Beck's Staff Picks

Showing 1 - 12 of 38 items

A disabled bisexual mercenary, a disillusioned knight, and a noble child bonded to a forbidden god walk into a bar... trust me, you're gonna wanna tag along on their quest. Godkiller is a well-paced low fantasy with unfussy prose, a grim-but-earnest tone, and real emotional stakes. Bonus points for the refreshing representation, including a multiracial cast, queer leads, characters who sign, and in-depth engagement with prosthetics and PTSD!

I'm always surprised how accessible Ann Leckie can make alien politics on a galactic scale. While Translation State is a return to their Imperial Radch universe, it works perfectly as a standalone. Weird, lovable characters and, as always with Leckie, much gender and pronoun fuckery. Thematically, there's a lot here for fans of Becky Chambers' Wayfarers and Martha Wells' Murderbot Diaries (what does it mean to be human, to have humanity?)—especially if you've read those and wish you had more world-building to chew on!

Woof, there's just something that works about this one. It's the definition of trust the process—our main character, Kyr, starts off with an awful case of fascist brain rot and their internal monologue is a lot to stomach. But the plot moves fast and then somehow, faster... and before long my whole heart was in it. Perfect for fans of She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, BIG character development, and progressive (as in, fuck-the-)military space operas!

A memoir so vivid and engaging it reads like a thriller. Is it a deeply thoughtful, humanizing treatment of an intensely stigmatized disorder, or a hyper-privileged white woman playing fast-and-loose with the truth? Why not both! Either way, this book changed how I think about sociopathy. Fans of true crime, unreliable narrators, and a little navel-gazing as a treat will eat this one up.

A multi-narrative coming of age/coming apart, set at a school for the Deaf and rife with messy and relatable characters. There's a lot going on here: the plot is interspersed with educational asides dabbling in everything from Black ASL to Luigi Galleani (yep, there's a whole storyline featuring a crew of baby anarchists... they're delightfully cringe). But above all, what you'll find is a wildly enriching portrait of Deaf community & history—I learned SO much.

'The way you live your life in our culture, without apology or shame, even if with sadness, makes you extraordinary and special, Nahr.' 

Perhaps the most compelling figure I've encountered in literary fiction, Nahr—a Palestinian woman reflecting on her life from an Israeli prison—is neither a political mastermind nor swept up without agency, and her relationships with the women in her life are, for me, the beating heart of this story. The heavy sexual violence (much of which happens on the page) is modulated by moments of cathartic beauty and joy. 

A passionate exploration of family and indigeneity, and a devastating indictment of patriarchy and settler colonialism.

An exceedingly human space opera with super fun science, a fascinating political landscape, casual diversity, and—I cannot overstate this—the most lovable goddamn crew you'll ever meet. Fun fact: the series was collaboratively written by authors Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck (fun fact #2: the story began as a homebrew TTRPG!!). Hats absolutely off to them for penning a nine book series that never drags, all while being funnier than it has any right to be.

P.S. If you're into audiobooks, I highly recommend these, masterfully narrated by Jefferson Mays.

I love a snappy little thriller in a reading slump, but I can almost never recommend them, rife as they so often are with copaganda, deeply unlikeable characters, gratuitous sexual violence, and lackluster reveals. You won't find any of that here—instead, a taut genre-bender exploring themes of trauma, motherhood, and self, with dystopian flair and a hefty serving of domestic suspense.

I have long lamented not having truly loved a novel since Severance, so when I opened Luster for the first time, in the permanently mildewed bathtub of my 250 sq ft apartment, I knew: I need to read more books about the millennial condition. Just, only when they're like, this good.

This is a book about power. Race and sex and taboo and softness and desire. It is a thrilling, hot, deeply uncomfortable mess. 10/10.

The premise of Migrations dangled in front of me like the tastiest bait—an unreliable narrator, the inherent tension of the sea, a fool's errand to Antarctica, the birds, the birds—but ultimately, it was the sad, exquisite prose that swallowed me whole. A cold, lonely novel, absolutely wild with grief. Charlotte McConaghy has broken my heart. I'd let her again.

As a girl child who grew up reading The Wheel of Time, The Sword of Truth, A Song of Ice and Fire, et al. (c'mon, couldn't someone have slipped me Earthsea?!), Samantha Shannon's The Priory of the Orange Tree is the most beautiful gift—a sweeping high fantasy replete with magic and dragons and court intrigue and queer women at the center of it all. And you think that's exciting? It's an 800+ page standalone.

Product image

Some books break your heart, and some carefully reassemble it in their home workshop, piece by piece. Bursting with love for all creatures, a little spooky, and with beautiful LGBTQ+ rep (Snap's BFF comes out as a trans girl over the course of the story, and the old witch in the woods is queer, duh), Snapdragon is a remarkably wholesome, multigenerational story with a sweet, sweet ending that had me crying in the best way.