CGB Book Club

Join bookseller Brady for another Sunday evening of books, banter, brilliance and something to imbibe. Chosen by a democratic process, Katherine Dunn's Geek Love, a National Book Award Finalist, will offer plenty of freakish material to philosophize about. 

Geek Love is the story of the Binewskis, a carny family whose mater- and paterfamilias set out–with the help of amphetamine, arsenic, and radioisotopes–to breed their own exhibit of human oddities. There’s Arturo the Aquaboy, who has flippers for limbs and a megalomaniac ambition worthy of Genghis Khan . . . Iphy and Elly, the lissome Siamese twins . . . albino hunchback Oly, and the outwardly normal Chick, whose mysterious gifts make him the family’s most precious–and dangerous–asset. 

Geek Love Cover Image
ISBN: 9780375713347
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - June 11th, 2002

Father's Day Gift Ideas

There are a million great books here at Common Good Books. We can certainly find one that's perfect for your dad. Here are a few suggestions. Come in, and we'll give you even more.

Let's Go Fishing!: Fish Tales from the North Woods Cover Image
ISBN: 9780816693214
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Minnesota Press - May 2016

Paper: Paging Through History Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393239614
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - May 10th, 2016

The Manly Art of Knitting Cover Image
ISBN: 9781584235569
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Gingko Press - August 2014

Dad Hacks: Helpful Hints to Make Life Easier Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062467935
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Design - May 10th, 2016

The Road to Little Dribbling: Adventures of an American in Britain Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385539289
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Doubleday Books - January 19th, 2016

The Almost Nearly Perfect People: Behind the Myth of the Scandinavian Utopia Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250081568
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - February 2nd, 2016

Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143109396
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - April 26th, 2016

The United States of Beer: A Freewheeling History of the All-American Drink Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062389756
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow & Company - June 14th, 2016

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The Oregon Trail: A New American Journey Cover Image
ISBN: 9781451659177
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Simon & Schuster - June 7th, 2016

Douglas MacArthur: American Warrior Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812994889
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - June 14th, 2016

"The Must-Read Novel of the Summer"

When people in the book world can't stop talking about a book, we call it buzz. For Emma Cline's fantastic new novel The Girls, that buzz is more like roar.

  • "Emma Cline’s first novel, The Girls, is a seductive and arresting coming-of-age story hinged on Charles Manson, told in sen­tences at times so finely wrought they could almost be worn as jewelry."--The New York Times
  • "[A] startlingly assured debut... Cline wonderfully evokes the flushes of feeling that come with early adolescence."-- The AV Club
  • "The strength of The Girls lies in Cline’s ability to evoke both the textures and atmosphere of those painful in-between times; the desperate rush to fill an emotional vacuum."--The Guardian

And let me tell you, that praise is justified. The Girls is a tense literary thriller, a story at once gorgeous and repellent like the California cult at the book's center. Cline's narrator is inexorably drawn into darkness, and you'll be horrified even as you sympathize with her choices.

You can hear Cline read a portion of her novel at MPR. Once you're hooked, come in and get your own copy at Common Good Books.--David

Staff Pick Logo
The Girls Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812998603
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House - June 14th, 2016

Suggested Reading for Summer

Booksellers love to recommend books to our customers. It's a thrill to see a book we enjoy going home with an enthusiastic reader and to know that it's found just the right reader.

If you come in and talk to me in the next few weeks, I'm going to chew your ear about Kitchens of the Great Midwest. I fell in love with this novel last year, and I am pretty sure you will, too. It's a smart and inventive novel that also manages to be a fun pageturner. You might read it on the beach, but you won't feel like you're just filling your mind with junk food.

Kitchens of the Great Midwest is the story of Eva, a Midwestern girl who grows up to be a world-class chef. Along the way, you'll meet a range of foodie types, from the rural to the rarified. J Ryan Stradal roasts them, but only to bring out the best in his cast of characters. This is a gentle satire, and you will enjoy seeing the culinary world through Stradal's kind eyes. I can't recommend it enough.

(And if I've already talked you into reading Kitchens of the Great Midwest, then ask me about The Jesus Cow. That's another great tale from the middle of the country and another perfect summer read.)


Staff Pick Logo
Kitchens of the Great Midwest Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143109419
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Books - June 7th, 2016

And the winners are...

Congratulations to the winners of the 2016 Common Good Books Poetry Contest.

First place poems:

  • "Flight" by Charles Atkinson
  • "Still Life with Gratitude" by Dean Rader
  • "Gratitude List" by Laura Foley

Second place poems:

  • "Ode to the Pull-Out Couch" by Sonja Johanson
  • "One Summer Day on the Number One Train" by Anne Whitehouse
  • "Still I Give Thanks" by Marie Reynolds
  • "Bounding Flight" by Chera Hammons

Congratulations to everyone who entered. Click here to read the winning poems.

Let's Go Back, Former Comrades!

A lot of big books are getting attention this week, but there's also a little novel that you might not hear about that's still worth a look. If you enjoy a bit of armchair travel, this book could be just the ticket. The feckless narrator of Guillermo Erades’ novel Back to Moscow arrives in the Russian capital with a fellowship to study the country’s literature and a yen to study its young women. His plan to combine the two tasks, if a bit suspect academically, nonetheless makes for an entertaining read, as Erades combines the formless grad school noodling of Leaving the Atocha Station with the clubbing and casual relationships of Bright Lights, Big City. Erades’ portrait of expat life in a newly capitalist Moscow is crisp and memorable.--David

Staff Pick Logo
Back to Moscow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780865478374
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - May 3rd, 2016

A Fantastic February Novel

Our bookseller David isn't alone in loving Paul Goldberg's first novel. He said, "The Yid is a very serious farce, a philosophical novel larded with pitch black comedy. Fans of City of Thieves and Absurdistan will love Paul Goldberg’s ambitious new novel." Maureen Corrigan agrees, as you can hear here.

Staff Pick Logo
The Yid Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250079039
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Picador USA - February 2nd, 2016

CGB's Bestsellers of 2015

We've already posted our staff picks for the best books of 2015. They're here, if you want to see them again. But what were the most popular books here in terms of sales? What did you, our esteemed customers, choose to take home in the past year? We've crunched the numbers, and here are the results:

  1. Brief History of Seven Killings
  2. Between the World and Me
  3. All the Light We Cannot See
  4. We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying
  5. Dear Committee Members
  6. Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End
  7. My Brilliant Friend
  8. Station Eleven
  9. Go Set a Watchman
  10. The Boys in the Boat
A Brief History of Seven Killings Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594633942
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - September 8th, 2015

We Know How This Ends: Living While Dying Cover Image
ISBN: 9780816697335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of Minnesota Press - April 2015

Dear Committee Members Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345807335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor Books - June 23rd, 2015

The Best Books of 2015--A Very Biased List from the Staff at Common Good Books

Yes, we love all the books equally. But there are a few books we love just a little bit more. Here then, is Common Good Books' very subjective, very idiosyncratic list of our favorite books of 2015.

Staff Pick Logo
The Wake Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977177
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - September 1st, 2015

The narrator of Paul Kingsnorth's novel The Wake loses everything in the days following the Norman conquest of England. His home is burned, his farm his destroyed, and his family is killed. Retreating to the green woods, he quickly descends into a fever dream of revenge.

It takes a few moments to learn to parse the language of The Wake; it is written in a simplified version of Old English, after all. The effort is richly repaid, however, by an engrossing and immersive reading experience unlike any other historical novel. Kingsnorth's vividly imagined medieval tale is an ancient story that throbs with life. 


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A God in Ruins Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316176538
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Little Brown and Company - May 5th, 2015

"Nothing short of brilliant describes this companion to Life After Life. It is Atkinson at her very best. It's not a sequel, so go ahead--read and enjoy. Loved it!"


Staff Pick Logo
Thrown Cover Image
ISBN: 9781936747924
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Sarabande Books - October 14th, 2014

A young lady philosophy scholar literally wanders into the world of mixed martial arts fighting. This book kept leaving me dumbstruck. It's like an ice cube down the back. 

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A Reunion of Ghosts Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062355881
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper - March 24th, 2015

"The story tugged me along relentlessly--complicated, life and death stuff, myriad varieties of women, those mistakes in remembering that are so dangerous, effects of the past on the present, wide range and serious depth of loving and being loved. It's a great read and it all stays with you."


Staff Pick Logo
News of the Universe: Poems of Twofold Consciousness Cover Image
ISBN: 9781619025929
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Counterpoint LLC - September 15th, 2015

"One of Minnesota's finest poets, and certainly its finest poetry translator, herein whittles a world's worth of poetry into one beautiful, fine point. The overarching theme of twofold consciousness is perfectly suited to Bly's voice, thought, and career. I recommend this to anyone who's ever liked anything."


Staff Pick Logo
Between the World and Me Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812993547
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Spiegel & Grau - July 14th, 2015

"To crib Toni Morrison's blurb, Between the World and Me ought to be required reading. Ta-Nehisi Coates says he doesn't 'want to be anyone's expert,' but that isn't to say there aren't some crucial truths inside this book. Poetic and tragic and timely."

Staff Pick Logo
Endurance: Shackleton's Incredible Voyage Cover Image
ISBN: 9780465062881
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Basic Books - April 28th, 2015

"Still the best account of Shackleton's famous adventure, complete with Frank Hurley's stunning photographs. My favorite book of all time."


Staff Pick Logo
M Train Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101875100
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Publishing Group - October 6th, 2015

"Patti Smith continues her successful sucession of books that includes the National Book award winning memoir Just Kids, as well as many earlier books, poetry publications and exhibition catalogs. I settled into M-train and felt like she had opened a door to her world, not the music world, but her everyday life--Patti's apartment, Patti in the cafe, Patti hanging on the stoop. On the cover image, she sits, and looks out the window watching the world go by. I imagine she is fabulously famous, and yet, can go quietly unrecognized in New York City and this gives her space in her cafe to muse, capture the muse and filter it back to the reader with all the ephemeral sweetness of the best truffle you have ever eaten. Forget the hard facade, this is pure butter, chocolate and bliss.Take it slowly and love every bite."


Staff Pick Logo
Unfaithful Music & Disappearing Ink Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399167256
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Blue Rider Press - October 13th, 2015

My favorite book of the year.


Staff Pick Logo
The Emerald Light in the Air: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250074706
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador USA - September 1st, 2015

"Each story follows a stressed-out, often over-medicated adult as he or she fails, hilariously, to carry out an everyday plan: buy flowers for a spouse, go for a pleasant walk, relax at a party of peers. A great pick for fans of George Saunders, Jeffrey Eugenides, and Lorrie Moore. All nine stories appeared first in The New Yorker."


All the Light We Cannot See Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476746586
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner Book Company - May 6th, 2014

"Beautiful in every moment! This is the kind of book that reminds you why people and things are so enchanting. Easily the best book I have read this year."


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Alec Soth: Songbook (First edition. Second printing) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781910164020
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Mack Books - March 1st, 2015

An amazing new photobook from Soth. Wonderful pictures that capture the strange beauty of America. Beautifully designed. Destined to be a classic. Highly recommended! For fans of Frank, Evans, Adams, etc. . . . Published by the great MACK Books!


Staff Pick Logo
But Enough about Me: A Memoir Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399173547
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - November 17th, 2015

"Learning about the storied life of this nigh-mythic sex symbol of mustachioed manhood was possibly the most satisfying reading I've ever done,--let alone done this year. It was invigorating to track his movements through friends and colleagues, through cinema and television, like one would track a bounding stag through a forest primeval. If I had a billion thumbs, I would upturn them all. Burt, after all, remains king."



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