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Scroll down for titles by local and nationally known authors, staff favorites, and recommendations from GEVA, the Gandhi Institute, and Small Press Distribution.

Our online catalog is in development: Check back soon for more poetry, fiction, memoir, social justice, and just plain great reads. 


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Local Authors & Rochester Connections

Jaw, poems by Al Abonado, gives us an inside look into microaggressions in America and presents American and Filipino cultures side by side as they grapple with immigration, identity, and family. $16 paperback

What It Doesn’t Have to Do With: Poems, by Lindsay Bernal. The elegiac meditations throughout this collection link the objectification of women in art and life to personal narratives of heartbreak, urban estrangement, and suicide. Haunted by the notions of femininity and domesticity, the protagonist struggles to define the self in shifting cultural landscapes. Her wry, contemporary voice confronts serious subjects with unpredictable wit.  Winner of the National Poetry Series ,2017. $19.95 paperback

On Our Way Home from the Revolution, blend of memoir and nonfiction by Sonja Bilocerkowyc. Following the 2014 Ukrainian revolution, the author, a child of the Ukrainian diaspora. challenges her formative ideologies, considers innocence and complicity, and questions the roots of patriotism. From a writer who is unafraid to dive into the empty or untold spaces in family and national narratives in the search of a felt truth. $19.95 paperback

And Then We Grew Up: On Creativity, Potential, and the Imperfect Art of Adulthood, a guide to artistic living by Rachel Friedman, is for anyone who has given up a childhood dream and wondered, “what-if?” It’s for those who have aspired to do what they love and had doubts along the way, and for all whose careers fall somewhere between emerging and established. Warm, whip-smart, and insightful, it offers inspiration for finding creative fulfillment wherever we end up in life. $17 paperback

Two Californias, stories by Robert Glick.  Quirky, bittersweet, and darkly funny, Robert Glick laces the psychological realism of family drama with lyric, associative language, and intricate plot structures. From the suburbs of Los Angeles to the countercultures of the Bay Area, these emotionally powerful and intricately woven stories explore the unorthodox ways we come to terms with everyday tragedies. $18 paperback

Heirlooms: Stories, by Rachel Hall. Inspired by the author’s family stories as well as extensive research, this linked collection travels from the French seaside city of Saint-Malo in 1939, and ends in the American Midwest in 1989, mapping along the way, the countless reverberations of war through four generations of a Jewish family. Hall explores assumptions about love, duty, memory, and truth. $15.95 paperback

Have Dog, Will Travel: A Poet’s Journey, a memoir by Stephen Kuusito. A blind poet describes his relationship with his first guide dog, how it changed his life and gave him a newfound appreciation for travel and independence. $17 paperback

The Virgin on Prince Street: Expeditions into Devotion, a memoir in essays by Sonya Livingston, offers an intimate and unusually candid view into the author’s relationship with the swiftly changing Catholic Church and her own changing heart. Livingston’s meditations on quirky rituals and fading traditions thoughtfully and dynamically interrogate traditional elements of sacramental devotion, especially as they relate to concepts of religion, relationships, and the sacred. $17.95 paperback

Earthling: Poems, by James Longenbach, confronts our deepest fears in clear and haunting language, from “a poet of extraordinary gifts” (American Academy of Arts and Letters). $16.95 paperback

How Poems Get Made, a comprehensive guide to writing and reading poetry by James Longenbach. $15.95 paperback

Blud, poems by Rachel McKibbens. The poet’s world is bursting with cultural brujería, sacrilegious litanies, ritualized births, and letters from our most vital and conflicting organs: our hearts and  brains. $16 paperback

Careers for Women, a novel by Joanna Scott. Working for the New York Port Authority in the late 1950s under the tutelage of a legendary publicist, Maggie Gleason befriends her boss’s newest protégé, who goes missing amid rumors about a devastating secret from the past. $26 hardcover

Joytime Killbox, stories by Brian Wood, showcases the awkwardness of modern living. Well-intentioned characters fumble through social situations: a man making small talk in line for a deadly thrill ride, a pet parrot arrested for murder, a seductive stranger on an airplane who just pulled out a handle of gin. With sparse prose and candid humor, these stories draw attention to the absurdities of our day-to-day interactions. $17 paperback

Love Like Sky, a young adult novel by Leslie C. Youngblood. Eleven-year-old Georgie (G-Baby) is still adjusting to leaving Atlanta for a small town and finding her place in a blended family. When her six-year-old sister, Peaches, suddenly becomes very ill, G-Baby is determined to put things right. She knows Peaches can be strong again if she can only see that their family’s love for her really is like sky. $7.99 paperback

Staff Picks – always 15% OFF

APRIL 2020

If we could put any book of poems into your hands, these would be our choices. Celebrate National Poetry Month with us and read the following.

I Will Destroy You: Poems, by Nick Flynn, recommended by Alison Meyers. $16 paperback. ($13.60 staff pick price) 

A Fire in the Hill, poems by Steve Huff, recommended by Kathy Pottetti. “The writing is raw and authentic; it touches you. One of my favorites is “What Did You Love About Your Town?” Pay particular attention to the fourth stanza, so well-written and enjoyable. Thank you, Steve.” $15 paperback ($12.75 staff pick price)

Deaf Republic: Poems, by Ilya Kaminsky, recommended by Dan Herd, follows the inner lives of townspeople bound by an act of public violence. At once a love story, an elegy, and an urgent plea, these poems confront our time’s vicious atrocities and our collective silence in the face of them. $16 paperback (13.60 staff pick price)

Earthling: Poems, by James Longenbach, recommended by Misty Yarnall. “I came upon this book while browsing in Ampersand Books. As I skimmed its pages, I was captured by relatable themes of grief and love. This is a quick, enjoyable read.” $16.95 paperback ($14.41 staff pick price)

Fuel, poems by Naomi Shihab Nye, recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn. This is a book I return to again and again. It is rich with imagery, and filled with deep meaning that is easily accessible. It is a book I also often turn to for teaching, as there are poems that are great for a range of ages. One of my favorites is “One Boy Told Me,” a collection of remarkable quotes from Naomi Shihab Nye’s son from when he was little, all strung together to make a poem. This feels poignant right now, when so many parents are spending 24/7 with their kids. Listen carefully, there might be some poetry flying through the rooms of your home without your even knowing it. $17 paperback ($14.45 staff pick price)

A Sand Book: Poems, by Ariana Reines, recommended by Clara O’Connor, is a place full of spiritual mysteries and disturbing realities. Reines stunningly wields juxtaposition and meticulous language, enticing us toward the uncomfortable truths of our world. This book is best read cover to cover, but if you must, start with “Armorica.” It is urgent and breathless. $17.95 paperback ($15.25 staff pick price)

Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems, by Danez Smith, recommended by Chris Fanning. “Smith’s poetry is both humbling and uplifting. His poetry speaks volumes to gay men about living in a world that is full of resistance, but believing in acceptance.”  $16 paperback (13.60 staff pick price)
The Darkness Around Us Is Deep, selected poems of William Stafford, recommended by Laura Trowbridge. “William Stafford was such a beautiful writer, one of those special people come to Earth whom we almost don’t deserve.” $14.99 paperback ($12.74 staff pick price)

MARCH 2020

We were inspired by Women’s History Month to recommend some of our favorite reads by, for, and about women.

Welcome to the Goddamn Ice Cube: Chasing Fear and Finding Home in the Great White North, a memoir by Blair Braverman, recommended by Dan Herd. $15.99 paperback ($13.59 staff pick price) Kirkus Reviews writes, ”[Blair’s] external experiences are extraordinary, but it’s what happens internally that both sets this memoir apart and gives it universal resonance. Indelible characters, adventurous spirit, and acute psychological insight combine in this multilayered debut.” 

Ordinary Girls, a memoir by Jaquira Diaz, recommended by Misty Yarnall. “Diaz writes of growing up in Puerto Rico, of a complicated family dynamic, of abuse, of becoming a woman.  A captivating narrative of female empowerment.” $26.95 hardcover ($22.91 staff pick price) 

Girl, Woman, Other, a novel by Bernadine Evaristo, recommended by Chris Fanning. “Snapshots of different women living very different lives in different points in time. Evaristo transports  and transforms you with each chapter and lets you walk in each of her character’s shoes. A beautiful story of shared lives and experiences.” $17 paperback ($14.45 staff pick price) 

Pain Woman Takes Your Keys, a memoir in essays by Sonja Huber, recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn. “The writing is stunning–its form inventive, the language often poetic. This book taught me so much about living with rheumatoid arthritis, and brilliantly addresses a range of disability and gender bias issues. Beautifully honest.” $17.95 paperback  ($15.26 staff pick price) 

The Death & Life of Great American Cities, nonfiction critique of urban planning by Jane Jacobs, recommended by Alison Meyers. “Still relevant today, and food for thought as we consider housing inequities in Rochester.”  $17.95 paperback ($15.26 staff pick price) 

The Giver of Stars, a novel by Jojo Moyes, recommended by Kathy Pottetti. “In 1930s coal country Kentucky, books made their way to isolated regions of the state through The Pack Horse Library Project. Women rode pack horses to remote areas, taking books to those who otherwise wouldn’t have material to read. I was really moved by this project.” $28 hardcover ($23.80 staff pick price) 

Alive Together: Poems, by Lisel Mueller, recommended by Clara O’Connor. “Since 1918, only 28 women  have won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, one of them being Lisel Mueller, who fled Germany with her family in 1939. These are tidy and thoughtful love poems, exalting the everyday joys of what was once her persistent life. Mueller passed away on February 21, 2020.” $19.95 paperback ($16.96 staff pick price) 

Becoming, autobiography by Michelle Obama, recommended by Rachael Kisenyi. “This is a moving, humble narrative of Obama’s joys, transitions, challenges, and moments for self-discovery. Truly inspiring!” $32.50 hardcover ($27.62 staff pick price) 

The Library Book, by Susan Orlean, recommended by Karen vanMeenen is a nonfiction love letter to the Los Angeles Public Library and investigation into the building’s disastrous fire in 1986. $16.99 paperback  ($14.44 staff pick price) 

The Buddha in the Attic, a novel by Julie Otsuka, recommended by Laura Trowbridge, called  “arresting and alluring. . . . a novel that feels expansive yet is a magical act of compression” by the Chicago Tribune. Winner of the 2012 PEN/Faulkner Award for Fiction. $14.95 paperback  ($12.71 staff pick price) 

Maria: or, the Wrongs of Woman, novel by Mary Wollstonecraft, recommended by Tristan Tomaselli.  “One half of Mary Shelly’s DNA, and greatly overshadowed by her daughter, Wollstonecraft handed the world boldfaced suppositions of life as a woman in 18th-century patriarchy, adding her subversive spark to the growing flame of feminism. Though unfinished, this gothic tale of a woman thrown into an asylum by her husband as a substitution for divorce is the very slice of horrific life Wollstonecraft demanded the world take heed of.” $10.99 back ($9.34 staff pick price) 


We celebrated Black History Month by recommending favorites by Black authors, books to be read every month of the year. 

I Can’t Date Jesus, a memoir in essays by Michael Arsencaeux, recommended by Chris Fanning. “Arceneaux’s reflection on his childhood gave me pause to stop and think about my own experience. I’m sure we are not alone in the late night prayers to Jesus to make us ‘like everyone else.’ How freeing it is to accept yourself and be accepted by others. It’s also liberating to know that you will never change everyone’s mind, and at least there will always be a Beyonce song to fall back on for support.” $17 paperback ($14.45 staff pick price) 

The Interesting Narrative and Other Writings, autobiography by Olaudah Equiano, recommended by Tristan Tomaselli. “Read this and know the preternatural horrors that occur at the tip of enslavement’s spear; read this and know the grace and fortitude one is capable of in the struggle for freedom. A truly remarkable piece of literature to emerge from the eighteenth century, Equiano’s autobiographical narrative is essential reading for all freedom fighters.” $15 paperback ($12.75 staff pick price) 

How to Get Over: Poems, by t’ai freedom ford, recommended by Misty Yarnall. “ford’s subjects include meeting her absent father, a family after a house fire, black oppression in public schools, and more. I had the privilege of meeting t’ai this past October during her visit to Rochester and discussing her poems further. My favorite can be found on page 71.” $17.95 paperback ($15.26 staff pick price) 

Complete Poems, by James Weldon Johnson, recommended by Laura Trowbridge. “Johnson’s poems journey from the bitterest pain of reality to the salvation of an ethereal dreamworld. Read one and see what you find.” $16 paperback ($13.60 staff pick price) 

Pleasure Dome: New and Collected Poems, by Yusef Komunyakaa, recommended by Alison Meyers. “Essential Reading from this Pulitzer Prize-winning poet. Peerless.” $29.95 paperback ($25.46 staff pick price) 

Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon, recommended by Karen van Meenen. Renée Graham of the Boston Globe writes, “In a country both deserving of his love and hate, Laymon is distinctly American. Like the woman who raised him and the woman who raised her, he carries that weight, finding uplift from sorrow and shelter from the storms that batter black bodies.” Winner of the Carnegie Medal for Nonfiction and LA Times Isherwood Prize for Autobiographical Prose. $16 paperback ($13.60 staff pick price)

A Mercy, a novel by Toni Morrison, recommended by Rachael Kisenyi. “Morrison weaves a complex tapestry from multiple perspectives in 17th century America that sheds light on how fragile connections in our lives can be.” $15.95 paperback ($13.56 staff pick price) 

Some of Us Are Very Hungry Now, a memoir in essays by Andre Perry, recommended by Dan Herd. $15.99 paperback ($13.59 staff pick price) Called by Gabino Iglesias of NPR “a raw chunk of life sliced into essays packed with truths, devastating realizations, music, failed coping mechanisms, a constant search for the self, and a lot of booze.”

Citizen, poems, essays, and graphics by Claudia Rankine, recommended by Clara O’Connor.Citizen taught me the power of the lyrical essay and made me reconsider the ways racism plays into my daily interactions with the world, particularly in reference to Serena Williams, after the incident with the lineswoman at the 2009 Women’s Open Semifinal.” $20 paperback ($17 staff pick price) 

Just Mercy, a memoir by Bryan Stevenson, recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn. “I was deeply moved by this incredible memoir of Stevenson’s tireless work in support of the wrongly accused on death row, of fighting for children who have been convicted in an adult prison system, of fighting for justice; he is my new hero. I am glad I read this book before election day last November, because it made me better understand how important my votes for judgeships and the DA are.” $17 paperback ($14.45 staff pick price) 


Absorbing reads that kept us company this winter.

The Word for Woman is Wilderness, novel by Abi Andrews, recommended by Dan Herd. “The Word for Woman is Wilderness runs through a kaleidoscope of narrative, nature writing, science, theory, and adventure to explode the Mountain Man mythos. Fun, smart, funny, and thought provoking.” $16.99 paperback  ($14.44 staff pick price)

Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings, poems by Joy Harjo, recommended by Clara O’Connor. A manual for how to be in this hard, painful world with love and grace.” $15.95 paperback  ($13.56 staff pick price)

At the Edge of the Universe, novel by Shaun Hutchinson, recommended by Misty Yarnall. “Imagine waking up to the one person you love disappearing, and nobody remembering his existence. In this young adult novel At The Edge of the Universe, Ozzie must cope with the fact that his universe might be shrinking in more ways than he can understand.” $12.99 paperback ($11.04 staff pick price)

H Is for Hawk, a memoir by Helen MacDonald, recommended by Alison Meyers. “Intense noticing is the hallmark of MacDonald’s lyrical prose as she chronicles a year of raising, and being raised by, a feral goshawk while grieving her father’s unexpected death. The author’s wide-ranging subject matter includes the art and science of falconry, T. H. White’s The Goshawk, England’s suburban landscape, patriarchy, classism, and ultimately, coming to terms with her own mental demons. This is a brave and learned book.” $16 ($13.60 staff pick price)

The Complete Stories, by Bernard Malamud, recommended by Laura Trowbridge. “Anything I can say about these deeply moral, compassionate stories falls short of doing them justice. The language is elegant and perfect.” $21 paperback ($17,85 staff pick price)

There’s No Such Thing as Bad Weather: A Scandinavian Mom’s Secrets for Raising Healthy, Resilient, and Confident Kids (from Friluftsliv to Hygge), by Linda Akeson McGurk, recommended by Rachael Kisenyi. “Åkeson McGurk’s writing on Scandanavian culture and parenting inspired me to reflect on how I view the natural world we live in. Now I truly believe there is no such thing as bad or good weather – it’s just weather!” $17 paperback ($14.45 staff pick price)

Where the Crawdads Sing, a novel by Delia Owens, recommended by Kathy Pottetti. “This beautifully written coming-of-age story (with the added twist of a possible murder) transported me to the natural beauty of the marshlands and North Carolina coast. You won’t be disappointed while reading this # 1 New York Times best seller.” $26 hardcover ($22.10 staff pick price)

The Book of Disquiet, a blend of essays, autobiography, and fiction by Fernando Pessoa, recommended by Tristan Tomaselli. “Master of heteronyms, the Portuguese postmodernist Pessoa left this world with his mind scattered about like the torn fragments that this book is composed of. As such, there is no one correct way to read it, except to admit that your own mind is not a linear place, but rather, a bricolage of hallucinations.” $14.95 paperback ($12.71 staff pick price)

Simple Dreams: A Musical Memoir, by Linda Ronstadt, recommended by Chris Fanning. “A story of rock and roll success, Broadway stages, and maintaining a deep sense of self in a fast-moving, not always kind, world. I was stunned to discover that Ronstadt still holds the record for making the biggest-selling non-English language record in history, Canciones de Mi Padre, which celebrates her Mexican American heritage.” $16.99 paperback ($14.44 staff pick price)

Autumn, a novel by Ali Smith, by Karen van Meenen. “The first in a seasonal quartet of novels, the last to be released in August 2020, Autumn concerns the friendship between Elisabeth and her neighbor, Daniel, who meet when they are eight and over 80 years old, respectively. Smith adeptly weaves family, friendship, art, pop culture, loyalty, and Brexit into a one-of-a-kind of prose poem. Having read Autumn, I am eager to see how its compelling characters and contemporary setting tie into the other seasons.” $15.95 paperback ($13.56 staff pick price) 

Men We Reaped, a memoir by Jesmyn Ward, recommended by Sally Bittner Bonn. “This brilliantly written memoir takes us through five significant deaths the author experienced over the course of four years, all young African American men, including her brother. She asks deeply important questions, and creates such a strong sense of relationship and place.” $17 paperback ($14.45 staff pick price)

On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous, a novel by Ocean Vuong, recommended by Alison Meyers. “What is a country but a borderless sentence, a life?” asks Little Dog, Vuong’s narrator. This auto-biographical, non-chronological narrative is a space where language, memory, violence, and love converge and collide. Raw and luminous, On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous is a revelatory story of immigration and what it means to become an American in a historical moment of great contradiction. Longlisted for the 2019 National Book Award for Fiction, winner of the 2019 New England Book Award for Fiction. $26 hardcover ($22.10 staff pick price)

Book Club Picks – always 15% off

(Listed in chronological order by discussion date.)

Dear Girls, a memoir by Ali Wong, chosen by Serve Me the Sky Book Club. Discussion to be held April 8, time and format of meeting TBD. $27 hardcover ($22.95 book club price)

Disoriental, a novel by Negar Djavadi, chosen by The Book Thieves. Discussion to be held May 7, time and format of meeting TBD. $18 paperback ($16.02 book club price)

The Last Black Unicorn, a memoir by Tiffany Haddish, chosen by Yelp Book Club. Time and format of meeting TBD. $16 paperback ($13.60 book club price) 

Geva Theatre Recommends Drama

School Girls; Or, the African Mean Girls Play, by Jocelyn Bioh. This buoyant and biting comedy explores the universal similarities (and glaring differences) facing teenage girls across the globe. How far would you go to be queen bee? $14.95 paperback

The Wolves: A Play, by Sarah DeLappe. The Wolves follows nine teenage girls as they warm up for their indoor soccer games. From the safety of their suburban stretch circle, the team navigates big questions and wages tiny battles with all the vim and vigor of a pack of adolescent warriors. $17.99 paperback

The Thanksgiving Play, by Larissa FastHorse. A group of well-intentioned white teaching artists scramble to create an ambitious “woke” Thanksgiving pageant that also celebrates Native American Heritage Month. Amidst their eagerness to put on the most culturally sensitive show possible, things quickly begin to devolve into the absurd, showing how even those with good intentions can be undone by their own blind spots. $16.95 paperback

A Doll’s House, Part 2, by Lucas Hnath. An incendiary new play that picks up fifteen years after the conclusion of Henrik Ibsen’s legendary portrait of a marriage in crisis. $14.95 paperback

Every Brilliant Thing, by Duncan MacMillan. A play about depression and the lengths we will go to for those we love. $14.95 paperback

Pipeline, by Dominique Morisseau. Compassionate and lyrical, this powerful play delves into the urgent issue of the “school-to-prison” pipeline that ensnares people of color. Issues of class, race, parenting, and education in America are brought to the frontlines, as we are left to question the systematic structures that ultimately trap underserved communities. $14.95 paperback

Tiny Beautiful Things, adapted by Nia Vardalos from the book by Cheryl Strayed. While struggling herself, Strayed was asked to take over the unpaid, anonymous position of advice columnist. Tiny Beautiful Things is a play about reaching when you’re stuck, healing when you’re broken, and finding the courage to take on the questions that have no answers. $11.95 paperback

Cambodian Rock Band, by Lauren Yee. Part comedy, part mystery, part rock concert, this new play toggles back and forth in time as a father and daughter face the music of the past. $14.95 paperback, available for pre-order

M. K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence Recommends Nonfiction

Emergent Strategy, by adrienne maree brown. Inspired by Octavia Butler’s explorations of our human relationship to change, Emergent Strategy is radical self-help, society-help, and planet-help designed to shape the futures we want to live. $16 paperback

The Gift of Anger: And Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi, by Arun Gandhi. Discover ten vital and extraordinary life lessons from one of the most important and influential philosophers and peace activists of the twentieth century—Mahatma Gandhi—in this poignant and timely exploration of the true path from anger to peace, as recounted by Gandhi’s grandson. $24 hardcover

Why Gandhi Still Matters, by Rajmohan Gandhi. The Mahatma’s grandson and award-winning writer and scholar Rajmohan Gandhi appraises Gandhi and his legacy by examining some of his most famous (and often most controversial) ideas, beliefs, actions, successes and failures. $27.99 hardcover

Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Life: Life-Changing Tools for Healthy Relationships, by Marshall B. Rosenberg, PhD. Guidance on increasing our ability to live with choice, meaning, and connection; helping us connect empathically with ourselves and others; and sharing resources so everyone is able to benefit. $19.95 paperback

Say What You Mean: A Mindful Approach to Nonviolent Communication, by Oren Jay Sofer. In this groundbreaking synthesis of mindfulness, somatics, and Nonviolent Communication, Oren Jay Sofer offers simple yet powerful practices to develop healthy, effective, and satisfying ways of communicating. $16.95 paperback

Systems Thinking for Social Change: A Practical Guide to Solving Complex Problems, Avoiding Unintended Consequences, and Achieving Lasting Results, by David Peter Stroh. A systems thinking leader shares techniques he has used to help people end homelessness, increase affordable housing, improve public health, strengthen public education, protect child welfare, reform the criminal justice system, resolve identity-based conflicts, and more. The result is a readable, effective guide. $24.95 paperback

Jesus and the Disinherited, by Howard Thurman. In this classic theological treatise, the acclaimed theologian and religious leader demonstrates how the gospel may be read as a manual of resistance for the poor and disenfranchised. $16 paperback

Small Press Distribution Recommends Poetry

Purchase today: we’ll reserve your copy, and place the book in your hands when Ampersand’s physical bookstore reopens.

Ruined Traveler, by Renee Ashley. The dreamy mix of compressed prose poems, short poems, and long segmented poems stays grounded by a strict commitment to form. Ashley’s collection sheds light on a troubling shadow world for the reader to enter, find a place to stand, and enjoy the show. $12.95 paperback

Advantages of Being Evergreen, by Oliver Baez Bendorf. Poet and essayist Gabrielle Calvocoressi says, “Equal part prayer and potion and survival guide, Baez Bendorf’s book is making a future grammar for the moment all of our vessels are free and held. This is a book of the earth’s abiding wonder. And the body’s unbreakable ability to bloom.” $16 paperback

Heart Like a Window, Mouth Like a Cliff, by Sara Borjas. A transgressive, yet surprisingly tender confrontation of what it means to want to flee the thing you need most. The speaker struggles through cultural assimilation and the pressure to “act” Mexican while dreaming of the privileges of whiteness. This collection simultaneously reveres and destroys nostalgia, slips out of the story after a party where the reader can find God “drunk and dreaming.” $15 paperback

The Wishbone Dress, by Cassandra Bruner. A debut book that navigates the slippery terrain of gender, faith, illness, law, and loss, serving both an invitation and a declaration that, when reimagined, “the body learns its shape.” $12 paperback

The Paper Camera, poems, art, photography by Youmna Chlala. Loss and longing are interspersed with vignettes of intimacy: family members make salad and go swimming; lovers observe each other with a languorous curiosity; childhood objects resurface. This multilingual, hybrid text explores how the boundaries of a city map themselves onto language and memory, while poetry proposes a new cartography. $18 paperback

Vac Spectra, by Suzanne Doppelt. We look in through the windows: 1655, Dordrecht: Samuel van Hoogstraten built a tiny house that now lives in the National Gallery in London; we look in through the windows, into an inverted architecture, knowing that there where sight exceeds the seer, the house itself begins. $16 paperback

I’m Alive. It Hurts. I Love It. by Joshua Jennifer Espinoza. A debut collection by the most prominent gay trans poet in America is now available for wide distribution. Brimming with darkness and hope, this book artfully balances how difficult being alive can be; the feeling of everything, all at once, crumbling, but also why we all keep doing it. $14 paperback

& more black, by t’ai freedom ford. Her second collection is direct, ingenious, vibrant, alive, queer, & BLACK. By turns tough and sexy, wrapped up in the evolving language and sonics of life, these poems take their cue from Wanda Coleman’s American Sonnets as they rhapsodize and dialogue with such artists as Carrie Mae Weems, Glenn Ligon, and Wangechi Mutu, along with many other musicians, artists, and writers. $18 paperback

Hijito, by Carlos Andres Gomez. Gomez writes of brutality and beauty with the same urgency, and with a truth that burns readily; it is a collection of survival instincts. Called “powerful, truthful, and sublime” by Cornel West. Winner of the 2018 Broken River Prize. $16 paperback

Invasive Species, by Marwa Helal, centers on urgent themes in our cultural landscape, creating space for unseen victims of discriminatory foreign (read: immigration) policy: migrants, refugees–the displaced. Helal transfers lived experiences of dislocation and relocation onto the reader by obscuring borders through language. $16.95 paperback

A Jazz Funeral For Uncle Tom, by Harmony Holiday, looks at the current state of the double and triple consciousness; Blackness in the West demands and situates its varied states and registers as chorus, as music, and call and response. It performs and reinvents a ritual, the Jazz Funeral, while offering a new perspective on letting go and rebirth cycles, a new path from bereavement to reprieve. $18 paperback

Mongrel Tongue, by Megin Jimenez.  A mongrel tongue is a language, like English, made up of words imposed by, borrowed, inherited, pilfered, and misheard from many different languages. A mongrel tongue is a language of the mixed-up descendants of the colonized, the crimson-lipped feminized, the weepy survivors of a fevered nostalgia, and hybrid beasts of the deep. We turn to a mongrel tongue when the stories we’ve been told have calcified into media narratives, advertising, and purebred political campaigns, and we wish to write another story, whose ending is yet unknown. $17 paperback

A Few Microseconds On Earth, by Perrin Langda. In this English debut, French poet Perrin Langda offers poems with equal parts surrealism and satire. Sex, global warming, video games, gentrification, and all the symptoms of late-stage capitalism are illuminated in Langda’s microcosmic poems, composed in ecstatic flashes. $16 paperback

Careen , by Grace Shuyi Liew. Any hunger for inclusion calls back to a long history of displacement. Then, “eventually, every color careens into its own lack,” and the carte blanche of whiteness that envelopes a racialized nation is deftly overturned. On a journey in search for a home, Careen is a love note plunging headlong into its objects of unattainable desire. $15 paperback

Piece of Cake, by Bernadette Mayer & Lewis Walsh. This collection recounts the quotidian details of daily activities, negotiating the exigencies of young, married-with-children life, the artistic path and citizenship. $24 paperback

All That Beauty, poems by Fred Morten. This path breaking new collection combines Moten’s penchant for lyrical prosody, radical thought, and African American theory to produce writing unlike any other poetry in the world: “What is it to reside without settling? Is that is or is that ain’t like being stuck in sweetness, held in life?” $20 paperback

The Last Innocence/The Lost Adventures, by Alejandra Pizarnak. These early poems blend the real and the imaginary, demonstrating the inner torment, deep solitude and acute vulnerability that would plague Pizarnik throughout her short life. This edition includes new English-language translations of both books, along with an introduction by poet, translator, and Pizarnik scholar Ana Becciu. $15 paperback

Where The Paths Do Not Go, by Rainer Maria Rilke. In this groundbreaking bilingual edition, award-winning translator Burton Pike captures the music, power, and unerring precision of some of Rilke’s best-known poems. These renderings offer bold new insights that redefine our understanding of one of modern literature’s most celebrated voices. $16 paperback

Beast Meridian, by Vanessa Angelica Villarreal. Narrated by a first-generation Mexican American girl, these poems track the experiences of institutional racism and sexism that disproportionately punishes brown girls in crisis. This collection challenges American notions of “healing” from trauma, and acknowledges sadness, mourning, and memory as necessary for forging a “way back” toward a broader healing of earth, time, body, history. $15 paperback

Small Press Distribution Recommends Fiction

Purchase today: we’ll reserve your copy, and place the book in your hands when Ampersand’s physical bookstore reopens.

The Big Red Herring, a novel by Andrew Farkas. Wallace has just awakened, and there’s a dead body under his couch. It’s his girlfriend’s husband, “Senator” Kipper Maris. Meanwhile, a radio narrator, who’s been forced to adopt the name Edward R. Murrow, reads Wallace’s story. He hates it. He wants to change it. The problem: Murrow is not a writer, and the penalty for altering a manuscript is death. Luckily for Murrow, his boss, “Senator” Kipper Maris, was recently murdered. So maybe no one will notice. Or maybe there’s a reason for the rule. But you can’t find out what’s in Pandora’s box until it’s opened, right? $19.99 paperback

Irreversible Things, a novel by Lisa Van Orman Hadley, follows three decades in the life of author-qua-narrator Lisa and her charismatic Mormon family. From a young girl grappling with early friendships, first crushes, and a beloved neighbor’s shocking murder, to a young woman beginning her own family, dealing with infertility, and caring for a father with Alzheimer’s, this work expands our understanding of the novel form, weaving together memoir, fiction, and the fiction of remembering. $18 paperback

A Handbook For Beautiful People, a novel by Jennifer Spruit. Marla finds herself unexpectedly pregnant and facing an uncertain future with her boyfriend, Liam; constant danger from her drug-addicted roommate, Dani; and the needs of her younger brother, Gavin. Her courage transforms everyone around her, proving to those who had doubted her that having a fetal alcohol spectrum disorder does not make a person any less noble, wise, or caring. $22.95 paperback

The Hanky of Pippin’s Daughter, a novel by Rosemarie Waldrop. This haunting work, superbly intelligent, evocative and strange, reverberates in the memory for a long time, a song for the dead, a judgment. $16 paperback

Small Press Distribution Recommends Anthologies

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Obsidian’s Speculating Futures: Black Imagination and the Arts, a multigenre anthology edited by Duriel E. Harris and Sheree Renée Thomas. “When you choose to alter the history and ideology that has and continues to oppress you, you choose the path of a creator,” writes guest editor Sheree Renée Thomas in her introduction. “Under the powerful lens of Afrofuturism, the impossible is possible. It is creative alchemy.” This issue includes fiction, poetry, criticism, essays, scripts, visual art and more from African writers and artists around the world, including Sofia Samatar, Tochi Onyebuchi, Alexis Pauline Gumbs, Walidah Imarisha, Nisi Shawl, Isiah Lavender III, Krista Franklin, and Sheree Renée Thomas, among many others. $24.99 paperback

Graffiti, multigenre anthology edited by Palavi Dhawan, Devi S. Laskar, and Tamika Thompson. This anthology was born of a special challenge: to write in a way that centers neither “whiteness” nor “anti-whiteness” and that is not limited by their struggle, their oppression, or how their characters will be received by the white imagination. The results are joyous and mind-expanding. $16.95 paperback

Small Press Distribution (SPD) forges a pathway to the book marketplace for independently published literary voices often excluded from and underrepresented in the culture at large. Reaching underserved readers with writing from a broad coalition of authors contributes to the vibrancy of our communities, and helps literature to prosper as an evolving and vital artform. Through book distribution, events, and public advocacy, SPD provides small presses and their authors with the reliable and professional network they need.