Sam Recommends

a picture of an older man with white hair. he's wearing a blue sweater and smiling

Sam had a varied carrer as a collegiate and independent school faculty member and administrator, retiring from University of Maryland University College as Adjunct Full Professor and Academic Director of Humanities. Along the way, Sam spent seven years with a small marketing communications agency and ran his own college placement consulting practice. He has been a course leader and administrator with two adult learning programs in Maryland and, since 2016, with S.A.G.E. in Hudson and more recently has taught in Baldwin-Wallace East’s Institute for Learning in Retirement. In his free time, Sam likes playing with his dog, Nelson. At The Learned Owl, Sam is one of our beloved booksellers and handles our out of print orders. 


How to Become a Really Good Pain in the Ass: A Critical Thinker's Guide to Asking the Right Questions Cover Image
Unavailable- email or call for Special Order request
ISBN: 9781616143978
Published: Prometheus Books - July 26th, 2011

In this witty, incisive guide to critical thinking the author provides you with the tools to allow you to question beliefs and assumptions held by those who claim to know what they’re talking about. These days there are many people whom we need to question: politicians, lawyers, doctors, teachers, clergy members, bankers, car salesmen, and your boss.

Deacon King Kong: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780735216730
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click for Details
Published: Riverhead Books - February 2nd, 2021

Winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award for Fiction
Winner of the Gotham Book Prize

One of Barack Obama's "Favorite Books of the Year"

Oprah's Book Club Pick

Named one of the Top Ten Books of the Year by the New York Times, Entertainment Weekly and TIME Magazine

Washington Post Notable Novel

All Adults Here: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594634697
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Riverhead Books - May 4th, 2020

"'Coming of age isn’t just for kids.' All too true and Straub introduces us to a quirky, very human, very likeable family who all are coming of age, even at their different ages.  With subtle humor and great love for her characters, Straub shows them how wrong they are to think they are done growing up.  This is a warm, gentle portrait of people it is hard not to like, even as they display all of their flaws and quirks."


Author in Chief: The Untold Story of Our Presidents and the Books They Wrote Cover Image
Unavailable- email or call for Special Order request
ISBN: 9781476786391
Published: Avid Reader Press / Simon & Schuster - February 11th, 2020

"If you ever have been interested in what our presidents really were like, this is a good way to find out.  Although the focus of the book is presidential autobiographies – a genre that has become part and parcel of running for office – Fehrman illuminates much of their personalities and their real motives in writing about themselves.  This is an extremely accessible history of some of the men who have been president and, by providing so much context, Fehrman also fills in some fascinating parts of American history most of us never even thought about.  I intend to recommend it every chance I get."


Imaginary Friend Cover Image
ISBN: 9781538731338
Availability: Backordered
Published: Grand Central Publishing - October 1st, 2019

Instant New York Times Bestseller
One of Fall 2019's Best Books (People, EW, Lithub, Vox, Washington Post, and more)
A young boy is haunted by a voice in his head in this acclaimed epic of literary horror from the author of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

The Darwin Affair: A Novel Cover Image
Unavailable- email or call for Special Order request
ISBN: 9781616206345
Published: Algonquin Books - June 11th, 2019

“Intellectually stimulating and viscerally exciting, The Darwin Affair is breathtaking from start to stop.” —The Wall Street Journal

Get ready for one of the most inventive and entertaining novels of 2019—an edge-of-your-seat Victorian-era thriller, where the controversial publication On the Origin of Species sets off a string o

The Once and Future King (Penguin Galaxy) Cover Image
By T. H. White, Neil Gaiman (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143111610
Availability: Backordered
Published: Penguin Classics - October 25th, 2016

A deluxe hardcover edition of the world’s greatest fantasy classic—part of Penguin Galaxy, a collectible series of six sci-fi/fantasy classics, featuring a series introduction by Neil Gaiman

Winner of the AIGA + Design Observer 50 Books | 50 Covers competition

Catch-22: 50th Anniversary Edition Cover Image
By Joseph Heller, Christopher Buckley (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9781451626650
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click for Details
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 5th, 2011

This fiftieth-anniversary edition commemorates Joseph Heller’s masterpiece with a new introduction; critical essays and reviews by Norman Mailer, Alfred Kazin, Anthony Burgess, and others; rare papers and photos; and much more.

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read.

Now a Hulu limited series starri

The Remorseful Day (Inspector Morse #13) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780804119542
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Fawcett - January 30th, 2001

For a year, the murder of Mrs. Yvonne Harrison at her home in Oxfordshire had baffled the Thames Valley CID. The manner of her death--her naked handcuffed body left lying in bed--matched her reputation as a women of adventuresome sexual tastes. The case seemed perfect for Inspector Morse.

The Oblate's Confession Cover Image
Unavailable- email or call for Special Order request
ISBN: 9780996574402
Published: Secant Publishing, LLC - August 13th, 2015

Clouds of Witness: A Lord Peter Wimsey Mystery Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062315540
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Harper Paperbacks - January 7th, 2014

The great Dorothy L. Sayers is considered by many to be the premier detective novelist of the Golden Age, and her dashing sleuth, Lord Peter Wimsey, is one of mystery fiction’s most enduring and endearing protagonists. In Clouds of Witness, the fiancé of Lord Peter's sister, Mary, is found dead outside the conservatory of the Wimsey family's shooting lodge in Yorkshire.

Red Harvest Cover Image
ISBN: 9780679722618
Availability: Backordered
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - July 17th, 1989

Detective-story master Dashiell Hammett gives us yet another unforgettable read in Red Harvest: When the last honest citizen of Poisonville was murdered, the Continental Op stayed on to punish the guilty--even if that meant taking on an entire town. Red Harvest is more than a superb crime novel: it is a classic exploration of corruption and violence in the American grain.

Lonesome Dove: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780684871226
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - November 10th, 2000

The Pulitzer Prize­–winning American classic of the American West that follows two aging Texas Rangers embarking on one last adventure.

The Last Picture Show Cover Image
ISBN: 9781631493591
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Liveright - March 20th, 2018

“McMurtry is an alchemist who converts the basest materials to gold.” — New York Times Book Review

American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812976663
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - March 20th, 2007

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • Pulitzer Prize-winning author Jon Meacham reveals how the Founding Fathers viewed faith—and how they ultimately created a nation in which belief in God is a matter of choice.

The American Spirit: Who We Are and What We Stand For Cover Image
ISBN: 9781501174193
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster - April 10th, 2018

A New York Times Bestseller

A timely collection of speeches by David McCullough, the most honored historian in the United States—winner of two Pulitzer Prizes, two National Book Awards, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, among many others—that reminds us of fundamental American principles.

“Insightful and inspirational, The American Spir

Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307408877
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Crown - March 22nd, 2016

#1 New York Times Bestseller

From the bestselling author and master of narrative nonfiction comes the enthralling story of the sinking of the Lusitania

The Man in the High Castle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780547572482
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - January 24th, 2012

In this Hugo Award–winning alternative history classic??—??the basis for the Amazon Original series??—??the United States lost World War II and was subsequently divided between the Germans in the East and the Japanese in the West.

It’s America in 1962. Slavery is legal once again. The few Jews who still survive hide under assumed names.

Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion (Dover Philosophical Classics) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780486451114
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
(This book cannot be returned.)
Published: Dover Publications - July 21st, 2006

How can we know that God exists? Is it possible to find proof of religion's most significant issues? Can we presume that the orderliness of the universe offers evidence of a purposeful creator? David Hume's Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion explores these perennial questions in a thought-provoking and highly readable style.

Bloom County: Best Read On The Throne Cover Image
Unavailable- email or call for Special Order request
ISBN: 9781684053148
Published: IDW Publishing - August 28th, 2018

Collecting year three of the Bloom County relaunch begun in 2015! The stakes are higher, the punchlines are sharper, and the laughter is more desperate!

Where the Wild Things Are Cover Image
By Maurice Sendak, Maurice Sendak (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780060254926
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: HarperCollins - December 26th, 2012

Maurice Sendak's Caldecott Medal-winning picture book has become one of the most highly acclaimed and best-loved children's books of all time. A must for every child's bookshelf.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass (Penguin Clothbound Classics) Cover Image
By Lewis Carroll, Hugh Haughton (Introduction by), Hugh Haughton (Notes by), John Tenniel (Illustrator), Coralie Bickford-Smith (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780141192468
Availability: Backordered
Published: Penguin Classics - March 10th, 2010

Nominated as one of America’s best-loved novels by PBS’s The Great American Read

The Best American Mystery Stories 2019 (The Best American Series ®) Cover Image
By Jonathan Lethem (Editor), Otto Penzler (Editor)
ISBN: 9781328636096
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click for Details
Published: Mariner Books - October 1st, 2019

New York Times best-selling author of ten genre-bending novels Jonathan Lethem helms this collection of the year’s best mystery short fiction. 

For Jonathan Lethem, “crime stories are deep species gossip.” He writes in his introduction that “they’re fundamentally stories of power, of its exercise, both spontaneous and conspirat

Empire of Lies Cover Image
ISBN: 9780156033565
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Mariner Books - July 6th, 2009

Sustained by a deep religious faith, Jason Harrow has built a stable family and become a pillar of principle and patriotism in the Midwest. Then the phone rings, and his past is on the other end of the line. A woman with whom he once shared a life of violence and desire claims her daughter is missing—and Jason is the one man who can find her.

The Devil and Webster Cover Image
ISBN: 9781455592371
Availability: Backordered
Published: Grand Central Publishing - March 20th, 2018

From the New York Times bestselling author of You Should Have Known and Admission, a twisty new novel about a college president, a baffling student protest, and some of the most hot-button issues on today's college campuses.

Three Hours in Paris Cover Image
ISBN: 9781641290418
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Soho Crime - April 7th, 2020

In June of 1940, when Paris fell to the Nazis, Hitler spent a total of three hours in the City of Light—abruptly leaving, never to return. To this day, no one knows why.

He Started It Cover Image
Unavailable- email or call for Special Order request
ISBN: 9780451491756
Published: Berkley - July 21st, 2020


“Wholly original. Scarily clever. Completely mesmerizing. You will never look at family road trips the same way again.”—Lisa Gardner, #1 New York Times bestselling author

The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385348713
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Crown - February 25th, 2020

#1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • The author of The Devil in the White City and Dead Wake delivers an intimate chronicle of Winston Churchill and London during the Blitz—an inspiring portrait of courage and leadership in a time of unprecedented crisis

Good Girls Lie Cover Image
ISBN: 9780778330776
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Mira Books - December 30th, 2019

J.T. Ellison's pulse-pounding new psychological thriller examines the tenuous bonds of friendship, the power of lies and the desperate lengths people will go to in order to protect their secrets.

Goode girls don't lie...

John Adams Under Fire: The Founding Father's Fight for Justice in the Boston Massacre Murder Trial Cover Image
ISBN: 9781335015921
Availability: Usually Arrives in 3-5 Days
Published: Hanover Square Press - March 3rd, 2020

Look for Dan Abrams and David Fisher's new book, Kennedy's Avenger: Assassination, Conspiracy, and the Forgotten Trial of Jack Ruby.


"An expert, extremely detailed account of John Adams' finest hour."--Kirkus Reviews

Stony the Road: Reconstruction, White Supremacy, and the Rise of Jim Crow Cover Image
ISBN: 9780525559535
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click for Details
Published: Penguin Press - April 2nd, 2019

“Stony the Road presents a bracing alternative to Trump-era white nationalism. . . . In our current politics we recognize African-American history—the spot under our country’s rug where the terrorism and injustices of white supremacy are habitually swept.

All the Devils Are Here: A Novel (Chief Inspector Gamache Novel #16) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250145246
Availability: On Our Shelves Now - Click for Details
Published: Minotaur Books - June 29th, 2021