A Gentleman in Moscow will be available in paperback March 26



A winning, stylish novel." --NPR.org

"Enjoyable, elegant."--Seattle Times

"This is an old fashioned sort of romance, filled with delicious detail."--Louise Erdrich

"Towles gets good mileage from the considerable charm of his protagonist and the peculiar world he inhabits."--The New Yorker

"Irresistible"--O, The Oprah Magazine

"'The Grand Budapest Hotel' and 'Eloise' meets all the Bond villains."--TheSkimm

"Special keys, secret compartments, gold coins, vials of coveted liquid, old-fashioned pistols, duels and scars, hidden assignations (discreet and smoky), stolen passports, a ruby necklace, mysterious letters on elegant hotel stationery . . . a luscious stage set, backdrop for a downright Casablanca-like drama."--The San Francisco Chronicle


We've loved Amor Towles' charming novel A Gentleman in Moscow since it was first published. It's atmospheric, transporting, and engrossing in all the right ways. Our one quibble? There wasn't a paperback edition.

If you've put off reading this lovely book, wait no longer. The long-anticipated paperback edition will be published on March 26. Preorder your copy now, then schedule a vacation day so you can enjoy this glorious Russian treat.


Enter to win a "Book Club in a Bag"

Talking about a book with friends is one of life's simple pleasures. To make that easy for you, CGB is offering a "book club in a bag." Order a copy of A Gentleman in Moscow before March 26, and you can enter a drawing for 

  • a tote bag
  • four copies of A Gentleman in Moscow
  • an advance copy of The Secrets We Keep
  • a map of Moscow

Get a jump on finding your book club's next great pick. Enter to win an advance copy of The Secrets We Keep. At the height of the Cold War, two secretaries are pulled out of the typing pool at the CIA and given the assignment of a lifetime. Their mission: to smuggle Doctor Zhivago out of the USSR, where no one dare publish it, and help Pasternak's magnum opus make its way into print around the world. The Secrets We Keep will be published September 17, but you can read it early. Stop by the bookstore in March for details.

2018 Staff Picks

We love all our books, of course, but we can’t help loving some of them just a little bit extra. Here, then, is an idiosyncratic list of our favorite books of the past year.


Zora Neal Hurston

As I tell everyone that picks up a copy of anything written by Zora Neale Hurston, she was the entire reason that I majored in Anthropology in college and this work here explains exactly why. The first renowned black woman to be an anthropologist Hurston displays a new methodology of study that has created new avenues for anthropologists of color that preserve the parts of history that might have been lost under the washing of white supremacy. The use of the subject's dialect was the controversial aspect that prevented this ethnography from being published initially but humanizes the victims of the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade to showcase the traumatic impact of being stolen into slavery. A must read for more reasons than I'm given space to display here.


A Year in the Wilderness: Bearing Witness in the Boundary Waters
Amy and Dave Freeman

Here’s a book that manages to combine a good adventure story with stunning photographs while doing the important work of calling attention to the imminent and very real threat of proposed sulfide mining at the edge of northern Minnesota‘s Boundary Waters Canoe Area. To increase public awareness of the relentless efforts by foreign companies to allow copper-nickel mining in the watershed of the BWCA, the Freemans spent an entire year traveling there by canoe and dog sled. Their book is a labor of love; it invites the reader along on their fantastic adventure, provides context for the environmental issues at stake, and powerfully illuminates the need for preservation and stewardship of natural places. It will be a welcome addition to the libraries of wilderness enthusiasts everywhere.


Friday Black
Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah

Pretty sure you have never read a book like this. Think George Saunders meets Ta-Nehisi Coates set in a dystopian near future a la 'Black Mirror'. The surreal short stories in this collection from newcomer Nana Kwame Adjei-Brenyah, present a powerful indictment of racism, consumerism, classism and other social ills in funny, strange and horrifying ways. Sometimes you laugh, cry and are sick to your stomach all on the same page. Kind of like the holidays.


Louisiana’s Way Home
Kate DiCamillo

Kate DiCamillo’s newest book, Louisiana’s Way Home, reconnects us to delightful and complicated Louisiana Elefante with humor and compassion. As Louisiana searches for her long-lost family and her own true identity, old friends, instantly-loveable new acquaintances, and some mean people, too, help her realize just how beautiful the world really is and how forgiveness helps us discover who we are and what matters most. A story with hoots of laughter, a few scary bits, and heart and soul for kids and also for you and your book group.


Bad Blood
John Carryrou

You just can’t make this stuff up!  The Pulitzer Prize-winning author tracks the sensational rise and fall of the 2004 multi-billion dollar Silicon Valley biotech startup Theranos. The company’s blood testing device promised to revolutionize the field of medical testing. The technology never worked but before the false claims were finally exposed, founder Elizabeth Holmes kept money flowing into the company for 14 (!) years by seducing investors with promises of huge profits. Engrossing investigative reporting  of fraud, deception, greed, and legal intimidation in one of the biggest scams in Silicon Valley history--it reads like a psychological crime thriller.


Zora Neal Hurston

"One of the greatest writers of our time" Toni Morrison

An important book by one of the greatest of American artists. A never before published manuscript about a man who was one of the last slaves known to make the transatlantic journey. Powerful and necessary. Hurston's skill as an anthropologist, historian, writer, listener, and witness shows throughout. A vital book in the cannon of this important writer. Must read.


Pancakes!: An Interactive Recipe Book
Lotta Nieminen

Pancakes! Who doesn’t like pancakes? This interactive charming board book cooks up smiles and a trip to the frying pan.



Washington Black
Esi Edugyan

Washington Black is an expansive adventure novel in the Vernean mold. It’s a compelling commentary on the history of science, a history that too often writes out the contributions of researchers of color. Lyrical yet rooted firmly in the horrors of plantation slavery, epic yet deeply psychological, this novel will delight and challenge everyone from your precocious preteen to your history-buff great-uncle. Plus there’s a giant flying machine--- what’s not to love?


A Cruelty Special to Our Species
Emily Jungmin Yoon

This book bleeds beauty. Emily Jungmin Yoon explores the female Korean body as it learns to expect and escape notions of “comfort.” She focuses on sexual violence, and through her wrenching language, she confronts a male history commodifying women.



Tin Man
Sarah Winman

Michael loves Ellis, Ellis loves Annie, and Annie loves them both. Yet Sarah Winman’s blistering novel Tin Man is anything but the usual love triangle. Instead, Winman asks us to consider what remains of love after its object is gone. She crowds this spare little book, set in London, Oxford, and the south of France, with vivid portraits of loss and mourning. At once terse and expansive, Tin Man is a firework flashing in the night--gone too soon but burned forever into the reader’s memory.

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: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780143109419
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
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: Hard to Find
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: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250079039
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Picador - 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: A Novel 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: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Univ Of Minnesota Press - April 2015

Dear Committee Members Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345807335
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Anchor - 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: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781555977177
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Graywolf Press - September 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. 


Staff Pick Logo
A God in Ruins: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316176538
Availability: Hard to Find
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: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
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. 

Staff Pick Logo
A Reunion of Ghosts: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062355881
Availability: Special Order Only - Please Contact Us
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: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Knopf - 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: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
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: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Picador - September 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: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781476746586
Availability: Not in Our Store - Available to Order
Published: Scribner - 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."


Staff Pick Logo
Alec Soth: Songbook (First edition. Second printing) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781910164020
Availability: Special Order Only - Please Contact Us
Published: Mack Books - March 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: Special Order Only - Please Contact Us
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."



Subscribe to Common Good Books RSS