GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead

    In the 1970s, Joan is a professional ballerina. Her company features the Russian breakout star, Arslan Ruskov. Joan is the reason he is in the United States--she even drove the get-away car. Despite the fact that she loves Arslan, he is engaged to another woman and Joan knows she will never be a soloist, so she decides to leave the ballet world. Joan marries her high school boyfriend and they live a nice life, but when their son begins to study dance, Joan is forced back into the lifestyle. Will her secrets be exposed or will her son be able to follow his dreams?

    Astonish Me is written with a style similar to a performance. It is divided into different acts and the narration sets the scene as the events unfold. Several different topics are broached in this book, ranging from parenting styles to marriages to work ethics. This is a book that you will want to read with someone else, as the ending will leave you desperate to discuss with a friend who understands.

    Astonish Me by Maggie Shipstead, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Beloved Dog by Maira Kalman

    Author, illustrator, and cultural commentator extraordinaire Kalman gives us a book about dogs that is, of course, about so much more. To her, dogs are constant reminders that life reveals the best of itself when we live fully in the moment and extend our unconditional love. And it is very true, that the most tender, uncomplicated, most generous part of our being blossoms, without any effort, when it comes to the love of a dog.

    Beloved Dog by Maira Kalman (Penguin Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • Born to Run (audio book) by Bruce Springsteen

    If you have listened to Springsteen’s music over the years, you know this man has a way with words. His memoir proves that this is also true on the printed page. But if you find that you miss his voice, don’t worry: he reads the audio.

    Born to Run (audio book) by Bruce Springsteen ($29.99, Simon & Schuster Audio), recommended by Karen, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh

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

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

    A 2016 Southern Book Award Finalist
  • Guests On Earth by Lee Smith


    Do not let anyone tell you that this is another book about Zelda Fitzgerald.

    This book is deeper and better.

    Yes, Zelda makes an appearance, several in fact, but she is a peripheral character. This book is really about Evalina, a young woman born to curious circumstances in New Orleans, and sent to a progressive mental institution in Asheville, North Carolina. This book is about the inhabitants of Evalina's life and about the music that connects us all.

    Guests on Earth by Lee Smith (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill), recommended by The Country Bookshop Southern Pines NC.

  • Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer by Alan Huffman

    Possibly to my parents chagrin, I've always had an intense fascination with dangerous places and conflicts, and the men and women who risk their lives to share them with the world. Tim Hetherington was one such man.

    A immensely talented and singular photojournalist, he managed not only to record some of today's most dangerous conflicts, but he did so in such a way as to put a human face to these faraway wars.

    Here I Am chronicles his time in Liberia, his celebrated work with the soldiers of Afghanistan (as well as his involvement with Sebastian Junger and the documentary Restrepo) and the months leading up to his tragic death in Libya in 2011. Huffman, like Hetherington did before him, has taken a larger-than-life figure and contained him within one concise, emotional and inspiring portrait.

    Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer by Alan Huffman (Grove Press) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann

    This beautifully written memoir cuts right to the heart of what it means to be an artist in the American South, and how the region’s history has molded the creative types it has produced.

    The Virginia native shares family history and thoughts on her controversial work.

    Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann (Back Bay Books) Recommended by Carl at Fountain Bookstore Richmond VA

  • I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir by Brian Wilson, with Ben Greenman

    Brian Wilson has made some of the most groundbreaking and timeless music ever recorded. From singing along to Rosemary Clooney’s “Tenderly" at age 10 to becoming a Kennedy Center honoree in 2007, Wilson recounts the ups and downs of a Beach Boy’s life.

    I Am Brian Wilson by Brian Wilson, with Ben Greenman (Da Capo Press, $26.99), recommended by Andy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride

    In the hands of such a great writer (and fellow musician) the story of The Godfather of Soul becomes not just a portrayal of one of the most important figures in musical history but in American history.

    A book that will make you crave that unmistakable James Brown sound.

    Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride (Spiegel & Grau) Recommended by Frank at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King


    This book is a behind-the-scenes look at one of the great masterpieces of art, Leonardo's painting of The Last Supper.

    Leonardo painted this despite war, political and religious turmoil around him and through his research King reveals much about this fascinating period in European history as well as dozens of stories embedded in the painting.

    Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King (Walker & Company), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Listen to This by Alex Ross

    From the acclaimed New Yorker music critic comes a collection of essays covering both early classical and popular music and a worthy follow-up to his successful THE REST IS NOISE.

    As a youth, Mr. Ross was a dedicated classical music lover but at the late age of 20, after purchasing his first pop album, became intrigued by the sound, noise and power of popular music and found his perspective of classical music changed forever.

    The essays are powerful and passionate and a wonderful read for those willing to expand their listening boundaries.

    Listen to This By Alex Ross ($20, Picador USA) Recommended by Tim at Quail Ridge BooksRaleigh NC

     

  • Mary Astor's Purple Diary by Edward Sorel

    When iconic illustrator and caricaturist Edward Sorel tore up the old linoleum in his New York apartment in 1965, he found thirty-year-old tabloid newspaper pages that would fuel an obsession for decades. Now in Mary Astor's Purple Diary: The Great American Sex Scandal of 1936, he tells how actress Mary Astor's child custody case turned into a genuine Hollywood sex scandal when her ex-husband threatened to expose her diary that included salacious details of her affair with married playwright George S. Kaufman. Filled with Sorel's wonderful (and saucy) illustrations, the book is a lighthearted celebration of our fascination with celebrity and sex, but it's also an affectionate portrait of a troubled and talented woman that Sorel truly sympathized with.

    Mary Astor's Purple Diary by Edward Sorel ($25.95, Liveright Publishing Corporation), recommended by Tony, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, 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 Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway

    A realistic look at life in 1890s New York. 

    Callaway's prose will awaken all your senses to everyday life in the growing city. She tells the story of Virginia, a writer in a family full of creativity. Virginia finds that you can never forget your first love and that finding love elsewhere can also be problematic.

    The society of artists that Ginny discovers helps her find a new focus on her life. Through several tragedies, she finds purpose in her writing even while losing those who are closest to her.

    The Fifth Avenue Artists Society by Joy Callaway (Harper) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman by Sena Jeter Naslund

    The Fountain of St. James CourtThis is a fascinating tale of two women artists — writer Kathryn Callaghan in this century and painter Elizabeth Vigée-Le Brun who lived during the French Revolution. Vigée-Le Brun was a real-life portraitist who included Marie Antoinette among her subjects. Callaghan is 70 and brings the wisdom of her age to the story. Naslund offers a very perceptive look at two women as they progress through their art and their lives. A great read!

    The Fountain of St. James Court; or, Portrait of the Artist as an Old Woman by Sena Jeter Naslund Stephanie Crowe, Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • 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.

  • White Tears by Hari Kunzru

    White Tears/Hari KunzruIn a guest post on Lemuria Books' blog, writer Jim Ewing recommends White Tearsby Hari Kunzru.

    "What if there's a subtle, hidden sound, a tone, or chord, a riff that can transcend time and space, communicating through music a key or gate to hidden truths? This is the essential question that leads a New York acoustic engineer named Seth on the path toward solving a mystery in Hari Kunzru's novel White Tears...It's a saga that leads to madness, blood, and shame. Readers will be left reeling, wondering how many more mournful, deadly vibrations still reverberate all around us, just beneath the surface of our world." Continue reading...

    White Tears by Hari Kunzru ($26.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Jim, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker

    A fascinating novel of passion and obsession with a TON of swinging music. Considered the first jazz novel, Dorthy Baker's 1938 debut puts you right up on the bandstand--smack dab in the middle of jazz's first golden age. DIG IT!

    Young Man with a Horn by Dorothy Baker ($14.95, New York Review of Books), recommended by Slade, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • 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