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You don't need to be familiar with Chesnutt's or Hersh's work to appreciate this phenomenal book, but you will undoubtedly want to be once you've finished it. Hersh is a writer of intense and subtle beauty, and she will make you cry and feel a hundred other things with the power of her style alone. Through the tragic story of her close friend and tourmate, Chesnutt, Hersh evokes the torture of all that artistic genius encapsulates and makes that pain sing in a voice both opaque and elegant, grimy and pristine. Ultimately, this is a deeply affecting meditation on one's thrust toward 'important art' and on how music is a necessary expression of sadness and loneliness but also one of intense and inimitable beauty.

Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh ($14.95, University of Texas Press), recommended by Donovan, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

A 2016 Southern Book Award Finalist

Dreaming in Chocolate Susan Bishop CrispellCharming and hopeful. Once again Susan Bishop Crispell combines culinary wonder and a touch of magic for a delightful book perfect for cozy winter reading!

Dreaming in Chocolate by Susan Bishop Crispell ($15.99*, St. Martin's Griffin), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

 A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

Fans of magical realism and international literature will love Cristina Garcia's Dreaming In Cuban.

Following the lives of three generations of women, her story shows how culture, family, and spirituality shape who we are and the place we choose to call home. Garcia pulls from Santeria, using the religion's relationship with color to create vivid imagery that mirrors the characters' lives. This book is truly entertaining and readers of all ages are sure to find a heroine.

Dreaming in Cuban by Cristina Garcia (Ballantine Books) Recommended by Emily Catherine at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Dune by Frank HerbertSet in the distant future amidst a feudal interstellar society in which noble houses, in control of individual planets, owe allegiance to the Padishah Emperor, Dune tells the story of young Paul Atreides, whose noble family accepts the stewardship of the desert planet Arrakis. As this planet is the only source of the “spice” melange, the most important and valuable substance in the universe, control of Arrakis is a coveted--and dangerous--undertaking. The story explores the multi-layered interactions of politics, religion, ecology, technology, and human emotion, as the forces of the empire confront each other in a struggle for the control of Arrakis and its “spice.”

Dune by Frank Herbert ($10.99, Ace Books), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA.

This well-written story of a bi-polar woman does not over-exaggerate the disease and makes it realistic and understandable.

Echoes of Family by Barbara Claypoole-White (Lake Union Publishing, $14.950, recommended by Suzanne at Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, NC.

Edie Is Ever So Helpful by Sophy HennBritish author and illustrator Sophy Henn's charming story of Edie's verve may touch a chord in your household. EDIE is VERY helpful decorating the walls, the dog, and even her sleeping grandpa? Sometimes even Edie knows she needs reining in a bit. This is the perfect book for those "Betty Bunny" and "Fancy Nancy" devotees.

Edie Is Ever So Helpful by Sophy Henn ($16.99*, Philomel Books), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

The first oral biography I ever read, one that sticks with me. Edie Sedgwick: beautiful, wealthy, flighty and famous, falls in with Andy Warhol's coterie in exploding mid-60s New York. Told by a vast array of would-bes, weres and hangers-on, the tale of what happens next (brilliant and bad) is edited to crystal perfection and tragic in its detail.

Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein and George Plimpton ($17, Grove Press), recommended by Matt, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

The bestselling author of Forrest Gump shifts the scene to the American Southwest in this tale of border wars, Pancho Villa, family and revenge.

El Paso by Winston Groom (Liveright Publishing Corporation, $27.95), recommended by Kathy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail HoneymanAs I began Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine, a novel by Gail Honeyman, I thought I'd encountered a cute little story about a quirky young woman whose unfiltered observations of, and responses to, people in her world were laugh-out-loud funny. But my illusions faded quickly. I learned that Eleanor's social ineptness, and a physical deformity, led to her isolation and profound loneliness. And behind the physical scar were the emotional scars inflicted by an abusive mother. This is a sober book but it's not depressing. Eleanor copes with her situation with the help of another quirky soul and professional counseling. Honeyman does a masterful job of using wit and first person narrative to create a powerful story of innocence, in spite of pain, and the possibility of recovery.

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman ($26.00*, Pamela Dorman Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca ZappiaIf you have ever had a meaningful internet friendship or been a part of a huge fandom, this book is for you. Eliza is the anonymous author of one of the biggest webcomics ever and I loved being pulled into her many worlds. This book is pitch-perfect, romantically perfect, and perfect perfect. Did I mention I think it’s perfect?

Eliza and Her Monsters by Francesca Zappia ($17.99*, Greenwillow Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

Epitaph: A Novel of the OK Corral by Mary Doria Russell

For two weeks while reading Epitaph, I lived in 1880s Arizona and came to know the people who lived there.

Russell is a master at putting her meticulous research into creating a vivid picture of time and place, and brilliantly bringing into life her characters. This book continues with the story started in Doc, focusing here on Wyatt Earp. There is so much more to this man than we have seen in movies. If you are a fan of westerns you will love this book and if you are a fan of books that completely absorb, Epitaph will more than reward.

Epitaph: A Novel of the O.K. Corral by Mary Doria Russell (Ecco Press) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

TenNapel has created a very real Reptiles vs. Amphibians world in which Little Herk, the weakest of the Nnewts, is forced to flee his home when his town is invaded by the scary Lizzarks.

Confined to water due to his underdeveloped legs, Herk navigates the big wide world with an evil overlord hot on his tail. He must find the strength he possesses within himself, different from all the others -- his life depends on it!

This is a great start to a new graphic novel series for kids. Fans of Zita the Spacegirl or Amulet and Bones--here's something new for you!

Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel (Graphix) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 

I like a certain amount of surprise in my life, but when it comes to getting older I've found I'd like to have fair warning about what to expect.

Donald Hall, a former Poet Laureate and National Medal of the Art winner, has written a beautiful collection of essays from the vantage point of 86 years old.

They are funnier than I imagined they would be, as well as inspiring and heartening, and the prose is pitch perfect.

Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 
9780544287044

Everless by Sara HollandFirst in a new series! People pay for everything with their time (days, months, years) which is extracted from their blood and transformed to coins. The royalty lives for centuries while the common folk are taxed and punished with their lifeblood.

Everless by Sara Holland ($17.99*, Harper Teen), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

Nanette has it all--popular friends, a top spot on her school soccer team and the promise of college scholarships to go with it--but as graduation looms, she’s realizing the life ahead is not the life she wants. As for so many of us, it’s the discovery of that one cult classic novel that thrusts her out of her mold and into the joys--and pains--of life outside the bubble. For anyone who’s ever looked around at life and wondered how the hell they got there, this novel is the perfect fun, reflective read.

Every Exquisite Thing by Matthew Quick (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, $17.99), recommended by Shannon at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuireAnother one that you won’t necessarily find in the YA section. This quick, superbly-written fantasy is perfect for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t quite belong.

Every Heart a Doorway by Seanan McGuire ($17.99, Tor), recommended by the Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.