38 Snelling Ave S, St. Paul, MN 55105 • 651-225-8989
the ncb newsletter
N O V E M B E R . 2 0 , . 2i0i2i3
Howdy, readers! Nice to see so many of you in the store recently. And to everyone who subscribed to the newsletter in the past two weeks: welcome! Thanks for your stopping by signing up. Release season has hit its peak, but this is an extra-long and extra-special newsletter anyway, because we have our holiday picks to share with you!

Other than that, this week, we have fresh releases from Nita Prose, Nnedi Okorafor, and Thich Nhat Hanh; dates for our holiday signing series in December; new book earrings; Anthony Horowitz and Billy Collins in paperback; and a taxonomy of shopping carts...

All that and more, in this edition of the NCB Newsletter!
Check Out Our Holiday Picks!
As always, our booksellers have chosen some favorite titles to spotlight for our holiday shoppers this year! Holiday picks are one of my favorite NCB traditions. Compared to our "Books of the Year," we're able to share older and/or more idiosyncratic books that might have fallen between the cracks amongst more high-profile releases. And we have some great variety for you here, including novels, comics, memoirs, manga, how-to books, history, humor, essays, and more!

The books listed below are conveniently in one place, both in our store (on the table next to the children's section) and on our website here. I've also been making short videos (or as the social-media-savvy call them, 'Reels') introducing each book, which you can find on our Instagram or Facebook page (see links at the top of the newsletter).


Big Swiss — Jen Beagin

Greta transcribes therapy sessions for a sex coach named Om, in her small town of Hudson, New York. She lives in a run down Dutch farmhouse with her friend Sabine, her dog, and a hive of bees. One day she becomes obsessed and infatuated with Om’s newest client, a married woman she refers to as Big Swiss. When she hears Big Swiss’s voice out in town she can’t help but befriend her, and of course their lives become immediately enmeshed. Filled with flawed characters who are funny and dark, you won’t be able to put this book down. -Adriana


Just Kids — Patti Smith

Patti Smith’s ode to Robert Maplethorpe. Smith writes with deep tenderness and love about their unconditional and enduring friendship as young artists in underground New York City. Just Kids is raw and will make your heart ache. Read it. You will not regret it, you will never want it to end, and you will be thinking about this book years after. -Adriana


The God of Endings — Jacqueline Holland

No sparkly vampires here - this story is not one of sensationalized vampiric lore. In this novel, the vampire's way of life proves to be an extension of the Old Slavic tales made real - such as Czernobog and the Saker, amongst others who lurk in the runes and shadows.

Flowing like the river of time and memory itself, The God of Endings is a novel that ambles along while still retaining tension at its foundation. With stunning prose, from the first paragraph to the last, I just wanted our world to slow down, so that I could take everything in. -Emily K.


Fourth Wing — Rebecca Yarros

This book contains:
  • Sassy Dragons
  • Explosive Chemistry
  • Disability Representation
  • Queer Representation
  • And can we talk about that cliff hanger ending?!

The sequel, Iron Flame, just came out and trust me, you will want to have a copy ready to go immediately after you finish Fourth Wing!
-Emily K

You're All Gonna Die Alone (& Other Excellent News) — Devrie Brynn Donalson

Easily one of my favorite books of the year! At first I listened to the audiobook, but twenty minutes in, I knew I needed a physical copy too. A collection of humorish, heartfelt essays, interspersed with gorgeous poems (some even dedicated to cheese), this book filled my millennial heart with joy and healing. -Emily K.


Leave No Trace — Mindy Mejia

A great stand-alone mystery set up North in the Boundary Waters. A perfect book to take on vacation - just make sure you finish packing before you start reading it, otherwise you’ll devour the book before you even leave your house, and your things will still be unpacked! -Emily K.


Death Valley — Melissa Broder

Death Valley connects with the complicated stages of grief in an environment just as inscrutable -- the desert. Broder's writing is candid and bleakly hilarious. These characters confess what you're afraid to admit. -Milan

A Frog In the Fall (And Later On)— Linnea Sterte

I am not one to treat books with excessive care, but I handle my copy of A Frog in the Fall (And Later On), with its slipcase and open-spine binding, like the relic of a venerated saint, because this is An Art Object as much as it is a book.
In this gorgeously drawn and exquisitely produced grown-up-picture-book-slash-graphic-novel, Swedish artist Linnea Sterte answers the question "what if Hokusai had written and illustrated Frog and Toad?" We follow a newly-hatched frog during his first autumn, rendered with the elegance of a Basho haiku, as he tags along with vagrant toads and meets all manner of mice, dogs, and tree spirits that exist in the interstices between human habitation. Not much happens -- it's not that kind of book. Small critters journey and dance and eat Pocky. It's got notes of The Little Prince or The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse, but with less Boy and more Amphibian.

It was a labor of love getting these in, and I believe we are the only store in the country to carry them for the time being. In other words, the FOMO you are feeling is real. This is a book to be treasured by the lucky person you buy it for, whether that's your alt-comics-loving hipster friend, or the aunt who keeps giving you Charlie Mackesy books, or, if you love beautiful drawings and small animals in clothes, yourself. -Graham

The Saint of Bright Doors — Vajra Chandrasekera

In the first chapter of The Saint of Bright Doors, we meet shadowless young Fetter, raised from birth by his mom, Mother-of-Glory, to kill his absentee dad, the godlike Perfect and Kind. Then, in the second chapter, he grows up, moves to the city, and nopes out of all that, joining a support group for failed chosen ones. But his destiny isn't done with him, and thus proceeds Chandrasekera's book, never committing to mythic fantasy or its straightforward deconstruction, and becoming a more complex, more wonderful third thing.

The city of Luriat is rich and intricate, sketched in the tradition of Miéville, VanderMeer, and M. John Harrison. Here, a socialist state does not preclude a caste system, social media exists alongside Invisible Laws and Powers, and ancient magics and religions mirror very modern biopolitics. As the story drifts, fantastical and political premises are set forth, seemingly abandoned, and then reintroduced when you least expect them, resulting in a leisurely, metamorphic yarn where every chapter is a small and welcome surprise. -Graham

Delicious in Dungeon — Ryoko Kui

A fighter, a wizard, and a thief lose their cleric to a dragon. Beaten, broke, and grieving, they vow to recover and resurrect her before she's totally digested. With the majority of their supplies left in the dungeon, they're perilously low on resources... until the fighter Laios suggests they sustain themselves on the dungeon's most abundant resource: monsters. Ryoko Kui's appealing character designs, stellar draftsmanship, and her fascination with ecology take Delicious in Dungeon from a loving D&D tribute and fantasy romp to what might be the best fantasy manga (or comic, period) of the 2000s. -Emily B.
We'll be discussing volume one of Delicious in Dungeon at our next Manga Club meeting, 5pm on Saturday, January 13th!

Sewing the Curve — Jenny Rushmore

Want to sew your own clothes, but don't know notion from needle? Most sewing books assume you have some skills already, but Sewing the Curve teaches the basics: how to choose a machine, measure yourself, read and prepare a pattern, evaluate your style, choose appropriate fabrics, and even how to approach sewing if you're disabled or have a chronic illness. Sizes start in the the middle-to-high end of most sewing pattern ranges at 12 (40/32/40 bust/waist/hip-- yes, high end, really) and end at 32 (62/52/62 bust/waist/hip). But the best thing about making your own clothes is they come in size YOU-- so you never have to worry about your top fitting in the bust but having saggy shoulders, or your pants straining at the hip but gaping at the waist. For folks with more experience, get Ahead of the Curve by the same author-- it's a great guide to making adjustments and learning what a good fit looks like! -Emily B.


Gnomes Wil Huygen & Rien Poortvliet 

Gnomes is a serious book about a charming little topic. Styled as a biology textbook, it examines all the aspects of gnome life, from their physiology to their homes to their cuisine. These are not the cute little folk of a Disney movie. Huygen and Poortvliet’s gnomes are fully-drawn characters. Gnomes was a huge hit when it was first published in 1977, and it’s as charming now as it was then. -David


Berlin Game — Len Deighton

Berlin Game is the first book of Len Deighton’s spy trilogy. British spy Bernard Samson is on the hunt for a KGB double agent among his own colleagues, and there’s no one he can trust. Samson is the anti-James Bond--working-class, jaded, and street-smart--and the gritty, morally compromised world that Deighton conjures is a quagmire of doubt and delusion. Berlin Game is the first of a nine-book saga of spies, and you’ll be hooked from the first page. -David


Monica — Daniel Clowes

A wonderful comic that expands with each re-reading. Expert linework and glorious coloring by the ever reliable Clowes. Interrelated stories combine for a truly kaleidoscopic tale about family and belonging. Surreal and trippy with moments of hilarity, this is a dream of a comic book. Wonderful art that pays tribute to old comic greats like the folks at EC comics and the wild vision of Basil Wolverton. Highly recommended. -Joe Joe


Holiday Inn Kevin Kling

A year of laugh-out-loud family holiday hilarity in these short stories by renowned storyteller Kevin Kling. Kling is possibly one of the best storytellers in the country but Minnesota claims him as our own.


The Vaster Wilds — Lauren Groff

An indentured servant in Colonial America runs away from the masters who torment her. Her solitary winter flight is narrated by an unidentified “presence”, an eerie voyeur, that describes every step of her desperate and dangerous escape. Suspenseful and atmospheric, the reader is completely drawn in to discover whatever fate waits in the vaster wilds. Couldn’t put it down. -Jean
Extended Hours Begin 11/24; Place Orders by 12/14 For Christmas Eve Pickup
As a reminder, NCB is closed on Thanksgiving Day.

Starting November 24th (or 'Black Friday,' a cursed holiday which we otherwise do not observe) we'll be open an hour later on weekdays to give you extra time to shop after work! So, our holiday hours will be:

  • Monday - Friday: 10am - 6pm
  • Saturday: 10am - 5pm
  • Sunday: 12pm - 5pm

We'll be keeping these extended hours through Christmas Eve, but don't wait till then! As we have every year, I again beseech you to start your holiday shopping sooner rather than later. December 14th will be our cut-off date for orders, after which we can't guarantee that ordered books will arrive for pickup by Christmas Eve.
That said, I suggest not waiting until December 14th, either! We've done everything we can to stock up on the year's best and biggest books, but coming in now is the best way to make sure you get the gifts you want for your loved ones. We also love to give recommendations!! Drop by the store, call us at 651-225-8989, or shop on our newly-revamped website at nextchapterbooksellers.com. 
New Books
In Mystery / Thriller

The Mystery Guest — Nita Prose

With her flair for cleaning and proper etiquette, Molly has risen through the ranks of the five-star Regency Grand Hotel to become the esteemed Head Maid. But just as her life reaches its zenith, her world is turned upside down when renowned mystery author J. D. Grimthorpe drops dead on the tearoom floor. When Detective Stark, Molly’s old foe, investigates the author’s demise, it becomes clear that this death was murder most foul. Molly begins to comb her memory for clues, revisiting her childhood and the Grimthorpe mansion where she and her Gran worked side by side. With the entire hotel under investigation, Molly must solve the mystery posthaste. Because if there’s one thing she knows for sure, it’s that secrets don’t stay buried forever.
In Spirituality / Self-Help

How To Smile — Thich Nhat Hanh

In the final book in the bestselling How To series, illustrated in sumi-ink by Jason DeAntonis,
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh gives us teachings and tools for transforming suffering as well as ways to touch moments of happiness and smile even while suffering is still there. When we’re willing to face our suffering and look deeply into it, we begin to understand its origins. Healing becomes possible, along with a greater capacity to understand the suffering of others and resolve conflicts in our relationships, helping create true understanding and peace in our communities, society, and the world. Thich Nhat Hanh offers practices for transforming our own suffering, listening to the suffering of others, and cultivating our own smile and happiness.
In Sci-Fi / Fantasy

Like Thunder — Nnedi Okorafor

The second volume of the Desert Magician's duology sweeps across the Sahara, flies up the Aïr Mountains, cartwheels into a wild megacity—you get the idea. It's 2077, in Niger, and Dikéogu is slowly losing his mind. Yes, that boy who can bring rain just by thinking about it is having some…issues. Years ago, he went on an epic journey to save Earth with the shadow speaker Ejii, who became his best friend. But now he’s learned their quest never really ended at all. So Dikéogu reunites with Ejii, and records their story as an audiofile, hoping it will help him keep his sanity or at least give him something to leave behind. I can tell you this: it won’t be like before. Our rainmaker and shadow speaker have changed. And after this, nothing will ever be the same again.
News In Photos
We've added some new covers to our handmade book earrings display, and restocked others! New covers include 1984, Circe, The Color Purple, Perks of Being A Wallflower, and The Body Keeps the Score, with further new covers forthcoming. These adorably petite polymer-clay, hand-painted earrings have to be seen to be fully appreciated! They make an excellent gift for the reader who already has an unapproachably huge TBR pile. I own a pair of The Great Gatsby earrings and receive compliments on them every time I wear them (I admit, that might have something to do with my place of employment).
Kate DiCamillo recommended Margaret Renkl's The Comfort of Crows last time she was in, and so we asked her to write us a shelf-talker! Kate calls it "A stunner! A life-saver! You need it."
Our window will be growing more and more wintry and wonderful as the warmer weather wanes!
It's an (extremely early) Christmas miracle! Despite all indications to the contrary, we were able to get more sprayed-edge editions of Iron Flame! Again, no promises for any more special edition after these, so if Fourth Wing left you on the edge of your seat, grab one before we run out.
Happy Native American Heritage Month!! Check out our display column by the entrance for some recommendations, such as the incredible new trilogy of books on Ojibwe customs and ceremonies (top row in photo), written by Lee Obizaan Staples and Chato Ombishkebin Gonzalez as a way to record and pass on these aspects of Anishinaabe culture.
Now In Paperback

As always, our newsletter can't fit everything, so check out the other new arrivals and recent bestsellers on our website!
Upcoming Events
Holiday Signing: The Staff of Northern Waters Smokehaus — Smoke on the Waterfront
Saturday, December 9 at 1:00pm

Our Holiday Signings series brings in local authors to spotlight some of the season's most exciting books -- and of course, offer personalized signatures -- on the Saturdays leading up to Christmas! First, we'll be hosting the staff of Northern Waters Smokehaus, signing their new cookbook Smoke on the Waterfront. A celebration of the Smokehaus’s singular contribution to Duluth’s cuisine, Smoke on the Waterfront lays out the stories, recipes, and techniques that have made the establishment a fixture. The crew shares their many ways of preserving food (smoking, canning, fermenting, and kippering), and presents recipes that capture a port city’s old-world charm—all workable with simple equipment, allowing home cooks to bring delicious Smokehaus flavors to their own kitchens.
Holiday Signing: Linda Lee Grover —
A Song over Miskwaa Rapids
Saturday, December 16 at 1:00pm

Our Holiday Signings series brings in local authors to spotlight some of the season's most exciting books -- and of course, offer personalized signatures -- on the Saturdays leading up to Christmas! Our second and final signing will feature Linda LeGarde Grover, whose new novel is A Song Over Miskwaa Rapids. A rock dislodged from its slope by mischievous ancestors reveals a gruesome secret half a century old. Some people of Mozhay Point have theories about what happened; others know—and the discovery stirs memories long buried, reviving a terrible story yet to be told. Margie Robineau, in the midst of a fight to keep her family’s allotment land, uncovers events connected to a long-ago escape plan across the Canadian border, and the burial—figurative and painfully real—of not one crime, but two. Linda LeGarde Grover has created and explored the imaginary Mozhay Point Ojibwe Reservation in northern Minnesota for years, starting with her story collection The Dance Boots and continuing with novels The Road Back to Sweetgrass and In the Night of Memory. She is author of a poetry collection, The Sky Watched; a book blending memoir, history, and Ojibwe tradition, Gichigami Hearts; and a collection of short essays that evoke the four seasons, Onigamiising: Seasons of an Ojibwe Year. She is professor emerita of American Indian studies at the University of Minnesota Duluth and a member of the Bois Forte Band of Ojibwe.
See the calendar on our website for more!
Book Clubs & Recurring Events
Book club titles are 15% off through the date of the meeting!
(As of this newsletter, the discount now applies to web orders as well: click on one of the images below to open our website and get your copy of this month's book!)

Note: Our book clubs don't meet in December, since that's when we're busiest. We'll look forward to seeing everyone again in January!
First Chapter Storytime
Every Saturday at 10:30am

Join us for First Chapter Story Time every Saturday at 10:30am, when Adriana or a special guest reader will share a favorite picture book from our children’s section, followed by an activity related to the story! Children of all ages are invited. Enjoy a story, browse our books, and instill a love of reading with your tykes! Coming up next, we have:

  • 11/25: If I Had a Polar Bear by Gabby Dawnay
  • 12/2: Can’t Nobody Make a Sweet Potato Pie Like Our Mama, with special guest Rose McGee
  • 12/9 - 12/30: No First Chapter Storytime
  • 1/6: TBD
Manga Club: Delicious in Dungeon, vol. 1
Saturday, January 13 at 5:00pm

Come to NCB at 5pm the second Saturday of every month to talk manga with other otaku! Hosted by our resident manga experts Emily B. and Graham (yours truly), the Manga Club provides complimentary Pocky and a forum to discuss a new title every month. For our first 2024 meeting, we'll be discussing the first volume of Ryoko Kui's dungeons & dragons & cooking manga Delicious in Dungeon, coinciding with the January premiere of the Studio Trigger anime adaptation set to stream on Netflix. Emily B. describes this as one of her favorite series, a hilarious and brilliantly-conceived premise that takes the Stock Fantasy Setting and expands it into something totally unique through its exploration of fantasy ecology and anthropology. Come discuss volume one with us before you start the show! Our meeting last year for Seven Little Sons of the Dragon, Kui's short story collection, was one of my favorites, so I can't wait for this one!
Enemies To Readers: A Merry Little Meet Cute
Thursday, November 30 at 5:00pm

Whether or not you are already in love with romance novels, or are seeking a new relationship with the genre, Enemies to Readers invites you to join us every last Thursday at 5pm to discuss the latest read, as well as our continuing passion for tropes and spicy reads. For our next meeting, on November 30th, we will be getting in the holiday mood with A Merry Little Meet Cute by Julie Murphy & Sierra Simone. Bee Hobbes (aka Bianca Von Honey) has a successful career as a plus-size adult film star. But when Bee’s favorite producer casts her to star in a squeaky-clean Christmas movie Bee is forced to keep her work as Bianca under wraps. It all becomes worthwhile when she discovers her co-star is her childhood crush Nolan Shaw, an ex-boy band member in desperate need of career rehab. Nolan’s promised to keep it zipped up on set if it means he’ll be able to provide a more stable living situation for his family, but things heat up quickly when he recognizes Bee from her ClosedDoors account. If Bee and Nolan can’t keep their off-camera romance behind the scenes, then this merry little meet cute might end up on the cutting room floor.
Sci-Fi Fantasy Club:
Tam Lin
Friday, January 26 at 5:00pm

There's no final frontier for the Sci-Fi Fantasy Club! Join us the last Friday of every month as we uncover and rediscover forgotten classics, titles that blur genres, small press stunners, and all the books you missed because they don't have Brandon Sanderson's marketing budget. For our January meeting, we'll be considering the foundational urban fantasy Tam Lin. Much as anime post-1995 exists only in the shadow of Hideaki Anno, Pamela Dean's collegiate classic has influenced countless fantasists; all fantasies of manners written after Tam Lin react to it, or they recreate it. (Please forgive the comparison.) And Tam Lin itself is about English literature-- especially the action of story through performance, poetry, oral tradition, and folk song. Like that Scottish ballad Tam Lin? You know the one. Per Dean's author note, "readers acquainted with Carleton College will find much that is familiar to them in the architecture, landscape, classes, terminology, and general atmosphere of Blackstock. They are earnestly advised that it would be unwise to refine too much upon this." But if you've lived in Northfield you will be so charmed.
From Our Shelves
Staff Pick Spotlight:

I think we're all just about staff-pick-spotlighted out, don't you? How about a joke, instead?

A man goes to a doctor. “Doctor,” he says, “I’m depressed. Life is unforgiving and cruel, and I can neither know the future nor alter the past.”

The doctor lights up. “The treatment is simple. You need to adopt a more stoical attitude,” the doctor says, “Read Stoic Foundations, which collects Marcus Aurelius's Meditations, Seneca's Letters from a Stoic, and Epictetus's Enchiridion, along with an introduction by renowned modern-day stoic Massimo Pigliucci. That should sort you out.”

The man bursts into tears. “But doctor,” he says, “I am Pigliucci.”
Featured Excerpt:

Open True
-A cart situated on a street or sidewalk, or in a park or parking lot, outside of a two-block source radius.
-Impossible to differentaite from A/9 remote false.
-All true stray carts theoretically transition through and retain the B/1 designation, thus all class B types are B/1 Open True

-A cart damaged by violent encounters with cars, trucks, snowplows, trains, earthmoving equipment, etc., or by acts of B/12 Simple and B/13 Complex Vandalism.
-Structural itnegrity often compromised beyond repair.
-Situated at least one block from the source.
-Types B/3 [Fragment], B/10 [Plow Crush], B/11 [Train Damaged], and B/20 [Bulldozed] are by definition also B/2.

-from "Class B: True Strays," Julian Montague,
The Stray Shopping Carts of Eastern North America:
A Guide to Field Identification
We Are Open!

Three ways to shop with Next Chapter Booksellers:

1. Come in the store and browse. Talk to a bookseller or peruse the shelves, as you prefer.

2. Order online or over the phone (at 651-225-8989) for in-store pickup. We'll let you know when your books are ready, then you can swing by and pick them up at your leisure.

3. We can mail your books (at no additional charge for orders over $75). This option is available for web, phone, or in-store orders.

We're here 10am to 5pm Monday through Saturday and noon to 5pm on Sunday.
Thanks for reading
all the way to the end.

As always, we've got lots more great books in the store. Come in and ask us for a recommendation, or tell us what you're reading right now!

See you in the stacks!

Graham (and all of us at Next Chapter Booksellers)
The dead leaves part around me when I go walking, and I walk until my legs are sore, till the stores are all closed, until the dusk comes to burn the sky, but not like you taught me to burn. I make U-turns by strip-malls, hit rush hour in Gomorrah, and turn round and round cold streets with the impatiently damned, never speeding, and never slowing, as the ground turns under me, but not the way you taught me to turn. Not the way you taught me to roil and rush with you, the way you danced like a Geiger counter needle. I don’t see that kind of turning anymore. The wind whistles daily this time of year, through the hole in the wall I can’t find; branches rattle and the trees bow and bend, but not like you taught me to bend, joyously, without breaking. These lessons find me, these things that remind me, but not the way you reminded me: of birth, of a knitting of nerves, a sundering, a fall. The whine from the wall wakes me, some nights, and I am sure that it’s the building crying, yearning: yearning, yes, as you taught me to yearn.