Southern Indie Bestsellers

  

HARDCOVER FICTION

1. Everybody's Fool
Richard Russo, Knopf, $27.95, 9780307270641
2. The Weekenders
Mary Kay Andrews, St. Martin's, $27.99, 9781250065940
3. The Fireman
Joe Hill, Morrow, $28.99, 9780062200631
4. The Nest
Cynthia D'Aprix Sweeney, Ecco, $26.99, 9780062414212
5. The Nightingale
Kristin Hannah, St. Martin's, $27.99, 9780312577223
6. All the Light We Cannot See
Anthony Doerr, Scribner, $27, 9781476746586
okra7. Redemption Road
John Hart, Thomas Dunne Books, $27.99, 9780312380366
8. The Last Mile
David Baldacci, Grand Central, $29, 9781455586455
9. LaRose
Louise Erdrich, Harper, $27.99, 9780062277022
10. Everyone Brave Is Forgiven
Chris Cleave, S&S, $26.99, 9781501124372
11. Zero K
Don DeLillo, Scribner, $27, 9781501135392
12. The Swans of Fifth Avenue
Melanie Benjamin, Delacorte, $28, 9780345528698
13. My Name Is Lucy Barton
Elizabeth Strout, Random House, $26, 9781400067695
14. The After Party
Anton DiSclafani, Riverhead, $26, 9781594633164
15. Lilac Girls
Martha Hall Kelly, Ballantine, $26, 9781101883075

HARDCOVER NONFICTION

1. The Rainbow Comes and Goes
Anderson Cooper, Gloria Vanderbilt, Harper, $27.99, 9780062454942
2. Seven Brief Lessons on Physics
Carlo Rovelli, Riverhead, $18, 9780399184413
3. The Gene: An Intimate History
Siddhartha Mukherjee, Scribner, $32, 9781476733500
4. When Breath Becomes Air
Paul Kalanithi, Random House, $25, 9780812988406
5. Valiant Ambition
Nathaniel Philbrick, Viking, $30, 9780525426783
okra6. Dimestore: A Writer's Life
Lee Smith, Algonquin, $24.95, 9781616205027
7. The Mathews Men: Seven Brothers and the War Against Hitler's U-Boats
William Geroux, Viking, $28, 9780525428152
8. Being Mortal
Atul Gawande, Metropolitan, $26, 9780805095159
9. Lab Girl
Hope Jahren, Knopf, $26.95, 9781101874936
10. Pit Bull: The Battle Over an American Icon
Bronwen Dickey, Knopf, $26.95, 9780307961761
11. The Abundance
Annie Dillard, Ecco, $25.99, 9780062432971
12. The Bridge Ladies: A Memoir
Betsy Lerner, Harper Wave, $25.99, 9780062354464
13. Shoe Dog
Phil Knight, Scribner, $29, 9781501135910
14. Between the World and Me
Ta-Nehisi Coates, Spiegel & Grau, $24, 9780812993547
15. Hold Still
Sally Mann, Little Brown, $32, 9780316247764

CLICK HERE FOR THE FULL LIST 

Read this!

Do not be fooled by the length of this book, it is short but powerful. 

It brought me right into the world of a young African-American girl and her friends in language that is both compact and lyrical. Publishers Weekly gave Another Brooklyn a well-deserved star review and said: Woodson…combines grit and beauty in a series of stunning vignettes, painting a vivid mural of what it was like to grow up African-American in Brooklyn during the 1970s…Woodson draws on all the senses to trace the milestones in a woman’s life and how her early experiences shaped her identity.

It is a book that will stay with me for a long time.

Another Brooklyn by Jaqueline Woodson (Amistad Press) Recommended by Rene at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

 

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 Revolution by Nathaniel Philbrick (Viking) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

 

Written with surprising clarity and insight, this novel gives a heartbreaking account of life in England before the US joined in World War II.

Mary North comes from an aristocratic family who detests her involvement teaching the children who have no way of escaping the violence in the city. Mary learns about love and trust through her time as a teacher and later as an ambulance driver helping victims of the relentless bombing of the city. Her boyfriend, Tom, and his roommate, Alistair, learn that doing your part in the war effort often becomes the greatest sacrifice.

This novel will stay with you for a long time!

Everyone Brave Is Forgiven by Chris Cleave (Simon & Schuster) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

 

Okra Picks

Award-winning author Donna Gephart crafts a compelling dual narrative about two remarkable young people: Lily, a transgender girl, and Dunkin, a boy dealing with bipolar disorder. Their powerful story will shred your heart, then stitch it back together with kindness, humor, bravery, and love.

"LILY AND DUNKIN is a delight. Here’s a book for anyone who’s ever struggled with being different--or anyone who’s ever loved someone who bears the burden of difference.  Donna Gephart’s book is about trans children, and bipolar children, and their parents, of course, but what it’s really about is friendship, and the redeeming power of love.  Crucial, heart-breaking, and inspiring.” —Jennifer Finney Boylan, author of She’s Not There, and Stuck in the Middle with You. 

Lily Jo McGrother, born Timothy McGrother, is a girl. But being a girl is not so easy when you look like a boy. Especially when you’re in the eighth grade. 

Dunkin Dorfman, birth name Norbert Dorfman, is dealing with bipolar disorder and has just moved from the New Jersey town he’s called home for the past thirteen years. This would be hard enough, but the fact that he is also hiding from a painful secret makes it even worse. 

 One summer morning, Lily Jo McGrother meets Dunkin Dorfman, and their lives forever change.  

A JLG Selection! 

"Gephart clearly has a lot of heart, and she tells their stories with compassion."--Kirkus 

"A thoughtfully and sensitively written work of character-driven fiction that dramatically addresses two important subjects that deserve more widespread attention."--Booklist, starred

BUY FROM AN INDIE

Raymie Clarke has come to realize that everything, absolutely everything, depends on her. And she has a plan. If Raymie can win the Little Miss Central Florida Tire competition, then her father, who left town two days ago with a dental hygienist, will see Raymie's picture in the paper and (maybe) come home. To win, not only does Raymie have to do good deeds and learn how to twirl a baton; she also has to contend with the wispy, frequently fainting Louisiana Elefante, who has a show-business background, and the fiery, stubborn Beverly Tapinski, who’s determined to sabotage the contest. But as the competition approaches, loneliness, loss, and unanswerable questions draw the three girls into an unlikely friendship — and challenge each of them to come to the rescue in unexpected ways.

Two-time Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo returns to her roots with a moving, masterful story of an unforgettable summer friendship.

BUY FROM AN INDIE

The 2016 Pat Conroy Southern Book Prize [Short List]

Calloustown
by George Singleton 
Dzanc Books, Paperback, 9781938103162, 288pp

Calloustown, the seventh collection from master raconteur George Singleton, who's been praised by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution as the "unchallenged king of the comic Southern short story," finds the author at the absolute top of his game as he traces the unlikely inhabitants of the titular Calloustown in all their humanity. Whether exploring family, religion, politics or the true meaning of home, these stories range from deeply affecting to wildly absurd and back again, all in the blink of an eye.

BUY FROM AN INDIE

Foster's Market Favorites
by Sara Foster 
Story Farm, Hardcover, 9780990520573, 336pp

Sara Foster's love of Southern fare began in her Granny Foster's Tennessee kitchen. There, the combination of down-home comfort, fresh-from-the-farm ingredients, and dedicated preparation hooked her for life. Now, in FOSTER'S MARKET FAVORITES: 25TH ANNIVERSARY COLLECTION, Sara Foster serves up more than 150 recipes, sharing with readers the dishes that have kept diners coming back to the beloved Durham, NC eatery that she opened in 1990. In FOSTER'S MARKET FAVORITES, the award-winning cookbook author and restaurateur continues the tradition of soulful yet simple, seasonally inspired cooking, where tradition meets modern. These fresh, satisfying creations are casual enough for everyday family meals, but special enough to serve friends and guests. Some of Sara's mouth-watering recipes include: Pimiento Cheese Puffs, Pecan Sweet Potato Sticky Buns, Chicken and Black-Eyed Pea Soup, Pickle-Brined Fried Chicken with Sriracha Honey, Chile-Braised Pork Shoulder with Taco Fixings, Heirloom and Shell Bean Salad with Sherry Vinaigrette, Dark Chocolate Buttermilk Bread Pudding with Bourbon Hard Sauce, and Brown Sugar Apple Crisp with Crumb Topping. FOSTER'S MARKET FAVORITES is an all-inclusive collection of Southern cooking in which simple feasts meet artisanal ingredients, traditional tastes meet modern methods, and fantastic flavors make every bite a succulent mouthful of Southern comfort.

BUY FROM AN INDIE

The Latest from Lady Banks

Lady BanksIn which Ms. Julia Reed teaches Beltway denizens about the joys of the pimento cheese sandwich, Ms. Lee Smith looks into her mother's recipe box, Mr. Harry Crews explains the nature of a Mazola party, and her ladyship wakes up early enough to see the sunrise.

Lady Banks' Commonplace Book

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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