Seth's First Five Top Ten

In no particular order - and by no means a complete list - here lies Seth's 10 favorite books from our first five years (2017-2022.) 

(Below, Seth and the Catapult faithful at TBC's 2022 Cocktails with the Catapult.)








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Late Migrations: A Natural History of Love and Loss By Margaret Renkl Cover Image
ISBN: 9781571313836
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Milkweed Editions - March 30th, 2021

What an incredible stunner of a book. While certainly a grief memoir surrounding the death of Renkl's complicated mother but also the story of a marriage, of parents, of family, mixed together in a most amazing way with a profound appreciation for the natural world & how it all connects. This gorgeous gem of a book is worth returning to over & over again - and is absolute perfection for lovers of H is For Hawk or Terry Tempest Williams & the like, while being wholly unique in its own beautiful way. -seth

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Underland: A Deep Time Journey By Robert Macfarlane Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393358094
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - August 18th, 2020

Macfarlane is already the best nature and landscape writer of this generation, but Underland is far and away his masterwork to date. He chronicles an amazing series of underground adventures: a harrowing caving experience beneath innocuous Somerset, England; visiting humanity's folly in a nuclear waste site far underground; spending a night traveling the vast Paris catacombs; discovering underground rivers and mountainous black sand dunes beneath the Italian Alps. Yet his experiences making his way to the incredible cave of Kollhellaren in Norway - alone - and watching 100,000 year old "deep time" ice calve from a Greenland glacier due to human-caused climate change are of the most stunning, vivid pieces of narrative nonfiction I have ever read. I promise you, this profound, moving, absolute masterpiece will change the way you see the world around you. -seth

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The Unseen By Roy Jacobsen, Don Shaw (Translator), Don Bartlett (Translator) Cover Image
By Roy Jacobsen, Don Shaw (Translator), Don Bartlett (Translator)
ISBN: 9781771963190
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Biblioasis - April 21st, 2020

I picked this for the Catapult Book Club and was completely surprised & enthralled by it. It perfectly transported me to a time and place that I've never been to before or even thought about - early 20th-century agrarian island life on the Norwegian archipelago. The isolated, tight-knit Barrøy family is earthy, real, flawed, familiar, and lovely - another bookseller perfectly described this as a Wyeth painting come to life. I've been spending so much time reading the news lately, thinking about the current state of the world, discussing systemic racism, defunding police departments, global pandemics, co-raising two feisty little girls, working long, weird hours at the shop - and this gem from Norway was the perfect escape for me. I'm sure it's not for everyone, which is the beauty of fiction - but sometimes that perfect book comes along out of nowhere for you and helps push that reset button in your brain. This was just the ticket for me. -seth

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The Overstory: A Novel By Richard Powers Cover Image
ISBN: 9780393356687
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 2nd, 2019

I had a moment early in reading The Overstory where I paused & realized that this was one of those great, resonant books that come along only so often in a reader’s life. The multiple narratives to this intertwine like the roots of an old redwood grove in magnificent, surprising ways – with trees being the one connective thread to all. A story for the ages that cries out for humanity to take note of the destruction of the planet’s forests & how integral to our own health & happiness they truly are. Read it slowly, soak it all in, consider this incredible invisible world that that the storyteller is inviting you into. An absolutely stunning novel. -sm

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In the Distance By Hernan Diaz Cover Image
ISBN: 9781566894883
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Coffee House Press - October 10th, 2017

A strange, almost magical tall-tale about a giant Swedish immigrant who comes to the West in the 1850’s in search of a better life. Hakan accidentally arrives in SF alone & spends his youth trying to reach his brother in NYC. He instead wanders the desolate landscape of the American West, weirdly growing into a giant & encountering all manner of Homerian characters – a brothel madam with rotten teeth, a murderous sheriff, a magnanimous vintner, a naturalist searching for the missing link. All in all, this is a sad tale of the lonely life of the immigrant and a parable for the modern plight of those attempting to cross today’s southern border or seek political refuge from afar. A polarizing novel that was the 2nd selection of The Catapult Book Club & a 2018 Pulitzer finalist. -sm

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The Bear By Andrew Krivak Cover Image
ISBN: 9781942658702
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Bellevue Literary Press - February 11th, 2020

I love a book that promises to lead you in a certain direction, only to have it completely surprise you mid-way through. The Bear did that for me - I thought I was reading a "straightforward" post-apocalyptic novel about a girl surviving alone in the wilderness... and it is that, for sure, but about a third of the way in it becomes something much bigger, beautiful, poignant and magical. Suspend your disbelief, friends. Maybe the natural world has more going on in it than we self-involved humans can comprehend. I loved and savored every single word - a book that by page count should have taken me a day to read, I spread out over a week, not wanting it to end. -seth

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Around the World in 80 Trees: (The perfect gift for tree lovers) By Jonathan Drori, Lucille Clerc (Illustrator) Cover Image
By Jonathan Drori, Lucille Clerc (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781786271617
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Laurence King Publishing - May 29th, 2018

Sometimes a book just speaks for itself – you're going to have to come into the store and open this beauty up to see for yourself, internet friend. Filled with fascinating capsules about 80 different tree species from all over the world paired with stunning artwork by Lucille Clerc. For instance, did you know that the upas tree (yes, Upas is also a tree) has a toxic sap used for poison darts in Malaysia? (Cashews are also toxic until the seed is steamed open.) Or that our ubiquitous jacarandas are from Argentina? And that the quinine tree is the national tree of Peru & Ecuador? Well, all this knowledge and more could be yours! -seth

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Cloud Cuckoo Land: A Novel By Anthony Doerr Cover Image
ISBN: 9781982168445
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - September 27th, 2022

Doerr’s finest book to date – and even better than his Pulitzer Prize-winning All the Light You Cannot See. An astounding novel about libraries, books, and the preservation of stories - with Doerr's trademark gossamer threads of human connection that will blow you away. Easily the best book I read in 2021.  -sm

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How to Hide an Empire: A History of the Greater United States By Daniel Immerwahr Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250251091
Availability: Out of stock. Available to order.
Published: Picador - March 3rd, 2020

A fascinating, meticulously researched, & highly readable “revisionist history” of the US shown through the lens of the territories and colonies that have been at the outlying edges of the American empire. And despite what our history books have always told us, it is and has always been an empire, bent on cultural domination and capitalism. I’ve lost count of how many times I was completely shocked upon learning of some horrifying political policy I’ve long been oblivious to. Native Alaskan internment camps? Decades of pre-WWII government sanctioned war in the Philippines? Horrific medical testing in Puerto Rico? If you’re like me, shamefully unaware of much of American empire building history there is out there, Immerwhar will open your eyes wide. An absolutely riveting history that feels like an especially necessary historical perspective primer for any thoughtful citizen living in today’s America. -sm

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Sharks in the Time of Saviors: A Novel By Kawai Strong Washburn Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250787316
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Picador - March 2nd, 2021

From the outset of this incredible debut novel, I really thought I knew what sort of book I was getting into. Magical healers, old Hawaiian gods, sharks rescuing children. But midway through, the story does a perfect, gradual pirouette to become both a tighter, smaller story about the struggles of a complex, flawed family while also expanding into this much, much bigger, weirder, older story about Hawaii itself. A thoroughly unexpected, gorgeous, and devastating novel that I truly loved every single word of. -sm