Welcome to Staff Recommendations, our regularly updated archive of books for all ages and interests. Tap the book covers to see full details and catalog availability. Use the Filters box (at bottom on mobile) to narrow titles by category and audience.
View CoverView List
“Savage Conversations takes place somewhere in between its sources, between sanity and madness, between then and now, between the living and the dead. It pushes past the limitations of textual sources for telling indigenous history and accounts of insanity.” —Barrelhouse Reviews
May 1875: Mary Todd Lincoln is addicted to opiates and tried in a Chicago court on charges of insanity. Entered into evidence is Ms. Lincoln’s claim that every night a Savage Indian enters her bedroom and slashes her face and scalp. She is swiftly committed to Bellevue Place Sanitarium. Her hauntings may be a reminder that in 1862, President Lincoln ordered the hanging of thirty-eight Dakotas in the largest mass execution in United States history. No one has ever linked the two events—until now.
Savage Conversations is a daring account of a former first lady and the ghosts that tormented her for the contradictions and crimes on which this nation is founded.
When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through
Selected as one of Oprah Winfrey's "Books That Help Me Through"
United States Poet Laureate Joy Harjo gathers the work of more than 160 poets, representing nearly 100 indigenous nations, into the first historically comprehensive Native poetry anthology.
This landmark anthology celebrates the indigenous peoples of North America, the first poets of this country, whose literary traditions stretch back centuries. Opening with a blessing from Pulitzer Prize–winner N. Scott Momaday, the book contains powerful introductions from contributing editors who represent the five geographically organized sections. Each section begins with a poem from traditional oral literatures and closes with emerging poets, ranging from Eleazar, a seventeenth-century Native student at Harvard, to Jake Skeets, a young Diné poet born in 1991, and including renowned writers such as Luci Tapahanso, Natalie Diaz, Layli Long Soldier, and Ray Young Bear. When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through offers the extraordinary sweep of Native literature, without which no study of American poetry is complete.
An American Sunrise: Poems
A nationally best-selling volume of wise, powerful poetry from the first Native American Poet Laureate of the United States.
In this stunning collection, Joy Harjo finds blessings in the abundance of her homeland and confronts the site where the Mvskoke people, including her own ancestors, were forcibly displaced. From her memory of her mother’s death, to her beginnings in the Native rights movement, to the fresh road with her beloved, Harjo’s personal life intertwines with tribal histories to create a space for renewed beginnings.
The new novel from the author of As We Have Always Done, a poetic world-building journey into the power of Anishinaabe life and traditions amid colonialism
In fierce prose and poetic fragments, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson’s Noopiming braids together humor, piercing detail, and a deep, abiding commitment to Anishinaabe life to tell stories of resistance, love, and joy.
Mashkawaji (they/them) lies frozen in the ice, remembering the sharpness of unmuted feeling from long ago, finding freedom and solace in isolated suspension. They introduce the seven characters: Akiwenzii, the old man who represents the narrator’s will; Ninaatig, the maple tree who represents their lungs; Mindimooyenh, the old woman, their conscience; Sabe, a gentle giant, their marrow; Adik, the caribou, their nervous system; and Asin and Lucy, the humans who represent their eyes, ears, and brain.
Simpson’s book As We Have Always Done argued for the central place of storytelling in imagining radical futures. Noopiming (Anishinaabemowin for “in the bush”) enacts these ideas. The novel’s characters emerge from deep within Abinhinaabeg thought to commune beyond an unnatural urban-settler world littered with SpongeBob Band-Aids, Ziploc baggies, and Fjällräven Kånken backpacks. A bold literary act of decolonization and resistance, Noopiming offers a breaking open of the self to a world alive with people, animals, ancestors, and spirits—and the daily work of healing.
"Dazzling. . . . In glittering prose, Momaday recalls stories passed down through generations, illuminating the earth as a sacrosanct place of wonder and abundance. At once a celebration and a warning, Earth Keeper is an impassioned defense of all that our endangered planet stands to lose." — Esquire
A magnificent testament to the earth, from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and poet N. Scott Momaday.
One of the most distinguished voices in American letters, N. Scott Momaday has devoted much of his life to celebrating and preserving Native American culture, especially its oral tradition. A member of the Kiowa tribe, Momaday was born in Lawton, Oklahoma and grew up on Navajo, Apache, and Peublo reservations throughout the Southwest. It is a part of the earth he knows well and loves deeply.
In Earth Keeper, he reflects on his native ground and its influence on his people. “When I think about my life and the lives of my ancestors," he writes, "I am inevitably led to the conviction that I, and they, belong to the American land. This is a declaration of belonging. And it is an offering to the earth.”
In this wise and wonderous work, Momaday shares stories and memories throughout his life, stories that have been passed down through generations, stories that reveal a profound spiritual connection to the American landscape and reverence for the natural world. He offers an homage and a warning. He shows us that the earth is a sacred place of wonder and beauty, a source of strength and healing that must be honored and protected before it’s too late. As he so eloquently and simply reminds us, we must all be keepers of the earth.
As a small boy in remote Alberta, Darrel J. McLeod is immersed in his Cree family’s history, passed down in the stories of his mother, Bertha. There he is surrounded by her tales of joy and horror—of the strong men in their family, of her love for Darrel, and of the cruelty she and her sisters endured in residential school—as well as his many siblings and cousins, and the smells of moose stew and wild peppermint tea. And there young Darrel learns to be fiercely proud of his heritage and to listen to the birds that will guide him throughout his life.
But after a series of tragic losses, Bertha turns wild and unstable, and their home life becomes chaotic. Sweet and eager to please, Darrel struggles to maintain his grades and pursue interests in music and science while changing homes, witnessing domestic violence, caring for his younger siblings, and suffering abuse at the hands of his brother-in-law. Meanwhile, he begins to question and grapple with his sexual identity—a reckoning complicated by the repercussions of his abuse and his sibling’s own gender transition.
Thrillingly written in a series of fractured vignettes, and unflinchingly honest, Mamaskatch—“It’s a wonder!” in Cree—is a heartbreaking account of how traumas are passed down from one generation to the next, and an uplifting story of one individual who overcame enormous obstacles in pursuit of a fulfilling and adventurous life.
A History of My Brief Body
Billy-Ray Belcourt's collection of personal essays opens with a tender letter to his kokum and memories of his early life in the hamlet of Joussard, Alberta, and on the Driftpile Cree Nation. From there, it expands to encompass the big and broken world around him, in all its complexity and contradictions: a legacy of colonial violence and the joy that flourishes in spite of it, first loves and first loves lost, sexual exploration and intimacy, and the act of writing as a survival instinct and a way to grieve. What emerges is not only a profound meditation on memory, gender, anger, shame and ecstasy, but also the outline of a way forward. With startling honesty, and in a voice distinctly and assuredly his own, Belcourt situates his life experiences within a constellation of seminal queer texts, among which this book is sure to earn its place. Eye-opening, intensely emotional and excessively quotable, A History of My Brief Body demonstrates over and over again the power of words to both devastate and console us.
PRE-ORDER WISDOM CORNER, THE THRILLING NEW DAVID HESKA WANBLI WEIDEN NOVEL NOW.
WINNER OF THE ANTHONY, BARRY, THRILLER, LEFTY AND MACAVITY AWARDS FOR BEST FIRST NOVEL
‘Harrowing and heartfelt, assured and highly accomplished. One of the standout thrillers of the year' CHRIS WHITAKER
If you have a problem, if no one else can help, there’s one person you can turn to.
Virgil Wounded Horse is the local enforcer on the Rosebud Native American Reservation in South Dakota. When justice is denied by the American legal system or the tribal council, Virgil is hired to deliver his own punishment, the kind that’s hard to forget. But when heroin makes its way onto the reservation and finds Virgil’s nephew, his vigilantism becomes personal. Enlisting the help of his ex-girlfriend, he sets out to learn where the drugs are coming from, and how to make them stop.
Following a lead to Denver, they find that drug cartels are rapidly expanding and forming new and terrifying alliances. And back on the reservation, a new tribal council initiative raises uncomfortable questions about money and power. As Virgil starts to link the pieces together, he must face his own demons and reclaim his Native identity - but being a Native American in the twenty-first century comes at an incredible cost.
Winter Counts is a tour-de-force of crime fiction, a bracingly honest look at a long-ignored part of American life, and a twisting, turning story that’s as deeply rendered as it is thrilling.
'An incredible novel . . . where hope and heartbreak are found in equal measure' S. A. COSBY
'A terrific debut – tight and tense, hard-eyed and big-hearted' LOU BERNEY
'Eye-opening, enlightening and entertaining, it's one hell of a good read!' AMER ANWAR
'Enthralling from the first page to the last, this is a heartfelt and harrowing tour de force' JON COATES, S MAGAZINE
'Virtuoso fare' FINANCIAL TIMES, BEST CRIME BOOKS OF THE YEAR
'A fascinating insight into an often overlooked world, and draws the reader into a satisfying mystery' GUARDIAN, CRIME AND THRILLER PICKS OF THE YEAR
PULITZER PRIZE FINALIST • NATIONAL BESTSELLER • A wondrous and shattering award-winning novel that follows twelve characters from Native communities: all traveling to the Big Oakland Powwow, all connected to one another in ways they may not yet realize.
A contemporary classic, this “astonishing literary debut” (Margaret Atwood, bestselling author of The Handmaid’s Tale) “places Native American voices front and center” (NPR/Fresh Air).Among them is Jacquie Red Feather, newly sober and trying to make it back to the family she left behind. Dene Oxendene, pulling his life together after his uncle’s death and working at the powwow to honor his memory. Fourteen-year-old Orvil, coming to perform traditional dance for the very first time. They converge and collide on one fateful day at the Big Oakland Powwow and together this chorus of voices tells of the plight of the urban Native American—grappling with a complex and painful history, with an inheritance of beauty and spirituality, with communion and sacrifice and heroism
A book with “so much jangling energy and brings so much news from a distinct corner of American life that it’s a revelation” (The New York Times). It is fierce, funny, suspenseful, and impossible to put down--full of poetry and rage, exploding onto the page with urgency and force. There There is at once poignant and unflinching, utterly contemporary and truly unforgettable.
Apple: Skin to the Core
Winner of the American Indian Youth Literature Award
Printz Honor Winner
National Book Award Longlist
TIME 10 Best YA and Children's Books of the Year
NPR Best of the Year
Shelf Awareness Best of the Year
Publishers Weekly Big Indie Books of Fall
Amazon Best Book of the Month
AICL Best YA Books of the Year
CSMCL Best Multicultural Children's Books of the Year
"Stirring…. Raw and moving."—TIME
"Beautiful imagery and with words that soar and scald."—The Buffalo News
"Easily one of the best books to be published in 2020. The kind of book bound to save lives."—LitHub
"A powerful narrative about identity and belonging."—Paste Magazine
★ "Timely and important."—Booklist, starred review
★ "Searing yet dryly funny."—The Bulletin, starred review
★ "Exceptional."—Shelf-Awareness, starred review
★ "Captivating."—School Library Journal, starred review
The term "Apple" is a slur in Native communities across the country. It's for someone supposedly "red on the outside, white on the inside."
In Apple (Skin to the Core), Eric Gansworth tells his story, the story of his family—of Onondaga among Tuscaroras—of Native folks everywhere. From the horrible legacy of the government boarding schools, to a boy watching his siblings leave and return and leave again, to a young man fighting to be an artist who balances multiple worlds.
Eric shatters that slur and reclaims it in verse and prose and imagery that truly lives up to the word heartbreaking.