Staff Reviews

Nico Walker: Veteran, Bank Robber, Prisoner, and Now a Lauded Novelist

Nico Walker — the debut author who is making waves with his novel, Cherry — did not follow a traditional track to publishing his first novel. At the age many young authors would attend writing classes or workshops, Walker served as a medic in Iraq. Later, he’d return to the United States with PTSD and became addicted to heroin—a habit that he supplemented by robbing banks in the Cleveland area. He is now serving 11 years in a Kentucky federal prison for those crimes, where he wrote Cherry on a typewriter.


The book was later sold to Knopf, and movie rights have been acquired by the Russo brothers, who directed Avengers: Infinity War.



The novel seems to fictionalize this experience, pulling the reader into Walker’s gritty worldview with lean, choppy prose that’s comparable to Donald Ray Pollock’s, who also hails from Ohio. The book is a tough read, blending a nameless narrator’s love story with strong imagery of war and addiction, but its critical reception has been strong. Vulture mused that Cherry “might be the first great novel of the opioid epidemic.”

Put Cherry on hold today.

Dying to Know How HBO’s Sharp Objects Miniseries Ends? Then Read Gillian Flynn’s Great Novel

Many readers recognize Gillian Flynn as the author of Gone Girl, the 2012 best-selling novel that earned the former Entertainment Weekly critic a massive fanbase. But the author launched her career in 2006 with an equally creepy and sinister work titled Sharp Objects. The novel follows Camille Preaker, a reporter with a complicated family history who returns to her own small town to report on a murder. As fans of Gone Girl already know, the novel is littered with dark secrets and surprising twists. Even Stephen King was a fan upon the novel’s release, stating: “To say this is a terrific debut novel is really too mild.”


Sharp Objects has stirred up a lot more interest recently because of a new miniseries on HBO. The series features Amy Adams as Preaker, as well as some script writing from Flynn. Though the series has aired three out of eight episodes, you can beat HBO to the punch by reading (or listening) to Sharp Objects. You can place your hold below.

Sharp Objects

Michael Pollan Weighs the Therapeutic Value of Psychedelic Drugs in How to Change Your Mind

Psychedelic drugs like LSD and “magic” mushrooms tend to stir up a particular association with the rebellious youth of the late ‘60s. But Michael Pollan, the respected journalist who deconstructed American eating habits in books like The Omnivore’s Dilemma, has started a psychedelic conversation that has nothing to do with rebellion.

In How to Change Your Mind: What the New Science About Psychedelics Teaches us About Dying, Addiction, Depression, and Transcendence, Pollan argues that psychedelic experiences can be useful—and therapeutic—for patients with repetitive brain patterns. Through meticulous research, Pollan presents a compelling exploration of LSD and psilocybin treatment for those suffering from depression, alcoholism, and anxiety. For interested parties and skeptics alike, Pollan’s exploration of the subject comes mixes enough science and history with his own personal experiences to make for a compelling trip.

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