Southern Indie Bestsellers

HARDCOVER FICTION

1. The Black Widow
Daniel Silva, Harper, $27.99, 9780062320223
2. The Girls
Emma Cline, Random House, $27, 9780812998603
3. The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah, St. Martin's, $27.99, 9780312577223
4. Before the Fall
Noah Hawley, Grand Central, $26, 9781455561780
5. The Nest
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Ecco, $26.99, 9780062414212
6. All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $27, 9781476746586
okra7. Underground Airlines
Ben Winters, Mulholland, $26, 9780316261241
8. Belgravia
Julian Fellowes, Grand Central, $27, 9781455541164
9. Sweetbitter
Stephanie Danler, Knopf, $25, 9781101875940
10. Vinegar Girl
Anne Tyler, Hogarth, $25, 9780804141260
11. The Weekenders
Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $27.99, 9781250065940
12. Here's to Us
Elin Hilderbrand, Little Brown, $28, 9780316375146
13. Barkskins
Annie Proulx, Scribner, $32, 9780743288781
14. End of Watch
Stephen King, Scribner, $30, 9781501129742
okra15. The Heavenly Table
Donald Ray Pollock, Doubleday, $27.95, 9780385541299

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9780812993547
2. White Trash
Nancy Isenberg, Viking, $28, 9780670785971
3. When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi, Random House, $25, 9780812988406
4. Crisis of Character
Gary J. Byrne, Center Street, $27, 9781455568871
5. Grit
Angela Duckworth, Scribner, $28, 9781501111105
6. Bill O'Reilly's Legends and Lies: The Patriots
David Fisher, Holt, $35, 9781627797894
7. The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up
Marie Kondo, Ten Speed Press, $16.99, 9781607747307
8. Hamilton: The Revolution
Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jeremy McCarter, Grand Central, $45, 9781455539741
9. The View From the Cheap Seats
Neil Gaiman, Morrow, $26.99, 9780062262264
10. The Gene
Siddhartha Mukherjee, Scribner, $32, 9781476733500
11. But What If We're Wrong?
Chuck Klosterman, Blue Rider, $26, 9780399184123
12. Tribe
Sebastian Junger, Twelve, $22, 9781455566389
13. Bobby Kennedy
Larry Tye, Random House, $32, 9780812993349
14. Wake Up America
Eric Bolling, St. Martin's, $25.99, 9781250112507
15. Shoe Dog
Phil Knight, Scribner, $29, 9781501135910

VIEW THE FULL LIST

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Treat yourself to a riveting and real life royal war time thriller! 

Was American born and twice divorced Wallis Simpson truly in love and trying to win the heart of King Edward VIII, who was then demoted to a mere Duke as penance for loving her in return?

Author Andrew Morton provides sizzling and shocking details to provide some compelling answers to this key question, while raising many other questions along the way.

17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History by Andrew Morton (Grand Central Publishing) Recommended by Diane at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

Taking you through an hour in Opportunity High School, during which a shooter comes in and changes everyone's lives, this book will also take you on an emotional roller coaster.

Told from multiple points of view, you get an idea of what the shooter is like, what has happened in his life that might have brought him to this point, and how he's affected the people close to him.

A heartbreaking novel that draws you into a small-town tragedy and somehow manages to not give up hope.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (Sourcebooks Fire) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC


Set in Mississippi at the close of WW2, The Secret of Magic is the story of the tragic treatment of a returning black GI, which draws in noted civil rights attorney Thurgood Marshall. But it also a story about the power of books and stories, especially those we encounter as children, to affect lives.

I loved this book and will be recommending it to fans of The Help and Mudbound.

The Secret of Magic by Deborah Johnson (Berkley) Recommended by Jill at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC 

Okra Picks

Too many people are staying silent about a ten--year--old murder case--it's time for reporter Branigan Powers to investigate
Branigan Powers knows a good story when she sees one--and the ten--year--old cold case of wealthy Alberta Grambling Resnick's murder definitely makes the cut. Resnick was stabbed in her home after she let it slip that she was planning to change her will. There are plenty of suspects in the death of the matriarch of the town's founding family, but the killer has never been caught.

Now Branigan must do some serious digging to get her story. She knows the town's homeless community might have seen something; she also knows that the local cops wouldn't have thought of questioning these often--invisible people. There's a big problem, though; as Branigan starts digging, the homeless start dying. When her twin brother, a long--time addict, gets involved, the consequences of her investigation may hit a little too close to home.

Set in the fictional small town of Grambling, Georgia, The Cantaloupe Thief is the first in a new mystery series by Deb Richardson-Moore. The author is herself a former journalist and works extensively with the homeless, lending weight to the portrayal of a believable and engaging whodunnit.

BUY FROM AN INDIE | READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

New York Times bestselling author Ron Rash demonstrates his superb narrative skills in this suspenseful and evocative tale of two brothers whose lives are altered irrevocably by the events of one long-ago summer—and one bewitching young woman—and the secrets that could destroy their lives.

While swimming in a secluded creek on a hot Sunday in 1969, sixteen-year-old Eugene and his older brother, Bill, meet the entrancing Ligeia. A sexy, free-spirited redhead from Daytona Beach banished to their small North Carolina town until the fall, Ligeia will not only bewitch the two brothers, but lure them into a struggle that reveals the hidden differences in their natures.

Drawn in by her raw sensuality and rebellious attitude, Eugene falls deeper under her spell. Ligeia introduces him to the thrills and pleasures of the counterculture movement, then in its headiest moment. But just as the movement’s youthful optimism turns dark elsewhere in the country that summer, so does Eugene and Ligeia’s brief romance. Eugene moves farther and farther away from his brother, the cautious and dutiful Bill, and when Ligeia vanishes as suddenly as she appeared, the growing rift between the two brothers becomes immutable.

Decades later, their relationship is still turbulent, and the once close brothers now lead completely different lives. Bill is a gifted and successful surgeon, a paragon of the community, while Eugene, the town reprobate, is a failed writer and determined alcoholic.

When a shocking reminder of the past unexpectedly surfaces, Eugene is plunged back into that fateful summer, and the girl he cannot forget. The deeper he delves into his memories, the closer he comes to finding the truth. But can Eugene’s recollections be trusted? And will the truth set him free and...or destroy his damaged life and everyone he loves?

BUY FROM AN INDIE | READ THE FIRST CHAPTER

The 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize Winners

 alt= Dispatches from Pluto: Lost and Found in the Mississippi Delta
by Richard Grant; Richard Grant 
Simon & Schuster, Paperback, 9781476709642, 320pp.

Mississippi's #1 Bestseller of 2015 (The Clarion-Ledger) and a Southern Indie Bestseller. Adventure writer Richard Grant takes on "the most American place on Earth" - the enigmatic, beautiful, often derided Mississippi Delta.

Richard Grant and his girlfriend were living in a shoebox apartment in New York City when they decided on a whim to buy an old plantation house in the Mississippi Delta. Dispatches from Pluto is their journey of discovery into this strange and wonderful American place. Imagine A Year In Provence with alligators and assassins, or Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil with hunting scenes and swamp-to-table dining.

On a remote, isolated strip of land, three miles beyond the tiny community of Pluto, Richard and his girlfriend, Mariah, embark on a new life. They learn to hunt, grow their own food, and fend off alligators, snakes, and varmints galore. They befriend an array of unforgettable local characters - blues legend T-Model Ford, cookbook maven Martha Foose, catfish farmers, eccentric millionaires, and the actor Morgan Freeman. Grant brings an adept, empathetic eye to the fascinating people he meets, capturing the rich, extraordinary culture of the Delta, while tracking its utterly bizarre and criminal extremes. Reporting from all angles as only an outsider can, Grant also delves deeply into the Delta's lingering racial tensions. He finds that de facto segregation continues. Yet even as he observes major structural problems, he encounters many close, loving, and interdependent relationships between black and white families - and good reasons for hope.

Dispatches from Pluto is a book as unique as the Delta itself. It's lively, entertaining, and funny, containing a travel writer's flair for in-depth reporting alongside insightful reflections on poverty, community, and race. It's also a love story, as the nomadic Grant learns to settle down. He falls not just for his girlfriend but for the beguiling place they now call home. Mississippi, Grant concludes, is the best-kept secret in America.

BUY FROM AN INDIE

The Bone Tree
by Greg Iles 
William Morrow & Company, Hardcover, 9780062311115, 816pp.

From #1 New York Times bestselling author Greg Iles comes the second novel in his Natchez Burning trilogy which also includes Natchez Burning and the upcoming Mississippi Blood an epic trilogy of blood and race, family and justice, featuring Southern lawyer Penn Cage.

Former prosecutor Penn Cage and his fiancee, reporter and publisher Caitlin Masters, have barely escaped with their lives after being attacked by wealthy businessman Brody Royal and his Double Eagles, a KKK sect with ties to some of Mississippi's most powerful men. But the real danger has only begun as FBI Special Agent John Kaiser warns Penn that Brody wasn t the true leader of the Double Eagles. The puppeteer who actually controls the terrorist group is a man far more fearsome: the chief of the state police's Criminal Investigations Bureau, Forrest Knox.

The only way Penn can save his father, Dr. Tom Cage who is fleeing a murder charge as well as corrupt cops bent on killing him is either to make a devil's bargain with Knox or destroy him. While Penn desperately pursues both options, Caitlin uncovers the real story behind a series of unsolved civil rights murders that may hold the key to the Double Eagles downfall. The trail leads her deep into the past, into the black backwaters of the Mississippi River, to a secret killing ground used by slave owners and the Klan for over two hundred years...a place of terrifying evil known only as the bone tree.

The Bone Tree is an explosive, action-packed thriller full of twisting intrigue and deadly secrets, a tale that explores the conflicts and casualties that result when the darkest truths of American history come to light. It puts us inside the skin of a noble man who has always fought for justice now finally pushed beyond his limits.

Just how far will Penn Cage, the hero we thought we knew, go to protect those he loves?

BUY FROM AN INDIE

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Turn the Page with Southern Writers

Tales of Edgar Allan PoeBetty Crocker CookbookThe Thorn Birds

We had three books at home when I was growing up: The Tales of Edgar Allan PoeBetty Crocker Cookbook and The Thorn Birds.  Not exactly great options for a curious kid.  Luckily, Mom took my sister and me to the public library, where she allowed us to choose our own books.

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Janna McMahanA Conversation with Janna McMahan, author of Anonymity, Koehler Press, by C. Hope Clark

Janna McMahan delves into the world of youth homelessness in her latest release Anonymity. This literary novel scrapes raw and exposes areas of our society we don’t care to think about, but Janna does it in a way to intrigue and draw in the reader, making him or her care and want to know more. Her previous novel The Ocean Inside was nominated as a SIBA Book of the Year, and her shorts and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals. Anonymity, however, covers a different aspect of human emotion than Janna’s other works, and may be her best work yet.

HOPE: What exactly was the genesis for Anonymity? You show us a side of homelessness beyond the stereotypical mental illness, PTSD or prostitution. These are kids who are homeless for a myriad of reasons, and their plight seems to be a fragile one, surrounded with tough edges. The research for this book had to be intense, so what drove you to delve into the world of homeless youth, particularly in Austin, Texas?.

JANNA: My story begins as Lorelei steps off the bus into the dry heat at the end of a long Texas day. She’s hungry and thirsty. Somebody has stolen her backpack, so here she is in a new town with no money and not even a sleeping bag. She moves through downtown Austin making her way through the happy hour crowd spilling into the streets. She’s looking for youth services, a sure place to find resources and a reprieve from judgment.

She’s young, but streetwise. She’s alone, but not at a loss. She’s cautious, but she knows how to get people to help her. I based her on a girl I’d seen in Austin many years ago, a street kid with dirty white-girl dreads, Doc Martins and facial tattoos. I carried a mental image of this child around with me for nearly two decades before her story came to me. Once I had the idea I had to find out why she was on the streets. What had caused her life on the move? The possibilities were many.

“Readers enjoy stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They want to relate to a character’s psychological imperative. They want a story that moves and moves them at the same time.”

Anonymity

The ultimate challenge as a writer was how to take a topic as troubling as homelessness and turn it into an entertaining, commercially viable story. I had a few editors who kindly rejected my book because it was so gritty and realistic. I believe readers desire socially relevant literature. People want compelling, thoughtful books about who we are today. Readers enjoy stories about ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances. They want to relate to a character’s psychological imperative. They want a story that moves and moves them at the same time.

A number of people have written to tell me that Anonymity gave them a new perspective on homelessness. I’m pleased if my work can cause a positive shift in public perception about these kids. I’m also thankful that my publisher, Koehler Books, offered to donate a portion of the proceeds to LifeWorks, the Austin youth shelter that helped me with research. I hope we can raise a lot of money for LifeWorks and attract new people to the cause. If only one young person is helped because of this story, if only one adult reaches out when they would have walked on by, then my efforts will have been worthwhile.

HOPE: The reality of children living on the outskirts of society woven throughout was amazing. How did you do your research into the homeless to nail the ecology of the culture?

JANNA: A lot of the details of life on the streets came directly from talking with the kids who live it every day. Details such as the need for gallon water jugs and why backpacks of darker colors are more desirable. I learned how they managed travel and how they made money. The kids were open about their dislike of being interviewed or photographed, but they were interested in telling their side of things if they thought it would be portrayed accurately. Some things were direct translations and others were purely from my imagination, such as the scene where the girls steal tampons. It was a situation I knew a girl would find herself in at least once a month, if she was lucky. I thought of how awful it would be to have cramps and nowhere to sleep and then went from there. It was something I invented, but I know to be everyday reality for homeless girls.

HOPE: Your stories are intensely character driven. I sense a flavor of Jodi Picoult. Have you been compared to Picoult and has she impacted your writing in any way?

JANNA: When my first novel came out in 2008, the Louisville Courier-Journal wrote of Calling Home, “Fans of Jodi Picoult’s work will appreciate this novel’s sparse prose, unexpected plot turns and moral complexities.” So of course I ran right out and bought my first Jodi Picoult book and loved it. I think the comparison is a good one. We both write socially relevant literature with tension-driven plots. It’s fair to say that our style is a blend of commercial and literary fiction. A reader once called me the Southern Jodi Picoult. I’m a big fan of Jodi’s, so any comparison to her I take as the highest of compliments.

HOPE: Your characters, all of them, are flawed yet you lead us to empathize with each and every one. What I loved in Anonymity is that the title seems at first blush to be indicative of Lorelei, but I soon felt that all of the characters felt anonymous in their worlds. Was that your intention?

JANNA: You’re an insightful reader. Yes, that was my intention to some degree. Don’t we all have secret sides we hide from others? Do any of us truly know ourselves that well? Do we know our children or even the person we’ve been married to for decades? People are a mystery. They do the most inexplicable things. What about those serial killers whose neighbors are in shock that evil lived so close? “Why he was just the most quiet and sweet man,” they usually say.

I write each chapter from one character’s point-of-view, which makes it so straightforward to explain their thoughts and feelings and actions. People always have reasons why they do the things they do. We just don’t always understand or appreciate what those reasons are. Writing multiple POVs allows us inside the heads of key players and while we may not agree with their actions at least we understand them.

HOPE: Your work is generally Southern based. Are you a native? Do you call yourself a Southern writer? Did you grow up surrounded by writers or are you the one to strike out and tell stories?

JANNA: I’m from a small farming community in Central Kentucky. I’ve lived in South Carolina for the past 25 years, so I’m about as Southern as you can get. I’ve set books all over the South. I have no need for more material. We have some of the most interesting places, customs and people in the world, so why would I look elsewhere for material?

My first novel was recently translated into Turkish. I learned through that exchange that Europeans consider the South the last pure American culture. You can actually major in Southern American studies at university. I’m talking with someone about another translation, this time into French. It’s such a lovely experience to see my own culture through a fresh perspective.

“That’s why I write—to see if I can make you so entertained you’re sleep deprived.”

HOPE: What is your goal with your stories? In other words, what's your writing mission?

JANNA: Entertainment is my highest goal. I always ask readers, “If you got stuck in the airport and you randomly picked one of my novels to pass the time, would you be inclined to buy another book by me?” If the answer is yes, then I’ve achieved my goal. My stories are family-oriented psychological thrillers. I love it when people say they stayed up until three a.m. to finish or that they read it in a weekend. That’s why I write—to see if I can make you so entertained you’re sleep deprived.

HOPE: I sense a strong woman behind this body of work. Your messages are strong, and I'm sure they are an extension of you. How would you describe yourself, and how would you like your daughter to remember you?

JANNA: I once asked my daughter what she thought about my work and she said, “You write about what’s important even if it’s something people don’t particularly want to think about.” I find that writing about things people are hesitant to talk about tends to develop the best plots. I’ve always told my daughter the truth as I saw it—that life isn’t fair, that bad things happen to good people, that people will do things that make no sense.

I’m a cancer survivor, so I don’t cotton to nonsense. I believe that old adage that life is 5% what happens to you and 95% how you react to it. Believe in yourself. Help other people. Do the right thing. Do what you love, set high goals and then work your butt off. Don’t expect the world to hand you success. You have to make your own success. Just see if you can give a few other people a hand on your way up.

“When I was eleven I volunteered at our local library and that was when I started reading adult literature. I wanted more than anything to see my name on the spine of a book on those humble shelves.”

HOPE: Your degrees are in communication. What or who promoted you to cross into creative fiction and creative nonfiction that isn’t so commercially driven?

JANNA: I’m just a writer. I’ve always have been a writer. I started writing short stories in fifth grade. When I was eleven I volunteered at our local library and that was when I started reading adult literature. I wanted more than anything to see my name on the spine of a book on those humble shelves.
When I went to college I didn’t think of fiction as a career. I didn’t know creative writing programs existed, so I got a Master’s in journalism. I worked in PR and loved it. I enjoy figuring out the angle of a story, interviewing people, the actual writing, working with the media. It’s all the same talent. I spent some time as a television announcer, but I quickly decided that being the one deciding what was important appealed to me more than being on camera. I wanted to shape the stories, not just read them.

HOPE: You've done well with your short stories as well as your novels, having published in journals such as Wind, Limestone, Yamassee and Alimentum. You also enjoy essays. In which writing form do you consider your voice the strongest and which do you prefer?

JANNA: My father once quipped that writing was the perfect profession for me because, “Janna has an opinion on everything.” I’ve scattered a number of essays and articles around the country over the years. My essays tend to either be personal or political. My articles are generally about culture of some sort—visual or literary art usually. My next novel is about culinary art, so I’m hoping to write a number of magazine articles about food in the next few years.

I always write short stories. I can’t help myself. An idea will just jump into my head and I’ll write a story in a weekend. Then I’ll tinker with it for a year sometimes before I’m completely happy. The only way I can stop working on a story is to have it published. Then I can move on. I have a collection of short stories that was recently a finalist for the Flannery O’Connor Awards. I wish I could get that published so I could stop agonizing over it.

HOPE: What is your next project? 

JANNA: My next book revolves around a chef, his botanist brother and the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. This one is more of a love story than I usually write, but it also has a crime novel vibe. I’m so impressed with all the people I’ve met while doing research—internationally acclaimed chefs and horticulturists and people who own mills and organic farms. I love all parts of a writing career, but gaining firsthand exposure about a new subject from key players in a particular field is always exciting for me. That’s the journalist in me. I love the beginning stages of a new project when anything can happen.

C. Hope Clark is the author of LowCountry Bribe and lives on the bank of Lake Murray near Chapin, SC.



Free Book Stimulus Plan

Increase your karmic footprint.

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! 
These Southern Indie Booksellers want to entice you to shop with them.  Buy online or in store from any of these shops, then complete the form below and mail it in with your receipt and get a free book.  
What kind of book? you ask.  Answer:  A Free One.  Read more

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