Seth's Picks

Catapult co-owner Seth Marko founded the original Book Catapult blog in 2006. He has worked in bookstores from New Orleans to San Diego since 2001 and still works as a field sales rep for a publishing distribution group.

 

 

 

 

Staff Pick Logo
The Shepherd's Hut: A Novel Cover Image
$26.00
ISBN: 9780374262327
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Farrar, Straus and Giroux - June 19th, 2018

Tim Winton is one of my favorites - and weirdly still a relative unknown in the US. (He’s won 4 Miles Franklin Awards in his native Australia – the Aussie Pulitzer – and has been nominated for the Booker Prize twice.) The Shepherd’s Hut has just an incredible setting that becomes a driving character in its own right: the treeless, sunbaked salt flats of Western Australia. It all just felt so vivid & bright & dusty, the heat so oppressive. Teenaged Jaxie’s blisteringly quick colloquial voice is one for the ages too – young & angry, but filled with fear & uncertainty as he flees his violent home & heads across the salt alone. In a true mark of a great book, I found my own internal reading voice unintentionally took on Jaxie’s thick Australian accent while I read. Totally immersive to say the least.  -seth


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Tin Man: A Novel Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9780735218727
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - May 15th, 2018

What a stunning heartbreak of a novel. Just gorgeous and sad and lovely and as vivid as a field of sunflowers in the south of France. -seth


Calypso Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780316392389
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Little, Brown and Company - May 29th, 2018

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Whirlaway Cover Image
$16.95
ISBN: 9780997068399
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hawthorne Books - April 1st, 2018

Whirlaway is a solid contender for the best book I’ve read in 2018. Poe Ballantine is one of my favorite writers – a wayward son of San Diego living in Nebraska, he has written an absolutely hysterical, biting novel about America’s Finest City that just killed me. Record-collecting, Del Mar Racetrack betting, La Jolla cliff diving, & Tijuana prostituting all swirl around an unreliable, escaped mental patient of a narrator & his telepathic dog. So incredibly ridiculous & hilarious, I implore you, dear reader, to enter the mind of Poe with me. You may never return.  -Seth


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The Overstory Cover Image
$27.95
ISBN: 9780393635522
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: W. W. Norton & Company - April 3rd, 2018

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.  -Seth


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Warlight: A novel Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9780525521198
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf - May 8th, 2018

Michael Ondaatje could write the back of a box of crackers & I would still drop everything to read it. (Warlight is decidedly better than what you’d find on a box of crackers, mind you.) He has an economy of phrase & an elegance of prose that is, in my opinion, unmatched by any contemporary. He so easily transports you to a time & place of his design, his books feel like you’re easing into an old sweater or an embrace from a long lost friend. Warlight is no exception – a mid-century, post-war mystery of remembrance and childhood innocence wrapped up in a Wes Anderson script.  -seth


The Mars Room: A Novel Cover Image
$27.00
ISBN: 9781476756554
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Scribner - May 1st, 2018

The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World Cover Image
$29.99
ISBN: 9780062490421
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow - April 24th, 2018

Lawn Boy Cover Image
$26.95
ISBN: 9781616202620
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Algonquin Books - April 3rd, 2018

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Packing My Library: An Elegy and Ten Digressions Cover Image
$23.00
ISBN: 9780300219333
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Yale University Press - March 20th, 2018

All literature preserves something which otherwise would die away with the flesh & bones of the writer.” Bibliophile & library champion Manguel intersperses beautiful meditative digressions on libraries, the history of the printed word, & the role of literature in the preservation of memory within a mini-memoir of having to pack up his enormous 35000 volume personal library. A wonderful, beautifully crafted appreciation of the importance of books & libraries in an engaged & civilized society.  -Seth


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The Outcasts of Time Cover Image
$25.95
ISBN: 9781681776163
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pegasus Books - January 2nd, 2018

What happens when you drop a poor stone mason from the plague-ridden 1340's into the London Blitz in 1941? (He almost gets hit by a bus, for one thing.) Novelist/historian Ian Mortimer takes a great concept - moving a character through time in daily 99-year increments - and pulls it all off with an expert historian's eye for detail and a true sense of time & place. When faced with spending their last days riddled with the Plague, brothers John and William are given an inexplicable choice: head home to die or spend each of their remaining six days 99 years after the last one, searching for a way to save their souls. This could have gone way off track, but it never felt contrived or forced, but rather steeped in reality and genuine historical reference, leaving the reader to experience each new year with same the wide-eyed wonder that John has each time he wakes up in a new century.  -Seth


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King Zeno: A Novel Cover Image
$28.00
ISBN: 9780374181314
Availability: Available to order. Contact store for details.
Published: MCD - January 9th, 2018

I loved the setting to King Zeno, being a former New Orleans resident, & 1918 was an fascinating time there: jazz is just coming into being, the country is on the cusp of the folly of Prohibition, the Industrial Canal is being built, opening up a newfound connectivity for the city & creating what will become the 9th Ward, the Spanish Flu is about to kill 350,000 people in Louisiana, & race & class relations there are shockingly similar to what they are today. Plus there’s an axe-wielding murderer going around, so there’s a bit of a mystery-thriller element to this as well.  -Seth


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The Invention of Nature: Alexander von Humboldt's New World Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780345806291
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - October 4th, 2016

It seems that half of Northern California is named for Alexander von Humboldt, but I knew absolutely nothing about him before I read this fantastic, illuminating biography - the best nonfiction book I've read in several years. The most famous naturalist in his day, Humboldt had a profound influence on the likes of Muir, Thoreau, Darwin, Goethe, and Simon Bolivar. He was the first scientist to hypothesize that human activity has an effect on Earth's climate and spent his entire life on the then-radical idea that all of the natural world is one interconnected web. Super-famous in the 1800's, how he is not well-known today is baffling. An immensely important figure in science, ecology, and environmentalism whose work resonates anew in today's charged political climate.  -Seth


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Cloud Atlas: A Novel Cover Image
$17.00
ISBN: 9780375507250
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - August 17th, 2004

Dare I say it? Could this be my favorite book of all time? I've read and re-read my dogeared, annotated copy over and over again, only to be surprised and delighted each time anew. Cloud Atlas is just the tip of the David Mitchell iceberg, mind you - each one of his books is a piece in a gigantic puzzle he is spending his entire writing life crafting, with characters floating through multiple books, revealing more and more about themselves each time. I read this for the first time in 2004 and I can still remember what it felt like when I saw all the blocks dropping into place like it was some strange, disassembled magical puzzle filled with fictions-within-fictions, false leads, multiple writing styles, and absolutely unforgettable characters. It's unlike anything else you've been reading, I'm fairly sure of that. Time to read it again!  -Seth


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The Dog Stars (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
$16.00
ISBN: 9780307950475
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 7th, 2013

A remarkable, beautiful, emotive book that will reduce you to tears (on more than one occasion) and make you hug your loved ones all the closer. Aren’t those the sort of things we want out of a good story, after all? A book that you can’t wait to return to, to read again for the first time. I can’t stress it enough – go to this book, read it, love it, pass it along. Repeat.  -Seth


Staff Pick Logo
The Whale: In Search of the Giants of the Sea Cover Image
$16.99
ISBN: 9780061976209
Availability: Available to order. Contact store for details.
Published: Ecco - February 8th, 2011

Did you know that whales in recent years have been found – well over 150 years old – with 19th century harpoon heads still lodged in their blubber? Or that sperm whales can kill prey with 200db sonic blasts from their heads? Hoare, although born with an innate fear of deep water, has had a lifelong obsession with the family Cetacean (ahem, as have I) & has compiled a riveting account of what is, essentially, the human history of the whale. Filled with tales of (disgusting) ambergris, hefty literary allusions to Melville, accounts of humanity’s ongoing, (mostly) unhealthy whale mania, & a breath-taking first-hand account of Hoare’s own experience of swimming in open ocean with the world’s largest, loudest animal. An incredibly fascinating book – one of my all-time favorites. -Seth