READ THIS! BOOKS WITH STREET CRED...

Shadow Man by Alan DrewShadow Man is supposed to be the story of a serial killer who was horribly abused as a child and the efforts of the police to track him down and keep him from killing others. However, the book is really about Ben Wade, one of the detectives on the case. While the victims affect him greatly and he gives his all to catch the killer, it is the apparent suicide of a young teenager that really shakes up his world. Shadow Man is about others living in the shadows of what happened in the past. Set in the 1980s in a small one-time ranching community near LA, the beautifully described scenery and small town feeling make the setting a character on its own. Shadow Man could be called a thriller, but it is really much more than that, with characters that are so real you can feel their pain.

Shadow Man by Alan Drew ($27.00, Random House), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

*Price reflects list price. Local store price may vary.

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 THE LATEST FROM LADY BANKS COMMONPLACE BOOK...

Lady BanksIn which Ms. Ruta Sepetys discusses the power of books, history, and memory, Ms. Karen White holds a mirror up to her neighbors, and her ladyship, the editor, does a little bit of travelling of the armchair variety.

Keep Reading Lady Banks' Commonplace Book | SUBSCRIBE

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 THE NEWEST CROP OF FRESH OKRA PICKS...
The Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah GerardBetween Two Skies by Joanne O'SullivanExtraordinary Adventures by Daniel WallaceFlight Path: A Search for Roots Beneath the World's Busiest Airport by Hannah PalmerGradle Bird by J.C. SasserGrief Cottage by Gail GodwinHe Calls Me by Lightning: The Life of Caliph Washington and the Forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty by S. Jonathan BassNo One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell WattsThe Potlikker Papers by JohnT. EdgeSkin Again by bell hooks; Chris RaschkaSmall Treasons by Mark PowellThe Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah GerardThunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War by Daniel J. Sharfstein
FRESH FROM THE CURRENT CROP

No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts

Named one of the most anticipated books of 2017 by Entertainment Weekly, Nylon, Elle, and The Chicago Review of Books.

JJ Ferguson has returned home to Pinewood, North Carolina, to build his dream house and to pursue his high school sweetheart, Ava. But as he reenters his former world, where factories are in decline and the legacy of Jim Crow is still felt, he’s startled to find that the people he once knew and loved have changed just as much as he has. Ava is now married and desperate for a baby, though she can’t seem to carry one to term. Her husband, Henry, has grown distant, frustrated by the demise of the furniture industry, which has outsourced to China and stripped the area of jobs. Ava’s mother, Sylvia, caters to and meddles with the lives of those around her, trying to fill the void left by her absent son. And Don, Sylvia’s unworthy but charming husband, just won’t stop hanging around.

JJ’s return--and his plans to build a huge mansion overlooking Pinewood and woo Ava--not only unsettles their family, but stirs up the entire town. The ostentatious wealth that JJ has attained forces everyone to consider the cards they’ve been dealt, what more they want and deserve, and how they might go about getting it. Can they reorient their lives to align with their wishes rather than their current realities? Or are they all already resigned to the rhythms of the particular lives they lead?

No One Is Coming to Save Us is a revelatory debut from an insightful voice; with echoes of The Great Gatsby it is an arresting and powerful novel about an extended African American family and their colliding visions of the American Dream. In evocative prose, Stephanie Powell Watts has crafted a full and stunning portrait that combines a universally resonant story with an intimate glimpse into the hearts of one family.

No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts | Ecco Press | 9780062472984 | $26.99

buy from an indie


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 THE 2017 SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE FINALISTS...

Forsaken is a gripping, beautifully realized work of historical fiction by Ross Howell Jr. It tells the story of the sensational crime committed by Virginia Christian, a young black girl who, in 1912 Virginia, was convicted of murder and sentenced to death in the electric chair. Charlie Mears, a white man, covered the case as a rookie reporter. The book chronicles the story of the trial and its aftermath as seen through Mears’s eyes. The novel’s premise is ambitious, its events striking and tragic, and fiction and non-fiction are deftly blended in this powerful read on the themes of injustice, corruption, and racial conflict set in the poisonous epoch known as Jim Crow.

FICTION: Historical | Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr (NewSouth Books, 9781588383174) | BUY FROM AN INDIE

>>DISCOVER ALL THE 2017 SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE FINALISTS
 SOUTHERN BOOKS | AUTHORS | LITERARY NEWS...

Kim Wright / photo by Alan Jenkins(photo by Alan Jenkins)

There's something special about Southern storytelling, and North Carolina writer Kim Wright's latest novel, Last Ride to Graceland, is a modern classic following that long tradition. Chosen as a Spring 2016 Okra Pick, Wright's elegiac tale of memory, music, and self-discovery was just awarded the prestigious Willie Morris Award for Southern Fiction.

Named in honor of the acclaimed Southern writer and editor,Willie Morris, the award recognizes a novel that reflects the spirit of Morris’s work, and stands out for the quality of its prose, its originality, its sense of place and period, and the appeal of its characters. Reba Williams, co-sponsor of the award with her husband Dave, was inspired to recognize and spotlight works set in one or more Southern states by Southern writers that embody, in Morris's words, “hope for belonging, for belief in a people’s better nature, for steadfastness against all that is hollow or crass or rootless or destructive.”Last Ride to Graceland / Okra Pick

On learning that Last Ride to Graceland had been selected, Kim Wright responded, “I am incredibly honored, especially when I consider the other writers who have been chosen in the past. I’ve wondered if the uniquely Southern voice is in danger of dying out, with so many people moving in and out of the region. What does "Southern" really mean today? Then I read certain books and remember—it's that strong storytelling style, born out of an oral tradition, a tale which might be either funny or sad, raucous or subtle, but which always ends on a note of redemptive lift."

Publishers and booksellers are invited to submit books for consideration. Jill Hendrix, proprietor of Fiction Addiction in Greenville, SC, proposed Last Ride to Graceland. “When I realized Kim’s book met all the criteria for the Willie Morris Award, I was happy to nominate it, and thrilled when I learned it had won,” said Hendrix.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the annual prize. Past recipients include Mindy Friddle, Stephen Wetta, Terry Roberts, and Katherine Clark, last year’s honoree for The Headmaster’s Darlings. The winning book is selected by a panel of academics and writers, including some previous winners of the award.

The votes are in! Southern indie booksellers have chosen the finalists for Southern Book Prize. Formerly known as the SIBA Book Award, the Southern Book Prize features an expanded list of categories – including seven different fiction and three nonfiction categories. Finalists were chosen by Southern independent booksellers from the long list ballot. The finalist titles will be sent to juried panels of booksellers, who will then decide on the winners in each category. Winners will be announced on July 4, “Independents Day.”

2017 Southern Book Prize Finalists

FICTION

Commonwealth  Lies and Other Acts of Love  LOng Way Gone  The Serpent King

Coming of Age
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (Harper, 9780062491794)
Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey (Berkley Books, 9781101987063) 
Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson, 9780718084714)
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780553524024)

Flight Patterns  A Lowcountry Christmas  The Risen

Family Life
Flight Patterns by Karen White (Berkley Books, 9780451470911)
A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, 9781501125539)
The Risen by Ron Rash (Ecco, 9780062436313)

Chasing the North Star  Forsaken  Glory Over Everything

Historical
Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan (Algonquin Books, 9781565126275)
Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr (NewSouth Books, 9781588383174)
Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (Simon & Schuster, 9781476748443)

Fallen Land  Miss Jane  Over the Plain Houses  Perfume River

Literary
Fallen Land by Taylor Brown (St. Martin's Press, 9781250077974)
Miss Jane by Brad Watson (W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393241730)
Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks (Hub City Press, 9781938235214) 
Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler (Atlantic Monthly Press, 9780802125750)

The Kept Woman  Lowcountry Book Club  Miss Julia Inherits a Mess  Prayers the Devil Answers

Mystery & Detective
The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow & Company, 9780062430212)
Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M Boyer (HeneryPress, 9781635110456)
Miss Julia Inherits a Mess by Ann B Ross (Viking, 9780525427124)
Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb (Atria Books, 9781476772813)

Feathered Bone  A Lowcountry Wedding  Monsters in Appalachia  
Ninety-Nine Stories of God The Weekenders  The Whole Town's Talking

Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners
The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell (Thomas Nelson, 9780718037628)
A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, 9781501125430)
Monsters in Appalachia: Stories by Sheryl Monks (West Virginia University Press, 9781943665396) 
Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams (Tin House Books, 9781941040355)
The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin's Press, 9781250065940)
The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg (Random House, 9781400065950)

Darktown  Redemption Road  Underground Airlines  The Whistler

Thriller
Darktown by Thomas Mullen (Atria Books, 9781501133862) 
Redemption Road by John Hart (Thomas Dunne Books, 9780312380366)
Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters (Mulholland Books, 9780316261241)
The Whistler by John Grisham (Doubleday Books, 9780385541190)

JUVENILE

Gertie's Leap to Greatness  Lily and Dunkin  Raymie Nightingale  
The Secret Keepers  Serafina and the Twisted Staff
Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley; Jillian Tamaki (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374302610)
Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (Delacorte Press, 9780553536744) 
Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, 9780763681173)
The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart ; Diana Sudyka (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316389556)
Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty (Disney-Hyperion, 9781484775035)

NONFICTION

Dimestore  The Gatekeeper  The Home Place  My Father, the Pornographer

Biography, Autobiography, & Memoir
Dimestore: A Writer's Life by Lee Smith (Algonquin Books, 9781616205027)
The Gatekeeper: Missy Lehand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith (Touchstone, 9781501114960)
The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J Drew Lanham (Milkweed, 9781571313157) 
My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir by Chris Offutt (Atria Books, 9781501112461)

Deep Run Roots  Hungry is a Mighty Fine Sauce  Victuals

Cooking
Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard (Little Brown and Company, 9780316381109)
Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce Cookbook: Recipes and Ramblings from the Belle of All Things Southern by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (Shiloh Run Press, 9781634097826)
Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy; Johnny Autry (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 9780804186742)

The Fire This Time  Hillbilly Elegy  A Lowcountry Heart
Poems  Truevine

Creative Nonfiction
The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner Book Company, 9781501126345)
Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J D Vance (Harper, 9780062300546)
A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life by Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese, 9780385530866)
Poems: New and Selected by Ron Rash (Ecco Press, 9780062435507)  
Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy (Little Brown and Company, 9780316337540)

The Southern Book PrizeThe Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance, (SIBA), is pleased to announce the 2017 Southern Book Prize Long List, featuring all the eligible titles that have been nominated for the Southern Book Prize (formerly the SIBA Book Award).  Nominated titles must be Southern in nature or by a Southern author (or both!) and have been published in 2016. Over 140 great Southern books were nominated by Southern Indie booksellers, making the Long List one of the most comprehensive and exciting reading lists of new Southern literature.

Continuing with a tradition established last year, the Long List features an expanded collection of prize categories. “Our goal is to have the nominations drive the categories rather than forcing all nominations into a category they might not fit. Rather than being married to a certain set of categories like ‘fiction,’ ‘nonfiction,’ ‘children’s,’ we can open the award up to new categories driven by the nominations,” explained SIBA Executive Director Wanda Jewell. She noted that SIBA used the BISAC designations of nominated books to help determine the award categories for the year. This year, ‘Fiction’ has been expanded into seven categories, and ‘Nonfiction’ into three separate categories.

SIBA member booksellers will vote on the Long List over the next few weeks. Finalists for each category in the 2017 Southern Book Prize will be announced April 15, 2017. From there, Finalists will be sent to a jury of booksellers in each category, who will then choose the winning book for their category. Winners will be announced on July 4, “Independents Day.”

THE 2017 SOUTHERN BOOK PRIZE LONG LIST

FICTION

Coming of Age

  • Commonwealth by Ann Patchett (Harper, 9780062491794)
  • The Education of Dixie Dupree by Donna Everhart (Kensington, 9781496705518)
  • Fate Ball by Adam W. Jones (Adam W. Jones, 9780692475348)
  • Godpretty in the Tobacco Field by Kim Michele Richardson (Kensington, 9781617737350)
  • The Last Road Home by Danny Johnson (Kensington, 9781496702494)
  • Lies and Other Acts of Love by Kristy Woodson Harvey (Berkley Books, 9781101987063)
  • Long Way Gone by Charles Martin (Thomas Nelson, 9780718084714)
  • The Order of the Eternal Sun: A Novel of the Sylvani by Jessica Leake (Talos, 9781940456423)
  • The Promise of Jesse Woods by Chris Fabry (Tyndale House, 9781414387772)
  • The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner (Crown Books for Young Readers, 9780553524024)
  • The Truthful Story by Helen Stine (Cardinal Press, 9780997853018)

Family Life

  • American Girls by Alison Umminger (Minotaur Books, 9781250075000)
  • Flight Patterns by Karen White (Berkley Books, 9780451470911)
  • Last Ride to Graceland by Kim Wright (Gallery Books, 9781501100789)
  • The Last Treasure by Erika Marks (Berkley Books, 9781101990841)
  • Love, Alice by Barbara Davis (Berkley Books, 9780451474810)
  • A Lowcountry Christmas by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, 9781501125539)
  • The Risen by Ron Rash (Ecco, 9780062436313)
  • The Secret to Hummingbird Cake by Celeste Fletcher McHale (Thomas Nelson, 9780718039561)
  • Two by Two by Nicholas Sparks (Grand Central, 9781455520695)
  • When We Meet Again by Kristin Harmel (Gallery Books, 9781476754161)

Historical

  • America's First Daughter by Stephanie Dray ; Laura Kamoie (William Morrow & Company, 9780062347268)
  • Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb (Other Press, 9781590518038)
  • Chasing the North Star by Robert Morgan (Algonquin Books, 9781565126275)
  • Cigar Factory: A Novel of Charleston by Michele Moore (University of South Carolina Press, 9781611175905)
  • The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway (Harper, 9780062391612)
  • Fine Imitation by Amber Brock (Crown Publishing Group, 9781101905111)
  • Forsaken by Ross Howell Jr (NewSouth Books, 9781588383174)
  • Glory Over Everything: Beyond the Kitchen House by Kathleen Grissom (Simon & Schuster, 9781476748443)

Literary

  • The Arrangement by Ashley Warlick (Viking, 9780525429661)
  • Fallen Land by Taylor Brown (St. Martin's Press, 9781250077974)
  • Hanging Mary by Susan Higginbotham (Sourcebooks Landmark, 9781492613626)
  • Miss Jane by Brad Watson (W. W. Norton & Company, 9780393241730)
  • The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson (William Morrow & Company, 9780062105684)
  • Over the Plain Houses by Julia Franks (Hub City Press, 9781938235214)
  • Perfume River by Robert Olen Butler (Atlantic Monthly Press, 9780802125750)
  • A Question of Mercy by Elizabeth Cox (Story River Books, 9781611177220)
  • Robert Walker by Corey Mesler (Livingston Press, 9781604891720)
  • The Things We Wish Were True by Marybeth Mayhew Whalen (Lake Union Publishing, 9781503936072)
  • A Thousand Miles from Nowhere by John Gregory Brown (Lee Boudreaux Books, 9780316302807)

Mystery & Detective

  • All the Little Liars by Charlaine Harris (Minotaur Books, 9781250090034)
  • Burning Heat by David Burnsworth (Five Star Publishing, 9781432831110)
  • The Cantaloupe Thief by Deb Richardson-Moore (Lion Fiction, 9781782641926)
  • The Kept Woman by Karin Slaughter (William Morrow & Company, 9780062430212)
  • Lowcountry Book Club by Susan M Boyer (HeneryPress, 9781635110456)
  • Miss Julia Inherits a Mess by Ann B Ross (Viking, 9780525427124)
  • No Shred of Evidence by Charles Todd (William Morrow & Company, 9780062386182)
  • Prayers the Devil Answers by Sharyn McCrumb (Atria Books, 9781476772813)
  • The Rector: A Christian Murder Mystery by Michael Hicks Thompson (Shepherd King Publishing LLC, 9780984528271)
  • The Singularity Race by Mark de Castrique (Poisoned Pen Press, 9781464205996)

Southern Stories & Stories by Southerners

  • Echoes of Mercy by Kim Boykin(River's Edge Media, LLC, 9781940595573)
  • The Eyes Have It: A Lowcountry Home Novel by Julie Allan (Bublish, Inc., 9780997487534)
  • The Feathered Bone by Julie Cantrell (Thomas Nelson, 9780718037628)
  • The Final Days of Great American Shopping: Stories Past, Present, and Future by Gilbert Allen (University of South Carolina Press, 9781611176384)
  • The Forbidden Wish by Jessica Khoury (Razorbill, 9781595147677)
  • Haylow by Gray Stewart (Livingston Press, 9781604891744)
  • Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley (Dial Books, 9780525428183)
  • A Lowcountry Wedding by Mary Alice Monroe (Gallery Books, 9781501125430)
  • Monsters in Appalachia: Stories by Sheryl Monks (Vandalia Press, 9781943665396)
  • Nine Island by Jane Alison (Catapult, 9781941040355)
  • Ninety-Nine Stories of God by Joy Williams (Tin House Books, 9781941040355)
  • The Rose & the Dagger by Renee Ahdieh (G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 9780399171628)
  • Sunshine Beach by Wendy Wax (Berkley Books, 9780425274484)
  • Virgin and Other Stories by April Ayers Lawson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780865478695)
  • The Weekenders by Mary Kay Andrews (St. Martin's Press, 9781250065940)
  • The Whole Town's Talking by Fannie Flagg (Random House, 9781400065950)
  • Woodwalker: Creatures of Light, Book 1 by Emily B Martin (Voyager, 9780062473714)
  • A World Without You by Beth Revis (Razorbill, 9781595147158)
  • A Year Since the Rain by Shane Wilson (Snow Leopard Publishing, LLC, 9781944361082)

Thrillers

  • Coconut Cowboy by Tim Dorsey (William Morrow & Company, 9780062240040)
  • Cotton by Paul Heald (Yucca Publishing, 9781631580864)
  • Darktown by Thomas Mullen (Atria Books, 9781501133862)
  • Field of Graves by J T Ellison (Mira Books, 9780778330530)
  • The Heavenly Table by Donald Ray Pollock (Doubleday Books, 9780385541299)
  • Let the Devil Out by Bill Loehfelm (Sarah Crichton Books, 9780374298579)
  • No One Knows by J T Ellison (Gallery Books, 9781501118470)
  • The Other Widow by Susan Crawford (William Morrow & Company, 9780062362889)
  • Out of the Blues by Trudy Nan Boyce (G.P. Putnam's Sons, 9780399167263)
  • Redemption Road by John Hart (Thomas Dunne Books, 9780312380366)
  • Underground Airlines by Ben H Winters (Mulholland Books, 9780316261241)
  • The Whistler by John Grisham (Doubleday Books, 9780385541190)

CHILDREN'S

Juvenile

  • Curious Critters Florida by David Fitzsimmons (Wild Iris Publishing, 9781936607327)
  • The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron (Scholastic Press, 9780545945219)
  • Georgia Peaches and Other Forbidden Fruit by Jaye Robin Brown (Harper Teen, 9780062270986)
  • Gertie's Leap to Greatness by Kate Beasley; Jillian Tamaki (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374302610)
  • The Key to Extraordinary by Natalie Lloyd (Scholastic Press, 9780545552745)
  • The King of the Birds by Acree Macam (Groundwood Books, 9781554988518)
  • The Land of Forgotten Girls by Erin Entrada Kelly (Greenwillow Books, 9780062238641)
  • The Last Dragon Charmer #2: Quest Maker by Laurie McKay (HarperCollins, 9780062308467)
  • Lily and Dunkin by Donna Gephart (Delacorte Press, 9780553536744)
  • The Monster War by Alan Gratz (Starscape Books, 9780765338242)
  • Projekt 1065: A Novel of World War II by Allan Gratz (Scholastic Press, 9780545880169)
  • Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick, 9780763681173)
  • The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart ; Diana Sudyka (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 9780316389556)
  • Serafina and the Twisted Staff by Robert Beatty (Disney-Hyperion, 9781484775035)
  • Superhero Instruction Manual by Kristy Dempsey (Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 9780385755344)
  • Wish by Barbara O'Connor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 9780374302733)

NONFICTION

Biography, Autobiography, & Memoir

  • A Beautiful Here: Emerging from the Overwhelming Darkness of My Son's Suicide by Linda Phillips (Createspace, 9781537413679)
  • The Book of Isaias: A Child of Hispanic Immigrants Seeks His Own America by Daniel Connolly (St. Martin's Press, 9781250083067)
  • Dimestore: A Writer's Life by Lee Smith (Viking Books for Young Readers, 9780451470775)
  • The Dogs Buried Over the Bridge: A Memoir in Dog Years by Rheta G Johnson (John F. Blair, Publisher, 9780895876652)
  • The Gatekeeper: Missy Lehand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith (Touchstone, 9781501114960)
  • The Home Place: Memoirs of a Colored Man's Love Affair with Nature by J Drew Lanham (Milkweed, 9781571313157)
  • Inside the Head of the Oldest Co-Ed in Dixie: How I Gain Friends, Influence Neighbors, and Try to Fix the World by Dee Dee Murphy (Vabella Publishing, 9781942766193)
  • Miss Ella of Commander's Palace by Ella Brennan ; Ti Martin (Gibbs Smith, 9781423642558)
  • My Father, the Pornographer: A Memoir by Chris Offutt (Atria Books, 9781501112461)
  • A Mysterious Life and Calling: From Slavery to Ministry in South Carolina by Charlotte S Riley ; Crystal J Lucky ; Joycelyn K Moody (University of Wisconsin Press, 9780299306748)
  • The Third Reconstruction: Moral Mondays, Fusion Politics, and the Rise of a New Justice Movement by William J Barber II ; Jonathan Wilson-Hartgrove (Beacon Press, 9780807083604)

Cooking

  • Chicken: A Savor the South(r) Cookbook by Cynthia Stevens Graubart ( University of North Carolina Press, 9781469630090)
  • Country Cooking from a Redneck Kitchen by Francine Bryson ; Ann Volkwein (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 9780553448450)
  • Curate: Authentic Spanish Food from an American Kitchen by Katie Button ; Genevieve Ko ; Evan Sung (Flatiron Books, 9781250059444)
  • Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard (Little Brown and Company, 9780316381109)
  • Hungry Is a Mighty Fine Sauce Cookbook: Recipes and Ramblings from the Belle of All Things Southern by Shellie Rushing Tomlinson (Shiloh Run Press, 9781634097826)
  • Julia Reed's South: Spirited Entertaining and High-Style Fun All Year Long by Julia Reed (Rizzoli International Publications, 9780847848287)
  • Learn to Cook 25 Southern Classics 3 Ways: Traditional, Contemporary, International by Jennifer Brule (University of North Carolina Press, 9781469629124)
  • Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen ; Kaitlyn Goalen (Ten Speed Press, 9781607746874)
  • Southern Breads: Recipes, Stories and Traditions by Marilyn Markel ; Chris Holaday ; Bill Smith (History Press, 9781467137447)
  • Victuals: An Appalachian Journey, with Recipes by Ronni Lundy ; Johnny Autry (Clarkson Potter Publishers, 9780804186742)

Creative Nonfiction

  • 13th Sunday After Pentecost: Poems by Joseph Bathanti (Louisiana State University Press, 9780807164617)
  • Devils Walking: Klan Murders Along the Mississippi in the 1960s by Stanley Nelson (Louisiana State University Press, 9780807164075)
  • Easy to Love: Southern Stories from the Heart by Joe Garrett ; Mike Steed (Createspace Independent Publishing Platform, 9781535549615)
  • The Fire This Time: A New Generation Speaks about Race by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner Book Company, 9781501126345)
  • Harnessing Courage: Overcoming Adversity with Grit & Gratitude by Laura Bratton (Clovercroft Publishing, 9781942557623)
  • Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J D Vance (Harper, 9780062300546)
  • A Lowcountry Heart: Reflections on a Writing Life by Pat Conroy (Nan A. Talese, 9780385530866)
  • The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats by William Geroux (Viking, 9780525428152)
  • Poems: New and Selected by Ron Rash (Ecco Press, 9780062435507)
  • The Thibodaux Massacre: Racial Violence and the 1887 Sugar Cane Labor Strike by John DeSantis; Burnell Tolbert (History Press, 9781467136891)
  • Truevine: Two Brothers, a Kidnapping, and a Mother's Quest: A True Story of the Jim Crow South by Beth Macy (Little Brown and Company, 9780316337540)

The 2017 Spring Okra Picks have been selected: a flavor-filled collection of new Southern books hand-picked by Southern indie booksellers–people with impeccable taste in books... 

All Spring Okra picks have a strong Southern focus and publish between April and June, and all have fans among Southern indie booksellers: the people who are always looking out for the next great writer to fill your reading plate. So the next time you visit your local Southern indie bookstore and someone says, "You've got to read this!" and hands you one of these tasty titles, dig in and ask for a second helping. Great books are always good for you!



The Potlikker Papers by John T. Edge
Penguin Press, Hardcover, 9781594206559, 384pp.
Publication Date: May 16, 2017

Skin Again by bell hooks, Chris Raschka (illus)
Jump at the Sun, Hardcover, 9781484799239, 40pp.
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Between Two Skies by Joanne O'Sullivan
Candlewick Press (MA), Hardcover, 9780763690342, 272pp.
Publication Date: April 25, 2017


Sunshine State: Essays by Sarah Gerard
Harper Perennial, Paperback, 9780062434876, 384pp.
Publication Date: April 11, 2017

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate
Ballantine Books, Hardcover, 9780425284681, 352pp.
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Flight Path A Search for Roots Beneath the World's Busiest Airport by Hannah Palmer
Hub City Press, Paperback, 9781938235283
Publication Date: April 4, 2017


Small Treasons by Mark Powell
Gallery Books, Hardcover, 9781507203385, 384pp.
Publication Date: June 2, 2017

No One Is Coming to Save Us by Stephanie Powell Watts
Ecco Press, Hardcover, 9780062472984, 384pp.
Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Extraordinary Adventures by Daniel Wallace
St. Martin's Press, Hardcover, 9781250118455, 336pp.
Publication Date: May 30, 2017


Thunder in the Mountains Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War by Daniel J. Sharfstein
W. W. Norton & Company, Hardcover, 9780393239416, 640pp.
Publication Date: April 4, 2017

Gradle Bird by J.C. Sasser
Koehler Books, Paperback, 9781633932630, 288pp.
Publication Date: June 15, 2017

He Calls Me by Lightning The Life of Caliph Washington and the Forgotten Saga of Jim Crow, Southern Justice, and the Death Penalty by S. Jonathan Bass
Liveright Publishing Corporation, Hardcover, 9781631492372, 432pp.
Publication Date: May 2, 2017

Grief Cottage by Gail Godwin
Bloomsbury USA, Hardcover, 9781632867049, 336pp.
Publication Date: June 6, 2017

Gina KolataWhen I was in grade school, reading was my guilty secret – kids were not supposed to be buried in books if they were to be popular. But one year I was unmasked when the teacher asked the class to make a list of all the books they read that summer. I knew my list would evoke ridicule because it was so long, so I only wrote down every other book. Yet even that was too much. The other kids saw my list and jeered, calling me “bookworm.”

Those kids had no idea what they were missing.

From the moment I could read, books consumed me. I loved everything from fairy tales – those  moralistic stories in which those who are cruel or vain or greedy get their just deserts– to books about mountain men. Some stories were unforgettable, like Daphne du Maurier’s Rebecca. I was stunned by the ending, I never saw it coming.  

As I grew older, my list of memorable books changed. Often what I took away from books was not actually the main theme, but it was vivid scenes and lessons that stood out for me.

I read George Orwell’s 1984 when I was in college. I can never forget the scene when Winston Smith was broken by what he feared most – rats. Doris Lessing’s book, The Fifth Child frightened me so much I was afraid to have a third child after having two who were, to my eyes, perfect. It involves a family that has a fifth child who turns out to be the devil himself. He rides off in the end with a motorcycle gang and every time the mother hears about a violent crime she wonders if her child did it.

Mercies in DisguiseThe Sea and Poison by Shusaku Endo showed me moral ambiguities and how making excuses for inhumane behavior can destroy a person. It is about Japanese medical professionals who found ways to justify experiments on American prisoners of war during World War 2 and the how one doctor who took part was a broken after the experiments were done.

The Joke by Milan Kundera had a message about the futility of living a life consumed by thoughts of revenge.  A college student plays a joke that is misunderstood, landing him in prison. He spends his life plotting a way to get back at his enemy, a former classmate. Years later, he gets his chance, playing what he thinks is a cruel joke on his protagonist. But the joke is on him – his protagonist has no memory of the incident that so destroyed the man’s life.

And so it goes. I am never without a book. I read on the train going to work, I read at night, I even read when I knit.  I’d like to tell you some books I read recently that are on my Most Memorable list, but it takes time to know if a book really belongs there. I think Philip Roth’s America Pastoral will make it, and so might Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Marriage Plot. It’s been a while since I read them and they still stand out.

Of course, I hope, I really do, that Mercies in Disguise will make it onto your lists. It’s a story that will stay with me. I will never be able to forget that brave family.

RebeccaThe Fifth ChildThe Sea and PoisonThe JokeThe Marriage Plot

GINA KOLATA (M.A.) is a writer and medical reporter for The New York Times. She has previously written several books, including Flu, and edited collections of popular science writing. Ms. Kolata lives with her husband in Princeton, New Jersey.

Taylor BrownThe independent bookstore is more than a place—it’s a people.   And if there’s one thing I’ve learned in my first year as a published novelist, it’s that indie booksellers are quite possibly the best people in the world.  They are warm and smart and well-read; they are excited not only about books, but about what we learn from books.  They can tell you about the history of corn whiskey and the basics of falconry; they know about French cigarettes and the love lives of our literary heroes.  Belly up to the bar at a bookseller’s conference, as I have done, and tell a group of booksellers that you are writing a story about tigers.  The recommendations will begin bounding from their tongues:  The Tiger by John Vaillant, Dersu the Trapper by V.K. Arseniev, Tigers in the Snow by Peter Matthiessen.  Now tell the same group that you have a broken heart, and watch the books come flocking to your aid.

In the summer of 2015, The New Yorker ran a piece entitled “Can Reading Make You Happier?”   The crux of the piece was something called bibliotherapy—the practice of encouraging reading for therapeutic effect.  At London’s School of Life, trained bibliotherapists provide reading prescriptions that “help people deal with the daily emotional challenges of existence.”  To me, indie booksellers are bibliotherapists nonpareil.  Go to a big box store and ask for books that deal with heartbreak.  Chances are you will be led to the Self-Help section and left to peruse the hundred strange spines by yourself.  Now ask the same at any good indie.  Nine times out of ten, you will be given specific book recommendations, many of them novels and short story collections, which are underrated in their power to sustain, educate, and heal us.

River of KingsWhat’s more, there is more to bibliotherapy than the act of reading.  In my experience, books and the stores that sell them have healing powers themselves.  Who has not sidled through those cozy shelves, each lined with gleaming spines, with voices of such terror and majesty, and not felt comforted, even swaddled in the language of our species?  There is a sacred atmosphere to the bookstore—not unlike that of libraries and museums and cathedrals—but so much cozier, so much more familiar and accessible.   One of my favorite stories of all time is Hemingway’s “A Clean, Well-Lighted Place.”  If you want to find such a place in nearly any town in this country, all you have to do is find the local indie bookstore.  At certain periods in life, the value of such places cannot be underestimated, nor can the people who run them.

Books are, and always have been, objects of great power.  They wound us and heal us; they take us on long journeys into other countries, eras, and souls—and into the deeper chambers of our own hearts.  They are the seeds of our great religions and cataclysms.  The indie bookstore is the storehouse of this power, and the indie bookseller, well-journeyed on these literary roads, is our guide into the farther reaches of ourselves and others.  So next time you find yourself struggling with the “challenges of existence,” hit your nearest indie and let the bibliotherapy begin. 


About the Author:

TAYLOR BROWN grew up on the Georgia coast. He has lived in Buenos Aires, San Francisco, and the mountains of Western North Carolina. His fiction has appeared in more than twenty publications, he is the recipient of the Montana Prize in Fiction, and he has been a finalist in both the Machigonne Fiction Contest and the Doris Betts Fiction Prize. Fallen Land (2016) was his first novel; The River of Kings is his second. Both were chosen as Okra Picks by Southern Independent Booksellers. He lives in Wilmington, North Carolina.

Phillip LewisIt’s 2027, or 2035. Independent bookstores are now extinct. Everything is purchased online, with free wrapping, same-day shipping, and “points” to be used toward a trip to Dollywood or the purchase of another 3DTV. Your local indie bookstore closed in September, the last of its kind, and in its place there’s a franchise computer-repair shop with weird hours. In times past, you’d go to the bookstore when you needed a few quiet moments of sanity and find out from book-minded humans what new books were of particular interest and what old ones might suit your fancy. If you weren’t sure what you wanted to read next, you could consult a bookseller, who would literally put a book in your hands that you might come to know and love. “So you like Douglas Adams, Charlotte Brontë, and metafiction, eh? No, that’s not unusual at all. Trust me. Have you ever read Jasper Fforde? No?—(Smiles knowingly.)—Let me show you where to find it.”

In 2027, these days are long gone. Now, from the comfort of your home office—you tell yourself that you enjoy the isolation and close interior quarters—you log-in to www.colossus.com, type in “books” in the search field, and wait eagerly for the sales algorithms put in place by Colossus’s IT team to spotlight certain popular titles for you to consider. A flashing pop-up window anticipates your likes based on your purchase history: “If you like Charlotte Brontë,” it says, “you might like Danielle Steel. Here are 2,420,300 new and used options to choose from.” This sounds promising! Lots of choices. But which edition to select, you wonder. You muse darkly on the days of old when, at the local bookstore, you could actually find cool editions of cool books without having to scroll through bazillions of new and used copies with no real way to know what you’d be getting. Glancing at your bookcase, you see the awesome Edgar Allan Poe hardcover (the one with that sweet raven on the cover) that you had only ever seen at your hometown bookstore and which you never would have come across online. Oh, well. Times change. The used paperback of Heart of Darkness you got from Colossus that had been extremely well-annotated by a series of 10th-grade boys was cool, too, in its own way. If only you could get that gummy USED sticker off the spine. If only you’d had a bookseller to help you.

The BarrowfieldsEnd thought experiment. The big point here is that a world without indie bookstores would be a world without booksellers, and the disappearance of booksellers would be followed by a great whooshing literacy vacuum that would have unconsidered consequences. Here’s the thing: Booksellers love books. They love to read. They know more about books than you could possibly imagine. When books are shipped to the store from publishers, booksellers are the first to see them. They pull the books out of boxes, examine them, learn about them, and decide which of the new books they’re going to excitedly purchase with their employee discount. At any given time, a bookseller at an indie bookstore maintains a mental Rolodex of thousands upon thousands of books. One might think this is an exaggeration, but it’s not. They know kids’ books. They know what’s in cooking, fantasy, mystery, and games. They can tell you the classics like the backs of their respective hands, and can divine, by some mystifying internal calculus, whether a given child might be more suited to The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe or The Lord of the Rings or Harry Potter. My entire life has been shaped by the recommendations of booksellers, and yours probably has, too.

When I was in college, I worked in an indie bookstore in Durham (which, sadly, has now closed). Joe was one of the booksellers. He was a tall guy with disobedient hair, wool-knit ties that didn’t quite reach his belt, and a shirttail that frequently came untucked. Joe knew the contents of the entire store, but his real specialty was sci-fi, with a sub-specialty of cyberpunk. I came into the store being more of a classics guy, with a focus on the Romantics and southern American lit. One Saturday during the midday lull when I was shelving and alphabetizing in “Regional” and Joe was across the aisle in “True Crime,” he told me I should check out William Gibson and Neal Stephenson. Snow Crash had just come out, and Joe foolishly lent me his copy (which I still have; if you’re out there, Joe, my apologies). This recommendation opened up a whole new universe of books for me. I think of all the books I read afterward because of this recommendation, and how my life changed as a result. This has happened to me over and over again. Long before Joe, when I was a boy and then a young man, booksellers in independent bookstores across the south shared with me their love of literature and I came to love the written word and all that might be contained within the covers of a book. Would I be a writer were it not for bookstores and booksellers?

Today I can stand in front of my bookshelves and point to the books that were recommended to me—books that I now count among my favorite, and which also happen to be among my most meaningful life experiences. I read those books and loved them. I’ll keep them on my shelves, and one day, hopefully, I’ll read them to my children. This is what booksellers do. For those of us who love books, they have the power to shape and enrich our lives, one book at a time. This is the importance of indie bookstores.

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What I'm Reading Now: A Tour of the Lewis House in Books

TinkersSchubert's Winter JourneyQuicksilverThe Sunlight PilgrimAlan Turing The Enigma


A visitor to my home might think it is a house of many readers, each with different and disparate interests. This is because at any given time I’m reading several books at once (not simultaneously, of course, like an octopus holding multiple books in the air, but in the sense of having quite a few books going at the same time). You can find them in various stages of completion scattered throughout my house. There’s a little reading spot in the corner of the dining room, another one in the living room, a reading alcove at the top of the stairs, and then another reading nook at the far end of the bedroom, where there’s an old, comfy couch, a window that looks north toward the city skyline, and lamp with perfect light for books. At each location sits a pile of to-be-read books, along with books that are experiencing the pleasure of being read themselves.

Downstairs in the sill of the window to the dining room you’ll find a crisp copy of Tinkers by Paul Harding. Even though it’s a comparatively short book, it’s taken me a while to get through it because the writing is gorgeous and it needs to be read slowly and savored from page to page. You could only read one paragraph of Tinkers per day and if you love finely wrought prose, that would be enough to sustain you.

Sitting beneath Tinkers and matching its snow-white color is Schubert’s Winter Journey by Ian Bostridge, an exploration of the extraordinary “Winterreise” 24-song cycle that Schubert worked on right up until his unseasonable death in 1828 from syphilis or mercury poisoning or both (times were tough). This book is compact and heavy as a brick, and, from the looks of it, quite academic. I’ll read it once I finish the marvelous Tinkers. Also in this stack is a paperback of Tender is the Night by Mr. Fitzgerald, which I read at least once every two years.

Climbing the stairs to the aforementioned alcove—which I also call the “writer’s stable,” because it’s where I do most of my writing, and I enjoy horse puns—you will discover a big stack of books on my desk next to the typewriter, the top-most of which is Neal Stephenson’s Quicksilver, Book 1 of The Baroque Cycle. It’s a big, sprawling book in a big, sprawling series, and I’m approaching it in much the same way I approached Infinite Jest and Europe Central when I tackled those, which is that you pretty much need to be all-in, as they say. It’s not a lazy read, and you enjoy it more when you allow yourself a little time outside the reading to research the historical characters and places that play such important roles in the book. I expect it will take me a good nine months to read all three books in the proper way.

Beneath Quicksilver is Jenni Fagan’s The Sunlight Pilgrims, which I can’t wait to read. The Panopticon absolutely blew me away. Also on the desk in the queue to be read are Leningrad: Siege and Symphony: The Story of the Great City Terrorized by Stalin, Starved by Hitler, Immortalized by Shostakovich by Brian Moynahan and Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen, both of which I will reach in time.

From the writer’s stable, down the hallway to the bedroom we go. A chunky paperback copy of Andrew Hodges’s Alan Turing: The Enigma straddles the arm of the couch below the window with the city view, its spine creased in a way that makes me wince a little. This has been an extraordinary book that makes you realize what kind of potential children really have if you just feed their imaginations. I’ve also got a book of James Salter short stories going, as well as The Mysterious Benedict Society. Next up: number9dream by David Mitchell and Everyone Brave is Forgiven by Chris Cleave.


Phillip Lewis was born and raised in the mountains of North Carolina. He now lives in Charlotte. THE BARROWFIELDS is his first novel.

Bren McClainIndie bookstores. What else is there? They're the heart and soul of our communities. A place of refuge, of refueling. Two specifically come to mind.

The first one whose path I was fortunate enough to cross was Malaprop's in Asheville, NC. (Yeah, I know -- what a way to start, right?) I was in TV news back in the day, a job that -- although I didn't know it yet -- required my soul. But there was this cozy place downtown with lots of books and a wonderful coffee shop downstairs, where I found myself on most of my days off. This was the "old" location for Malaprops, before it moved to its new one on Haywood Street. I bet many of you remember this place. It almost had a cramped feeling with its wooden shelves, loaded to the gills. To me, though, such spelled "cozy," since I must have been a cat in a former life. I would always stop near the front of the store at a rack that displayed “Local Writers.” I was not writing fiction yet, so I can’t say that at that time, I imagined being a part of that collection, but I must have known somewhere inside me, somehow. 

One Good Mama BoneI’ll skip forward to the present, when I am no longer in TV news but have a debut novel, One Good Mama Bone, set for release on Valentine’s Day. This takes me to my hometown of Anderson, SC, where my elderly father’s health began a rapid decline in 2016, and I traveled there quite often to take care of him. One morning, after I’d fed him his breakfast and tucked him in for his morning nap, I picked up my iPhone and googled “bookstores in Anderson, SC.” Up popped Books a Million – fine, but I was hoping for an indie. And there it was, McDowell’s Emporium on Oak Street, specializing in used books and select new releases.

I headed there and found a small white clapboard house in a residential section, a “welcome” flag out front flapping in the breeze. Ahhh….yes, I was thinking. Inside, I smelled books and took that smell inside me. A woman, wearing large and black and wonderfully bookish eyeglasses, greeted me. I would come to know she was the shop’s owner, Judith McDowell. “I’m a local writer,” I told her and eyed the books in front of me, a shelf of new releases. I saw Pat Conroy and Mary Alice Monroe and Ron Rash. I put my finger between the top of Mary Alice’s first book and the book to her left and brought my flat hand down between them.  I made my space. For my book. For Bren McClain’s book.  

Sound and the FuryTwo books changed my life, one as a writer and the other as a human being. Finn

The first was William Faulkner’s The Sound and the Fury. I read it as a freshman at Anderson College. The first sentence took my breath away: “Through the fence, between the curling flower spaces, I could see them hitting.” At that moment, all of the other books I had ever read, all blended together in a dim gray of sameness. Only by reading that book did I begin to understand the power of language and voice. It set me on a new path – as a reader and a writer.

The second book was Jon Clinch’s Finn, the retelling of Pap Finn, Huck Finn’s dad, a man, who in some ways, was a monster. But guess what? Jon Clinch made me fall in love with this monster. Made me inhabit this man, who was desperate for his father’s love and did awful things in his search. Talk about complexity of character. Soul-bearing here, I know – but I began seeing my own father differently after reading this book. My heart went out to him, and we got on an even level with each other. And thank God, because I lost my Dad this past June 29th.

Troy BallI have three sons, two with special needs who are confined to wheelchairs. We moved from Austin, Texas to Asheville, North Carolina in 2005 because they were experiencing serious health problems, and the mountain air was better for their lungs. I didn’t know many people, and unsure what to do with my time, I started taking one of my special boys for a long walk downtown each day. We would always stop at the old Woolworth five-and-dime, which had been converted into an art space and had an old-fashioned soda fountain. Then I would push them up the block to Malaprops Bookstore. My son Marshall, especially, loved Malaprops. Pure HeartMarshall can’t talk or hold things in his hands, but he’s very bright. We would sit in that wonderful, comfortable store for hours, while I read him poetry, short stories and magazine articles, and he would tap his heels with excitement, his way of expressing joy. I’m not sure I bought anything in those first fifty or sixty visits. I can’t remember talking to anyone. I’m sure the staff would have talked with me if I had wanted them to, but somehow they sensed—even if I didn’t quite understand it myself—that I needed some space to sit, relax and adjust to my new life. I’m a regular customer now, in both senses of the word, and I often meet friends there for conversation and hot tea. Malaprops is everything a bookstore should be, from their passionately knowledgeable staff to their local author promotions and community events. There are thousands in Asheville who agree with Marshall and me that the store is the heart of our city. Asheville wouldn’t be the same without Malaprops. But it’s those first months that still stand out for me, when I was tired, unsure, and looking for a home, and I found it in the warmth and comfort of the space between the books.

 

What I’m Reading Now...

DarktownDarktown by Thomas Mullen. Set in 1948, this history-based mystery follows Atlanta’s first black policemen as they try to solve a murder most of their white counterparts would rather ignore. It’s easy to read, despite touching on hard truths, because it’s so well written. And such great characters! Mullen entertains, without flinching from the darker parts of our shared past.

Just Mercy

Just Mercy by Bryan Stevenson. It’s impossible to read the story of Walter McMillan, an innocent man who spent years on death row in Alabama, and not be moved. The woman in the chapter “The Stonecatcher’s Song of Sorrow” left me in tears, but the good kind that make you want to jump up, run outside and embrace life.

Pure Heart by Troy Ball. Well, you asked, so I’m taking the question literally! It was so much work getting the book ready for publication that some important things fell through the cracks without me even realizing it. Then, over the Christmas holidays, my son Marshall asked me—he “speaks” by touching letters in a board—to read the book to him. We have been sitting together every morning, as I slowly read him a chapter at a time. It is such a gift to see a story through someone else’s eyes, even when it is your own. Or maybe especially when it is your own. I love you Marshall, Coulton, Luke and Charlie. You are my wonder boys.



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