Southern Indie Bestsellers

 

HARDCOVER FICTION

1. The Nest
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Ecco, $26.99, 9780062414212
2. The Last Mile
David Baldacci, Grand Central, $29, 9781455586455
3. The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah, St. Martin's, $27.99, 9780312577223
4. All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $27, 9781476746586
5. The Girl on the Train
Paula Hawkins, Riverhead, $26.95, 9781594633669
6. Eligible
Curtis Sittenfeld, Random House, $28, 9781400068326
7. Fool Me Once
Harlan Coben, Dutton, $28, 9780525955092
8. The Summer Before the War
Helen Simonson, Random House, $28, 9780812993103
9. The Swans of Fifth Avenue
Melanie Benjamin, Delacorte, $28, 9780345528698
10. Miller's Valley
Anna Quindlen, Random House, $28, 9780812996081

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. The Rainbow Comes and Goes
Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt, Harper, $27.99, 9780062454942
2. When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi, Random House, $25, 9780812988406
3. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, $16.99, 9781607747307
okra4. Dimestore: A Writer's Life
Lee Smith, Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616205027

5. Being Mortal
Atul Gawande, Metropolitan, $26, 9780805095159
6. Lab Girl
Hope Jahren, Knopf, $26.95, 9781101874936
7. Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9780812993547
8. Quench Your Own Thirst: Business Lessons Learned Over a Beer or Two
Jim Koch, Flatiron, $27.99, 9781250070500
9. The Third Wave
Steve Case, S&S, $26.95, 9781501132582
10. First Women: The Grace and Power of America's Modern First Ladies
Kate Andersen Brower, Harper, $28.99, 9780062439659

 CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST 

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America is a bad land for gods.

This is a fantastic novel about the nature of worship and belief, and what that means for the ideas people leave behind on their way to the next thing.


American Gods by Neil Gaiman (HarperTorch) Recommended by Melanie at Octavia Books New Orleans LA

The Second World War is about to begin.

Hitler is rallying his forces and preparing to conquer the world. Yet, for Ada Smith, a different war is about to begin.

Ada was born with a clubfoot. She cannot walk, and she is forced to stay in her families one-room apartment at all times. Ada doesn’t know
what the world looks like outside of her little apartment. Life for Ada seems very bleak, until the mandatory evacuation of all London’s children is announced.

Suddenly, Ada and her little brother Jamie are sent to the country with thousands of other Londoner children. When they arrive in Kent, Ada expects life to remain as it has always been, but instead Ada will discover a world she never knew existed.

Ada will discover that she is not as broken as she seems, and with time and a lot of love she might be able to change the way the world sees her. A poignant tale set in war-time England of a little girl’s triumph over her disability and the life that she has always known.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley (Dial Books for Younger Readers) Recommended by Gretchen at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC


On a Greyhound bus headed from Jackson, MS (aka Mosquitoland) back to Cleveland, Ohio, 16-year-old Mim knows that if she can get to her sick mother by Labor Day, then all the confusion of the divorce, her new stepmom, and the recent move will no longer matter.

Mim's voice in this amazing amalgam of a love story, a road trip novel, and a coming-of-age story, will stay with you long after you finish Mosquitoland.
 
Mosquitoland by David Arnold (Viking) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC


What an adventurous life it was! Louisa married John Quincy Adams when she was 21, and followed him to diplomatic posts in Germany, Prussia, St. Petersburg and eventually the United States. 

You share her struggles through multiple miscarriages, the deaths of two babies and years of separation from her children. You're there at the high points, such as her presentation to the court of the tzar. In Washington her parties and balls became legendary. 

Full of first person accounts, from Louisa's memoirs to John Quincy's diary...Louisa makes you feel as if you know this woman. Fabulous history!

Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas (Penguin Press) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

Okra Picks

"Before he went to sleep in the clean bed in the room downstairs, Jonah asked himself whether he should continue running . . . It was impossible to know how safe he was. But Jonah was worn out from running, and he didn’t want to go on . . . He’d stop here for a few days or weeks and see what happened. If he was caught, he would be caught. He just didn’t feel like running any more."

In his latest historical novel, bestselling author Robert Morgan brings to full and vivid life the story of Jonah Williams, who, in 1850, on his eighteenth birthday, flees the South Carolina plantation on which he was born a slave. He takes with him only a few stolen coins, a knife, and the clothes on his back—no shoes, no map, no clear idea of where to head, except north, following a star that he prays will be his guide.

Hiding during the day and running through the night, Jonah must elude the men sent to capture him and the bounty hunters out to claim the reward on his head. There is one person, however, who, once on his trail, never lets him fully out of sight: Angel, herself a slave, yet with a remarkably free spirit.

In Jonah, she sees her own way to freedom, and so sets out to follow him.

Bristling with breathtaking adventure, CHASING THE NORTH STAR is deftly grounded in historical fact yet always gripping and poignant as the story follows Jonah and Angel through the close calls and narrow escapes of a fearsome world. It is a celebration of the power of the human spirit to persevere in the face of great adversity. And it is Robert Morgan at his considerable best.

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A tragicomic tour de force about one man's redemption through love and art.

"You have lost everything, yes?"

Everything? Henry thought; he considered the word. Had he lost everything?

Fleeing New Orleans as Hurricane Katrina approaches, Henry Garrett is haunted by the ruins of his marriage, a squandered inheritance, and the teaching job he inexplicably quit. He pulls into a small Virginia town after three days on the road, hoping to silence the ceaseless clamor in his head. But this quest for peace and quiet as the only guest at a roadside motel is destroyed when Henry finds himself at the center of a bizarre and violent tragedy. As a result, Henry winds up stranded at the ramshackle motel just outside the small town of Marimore, but it’s there that he is pulled into the lives of those around him: Latangi, the motel’s recently widowed proprietor who seems to have a plan for Henry; Marge, a local secretary who marshals the collective energy of her women’s church group; and the family of an old man, a prisoner, who dies in a desperate effort to provide for his infirm wife.

For his previous novels John Gregory Brown has been lauded for his "compassionate vision of human destiny" as well as his "melodic, haunting and rhythmic prose." With A THOUSAND MILES FROM NOWHERE, he assumes his place in the tradition of such masterful storytellers as Flannery O’Conner and Walker Percy, offering to readers a tragicomic tour de force about the power of art and compassion and one man’s search for faith, love, and redemption.

READ A CHAPTER | BUY FROM AN INDIE

The 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize [Short List]

Serafina and the Black Cloak
by Robert Beatty 
Disney-Hyperion, Hardcover, 9781484709016, 304pp.

An exciting new mystery-thriller about an unusual girl who lives secretly in the basement of the grand Biltmore Estate and must solve a dark and dangerous mystery. This Disney Hyperion novel became a New York Times Bestseller in the first week of its release, and has been a smash hit ever since.

"Never go into the forest, for there are many dangers there, and they will ensnare your soul."

Serafina has never had a reason to disobey her pa and venture beyond the grounds of Biltmore Estate. There's plenty to explore in Mr. and Mrs. Vanderbilt's vast and oppulent home, but she must take care to never be seen. None of the rich folk upstairs know that Serafina exists; she and her pa, the estate's maintenance man, have lived in the basement for as long as Serafina can remember. She has learned to prowl through the darkened corridors at night, to sneak and hide, using the mansion's hidden doors and secret passageways.

But when children at the estate start disappearing, only Serafina knows the clues to follow. A terrifying man in a black cloak stalks Biltmore's corridors at night. Following her own harrowing escape, Serafina risks everything by joining forces with Braeden Vanderbilt, the young nephew of Biltmore's owners. Braeden and Serafina must uncover the Man in the Black Cloak's true identity before all of the children vanish one by one.

Serafina's hunt leads her into the very forest that she has been taught to fear, where she discovers a forgotten legacy of magic. In order to save the children of Biltmore, Serafina must not only face her darkest enemy, but delve into the strange mystery of her own identity.

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Descent
by Tim Johnston 
Algonquin Books, Hardcover, 9781616203047, 384pp.

The Rocky Mountains have cast their spell over the Courtlands, a young family from the plains taking a last summer vacation before their daughter begins college. For eighteen-year-old Caitlin, the mountains loom as the ultimate test of her runner's heart, while her parents hope that so much beauty, so much grandeur, will somehow repair a damaged marriage. But when Caitlin and her younger brother, Sean, go out for an early morning run and only Sean returns, the mountains become as terrifying as they are majestic, as suddenly this family find themselves living the kind of nightmare they ve only read about in headlines or seen on TV. As their world comes undone, the Courtlands are drawn into a vortex of dread and recrimination. "Why weren t they more careful? What has happened to their daughter? Is she alive? Will they ever know?" Caitlin's disappearance, all the more devastating for its mystery, is the beginning of the family's harrowing journey down increasingly divergent and solitary paths until all that continues to bind them together are the questions they can never bring themselves to ask: "At what point does a family stop searching? At what point will a girl stop fighting for her life?" Written with a precision that captures every emotion, every moment of fear, as each member of the family searches for answers, "Descent" is a perfectly crafted thriller that races like an avalanche toward its heart-pounding conclusion, and heralds the arrival of a master storyteller.

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The Latest from Lady Banks

In which Ms. Toni Tipton-Martin admits she puts sugar on her grits, Ms. Lee Smith explains the proper way to display dolls in a shop, and her ladyship is possessed by the spirit of Mistress Quickly.

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

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Perhaps the books that have really changed my life are children’s books, mostly because I read them at a more impressionable age. The one that comes to mind is Scott O’Dell’s Island of the Blue Dolphins. It’s based upon the true story of a Kodiak girl accidentally left behind on an island by her tribe. Because she’s alone, she must learn every role in the tribe: hunter, gather, warrior, healer. And what she realizes is that the only thing that was keeping her from these roles before was tradition. Now that she has to learn these skills, she can and she does. She figures out how to not just to hunt, but to make her own weapons, to cure her own meat. That made a big impression on me as a kid. But that novel is also a story of great loneliness. This girl grew into a woman and was self-sufficient for decades, alone on her beautiful island. She was brave and skilled, but wouldn’t it have been better if she could have been that way in a community, with other people? And could she have been that way in her community, with other people?

More recently, I have loved Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go. It’s sort of the opposite kind of story: how not to live. In fact, it’s kind Sartre’s No Exit redux. Both Ishiguro and Sartre repeat the same themes, of characters living the same tiny trapped lives, mainly out of fear.

But if I had to pick one writer, it would be Walt Whitman. The books I love most are ones that enlarge and expand. I’m attracted to boldness in its various forms, but especially in language. I can’t resist those expansive Whitmanesque strokes, his wide open syntax. Likewise I love writers who treat language as a big lush banquet: Toni Morrison and Karen Russell and Junot Diaz and Marquez and McCarthy. The list goes on.

I just read Paul Harding’s Tinkers, and the minute I finished it, I started it again. It’s funny, the title and subject matter of that book suggest minutiae, but he uses language in big and exciting ways.


Julia Franks has roots in the Appalachian Mountains and has spent years kayaking the rivers and creeks of Tennessee, North Carolina, and West Virginia. She lives in Atlanta, where she teaches literature and runs loosecanon.com, a web service that fosters free-choice reading in the classroom. Her novel, Among the Plain Houses (Hub City Press) was released in May, 2016 and is a SIBA Spring Okra Pick.

Waving her white bra in defense of men, nationally syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker claims in her latest book, Save the Males, that maleness and fatherhood are under siege in America. But, as we soon learn, this provocative, sassy, and laugh-out-loud book is, at least in part, a loving tribute to Parker’s own father.

Listen in as Kathleen Parker discusses Save the Males with Karen Spears Zacharias, author of the forthcoming Where’s Your JesusNow? 

Kathleen Parker

Q: When we think of voiceless victims, the male gender doesn't usually come to mind, unless he's under the age of 8. Why would an accomplished, articulate woman like yourself want to write a book defending males? 

A: First of all, thank you for that generous description. It’s very simple. I was raised by my single father after my mother died and I’ve helped raise three boys. That experience caused me to see things from the male perspective and it’s not looking so good out there. Save the Males is an attempt to shine a light on a constellation of dots, which, once connected, reveal a cultural mosaic that is anti-male. If trends continue on their present trajectory, it seems to me that the American family – the rock upon which this nation was built – will be irreparably damaged. I agree with the great journalist Midge Decter, who once said that families don't make you happy; they make you human. They are necessary, not only for raising children with character and purpose, but also for the continued strength of our country. A nation of fractured families is nation in trouble, vulnerable not only to external forces but also to increased government control as family autonomy is surrendered incrementally to “helpful” agents of the state.

Q:You speak of a new feminism. What do you mean by that? What's wrong with the old one?

A: We’re now in the third wave of feminism. Distilled, the first wave gave us the vote; the second gave us divorce and jobs; the third is helping us become porn stars. Look, I’m a feminist; you’re a feminist. But the feminism we grew up with that aimed to make the world a more female-friendly place has morphed in a movement that is decidedly hostile toward males and manhood. It’s time for a fourth wave that recognizes the important work feminism still has to do in the larger world where women have no rights, but also acknowledges the contributions men have made toward our own freedoms. Women do have enemies in the world, but they are not men of the West.

Q: What do you think are the three greatest misconceptions about males that we liberated woman are passing along to our daughters?

A:        1. That men are to blame for all that’s wrong with the world;
            2. That men are essentially violent, dumb and irresponsible;
            3. That we can live without them.
 
Q:  Didn't you grow up in that generation of southern women that were reading Marabella Morgan's The Total Woman? You're not suggesting we ought to meet our men at the door wrapped in cellophane are you?

A: Ha, now there’s a scary thought. I did grow up in the olden days when women were attentive to men in traditional ways. They didn’t have their own stripper pole in the living room, but they might have had dinner ready in the kitchen. I witnessed multiple variations on the domestic front as my father was a serial husband  - married four times after my mother died at age 31. What can I say? He was a dazzler – nectar to women – but also a gentleman. Apparently, he thought you had to marry a woman with whom you were familiar. I’m making some assumptions here.

But here’s the thing. Despite all those marriages, only two of which took place while I was officially a child, my father mostly raised me and he groomed me to be a feminist. That is, independent and self-sufficient – and in no way subservient to a man. My only conclusion about how women ought to treat men is with respect and the occasional unsolicited kindness. Here’s what I’ve discovered living mostly among men my entire life: Men are human. They like to be appreciated, loved, and greeted not necessarily in cellophane, but with a smile. How hard is that? For some reason, women have come to believe that if they fix a man a sandwich or sew on a button, they’ve surrendered a piece of their autonomy. For whatever reason, Southern women seem not to mind as much.

Q: Tell us about your father and the way in which he's shaped your attitude toward men.

A. Let me answer by painting you a picture with a little more texture. As I hinted before, my father was handsome, brilliant and hilarious. This isn’t just an adoring daughter talking. There’s a pretty significant consensus on those points. That also doesn’t mean he was perfect - five wives suggests some flaws – but he was a splendid father whose sacrifices I didn’t begin to appreciate until I became a parent.

He became a single parent at age 31, ten years after his marriage to my mother on his 21st birthday while he was a pilot in the Army Air Corps. She died of heart failure as a consequence of having had rheumatic fever before the discovery of Penicillin – and left  him with a three-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy. In a devastating instant, this young man became both mother and father. I forgave him all his marital mistakes because it comforted me to think that he simply couldn’t replace my mother. A motherless girl needs to believe that.

From the time I was 12 until I left for college, it was just us two except for a brief, one-year marriage. Each day after school, I joined him at his law office where I did my homework until he finished up. Once home, we convened in the kitchen where he cooked while I perched on a wooden stool peeling potatoes. We talked.

In that ritualized communion, I learned many useful lessons about the opposite sex. I learned that men like to talk while doing something else. I learned that good men do hard things without asking for anything return. I learned that men have big hearts that are often hurt and broken. That they’re smart and wise and can even understand the pressing concerns of teenaged girls. I learned that fathers adore their children and will sacrifice anything to help them succeed. I learned that fathers will lay their lives down for their children. I learned that men are capable of honor, valor, compassion and courage and that they are essential to instilling those virtues in their sons and daughters. 
 
Q: Can men become overly domesticated? If so, in what ways do you see that happening?

A: The current culture essentially wants to make men more like women, while pushing women to be more like men. I can’t really figure out why this is desirable, though apparently the drive toward these ends is attached to radical feminism’s idea of equality. The thinking seems to be that if we can get enough men wearing aprons – and enough women in combat – then equality will have been accomplished. What we fail to take into account is that human nature is only so malleable. These experiments ultimately will fail, but we may have to sit through a few generations of absurdity. This is good for columnists, but bad for kids.

Q:  I just read a book that's on the NYT Bestseller list that portrays God as a woman. I really like that notion, that God is beyond gender, but there were several references in that book suggesting that if women ran the world, we'd all be a lot better off. What does an egalitarian society look like to you?

A: I guess it looks like my home, where my husband and I are co-god and –goddess, equal partners in every respect. That doesn’t mean we each perform equal portions of a given “chore” because that’s never going to happen. We’re different. We have different gifts and talents. I leave the money to him because he’s got a business mind. (He’s a finance/banking attorney who helps businesses get started.) I do the cooking because I’m good at it and enjoy it. This is not a plot to keep women in the kitchen and men in charge of the purse strings. It’s about doing what makes sense. I guess we’re implementarians. When it comes to who wins and who loses, we generally skip the argument and let the one who cares most take the day. Of course, we’ve been practicing marriage for a long time (20 years). You learn to pick your battles.

In the larger world, an egalitarian society would recognize – and celebrate – the differences between the sexes and not reduce all transactions to a zero sum game. Equal opportunity and equal protection under the law, but no assumption of interchangeability.

Q: In defense of fathers, you challenge the family court system. Do you think the courts are archaic in their belief that children are almost always better off with mothers?

A: I challenge the family court notion that children don’t need fathers more than 50 days a year, which is the average number of days the child of divorced parents sees his/her non-custodial parent, usually the father. That’s insane. How is it that a man and woman who loved each other enough to marry and have children should now hate each other enough to deny a child half of his/her identity?

I’ve been divorced, have first-hand experience with single parenthood, and have been a stepparent, so I’m not casting aspersions here. I know how hard all of this is. But to me, the most compelling issue - more important than adult feelings - is that children know they’re loved by both of their parents and that they have equal access to both, assuming there are no compelling reasons for them not to.

That said, I also think that parents need to work these things out between themselves, if possible. Clearly, a baby needs to be close to Mom in the tender years, not to the exclusion of Dad but within sensible boundaries. We know this absolutely when we’re all under the same roof. Needs don’t change with address labels. At other ages, little boys need more time with Dad than with Mom. You can’t create absolute formulas that will work for every child and every couple, which is why courts can’t ever solve this problem. Parents have to be grown-ups and do the right thing for the kids they both love. I have ultimate faith in reasonable people behaving reasonably, but we may have to eliminate lawyers and judges from the equation.

I was talking to a friend who lives near her ex-husband so that their children can easily go from one house to the other. Their shared parenting isn’t the result of a court decree or a cultural manifesto; it’s common sense based on a shared, if separated, love. This arrangement also isn’t the adults’ fondest dream come true, you can be sure. But as my friend said, whenever she puts the children’s interests first, she always makes the right decision.

Q:  Quoting WalkerPercy, you've said that we need to repent from labels. What do you mean by that?

A: I mean that when we label each other and ourselves – we’re either liberal or conservative, feminist or whatever – we tend to get locked into prescribed ways of thinking and responding. Real communication breaks down. I’d rather we ditch our –isms and –ologies and focus on our humanness.

Q: You've taken a lot of heat for coming to the defense of males, haven't you? Why do you think there is so much anger toward men in America?

A: Taking heat is part of the job description when you’re a columnist. I’ve been defending the male of our species ever since I gave birth to a boy. Until then, I had been a fire-breathing feminist and bought everything I had been taught and told. God has an eye for certitude and turned the kliegs on mine. Becoming mother to a boy was a revelation of sorts and I began to see the world through guy eyes. It never looked the same after that and I couldn’t countenance a world that was so hostile toward my boy. It’s pretty easy to take heat when your righteousness is based in ancient wisdom and fueled by love for another.

Q: What’s the source of so much anger toward men?  

A: Two things: history and our tendency to universalize our own experience. Men have ruled the world since the dawn of time and women are ticked off about some of man’s less admirable accomplishments. On balance, I think we can see that the good outweighs the bad. On a less global scale, women who have been hurt in bad marriages find company among others who share their belief that their experience is a microcosm of the larger human experiment. One man isn’t bad; all men are. Soon the specific is generalized and a movement grows around shared anger.
The anger is understandable in some cases, but the globalization of that anger is mostly fashionable. The culture applauds both the anger and the hostility it breeds to the detriment of the next generation of boys, who, like my own, were born innocent - and the girls who in their true hearts really do like boys.

Q:  You're married, right? Did he give you any input on the book? Did you take his advice?

A: My husband is a prince, totally supportive of everything I do and patient with my sometimes tightly wound personality. He is my absolute best friend, the guy I never tire of talking to, and the grown up I know I can count on. As I tell our boys, I always know he’ll do the right thing. That’s the definition of manliness in my book. He mostly influenced the book by constantly reinforcing my firm belief that men are essentially good.


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Free BookWe understand that you can buy books anywhere.  You understand that while loving independent bookstores is a wonderful thing, loving them with your shopping dollars is even more wonderful! 
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Southern Indie Lit Crossword Puzzle Book

The Southern Indie Lit Crossword Puzzle Book

How well do you know your Southern lit?

We dare you to use a pen on these crossword puzzles, each inspired by one of the winning titles of the SIBA Book Award, honoring ten years of the very best in Southern literature as chosen by the people who would know...Southern Independent Booksellers! A great gift for your book club, for puzzle-lovers, and anyone who loves Southern literature. $9.95 paperback. Available at Southern Indie Bookstores.

Play a sample puzzle online! | See the answers