What the Booksellers Are Reading at White Whale Bookstore ‹ Literary Hub

Shelf Talkers is a series at Lit Hub where booksellers from independent bookstores around the country share their favorite reads of the moment. Here are recommendations from the staff at White Whale Bookstore, a store in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.


M. Night Shyamalan’s The Village, but make it YA—a dazzling mystery with an explosive ending. Erin Craig creates a beautifully spooky atmosphere within these pages, with equally haunting characters taking the reader on one hell of a ride. Carolyn

This book is a perfect tribute and answer to the question, “I don’t even wear make-up, why am I watching this YouTube video?” If you still think make-up is vapid, and the videos dedicated to it are silly, after reading this, we can’t be friends. – Tay

Chris Gonzalez’s debut landed the self-described “bisexual Puerto Rican cub” in The New York Times for all its humor and hunger. Like Latinx Carrie Bradshaws, the speakers inside take us by the hand from party to lover to great food, the perfect plate of fries, say. Stay a while in its pages to find what the characters most hunger for: belonging, however brief. -Kim

2022 Whiting Award Winner and 2021 American Book Award Winner Anthony Codys powerful collection is an insistence on existence, an anti-erasure. Beyond poems, the pieces inside are bold and challenging, muttered fragments and sprawling collages. They stand, arm in arm, demanding a new docupoetics. Here is resistance! Force and faith. -Kim

Mohamed Kheir, tr. by Robin Moger, Slipping
(Two Lines Press)

A luminous dreamscape of Egyptian tales and traumas, Slipping inhabits the gaps and interstitial spaces where journeys and stories, actions and reactions, even faces and names, begin to elide and overlap. It’s a book that challenges linearity in an effort to honor the cyclical nature of both history and relationships, a book that lingers within the daily moments of magic—joyful, sorrowful, furious, and everything in between—that give the human experience its luster. I could reread Slipping infinitely. -Anna

In the form of a diary that documents the everyday life of the protagonist—a sex worker in Casablanca in her mid-30s—and how an opportunity from a visiting filmmaker flips her life upside down. A vivid portrait, a fun ride, a funny main character, all brilliantly translated. (Not a spoiler, but the ending is note tragic!) -Anna

Several generations of Dakhislandta women tell their stories—of how, despite repeated removal by white settlers from their ancestral land, they keep finding their way back through their native plants and the seeds from which they grow. One of those novels that completely changed how I observe, interact with, and respect the world around me. -Anna

This is a narrative of Margaret Wormss fractured girlhood—losing friendships, lamenting in the lonely, and discovering queerness. With other girls in the neighborhood, Margaret leads a detective team Girls Can Do Anything—they solve mysteries which turn all too magic, all too real… -Halsey

Jill Gutowitz is a self-described Harriet the Spy lesbian” who was radicalized by Lindsay Lohan—I cant think of anyone better to explore pop culture of the early aughts. Her humor is Twitter famous for a reason, but no matter the subject matter (Entourage, the Disney Channel), she remains lovably earnest. Easys talk about how the early 2000s failed queer women. ItI’ll be fun, I promise. Zoe

For oh, the Hot Topic Staff! Sing, goddess of Atari’s t-shirts and prismacolor hair extensions and tattoos of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac!” It is a minority of thirteen-year-olds that woke up inside the first time they saw Tripp pants at the mall, but if you were one—you want this book. -Bailey

It is May 2022 and I can say with certainty this will be one of the best books of the year. So unique, so captivating, so personal. This book is everything and so special. I can guarantee you have never read anything like this before. If you are into trying one of a kind novels… this one is for you! Morgan

Akwaeke Emezi can do no wrong! I am not a romance reader by any means, but this book is steeped in beautiful observations regarding the complexities of being alive. The back and forth between Fyi and Joy is the greatest bestie banter you didt know you needed. Pick this up now. -Gloria

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