; the author seems to know his stuff, but remains elusive as to his own self-identification. While being sold as "steampunk," perhaps because of its fixation on the political aspects of turn-of-the-century themes (set in the arctic, a place that could and perhaps will be easily be shaped by ideas of manifest-destiny--also a small fixation of anarchists vis-a-vis "Desert") it struck me as more science fiction; Valtat himself refers to it as "teslapop," as most of the technology in the novel is inspired by the electrical madness of Nikolai Tesla. Despite the vapid female characters and plot points that are suspiciously cleanly resolved, I couldn't put this book down. It's still hard for me to discern whether he's selling anarchism to a crowd used to diluted fiction, or if he's selling dressed up fiction using anarchism. Either way, it was weird, imaginative, and constantly engaging. I can't wait for the rest of the series to come out.
The Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver, the Confusion, System of the World

by Neal Stephenson, reviewed by LS

Kick-ass historical sci-fi series about the rise of calculus, modern science, and world economic systems during the 17th and 18th centuries. Complete with Isaac Newton, sadistic Catholics, alchemy, vivisection, and of course, pirates! Very funny and intelligent read.
Dark Reflections

by Samuel R. Delany, reviewed by Josh

In this book, Delaney sets aside the sci-fi genre to create an inverse biography of sorts, of Arnold Hawley, a wueer Black poet in NY's Lower East Side. The crushingly realistic styled story is a gripping meditation on loneliness, sexuality, race and racism, missed chances and marginalized place of writers in society. 'Dark Reflections' is one of the most beautiful books I've read in a long time, and maybe Delaney's best!
Dreadnought

by Cherie Priest, reviewed by AK

If you like high paced action/adventure novels, you won't be disappointed with this one. Priest's gutsy heroine hold her own through out civil war battles, mysterious fighting machines, train chase scenes, and zombies. Great read! Perfect for airplanes!
Kraken

by China Mieville, reviewed by Quinn

I picked up this book in the train station and proceeded to read it for hours, blocking out the beautiful Czech landscape that passed me by. It was that good. Weird cults, a hidden and dangerous magical underworld, and a giant squid.
So Long Been Dreaming

ed. by Hopkinson, Mehan, reviewed by LS

This anthology rocks! Totally turned me on to a bunch of writers I had never even heard of, but who rock. Lots of sci-fi sub-genres here, but especially check out the stories by Singh, Lowachee, Okarafor-Mbachu, and Seattle local. Just read all of them! It's hot!
Spook Country

by William Gibson, reviewed by LS

Gibson's latest, he draws on current technology and political trends to distill out new art forms, aesthetics and methods of prank terrorism. Touching on GPS technologies, the science of stealth, the political impart of torture, and of course, PIRATES! Gibson shapes a fast-paced adventure story with a fair amount of depth as well. Art and spatial geeks especially would dig it.
the Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch

by Philip K. Dick, reviewed by Quinn

Reading any Philip K. Dick will put you in a strange mood, and this one particularly. Reality blurring drugs meets something that reminds me of 'Ender's Game.' It's brilliant. If you want to read his books but are so overwhelmed by just how many there are, this is a good place to start. You will be hooked.
10 Billion Days and 100 Billion Nights

by Ryu Mitsus, reviewed by Lucas Smith

This phantasmagoric trek through time and space includes spell binding descriptions of the creation of our planet, mind-bending plot twists, and a firefight between Jesus and Siddartha on a blighted future Earth. I couldn't put it down.
Walking the Clouds

a science-fiction compilation, reviewed by Lucas Smith

This book is a mixed bag, as it falls into the anthology trap of abstracting bits of novels and thus rendering the stories ineffectual. Despite this, much of the latter half is very fun reading; you would do better to skip the slipstream section altogether. This book is maybe better used as a springboard to help readers explore the world of Native science-fiction.
the Word for World is Forest

by Ursula K. LeGuin, reviewed by Quinn

This book is often hard to find, so I was really psyched when they reprinted it a few years back. It tells of the colonization of the planet Athshea by Earth, and of how the Athseans resist colonization. It's both beautiful and engrossing and hard to read, particularly when the perspective is that of captain Davidson, who frequently justifies brutality, rape, and murder. What a creep. The story is pretty similar to the colonization of indigenous people in our own country and elsewhere. But the writing is well done, great imagery, and one of the favorites of Ursula K. LeGuin's. Check it out.

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Sexuality



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Situationist


All the King's Horses

by Michele Bernstein, reviewed by JM

I couldn't put this book down. Finally translated from French, Bernstein takes us on a "fictional" tour of the sometimes dramatic and always fascinating social lives of Paris' beloved and reviled members of the Situationist International. A quick and fun read.
Guy Debord: Dead and Loving It

reviewed by PM

Previously untranslated text by Situationist writer Debord, reflections on who makes money today distorting his ideas, and interviews and news about Coupat and the Tarnac 9, allegedly of 'the Coming Insurrection' fame. For fans of Situations, insurrections, and books yr friends ain't heard of.
Society of the Spectacle

by Guy Debord, reviewed by JM

One of the founders of the Situationist International, French supastar Guy Debord will make you want to drink through the dark winter months lamenting the superficiality of modern interactions and the dysfunction of capitalism. This book is AMAZING!

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Surrealism


The Story of the Eye

by Georges Bataille, reviewed by PM

Bataille explores oblivion through the violent and transgressive sex acts of two youth. A beautiful articulation of Bataille's interwoven concepts of death and the erotic.

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Western Philosophy


the Futurism of the Instant

by Paul Virilio, reviewed by LS

Virilio haunts the edge between sci-fi and reality. Continuing the theme of the disappearance of space due to the speed of technologies, here he considers the human impacts of decentralizing cities and societies. From sprawling suburban rings to third world train depots, Virilio paints a rather dystopian future, one where this is no here here.
Introduction to Civil War

by Tiqqun, reviewed by PM

85 poetic theses introducing us to civil war as the free-play of forms-of-life. A moving indictment of the established order, building off and combining the ideas of Debord, Foucault, Deleuze, Agamben, etc. Includes 'How Is It to Be Done.' So good!
Liquid Life

by Zygmunt Bauman, reviewed by Eve

Bauman makes brilliantly original observations and extrapolations of late/post capitalist (read: consumerist) society and the way this climate affects identity and decision making-making processes. The values of 'liquid modern society' reinforce the lifestyles and social experience of the privileged classes, those who can afford to practice liquid values while ignoring the experience of those at the bottom of the global economic hierarchy. Good read!!!
Molecular Revolution in Brazil

by Felix Guattari, reviewed by Lucas

A molecular revolution is a deviation from commonly accepted subjectivities, an interstitial way of being/becoming that redefines and undermines. It is a way to keep in check the tendency that people, even in radical groups, have of generalizing about others. It is the reason I don't believe in identity politics.
Multitude: Between Innovation and Negation

by Paolo Virno, reviewed by Lucas

One of the original members of the Autonomia movement in Italy, in this book calls for a complete revision, or rather restructuring, of the social apparatus based on diversity and fluidity, through means gleaned from the linguistic characteristics of jokes. It's so good.
This is Not a Program

by Tiqqun, reviewed by FG

Using the praxis of the radical Italian Movement of ’77 to weave a critique of activisms indulgence in false binaries and single issue politics, TINAP sometimes reads like prose. Though in my mind it does not live up to the hype currently surrounding the project and has a tendency to succumb to it’s own criticisms of oversimplification, they do a great job synthesizing an analysis of radical participation and it’s boundaries in a captivating and lyrical manner.
A Thousand Machines: A Concise Philosophy of the Machine as Social Movement

by Gerald Raunig, reviewed by PM

Critical but accessible short overview of he machine as a non-technical concept as explored by Marx, Deleuze and Guattari. Illuminated through clever literary criticism and the recent history of May Day. Fun.
Violence

by Slavoj Zizek, reviewed by Bo

Have you ever met someone whose sole purpose was to use dynamic linguistic skills and sharp wit to dismantle every point of view you possess? This is what Zizek does, this latest work catalogs and tries to diagnose the layers of violence associated with this modern global community. He makes a variety of valid points that are submerged in scholastic bullshit.
Violence

by Slavoj Zizek, reviewed by Josh

We at Left Bank tend to not feature such Stalinist circumlocution as Zizeks works, but recently 'the Stranger' stuck its tongue so far up his ass that we thought maybe some Seattleites will read the review and be intrigued. Besides, the provocations of Zizek, 'the GG Allin of Laconian theory' are as amusing as any other clown show.
The Western Illusion of Human Nature

by Marshall Sahlins, reviewed by Josh

In this concise little essay Sahlins traces the Hobbesian view of bestial human nature (and modern genetic determinists as well) back to Thucydides, proceeds to poke many a hole in the concept; shows us other groups who thrive with important kinship relations. Questions the modern state and opens the door to an anarchistic conceptualization of human relations. Yahoo!

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Women's Studies


Caliban and the Witch

by Sylvia Federici, reviewed by FG

There seems to be a full well of arguments about which--capitalism or patriarchy--reared their ugly heads first. This book provides exhaustive and compelling historical documentation to suggest that whatever hold patriarchy had on feudal Europe was completely exploited and engorged by capitalism and used to colonize indigenous populations. Perhaps what's most interesting is the lost history of just how many people were killed using methods that were developed during the witch hunts, methods that are still being used to 'develop' impoverished nations today. Totally fascinating and enraging (and equally interesting to think about why these histories are being erased--'Trauma and Recovery' by Judith Herman is great read to mull over similar themes).
King Kong Theory

by Virginie Despuentes, reviewed by FG

"The failure of work? The failure of the family unit? Good news. They automatically throw masculinity into question. More good news. We're sick to death of all this nonsense. Feminism is revolution, not a rearranged marketing strategy, or some kind of promotion of fellatio or swinging; not just a matter of increasing secondary wages."

Equally humorous and scathing, Despuentes tackles modern feminist issues from sex work to rape through rambly personal narratives. It is so refreshing to read an unapologetic and antagonistic book like KKT that is so fierce and funny that the at times inaccurate generalizations don't bother me as much as they might otherwise. In sum, a great easy read.
The Revolution Starts at Home

by Ching-In Chen, Jai Dulani, Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarasinha and Andrea Smith, reviewed by FG

What was once one of the most ambitious pamphlets about abuse and accountability is now a beautiful book with several new essays. This book takes a look at the complexities of identity and the ways in which that informs intimate partner violence. The great thing about having different collective projects and people talk about their direct personal experiences with addressing intimate partner violence is that a gamut of problem solving strategies are illustrated. Some of the essays don't shy away from exploring what 'success' in these situations look like, which is equally heartbreaking and inspiring. This book is so necessary in the continuing discourse about the problems inherent in accountabillity and where potentials for the trajectory of movement lie.
Yes Means Yes: Visions of Female Sexual Power and a World Without Rape

ed. by Jaclyn Friedman and Jessica Valenti, reviewed by Cndr

If I had one wish, it would be that everyone will read this book! 'Yes Means Yes' is jam packed with essays from 27 different visionary contributors. Covering topics from a variety of perspectives that show you that they are all inter-related, and that a rape free world is indeed possible.

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Young Adult


The Golden Compass

by Philip Pullman, reviewed by Quinn

One of my favorite books of all time. For anyone who ever wanted to be an arctic explorer. For tough girls and rebels of all kinds. Armored bears, witches, the NORTH, other worlds, religious upheaval, fierce friends, and brilliant story telling.

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Zines


Homobody

by Rio Safari, reviewed by Quinn

This zine makes me giggle. Funny critiques of mainstream gay culture, drawings of crushworthy 'doods' and homobodies, dorky queer punk boys with all different body types, and yes, lots of sex. #4 and #6 are my personal favs.
My Brain Hurts vol. 1

by Liz Baille, reviewed by Quinn

I'd never really been into comics before I read this book, and was immediately immersed in it. As a queer teenager, I'd read countless books about gay teens and found them mostly all lifeless. But the characters in 'My Brain Hurts' were far from that. It's funny, awkward, and pretty great. Well worth a read.
The Roaming Heart/Summertime

by Gina Siciliano, reviewed by FG

Sicilano's drawings feel like a warm blanket on a cold night. I am drawn to their honesty about trauma and continually dealing with coping mechanisms that don't always work the way they are intended, or perhaps don't look like what is considered normatively 'healthy,' as well as beauty and ugliness affiliated with perpetually breaking apart and healing.