GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living by Manjula Martin

    How DO you make money as a writer without losing your mind or your soul? The short answer is, “It depends.” The long answer is the entirety of this book: honest, engaging essays by writers including Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, and Jennifer Weiner.

    Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living by Manjula Martin ($16, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Mary Laura, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton

    Once in a rare while, you hit on a true story so good you wonder that someone hasn't written a book about it. Robin Hutton struck gold with the life and times of Sgt. Reckless.

    Race horse, combat soldier, war hero, mom – this petite filly did it all. No one told HER females didn't belong in combat. So sit back with a beer (Reckless enjoyed the occasional brew) and just absorb what this equine Marine accomplished.

    Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton ($27.99, Regnery History), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine

    This probably isn’t the first book you’ve seen that promises to help you see Jesus’ parables in a new way, but the book is unlike any other, and Amy-Jill Levine is like no other author. Levine is a Jewish New Testament scholar who uses her knowledge to show the parables in their original context.

    Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine (HarperOne) Recommended by Allison at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

  • Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball

    Ball’s tell-all book of his family’s entwinement (in every conceivable manner) in antebellum slavery is a thoroughly researched history specific to the Ball family of South Carolina.

    It’s well-written and heroically candid. But more than all that, it is a look at contemporary America, forcing us to examine the aftermath (for both races) of slavery and its legacy into the 21st century.

    Slaves in the Family By Edward Ball ($17.95, Ballantine Books), recommended by Connie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

    Adults, don’t let the packaging fool you into thinking this is just a book for kids. This delightful and moving biography of E.B. White is for all ages. If Charlotte’s Web still holds a special place in your heart, this is a must read.

    Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White(HMH Books for Young Readers, $18.99), recommended by Karen at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion

    South and West: From a Notebook by Joan DidionImagine stumbling on ten Beatles songs that got cut from The White Album. South and West is like that, Joan Didion at her thrilling best. These essays were written in 1970, about the time she published, well, The White Album.

    South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion ($21.00, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Ann, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

    Astrophysicist Tyson, through a collection of previously written essays, passionately reminds us of our need for space exploration, and rejuvenates the joys of discovery we experienced during the accomplishments of NASA in the 60's and 70's.

    We were at our best in science and science education at the peak of the space program, but with the end of the shuttle missions, the interest has waned and important discoveries, in space exploration and technology, are few and far between.

    Tyson offers a persuasive argument for the need to further fund a program: that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Well written, informative and accessible.


    Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil DeGrasse Tyson ($16.95, WW Norton & Co.), recommended by Tim at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

    Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe HaganWhat a well-written, entertaining trashing of the King of Culture Vultures, Jann Wenner, and his coterie of drug-addled, revoltingly ambitious and very attractive nest-prodders. There’s genuine dish on every single page; as a very young man who read and was consciously influenced by the writing in Rolling Stone, I feel personally insulted and maimed by what these people did to steer the "counterculture", but I have respect for the cohesive and thorough application of their evil will. A useful, engaging, mirror-smashing exposé, highly recommended.

    Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan ($29.95*, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker

    This beautiful book should be in every doctor's office, every waiting room, every home. With brilliant images of girls in their natural habitat, this book celebrates strong girls with great gusto.

    Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker ($30, Workman Publishing), recommended by Rachel, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Taxidermy Art by Robert Marbury

    Ok, so taxidermy seems creepy, but this book is just wonderful.Not only does it showcase truly talented artists, there is also a brief history of taxidermy and its major players throughout history.

    TAXIDERMY ART doesn't stop there. There is a wonderful guide to getting started on taxidermy in the back. Art, history, and DIY all in one book.

    Taxidermy Art: A Rogue's Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How to Do It Yourself by Robert Marbury (Artisan Publishers) Recommended by Al at Square Books Oxford MS

     

  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

    The 57 Bus by Dashka SlaterFrom Page 158 Books: It was fascinating to step into the life of a gender non-binary individual. I really enjoyed that perspective.

    From the publisher: If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.

    The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater ($17.99*, Farrar Straus Giroux), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • The Allure of Chanel by Paul Morand


    A little known treasure I discovered, this book is written by a close companion of Chanel and the story tells of her life in her words. The author and Coco spent many years together traveling and entertaining. It’s an insight into the personal life of Chanel, her politics, fears, desires and dreams. The book is beautifully illustrated by Karl Lagerfeld, Head Designer and Creative Director for House of Chanel.

    The Allure of Chanel by Paul Morand, Euan Cameron ($29.95, Pushkin Press), recommended by Linda, Books and Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • The Battle for Home The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria by Marwa Al-Sabouni

    From the publisher: From Syria's tolerant past, with churches and mosques built alongside one another in Old Homs and members of different religions living harmoniously together, the book chronicles the recent breakdown of social cohesion in Syria's cities. With the lack of shared public spaces intensifying divisions within the community, and corrupt officials interfering in town planning for their own gain, these actions are symptomatic of wider abuses of power With firsthand accounts of mortar attacks and stories of refugees struggling to find a home, The Battle for Home is a compelling explanation of the personal impact of the conflict and offers hope for how architecture can play a role in rebuilding a sense of identity within a damaged society.

    From Kimberly at The Country Bookshop: "An architect walks you through the building and character and history of Homs, Syria. Through sketches of buildings and towns, the current situation and how it came to pass is explained."

    The Battle for Home The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria by Marwa Al-Sabouni ($25.95, Thames & Hudson), recommended by Kimberly, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket

    With over thirty different pieces this collection has it all... 

    Short stories, non-fiction pieces, poems, excerpts from comics/graphic novels, articles from literary magazines, excerpts from chapbooks and even a transcript from a Night Vale Podcast.

    What also makes this collection so much fun to read is that it was curated by fourteen highschool students.
    Then last, but most certainly not least, there is the added bonus that the editor is Daniel Handler, who also wrote an introduction from Lemony Snicket.

    The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket (Mariner) Recommended by Erin at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • The Blood of Emmett Till by Tim Tyson

    It's been almost 13 years since Tim Tyson's Blood Done Sign My Name, his personal and gut-wrenching story of violent racism in North Carolina. His masterful new book, The Blood of Emmett Till, is already garnering praise from around the country and from the staff at Quail Ridge Books.

    Helen says, "The horrific scenes in this book will be seared in your memory. Tyson takes you back to 1955 and puts you in the middle of the teenager's murder. Relying on extensive research and the only interview the woman involved has ever given, Tyson recounts the crime, the aftermath and the trial. The saving graces of this story are Till's mother, his uncle, one witness, the judge and the prosecutors. They emerge as heroic. Tyson writes a powerful, unrelenting closing where he blames everyone responsible from President Eisenhower on down. All the way through this book, the image of young Emmett Till—fun loving and helpful to his single mother—hovers over the shocking story."

    Rosemary says, "The story of Emmett Till is finally told, with the belated admissions of one of the key participants. What stood out strongest to me, even midst the horrors of Emmett's murder, was the bravery of Mamie Till. Imagine losing your child in such unspeakable circumstances, then putting your pain aside to do all you could to make sure his death wasn't in vain. You won't forget this book, nor should you."

    The Blood of Emmett Till by Tim Tyson (Simon & Schuster $27), recommended by the staff at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

    Tim Tyson will visit Quail Ridge Books to discuss the book on Friday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m.

  • The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler

    The Blue Hour by Isabelle SimlerThis gorgeous ode to twilight will encourage readers to slow down and savor all things vespertine.

    The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler ($19.00, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

    An incredible story of a 14-year-old boy whose African village is devastated by drought.

    Reading in the little village library and scavenging for parts he accomplishes the impossible. I loved this book when it first came out in 2009, and now a young readers edition has just been released in paperback.

    Truly inspirational, the author demonstrates that anything is possible with education and determination.

    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer, Elizabeth Zunon (Harper Perennial) Recommended by Andy Brennan at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • The Brand New Catastrophe by Mike Scalise

    Everyone loves a good catastrophe story, and Mike Scalise has a great one-- the rupture of a brain tumor that leads to a rare pituitary disorder at age 24. Not many of us share a diagnosis with Andre the Giant, but Scalise makes this tale of hospitalization and recovery both relatable and strangely hilarious. And at its heart, it's a book about how the stories we tell shape us, catastrophic or not.

    The Brand New Catastrophe by Mike Scalise ($15.95, Sarabande Books), recommended by Travis, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Death Class: A True Story about Life by Erika Hayasaki

    A former nurse, Norma Bowe decided to teach a college class on death. She never expected a three year waiting list for the class or that her students would be called to help others in transformative ways while saving their own lives. Don’t be fooled by the title, this book is inspiring and life-affirming.

    Hayasaki is a gifted journalist who spent time as a student of Professor Bowe’s to gain a unique insight into her life and the lives of the students she teaches each day.

    The Death Class: A True Story about Life by Erika Hayasaki (Simon & Schuster) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood BooksTampa FL

  • The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena

    Mr. Ellena is the exclusive perfumer for the House of Hermes, the book is a little gem.

    While reading the book my mind tricked me into actually smelling orange blossom and bergamot and other lush and exotic scents. For anyone that loves luxury for the sake of luxury this is it.

    The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena ($24.95, Rizzoli Ex Libris), recommended by Linda, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • The Drone Eats with Me by Atef Abu Saif

    All the intimacy and power that Anne Frank's war diary gave us--the real breath and thoughts and fears of a human living under inhumane circumstances--are aged and magnified in Saif's account of war in Gaza.

    For 51 days he and his fellow Gazans live--and die--with the knowledge that life and death are a game of luck, controlled at the hands of an Israeli drone operator. Peace is not permitted for the people of Gaza, restricted by birth to a nation of contested land and continued acts of terror, violence, and grief. This was sixty years of life savings!- a man screams atop the rubble of his home. Ambulances screech all day long, gathering body parts of children and families that moments ago were survivors of the war, and now are its casualties.

    Saif and his friends flip a coin on the street--heads, the truce ends, tails, the truce continues. The children fight to plug in their iPads when the electricity comes on, while the adults watch the news to hear which of their friends has been obliterated in their homes this week.

    This is the fourth war Saif has lived through, and he knows that it is only by luck that he has lived, and that this war will not be the last--that one day his luck may run out. This is an essential read for those in search of peace in the midst of modern-day warfare, and even more essential for those who aren't sure which side they stand on.

    The Drone Eats with Me by Atef Abu Saif (Beacon Press) Recommended by Clara at Acappella Books Atlanta GA

  • The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin

    A national bestseller when it first appeared in 1963, The Fire Next Time galvanized the nation and gave passionate voice to the emerging civil rights movement. At once a powerful evocation of James Baldwin's early life in Harlem and a disturbing examination of the consequences of racial injustice, the book is an intensely personal and provocative document.

    The Fire Next Time by James Baldwin ($13.95, Vintage), recommended by Elizabeth, Charis Books, Atlanta, GA.

  • The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith

    From Cindy: An essential thread in the tapestry of FDR and his legacy, Missy LeHand was intuitive, pragmatic and totally devoted to this controversial president. Kathryn Smith's impeccable research and reader-friendly narrative give us an intimate look at this extraordinary woman and an historical perspective on the pivotal role she played in American politics. The facts, the feelings, and the frictions of the years Missy was a primary player in Roosevelt's inner circle are woven together in this biographical gem.

    From Rosemary: I lived for many years in Hyde Park, so an almost yearly expedition to the FDR Presidential Library down the street was in order. The 'extended family' that he invited into the White House was essentially on a 24/7 on-call status for years, and this eclectic mix of staff, family, and friends (some belonging to multiple categories) always fascinated me. I am delighted to finally find material on Missy LeHand, a woman ahead of her time. Her story also reveals inner circle anecdotes about FDR's band, and indeed, on FDR himself. The pre-presidential accounts of his battle with polio, and Missy's efforts toward his recovery are new to me, and worth the book alone.

    The Gatekeeper: Missy LeHand, FDR, and the Untold Story of the Partnership That Defined a Presidency by Kathryn Smith, ($28, Touchstone), recommended by Cindy and Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands

    MacArthur is brilliant, bold and arrogant. Truman is plain-spoken, patient, and determined. Relying on meeting notes, diary entries, letters, and transcripts of Congressional hearings, this book chronicles the Korean conflict by telling the stories of two very powerful personalities. You read spellbound as the drama plays out. Fascinating behind the scenes history!

    The General vs. the President: MacArthur and Truman at the Brink of Nuclear War by H.W. Brands ($30, Doubleday), recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman

    The Genius of Birds is a splendidly written account of the remarkable ways, many of which are newly discovered, that birds gossip, eavesdrop, exact revenge, manipulate, sympathize, use tools, and communicate in myriad ways.

    This smart and entertaining narrative appeals to bird geeks and the commonly curious alike with anecdotes, science, and new insights into what birds know about our frighteningly changing world.

    The Genius of Birds by Jennifer Ackerman (Penguin) Recommended by Richard at Square Books Oxford MS

  • The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945 by Nicholas Stargardt

    This one really grabbed me, a 570-page history of WWII, The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945, by Nicholas Stargardt, an historian at Oxford. It explores the feelings and changing beliefs of ordinary Germans and their reactions to the war as it progresses. It's incredibly well-written, not text-bookish at all, and I couldn't put it down. It is based on correspondence between, for example, German soldiers and their wives, mothers, fiancées as well as memoirs. I hesitated to recommend this book because of its length, but that was not an impediment to me as I got into it. It's not your ordinary history book.

    The German War: A Nation Under Arms, 1939–1945 (Basic $35), by Nicholas Stargardt, recommended by Mari Lu, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture by Pamela Haag

    With a focus on the manufacturers rather than the consumers, Haag’s book helps unravel the mythic existence of the American gun. 

    And don’t worry, the book is also completely free from Second-Amendment-bashing tirades. Instead, Haag offers a clear-eyed historical account of how guns became so pervasive in our culture and what we should do moving forward.

    This book makes clear that Americans were not inherently gun-happy, that they had to be sold on them like any other product. This book is essential for anyone interested in what’s actually being said in the current debate over guns.

    The Gunning of America: Business and the Making of American Gun Culture by Pamela Haag (Basic Books) Recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • The High Line by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio + Renfro

    The High Line is a one-and-a-half-mile-long public park on an elevated stretch of obsolete freight railway on the West Side of Manhattan.

    Before I had actually visited (and then immediately fallen in love with) the High Line, somebody tried to describe it to me and I just couldn't envision it. If only this book had existed then, I may have understood something of the magic that awaited me.

    Documenting in exquisite detail the design, development, and construction of the project, as well as the history of the area, the book is a perfect little window onto a very special place. And like everything that Phaidon does, it is elegant, sumptuous, and stunning.

    The High Line by James Corner Field Operations, Diller Scofidio, Renfro (Phaidon Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Hunt for Vulcan by Thomas Levenson

    It seems that a key driver to inventing higher mathematics over the centuries has been the desire to predict where planets go.

    Isaac Newton's theory of gravity enabled astronomers to reliably chart their orbits, and later to discover Neptune right where it was predicted to be, based on the way it perturbed the orbit of Uranus. However, when Mercury's path was observed to be a smidge askew of the equations, the new planet posited to explain this, Vulcan, proved quite elusive. Thus, Albert Einstein was inspired to develop his theory of relativity to explain why Newton's math failed in that case.

    I love books like this that remind us how math and science continually empower our desire to describe the universe.

    The Hunt for Vulcan:...and How Albert Einstein Destroyed a Planet, Discovered Relativity, and Deciphered the Universe by Thomas Levenson (Random House) Recommended by Kent at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Kindness Diaries by Leon Logothesis

    The incredible journey of one man who sets out to circumnavigate the globe on a vintage motorbike fueled by kindness.

    Follow the inspirational journey of a former stockbroker who leaves his unfulfilling desk job in search of a meaningful life. He sets out from Los Angeles on a vintage motorbike, determined to circumnavigate the globe surviving only on the kindness of strangers. Incredibly, he makes his way across the U.S., through Europe, India, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and finally to Canada and back to the Hollywood sign, by asking strangers for shelter, food, and gas. Again and again, he's won over by the generosity of humanity, from the homeless man who shares his blanket to the poor farmer who helps him with his broken down bike, and the HIV-positive mother who takes him in and feeds him.

    At each stop, he finds a way to give back to these unsuspecting Good Samaritans in life-changing ways, by rebuilding their homes, paying for their schooling, and leaving behind gifts big and small. The Kindness Diaries will introduce you to a world of adventure, renew your faith in the bonds that connect people, and inspire you to accept and generate kindness in your own life.

    The Kindness Diaries: One Man's Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World by Leon Logothesis (Reader's Digest) Recommended by Jamie at Ducks Cottage Manteo NC

  • The Last of the Hippies: An Hysterical Romance by Penny Rimbaud

    The Last Of the Hippies by Penny Rimbaud is a wonderful short book revolving around the story of Phil Russell (better known as Wally Hope) a British freethinker and revolutionary who was a great influence upon Rimbaud and his anarchist punk band, Crass.

    This short title was originally written as an insert to the wonderful Crass double LP, "Christ, the album", and the book manages to tell much about the period of its original publication (circa 1982): its music, its politics, the band Crass, Wally Hope and much more in little more than 100 pages.

    The Last of the Hippies: An Hysterical Romance by Penny Rimbaud (PM Press) Recommended by Glen at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA.

  • The Last Season by Stuart Stevens

    Stuart Stevens has written five books on politics and travel, but this one’s personal.

    The Last Season is an account of the year the author and his 95-year-old father set out to see every Ole Miss game in 2012, a year that came on the heels of Mitt Romney’s losing presidential campaign, in which Stuart Stevens served as its director. Stevens investigates the destinations life has taken him, especially regarding his relationship with his dad.

    As Pat Conroy, who knows something about the father-son thing, says, "It’s nuts, it’s Ole Miss, it’s outrageous, it’s got depth and emotion, it's one of the best father-son books I’ve read in years. Hotty Toddy is the only phrase you need to know to love this book."

    The Last Season: A Father, a Son, and a Lifetime of College Football by Stuart Stevens (Knopf) Recommended by RH at Square Books Oxford MS

  • The Letters of John F. Kennedy by John F. Kennedy, Martin W. Sandler (editor)


    This collection is the first to present significant conversations in their entirety between JFK and his correspondents, including historical giants like Eleanor Roosevelt, Martin Luther King, Jr., Harry Truman and Nikita Khruschev as well as his school friends, Navy comrades and everyday Americans.

    The book includes images from his presidential library and facsimiles of many letters!

    The Letter of John F. Kennedy by John F. Kennedy, Martin W. Sandler (editor) ($30.00, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Kimberly, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines NC.

  • The Life You Can Save by Peter Singer


    Australian philosopher Peter Singer has written a book that is short, provocative, and both philosophical and practical.

    He tackles the thorny questions of why we should give to charity, to whom we should give, and even how much each of us should give. His ideas on the psychological barriers to giving, and the philosophical reasons for doing so, are especially compelling.

    The Life You Can Save: How to Do Your Part to End World Poverty by Peter Singer ($16.00, Random House Trade Paperbacks), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo

    “The question of what you want to own is actually a question of how you want to live your life!” Kondo exclaims. While I am still working my way at decluttering my space, following the advice of this book has been fairly straight forward. The concept is pretty simple: get rid of physical baggage so you can focus on living your life (and maybe cutting some other types of baggage too). It’s empowering, it’s not being beholden to material possessions, it’s learning how to make your space serve you, and it’s deciding what you want for your life as the person you are today. Now that is life-changing.

    The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo (Ten Speed $16.99), recommended by Ceewin, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy

    The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road by Finn MurphyA thoughtful and lively look behind the scenes of long-haul trucking, one of the many jobs that operate conveniently out of mind for most Americans. Murphy has seen a lot during his years on the road, and he doesn't pull any punches sharing his thoughts. This is a fun, hard-to-put-down read that just might inspire you to drop whatever you're doing and hit the road-- or at the very least to be more appreciative of those who do!

    The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy ($26.95, W.W. Norton), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting by Alan Greenspan

    Perhaps because of his great failure to predict the 2008 crash, Alan Greenspan, former chair of the Federal Reserve Board, has turned his attention to the history of economic prediction and the future of economic forecasting. Comparing the old models of risk management with the new technologies of economic behavior, Greenspan rewrites the map of prediction.

    The Map and the Territory: Risk, Human Nature, and the Future of Forecasting by Alan Greenspan (Penguin Press), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines NC.

  • The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats by William Geroux

    In Sea Fever, John Masefield's sailors go down to the sea and ask in part for quiet sleep and a sweet dream.

    The sailing men of Mathews, of whom there were many, had no illusions about what they were getting into when they flooded the Navy and Merchant Marine during WWII. The Mathews Men is the story, long too-quiet, about usually poor men who stepped up for the sake of their country and their families – and who also had an almost uncanny affinity for seamanship.

    If you loved The Boys in the Boat, you'll also fall for these men on ships.

    The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats by William Geroux (Viking) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook by Rosanna Pansino

    Don't let the title fool you, this cookbook is fun for all ages.

    Pansino starts with the building blocks of baking, using easy to follow recipes that will be used throughout to create deliciously nerdy desserts. Rather than grouping her creations by pies, cakes, and cookies, she groups them by interest, allowing readers to quickly find their obsession of choice.

    It can be complex at times, but overall this is a solid, fun cookbook.

    The Nerdy Nummies Cookbook: Sweet Treats for the Geek in All of Us by Rosanna Pansino (Atria Books), recommended by Andrew at Square Books Oxford MS

     

  • The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition by Charles Darwin

    After the Bible, this is the most important book in Western culture.

    Genius, groundbreaking and ultimately astonishing, Darwin's observations set the tone for the last 150 years of biology and natural science. Free of jargon, it's an easy read - little more than a man alone with his thoughts, profound as they may be compatible with religion, in my opinion.

    The Origin Of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition (Signet Classics) Recommended by Beckett at Square Books Oxford MS

  • The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones

    A history book that is eminently readable, this is a great book for any anglophile to learn about British History from Henry II and Thomas Becket through Richard II and the houses of York and Lancaster.

    The Plantagenets: The Warrior Kings and Queens Who Made England by Dan Jones (Penguin Books) Recommended by MB at Octavia Books New Orleans LA

  • The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore

    The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate MooreBe forewarned: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women will make you very, very angry. Now we may look at early 20th Century attitudes toward radium with shock (radium toothpaste? jockstraps?) At the time, corporate America knew the danger, even if consumers didn't. And no one was more vulnerable than the literally glowing women who painted the in-demand radium dials of watches and instruments. Their years of suffering and legal conflicts led to safer working conditions for others. Think of their legacy when someone cavalierly proposes rolling back worker protections.

    The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore ($26.99, Sourcebooks), recommended by Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida

    I'm not a big fan of absolutes, but I am adding this book to my small list of things I think everyone should experience. The introduction by David Mitchell (Cloud Atlas) evoked tears. Higashida's writing races along the skin, swims in the blood, jumps skyward.

    For anyone who has struggled understanding and anyone who has struggled to be understood.

    The Reason I Jump: The Inner Voice of a Thirteen-Year-Old Boy with Autism By Naoki Higashida, Translators: Ka Yoshida, David Mitchell (Random House)

    The Reason I Jump by Naoki Higashida ($23.00, Random House), recommended by Lynne Marie at Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.

  • The Revenge of Analog by David Sax

    The Revenge of Analog by David SaxHave you ever heard your father complain about the “kids these days”? This book laments the long lost art forms of brick and mortar stores, vinyl records, etc.

    In The Revenge of Analog, business and culture reporter and author David Sax lays out a compelling and eye-opening rebuttal to the prevailing orthodoxies that the digital world is king. Sax does not write from the perspective of a Luddite, fearful of technology or averse to new technological discoveries; indeed, he illuminates how cyber and digital discoveries in many ways both enhance and simplify our world. But he lays out how cyber advances have often been oversold and that a portion of the public is turning back to the products, technologies and areas of their lives the tech revolution supplanted. The Revenge of Analog is a thought-provoking, fascinating look at how our world is illuminated, expanded and limited by the choices around us. Read more at Lemuria's blog...

    The Revenge of Analog by David Sax ($27.00, Public Affairs), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • The Saucier's Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip Through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe by Bob Spitz

    In the blink of an eye, Bob Spitz turned fifty, finished an eight-year book project and a fourteen-year marriage that left him nearly destitute, had his heart stolen and broken on the rebound, and sought salvation the only way he knew how.

    He fled to Europe, where he hopscotched among the finest cooking schools in pursuit of his dream.

    The Saucier's Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip Through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe by Bob Spitz (W. W. Norton )Recommended by Douglas at Octavia Books New Orleans LA

  • The Sense of Style by Steven Pinker

    Steven Pinker has been a favorite of mine for a long time.

    How the Mind Works, The Blank Slate, The Better Angels of Our Nature have hugely influenced my thinking about consciousness, human behavior, and ethical issues. One of his greatest strengths as a writer is his ability to untangle difficult topics and clearly present them to the reader.

    Here, he offers common sense advice to writers who want to improve their writing.

    The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century by Steven Pinker (Penguin Books) Recommended by Brian at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC

  • The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

    The Snow Leopard by Peter MatthiessenIn 1973, Peter Matthiessen travels to the Himalayas in search of the elusive Snow Leopard. What follows is a spiritual journey and a travelogue unlike any I’ve read before. A masterpiece of nature writing.

    The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen ($18.00*, Penguin Books), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner

    Remember The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls? If you liked that, you might like this harrowing true story that likewise never tips into maudlin territory.

    Ruth Wariner shows amazing sentimental restraint in recounting her years as a poor, hungry, confused, and often terrified child growing up in a fundamentalist (and polygamous) religious colony in rural Mexico.

    Amazing.

    The Sound of Gravel: A Memoir by Ruth Wariner (Flatiron Books) Recommended by Mary Laura Philpott at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • The Southerner's Cookbook: Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories from the editors of Garden & Gun


    I hesitate in calling this a cookbook as it's really more of a celebration of Southern culture with a few recipes thrown in.

    That said, it's a marvelous cookbook brimming with delicious dishes and info about the people and places that created them, or at least lay claim to. The dishes can be complex at times, but it is definitely worth it.

    The Southerner's Cookbook: Recipes, Wisdom, and Stories by Garden & Gun (Harper Wave) Recommended by Andrew at Square Books Oxford MS

  • The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

    The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

    Do you ever think about getting away from the world? Ever contemplate taking a break and relaxing out in the woods by yourself for while? Well, one guy decided to do just that…for 27 years.

    The Stranger in the Woods is the true story of the hermit Christopher Knight. In 1986, 20-year-old Knight decided to completely leave society and disappear into the woods of Maine. For the next three decades, Knight lived completely by himself, surviving by pilfering off the summer cabins that surrounded the nearby lake. To the locals, he became known as the North Pond Hermit. It wasn’t until 2013 that a determined resident finally caught him stealing food from the lake’s summer camp, and the hermit and his hideout were revealed. Read more at Lemuia’s blog…

    The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel ($25.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Abbie, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • The Third Reconstruction by Rev. William J. Barber

    Over the summer of 2013, Rev. William Barber led more than a hundred thousand people at rallies across North Carolina to protest cuts to voting rights and the social safety net, which the state's conservative legislature had implemented. These protests, which came to be known as Moral Mondays, have blossomed into the largest social movement the South has seen since the civil rights era and, since then, it has spread to states as diverse as Florida, Tennessee, Wisconsin, and Ohio. In The Third Reconstruction, Rev. Barber tells the story of how he helped lay the groundwork for the Moral Mondays movement and explores the unfulfilled promises of America's multiethnic democracy. He draws on the lessons of history to offer a vision of a new Reconstruction, one in which a diverse coalition of citizens black and white, religious and secular, Northern and Southern fight side-by-side for racial and economic justice for all Americans. The Third Reconstruction is both a blueprint for activism at the state level and an inspiring call to action from the twenty-first century's most effective grassroots organizer.

    The Third Reconstruction by the Rev. William J. Barber ($16, Beacon Press), a  Winter 2016 Okra Pick.

  • The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

    Lewis’s book the Undoing Project is a compelling collaboration between two extraordinary men and one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science. Not only does the book tell the story of how these two laid the foundation for behavioral economics it also gives us insight to their complicated personalities and drive.

    The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis ($28.95, W.W. Norton & Company), recommended by Vickie, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher

    Marked by excess and jazz, the 1920s was also a time of séances and Spiritualism, of reconnecting with lives claimed by the Great War.

    One beautiful and uncannily talented Boston medium called Margery won countless devotees and skeptics alike. When a rivalry ensued between Margery and Harry Houdini, the nation was captivated.

    Her story is now unearthed by a writer whose ability to give voice to the dead must surely rival her own.

    The Witch of Lime Street: Seance, Seduction, and Houdini in the Spirit World by David Jaher (Crown Publishing) Recommended by Carla at Square Books Oxford MS

     

  • Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris

    Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David SedarisTheft by Finding has all David's humorous and insightful hallmarks and is, at the same time, very different from his previous books, with more sadness and seriousness, at least for the beginning entries. If you grew up in Raleigh you will have a lot of aha! moments being reminded of what a different place it was in 1977. It's really interesting to watch David evolve from the guy with lots of anxiety, no money, and a few addictions, to the celebrated writer he is today, with anxiety intact, of course. The real stars of the book are David's family, who come through as an eccentric bunch, but also a very close and loving one who enjoy one another.

    Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris ($28.00, Little Brown), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Things Like the Truth: Out of My Later Years by Ellen Gilchrist

    Things Like the Truth: Out of My Later Years by Ellen GilchristThings like the Truth offers a collection of nonfiction essays about Ellen Gilchrist's life, family, home, work, aging, and the fun of fighting to stay healthy in an increasingly undisciplined culture. This collection brings together for the first time essays by Ellen Gilchrist on her later life and family. Essays such as "The Joy of Swimming" reveal how Gilchrist, as an aging person, thinks about the joys one can discover late in life. Other essays focus on surgery, money, childhood memories, changing perspectives, and the vagaries of the age.

    Gilchrist pays special attention to her evolving relationships with her adult children and the pleasures and pitfalls of being a grandmother and great-grandmother. The volume also includes essays from her diary about the sense of place in her mountain home near her work at the University of Arkansas and about life after Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, her second residence.

    Things Like the Truth: Out of My Later Years by Ellen Gilchrist ($29.95, University Press of Mississippi). recommended by Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, LA.

  • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

    This isn't a self-help or get rich quick book; it's the ultimate browsable treasure trove of tidbits of information from the lives of individuals who are masters of their craft. Topics range from fitness & diet to friendships, work habits, tech, and everything in between. Who doesn't want to hear some sage advice from people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sebastian Junger, Jamie Foxx, or Sam Harris? Just the info on pg. 138 about evening and morning rituals is well worth the price of admission (and truly changed my life for the better). If you take from this book what the author intends, you'll "like 50%, love 25%, and never forget 10%."

    Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss ($28, Houghton Mifflin), recommended by Lane, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear...and Why by Sady Doyle

    At its best, pop culture criticism forces us to reconsider a familiar product by placing it in a new context and, in doing so, imbuing it with new meaning. Trainwreck is just that. Doyle effectively and entertainingly litigates her case: that Western culture's fascination with 'fallen' female starlets—AKA trainwrecks--is simply a modern form of the patriarchal silencing and marginalization of women that has been going for centuries. With sly humor and lively prose, Doyle systematically punches through all the familiar straw-man arguments and convincingly illustrates that the 'harmless fun' of Internet clickbait and TMZ gossip are merely modern forms of public shaming. A must-read.

    Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear... and Why by Sady Doyle (Melville House, $25.99), recommended by Matt at The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis, TN.

  • Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw by Elissa Altman

    Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw is a universal love letter to a childhood spent in a religiously observant and unorthodox household.

    It’s a joyous, and sometimes heartbreaking, look at family, love, the food that keeps us together and the traditions that can tear us apart.

    Author Elissa Altman sets a beautifully written table.

    Treyf: My Life as an Unorthodox Outlaw by Elissa Altman (New American Library) Recommended by Beth at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum

    An around the world tour of all of the tangible workings behind that seemingly intangible construct known as the internet.

    Lots of great information on where and how your news, emails and favorite adorable kitten videos are stored and transmitted to your computer monitor. Great for techies but also great for readers interested in history or just good non-fiction. No computer science degree required.

    Tubes: A Journey to the Center of the Internet by Andrew Blum (Ecco Press) Recommended by John at Cavalier House Books Denham Springs LA

  • Upstairs at the Strand: Writers in Conversation at the Legendary Bookstore by Jessica Strand

    “The Strand is a monument to the immortality of the written word and hence beloved writers.” -Fran Lebowitz

    The Strand is my Mecca, and I can think of no better setting for this series of interview-conversations with some of our most treasured authors. Discussions range from craft and process to which authors they’re reading now and whatever else might come up. There’s something here for every bibliophile. (Plus, how great is it that they made this a book instead of YouTube videos or something?)

    Upstairs at the Strand: Writers in Conversation at the Legenday Bookstore by Jessica Strand (W.W. Norton & Company, $15.95), recommended by Shannon at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick

    In this fascinating history, big personalities emerge.

    Benedict Arnold, charismatic, arrogant, and reckless, verges on madness in battle.  George Washington, indecisive at first, evolves into a strategic military leader and eventually figures out how to win.

    You realize that things like the direction of the wind or when a river freezes or who gets promoted determine victory or defeat.

    This book includes 100 pages of notes and sources, lots of maps, many portraits, and Benedict Arnold's treasonous coded letter!

    Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolutionby Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Wait, What? And Life's Other Essential Questions by James E. Ryan

    Wait, What? And Life's Other Essential Questions  by James E. RyanI am generally dismissive of these expanded commencement addresses that clog the shelves every graduation season, but I can't seem to get this one out of my mind. Despite the lofty title of Dean of the College of Education at Harvard, Ryan's contribution to the genre is plain-spoken, funny, honest, and honestly helpful. He focuses on asking yourself a series of broad questions regularly to enhance your character, your quality of life, and your contribution to the world. You can read it in about two hours. This book is great for anyone in transition: moving, retiring, starting a new job. I highly recommend it. I can't stop thinking about it.

    Wait, What? And Life's Other Essential Questions by James E. Ryan ($19.99, HarperOne), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Washington's Circle: The Creation of the President by David S. Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler

    The men who surrounded Washington during his two terms as president included powerful minds like Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison, and soldiers such as Henry Knox, Lafayette, and the traitor Benedict Arnold.

    In the middle was Washington, weary of politics and longing to retire.  He worried that people thought he was not smart enough to understand Hamilton's financial ideas, and he named his greyhound Cornwallis.

    Washington emerges as a very human leader.  Fabulous history!

    Washington's Circle: The Creation of the President by David S. Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler (Random House) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

     

  • Water Is Water by Miranda Paul

    This nonfiction picture book will make it fun to learn about the water cycle, from water to steam and from clouds to rain and back again.

    Younger kids will like the poetic, rhyming text, and older kids will learn something new with all the water cycle facts.

    And the beautiful illustrations add something even more.

    Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul (Roaring Brook Press) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins

    Lauren Collins blew me away with her hilarious and eloquent account of learning French abroad. Armchair linguists and anyone fascinated by words and how they get lost in translation will not be able to put this down.

    When in French: Love in a Second Language by Lauren Collins (Penguin Press, $27.00), recommended by Katherine at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History by John Dickerson

    I obsessively checked out campaign coverage this election season, and it was a relief to examine turning points in past presidential campaigns and already know how everything turned out.

    Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History by John Dickerson, (Twelve, $30.00), recommended by Niki at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • White Rage by Carol Anderson

    What the hell is wrong with white people?

    Seriously, what is going on in the white community that white folks all over the nation express; one, a sense of surprise by the uprisings in Ferguson and Baltimore; and two, complete ignorance of their role in the continued devaluation of black and brown life?

    What level of denial must one operate to miss the connection between their neo-liberal, fascist, white supremacist policies and the continued killing of black and brown bodies all over this country and beyond? How can a people and its government founded on the principles of chattel slavery privatize prisons (and fill them disproportionately with black and brown bodies), de-fund then close mostly black and brown schools, and concentrate wealth among a small number of white males while pretending it has achieved a "post-racial" society?

    Carol Anderson's newest book examines the latest iterations of white rage, and uncovers the deep layers of white denial that continues to fuel racial violence in this country.

    White Rage by Carol Anderson (Bloomsbury) Recommended by Manny at Acappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Who Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders by Beverly Lowery

    Beverly Lowry looks deep into the horrors of four unsolved killings in Austin in the early 1980’s with a detective’s mind and a novelist’s heart. The result is a book that is gripping, moving, and as good as any depiction of a murder case that’s been published since In Cold Blood. Is true crime not your thing? It isn’t my thing either, but this transcends the genre. Brilliant.

    Who Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders by Beverly Lowery (Knopf Publishing Group, $27.95), recommended by Ann Patchett at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolation by Adam Resnick

    Resnick, a former writer for Late Night with David Letterman is anti-social and proud of it.

    These stories explain in hilarious detail the who, what, when and how he came to be the funny man that hates parties and small talk. I read this one out loud to anyone that would listen and laughed myself silly. A memoir without pretense or self-congratulation. Just honest straight-up true stories of the dysfunction that shapes us all. You want a funny book? Read this.

    Will Not Attend: Lively Stories of Detachment and Isolationby Adam Resnick (Plume Books) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Women Explorers: Perils, Pistols and Petticoats by Julie Cummins, Cheryl Harness

    This children’s book tells the story of 10 women explorers, all of whom were born in the 1800s.

    The women in this book explored the Artic, the Outback, the wilderness areas of Canada, the US and Mexico, the Amazon jungle, islands in the South Pacific, the desert in the Middle East and led African safaris. These women made important contributions to science, geography and cultural understanding, but history books have hardly mentioned their stories.

    This book is perfect to read to younger elementary studies or for older students to explore on their own.

    Women Explorers by Julie Cummins, illustrated by Cheryl Harness (Puffin Books) Recommended by Christina at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville, NC

  • Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky

    A recent U.S. Department of Education survey found that high school girls take the same number of math and science classes as boys and earn slightly higher grades, but only 15 percent of U.S. collegiate women major in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

    Encouraging young women and girls to pursue STEM career tracks has never been more important. Women in Science highlights notable women's contributions to various scientific fields. A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, the book features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women in STEM from the ancient to the modern world, and also contains infographics about interesting and relevant topics such as lab equipment and rates of women currently working in STEM fields.

    Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World by Rachel Ignotofsky (Ten Speed Press) Recommended by Bookstore1Sarasota Sarasota FL

  • Ziggyology: A Brief History of Ziggy Stardust by Simon Goddard

    There seems to be a new Bowie book out about once every two months these days and I am such a big fan that I have read just about every one. But there is a law of diminishing returns and even I feel that at this point there is very little left to say. Luckily this biography takes a refreshing new tack. It concentrates on the two years that Bowie lived inside his greatest creation, the fictitious and otherworldly Ziggy Stardust. About half the book is gone before you get to Ziggy's rise and it's all context and subtext. Just like Stanley Crouch's book on Charlie Parker Kansas City Lightning it really helps you understand the time, the place and the preceding history and therefore get a better understanding of the work itself. It puts you dead center in the insane whirlwind that burgeoning stardom can bring and the leaves you with a half broken Bowie saying, "Who can I be now?"

    Ziggyology: A Brief History of Ziggy Stardust by Simon Goddard (Ebury Press) Recommended by Chris at Acappella Books Atlanta GA