The Little-Known Novella that Puts the Sun in Your Pocket

About two years ago I was perusing the shelves of Louise Erdrich’s marvelous bookstore, Birchbark Books, in Minneapolis, Minnesota, when, inexplicably, as if magnetized or drawn by some irresistible sexual attraction, I plucked Richard Brautigan’s 1967 novella Trout Fishing in America off the shelf. I do not know why exactly, but I suspect I was intrigued by the title and certainly at least dimly aware of Brautigan’s once white-hot literary fame. Anyway, I hardly need an excuse at all. I’m a book junkie and that day I walked out with Trout Fishing in America, Erdrich’s The Round House, and Patti Smith’s autobiography, Just Kids. In the coming months, I finished The Round House (wonderful) and Just Kids (I have an unhealthy fascination with Sam Shepard, so those parts had me swooning) and about a dozen other books.

And then, a year went by . . .

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Happy Birthday to Us!

Today, Off the Shelf turns one year old! To celebrate, each of our staff members has selected a favorite book, and one lucky reader will win the whole stack of these wonderful reads (each inscribed by the Off-the-Shelfer who loves it). See them all below. Thank you for making our…
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Concerning Hobbits

“In a hole in the ground, there lived a hobbit.” It’s a quiet, humble beginning to an epic fantasy adventure tale, but then, hobbits are quiet, humble creatures. Despite this, a little hobbit is the hero of J. R. R. Tolkien’s adventure tale The Hobbit, prequel to his famous Lord…

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The Price of Being Pretty

It’s a bit embarrassing for me to declare my love for a YA novel, but I am utterly proud of loving this book. Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is the book that ignited my desire to work in the publishing industry. It was the first book that I felt personally connected…

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The Heart of What It Is To Be A Teenager

I recently heard author Jason Reynolds speak at a book event in Brooklyn, promoting his new young adult novel The Boy in the Black Suit, the follow-up to last year’s When I Was the Greatest. At first I was surprised that the audience at the event was almost entirely African-American.…

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Experiencing Humiliation

As a child, I was ashamed of many things. I was ashamed of having my picture taken. However many times I practiced in front of a mirror, I couldn’t hold my gaze in front of a camera. Just before the camera snapped, I wilted. I didn’t like my smile; I…

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Revisiting Ian McEwan’s Masterpiece

“Writing stories not only involved secrecy, it gave [Briony] all the pleasures of miniaturization,” Ian McEwan writes in his 2001 novel Atonement. “A world could be made in five pages, and one that was more pleasing than a model farm. The childhood of a spoiled prince could be framed within…

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Turn On Your Book Light

Novelist, poet, and essayist Elizabeth Rosner is the author of the highly acclaimed bestselling novels The Speed of Light and Blue Nude. Her newest novel, Electric City, and Gravity, a poetry collection, were both published in October 2014. Her website is The release date for my first novel, The Speed of Light,…

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So many books, so little time.

-Frank Zappa