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Happy Birthday to Us!

We are passionate readers who love nothing more than discovering fantastic books and sharing them with friends. We recommend books that move us to laughter and tears—and everything in between. Trust us when we say, "You've got to read this!"

BdayToday, 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 first year such a smashing success. We’re thrilled and honored that you enjoy reading the reviews of our favorite books, perusing our reading lists, and interacting with us on social media. We look forward to another year of bringing you great books by the people who love them. Thank you for loving Off the Shelf as much as we do!

Enter our giveaway here.

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY TO ENTER/WIN. Sweepstakes begins 3/3/15 and ends 3/20/15. Open to legal residents of any 1 of the 50 US or DC who are at least 18 years old. Void where prohibited by law. Subject to full Official Rules in Terms and Conditions above. Total ARV of all prizes: $159. Odds of winning depends on the # of eligible entries received. Sponsor: Simon & Schuster, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020.


We Learn Nothing
by Tim Kreider

“A laugh-out-loud funny, sad, and strange book, all at the same time.” —Etinosa Agbonlahor (Read Etinosa’s review of We Learn Nothing here.)

We Learn Nothing
Tim Kreider

“A laugh-out-loud funny, sad, and strange book, all at the same time.” —Etinosa Agbonlahor (Read Etinosa’s review of We Learn Nothing here.)

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

Funny, Sad, and Strange: The Wonderful World of We Learn Nothing

By Etinosa Agbonlahor | April 29, 2014

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Full Dark, No Stars
by Stephen King
“This collection of short stories (long short stories—some could be called novellas) is a quintessential example of so many things I love about my favorite writer. His work is literary and very well written, but also compulsively readable and accessible. These stories are chilling, macabre, and suspenseful, and yet they transcend all of the expectations that come with the genre and have truly perceptive and keenly observed insights into the human psyche. For me, this was unputdownable.” —Sarah Jane Abbott
Full Dark, No Stars
Stephen King

“What I love about FULL DARK, NO STARS and what never ceases to blow me away about Stephen King’s work is that while these stories are chilling, macabre, and suspenseful, they transcend all of the expectations that come with the genre and have truly perceptive and keenly observed insights into the human psyche.”

Read the full review here.

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday, Stephen King! 8 of Our Favorites From the Master

By Sarah Jane Abbott | September 21, 2016

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

The Stephen King Novella that Became a Suspense-Filled Lifetime Movie

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 16, 2014

17 Movies You Didn’t Know Were Stephen King Books

By Sarah Jane Abbott | October 16, 2014

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Because They Wanted To
by Mary Gaitskill

“I found Mary Gaitskill the way I’ve found a lot of my favorite authors over the past two years: via my roommate’s bookshelf. Gaitskill’s stories are dark, unsettling, and unflinching; they mostly revolve around masochistic female characters trying to get a grip on their sex lives; and trust me, you will rip through them. Because They Wanted To isn’t her best-known book, but I love the title and I particularly love a story titled “The Dentist,” about a woman who becomes completely obsessed with her bland, totally normal dentist, who extracted one of her wisdom teeth. If you’re looking for something entertaining that will suck you in, that you can probably read in a day and a half, but has actual literary value and cultural cred so you don’t feel wasted—this is a good one. And then Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior; Two Girls, Fat and Thin; and Veronica after that.” —Meg Miller

Because They Wanted To
Mary Gaitskill

“I found Mary Gaitskill the way I’ve found a lot of my favorite authors over the past two years: via my roommate’s bookshelf. Gaitskill’s stories are dark, unsettling, and unflinching; they mostly revolve around masochistic female characters trying to get a grip on their sex lives; and trust me, you will rip through them. Because They Wanted To isn’t her best-known book, but I love the title and I particularly love a story titled “The Dentist,” about a woman who becomes completely obsessed with her bland, totally normal dentist, who extracted one of her wisdom teeth. If you’re looking for something entertaining that will suck you in, that you can probably read in a day and a half, but has actual literary value and cultural cred so you don’t feel wasted—this is a good one. And then Gaitskill’s Bad Behavior; Two Girls, Fat and Thin; and Veronica after that.” —Meg Miller

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

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An Everlasting Meal
by Tamar Adler

This insightful, meditative collection of essays breathes life into the belief that we can start cooking from wherever we are, with whatever we have. It is an elegant testimony to the pleasures of home cooking.

An Everlasting Meal
Tamar Adler

This insightful, meditative collection of essays breathes life into the belief that we can start cooking from wherever we are, with whatever we have. It is an elegant testimony to the pleasures of home cooking.

MENTIONED IN:

The Baker’s Dozen: 13 Mouthwatering Food Memoirs to Devour

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 5, 2015

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

An Essential Book That Brings Cooking Back To Where It Belongs

By Allison Tyler | July 15, 2014

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A Happy Marriage
by Rafael Yglesias

“Both intimate and expansive, A Happy Marriage follows the arc of a thirty-year marriage of true partners. Revisiting each stage of Margaret and Enrique’s enduring relationship with precision and candor, this acclaimed novel chronicles the imperfect ways we love—with pleasure and pride, hurt and betrayal, loyalty and dedication. It is the moving portrait of what it means to spend a lifetime together. And it made me cry.” —Wendy Sheanin

A Happy Marriage
Rafael Yglesias

“Both intimate and expansive, A Happy Marriage follows the arc of a thirty-year marriage of true partners. Revisiting each stage of Margaret and Enrique’s enduring relationship with precision and candor, this acclaimed novel chronicles the imperfect ways we love—with pleasure and pride, hurt and betrayal, loyalty and dedication. It is the moving portrait of what it means to spend a lifetime together. And it made me cry.” —Wendy Sheanin

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

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Still Alice
by Lisa Genova

“My grandfather had Alzheimer’s, and I was afraid of him because of it. I’m embarrassed and a little ashamed to admit that. When I read this, I started to understand how scared and frustrated someone with Alzheimer’s can feel. I believe this understanding is critical as we learn how to care, how to treat, and how to cure this insidious disease in modern times.” —Kevin Myers (Read Kevin’s review of Still Alice here.)

Still Alice
Lisa Genova

“My grandfather had Alzheimer’s, and I was afraid of him because of it. I’m embarrassed and a little ashamed to admit that. When I read this, I started to understand how scared and frustrated someone with Alzheimer’s can feel. I believe this understanding is critical as we learn how to care, how to treat, and how to cure this insidious disease in modern times.” —Kevin Myers (Read Kevin’s review of Still Alice here.)

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

Lisa Genova’s 2009 Debut Novel is Still Heart-Wrenching

By Kevin Myers | March 12, 2014

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Carry the One
by Carol Anshaw

Through friendships and love affairs, marriage and divorce, parenthood and family holidays, the modest calamities and triumphs of ordinary days, Carry the One shows how one life affects another, and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we’d expect.

Carry the One
Carol Anshaw

Through friendships and love affairs, marriage and divorce, parenthood and family holidays, the modest calamities and triumphs of ordinary days, Carry the One shows how one life affects another, and how those who thrive and those who self-destruct are closer to each other than we’d expect.

MENTIONED IN:

12 Literary Families to Invite Over for Thanksgiving

By Off the Shelf Staff | November 19, 2015

12 Favorite Novels from a Longtime Industry Insider

By Wendy Sheanin | August 20, 2015

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

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Blueprints for Building Better Girls
by Elissa Schappell

Blueprints for Building Better Girls was the first short story/essay collection I read for fun and really loved. It goes from the late 1970s to present day, following a cast of archetypal female characters that we see in both books and in life. There’s a good girl, a bad girl, a college girl, an artistic girl, a woman who wants to have a child but cannot, and a mother who was reluctant to become one. All of these women have their own distinct voice, but all manage to be funny, poignant, passionate, and unapologetic. The last line says it all: ‘Don’t be a fool, there is no such thing as just a girl.’ For me and the many friends—both male and female—I’ve recommended it to, it’s a must-read!” —Julianna Haubner (Read our review of Blueprints for Building Better Girls here.)

Blueprints for Building Better Girls
Elissa Schappell

Blueprints for Building Better Girls was the first short story/essay collection I read for fun and really loved. It goes from the late 1970s to present day, following a cast of archetypal female characters that we see in both books and in life. There’s a good girl, a bad girl, a college girl, an artistic girl, a woman who wants to have a child but cannot, and a mother who was reluctant to become one. All of these women have their own distinct voice, but all manage to be funny, poignant, passionate, and unapologetic. The last line says it all: ‘Don’t be a fool, there is no such thing as just a girl.’ For me and the many friends—both male and female—I’ve recommended it to, it’s a must-read!” —Julianna Haubner (Read our review of Blueprints for Building Better Girls here.)

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

The Stuff Little Girls Are Made Of

By Brianne Sperber | February 20, 2014

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Darkness at Noon
by Arthur Koestler

“This seminal work of twentieth-century literature is the powerful and haunting portrait of a Bolshevik revolutionary caught in the vicious fray of Stalin’s show trials. Deeply intellectual, dramatically riveting, and written in prose as austere as a Soviet prison, Darkness at Noon is an uncompromising vision of the mechanisms and human impact of dictatorship.” —Caitlin Kleinschmidt

Darkness at Noon
Arthur Koestler

“This seminal work of twentieth-century literature is the powerful and haunting portrait of a Bolshevik revolutionary caught in the vicious fray of Stalin’s show trials. Deeply intellectual, dramatically riveting, and written in prose as austere as a Soviet prison, Darkness at Noon is an uncompromising vision of the mechanisms and human impact of dictatorship.” —Caitlin Kleinschmidt

MENTIONED IN:

8 Books About Being Tragically, Maddeningly In Love With Russia

By Caitlin Kleinschmidt | May 12, 2015

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

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She Matters
by Susanna Sonnenberg

She Matters hits close to home in its powerful and, at times, uncomfortable exploration of female friendship. Through Sonnenberg’s lens, I see in a new light how I have succeeded and failed as a friend, and what I truly appreciate and admire in a companion.” —Erica Nelson

She Matters
Susanna Sonnenberg

She Matters hits close to home in its powerful and, at times, uncomfortable exploration of female friendship. Through Sonnenberg’s lens, I see in a new light how I have succeeded and failed as a friend, and what I truly appreciate and admire in a companion.” —Erica Nelson

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

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Invisible Acts of Power
by Caroline Myss

“Having the courage to perform acts of kindness and compassion (with no expectation in return) for friends, strangers, and family transforms our lives in ways we would never imagine. This book brings to light the power that we all have to make a difference in others’ lives.” —Gail Gonzalez

Invisible Acts of Power
Caroline Myss

“Having the courage to perform acts of kindness and compassion (with no expectation in return) for friends, strangers, and family transforms our lives in ways we would never imagine. This book brings to light the power that we all have to make a difference in others’ lives.” —Gail Gonzalez

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

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Class
by Paul Fussell

“I chose Paul Fussell’s Class for many reasons. It is a book lost to history. It is rarely, if at all, discussed today. I myself stumbled upon it by chance. It is also dated: it satirizes the post-war era of American class relations, and identifies tropes indicative of that era. However, the persnickety observations, the sly, often patrician tone of the writer, and his comic shrewdness make this book, in my eyes, a timeless work of creative nonfiction. And it is as biting as it is true. I’ve read nothing else like it. A diamond in the rough just waiting, demanding to be rediscovered.” —Pronoy Sarkar (Read Pronoy's review of Class here.)

Class
Paul Fussell

“I chose Paul Fussell’s Class for many reasons. It is a book lost to history. It is rarely, if at all, discussed today. I myself stumbled upon it by chance. It is also dated: it satirizes the post-war era of American class relations, and identifies tropes indicative of that era. However, the persnickety observations, the sly, often patrician tone of the writer, and his comic shrewdness make this book, in my eyes, a timeless work of creative nonfiction. And it is as biting as it is true. I’ve read nothing else like it. A diamond in the rough just waiting, demanding to be rediscovered.” —Pronoy Sarkar (Read Pronoy's review of Class here.)

MENTIONED IN:

Happy Birthday to Us!

By Off the Shelf Staff | March 3, 2015

A Funny and Insightful Book About A Topic Nobody Wants to Discuss

By Pronoy Sarkar | May 30, 2014

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