Weird, wonderful, and under-the-radar books that Jane Alice NEEDS you to read

As a bookseller who has done a lot of our social media, I’ve become a bit of a generalist over the years. I like to pick up some of everything from a little bit of everywhere in the store if it looks neat or someone is head over heels for it. The secret life of dictionaries? Sign me up! Hippo cowboys? Hell yeah, give me your best! That said, the niche within that wide net that I return to time and time again are all of the weird and wonderful titles that don’t come up in questions or conversations often enough to satisfy my need to chat and rant and rave about their glory!

So, let’s dive into a stack of my lesser read favorites that you NEED:

A Pocket Guide to Pigeon Watching

Everything from their history as some of our most prized companions, to rapid fire fun facts about their biology and quirks— this book is as funny as it is informative, and the perfect intro to our #1 bird brained besties.

Vengeance Road

Gold, Revenge, Murder! After the sudden murder of her father for a map Kate has never even heard of, she packs up what is left of her life to hunt down the men who did it and find the gold mine they were chasing. Packing a punch or five, this book will have you racing through pages the way our disguised heroine races for vengeance.

This Was Our Pact

Coming of age bike adventure that exists out of time and reason, yet lands with a familiarity that is both cozy and electric. This is one of those stories that feels at once a bit nostalgic, despite being a fresh dive into the unknown.

How to Invent Everything

In the far off future you’ll be able to rent a time machine the same way we rent cars — only, if it breaks down it’s probably going to be simpler to jumpstart humanity from wherever you are than to repair such advanced tech. Thus, this book is both a how-to manual and speed run of the history of human invention and innovation!

Reincarnation Blues
After 9995 lives, he’s got 5 more to get it right, live a good life, and achieve oneness with the universe. The problem is he’s in love with Suzy the Grim Reaper, aka death, and oneness kinda would put a wrench in that relationship… So let’s buckle up for those last five lives!

Are You Listening

Just a road trip between strangers across the Texas countryside… right? Told with sweeping illustrations and expressive colors, this is a story of finding yourself in what we run to and run away from, and I want to hold it close forever. (The desperation with which I want it to be adapted into a bizarre 2D animated film… is so much!)

Barn 8

Oceans Eleven meets USDA inspection — we’re stealing chickens, soooo many chickens. And it’s going to get weird. So wonderfully weird.


There’s superheroes, supervillains, and you’re a hench person for hire caught in the wrong place at the wrong time who’s gonna make them pay. Who determines who the “good guys” are anyway— who gets to write the story here? Spreadsheets and data have never been so deliciously bad.

In The Ravenous Dark

Our leading Bisexual Disaster accidentally outs herself as a mage and has to serve the crown, only to fall headlong into a plot with stern ghosts, palace intrigue, polyamory, and deeply evil vampires.

Full Spectrum

A history of color and pigment, as well as a history of our understanding of and relationship with it. Inclusive, insightful, and accessible; making for a delightful dive into a historical niche we all interact with and most know little about. It also handles indigenous discoveries and use with grace, using their language to talk about what they used it for and how that overlaps or differs from “official” records of discovery.

Strange the Dreamer
A city so thoroughly lost to memory that those who still recall it have a gap where its name should be. A librarian who dreams of what was lost. And Dreams who are more real than conquest.

American Hippo

The hippo cowboy heist in 1850’s American bayou you didn’t know you needed! Loosely jumping off from a measure congress actually nearly passed to raise hippos in the South, we’ve massaged the timeline a bit to give you a cowboy novel like no other.

Romeo and/or Juliet

Yes, yes, you could choose the path that lets you reenact the play itself— or you could choose a path that ends in buff Juliet fighting giant robots!!! Perfect for long road trips or a cozy night in, Ryan North will have you rolling with laughter at this build your own familiar and bizarre retelling of a classic.

Passing Strange

A short and soft novella that is as much a love letter to San Francisco’s rich queer history as it is a sapphic adventure that winds art, food, and the depths of love together. 

Hollow Kingdom

The zombie apocalypse in the PNW through the eyes of a foulmouthed crow with a heart of gold. Have you ever considered what would go through pets’ minds during the zombie uprising? Look no further! You’ll laugh till you burst and then weep with soulful yearning while S.T. navigates the apocalypse with annoyance, humor, and no small amount of swearing.

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

The vampires are actually bloody, our protagonist actually badass, and the adventure will have you devouring pages in a blink! Holly Black has my heart in a vice grip, and this book in particular is no exception. It’s the vampire book I insist everyone read when they get fed up with glitter and petty drama, because this one feels real, sharp, and delicious.


In the mountains of Appalachia, a family found “god” deep in a cave on their property back in the 1800’s. Several generations later, one of the most recent descendants recalls her childhood a decade ago while wrestling with the family drama, moonshining, what lies beneath the “truth”.

Meddling Kids

Scooby Doo vs Cthulhu, (only the names and details are a bit different to suit copyright) and they gotta get the gang back together to piece together the last mystery they “solved” nearly a decade ago on the edge of a lakeside town. Same costumed shenanigans as they've always faced, or a more sinister & eldritch culprit?...