Okra Picks are a dozen fresh titles chosen each season that SIBA Indie Bookstores want to handsell. These books should be southern in nature but can cover any genre, not just fiction. Southern readers love their writers, and we want to be at the forefront of bringing them a strong selection of Southern titles not to be missed each season.


DISCOVER THE CURRENT CROP OF FRESH OKRA PICKS...

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View all the Okra Picks (Fall 2014-present) here.

  • A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert

    A Murder for the Books by Victoria GilbertFleeing a disastrous love affair, university librarian Amy Webber moves in with her aunt in a quiet, historic mountain town in Virginia. She quickly busies herself with managing a charming public library that requires all her attention with its severe lack of funds and overabundance of eccentric patrons. The last thing she needs is a new, available neighbor whose charm lures her into trouble.

    Dancer-turned-teacher and choreographer Richard Muir inherited the farmhouse next door from his great-uncle, Paul Dassin. But town folklore claims the house's original owner was poisoned by his wife, who was an outsider. It quickly became water under the bridge, until she vanished after her sensational 1925 murder trial. Determined to clear the name of the woman his great-uncle loved, Richard implores Amy to help him investigate the case. Amy is skeptical until their research raises questions about the culpability of the town's leading families...including her own.

    When inexplicable murders plunge the quiet town into chaos, Amy and Richard must crack open the books to reveal a cruel conspiracy and lay a turbulent past to rest in A Murder for the Books, the first installment of Victoria Gilbert's Blue Ridge Library mysteries.

    A Murder for the Books by Victoria Gilbert| Crooked Lane Books| 9781683314394

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  • Dear Martin by Nic Stone

    Dear Martin by Nic Stone"Raw and gripping." --Jason Reynolds, New York Times bestselling coauthor of All American Boys

    A must-read " --Angie Thomas, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Hate U Give

    Raw, captivating, and undeniably real, Nic Stone joins industry giants Jason Reynolds and Walter Dean Myers as she boldly tackles American race relations in this stunning debut.

    Justyce McAllister is top of his class and set for the Ivy League--but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. And despite leaving his rough neighborhood behind, he can't escape the scorn of his former peers or the ridicule of his new classmates.

    Justyce looks to the teachings of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. for answers. But do they hold up anymore? He starts a journal to Dr. King to find out.

    Then comes the day Justyce goes driving with his best friend, Manny, windows rolled down, music turned up--way up, sparking the fury of a white off-duty cop beside them. Words fly. Shots are fired. Justyce and Manny are caught in the crosshairs. In the media fallout, it's Justyce who is under attack.

    Dear Martin by Nic Stone| Crown Books for Young Readers| 9781101939499

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  • Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly

    Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann FennellyThe 52 micro-memoirs in genre-defying Heating & Cooling offer bright glimpses into a richly lived life, combining the compression of poetry with the truth-telling of nonfiction into one heartfelt, celebratory book. Ranging from childhood recollections to quirky cultural observations, these micro-memoirs build on one another to arrive at a portrait of Beth Ann Fennelly as a wife, mother, writer, and deeply original observer of life's challenges and joys. Some pieces are wistful, some wry, and many reveal the humor buried in our everyday interactions.

    Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs shapes a life from unexpectedly illuminating moments, and awakens us to these moments as they appear in the margins of our lives.

    Heating & Cooling by Beth Ann Fennelly | W.W. Norton & Company| 9780393609479

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  • Heaven's Crooked Finger by Hank Early

    Heaven's Crooked Finger by Hank EarlyEerie, intense, and masterfully-crafted, Hank Early's gripping series debut Heaven's Crooked Fingertransports readers to a secretive community in the Georgia mountains.

    Earl Marcus thought he had left the mountains of Georgia behind forever, and with them, the painful memories of a childhood spent under the fundamentalist rule of his father RJ's church--a church built on fear, penance, and the twisting, writhing mass of snakes. But then an ominous photo of RJ is delivered to Earl's home. The photograph is dated long after his father's burial, and there's no doubt that the man in the picture is very much alive.

    As Earl returns to Church of the Holy Flame searching for the truth, faithful followers insist that his father has risen to a holy place high in the mountains. Nobody will talk about the teenage girls who go missing, only to return with strange tattoo-like marks on their skin. Rumors swirl about an old well that sits atop one of the mountains, a place of unimaginable power and secrets. Earl doesn't know what to believe, but he has long been haunted by his father, forever lurking in the shadows of his life. Desperate to leave his sinful Holy Flame childhood in the past, Earl digs up deeply buried secrets to discover the truth before time runs out and he's the one put underground in Heaven's Crooked Finger, Hank Early's thrilling series debut.

    Heaven's Crooked Finger by Hank Early | Crooked Lane Books| 9781683313915

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  • Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad

    Hotel Scarface by Roben FarzadThe wild, true story of the Mutiny, the hotel and club that embodied the decadence of Miami's cocaine cowboys heyday—and an inspiration for the blockbuster film, Scarface...

    In the seventies, coke hit Miami with the full force of a hurricane, and no place attracted dealers and dopers like Coconut Grove's Mutiny at Sailboat Bay. Hollywood royalty, rock stars, and models flocked to the hotel's club to order bottle after bottle of Dom and to snort lines alongside narcos, hit men, and gunrunners, all while marathon orgies burned upstairs in elaborate fantasy suites.

    Amid the boatloads of powder and cash reigned the new kings of Miami: three waves of Cuban immigrants vying to dominate the trafficking of one of the most lucrative commodities ever known to man. But as the kilos—and bodies—began to pile up, the Mutiny became target number one for law enforcement. 

    Based on exclusive interviews and never-before-seen documents, Hotel Scarface is a portrait of a city high on excess and greed, an extraordinary work of investigative journalism offering an unprecedented view of the rise and fall of cocaine—and the Mutiny—in Miami.

    Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad| Berkley Books| 9781592409280

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  • Perennials by Julie Cantrell

    Perennials by Julie Cant"If Julie Cantrell isn't on your reading list, she should be." --Lisa Wingate, national bestselling author of Before We Were Yours

    When two estranged sisters reunite for their parents' 50thnanniversary, a family tragedy brings unexpected lessons of hope and healing amid the flowers of their mother's perennial garden.

    Eva--known to all as Lovey--grew up safe and secure in Oxford, MS, surrounded by a rich literary history and her mother's stunning flower gardens. But a shed fire, and the injuries that it caused, seemed to change everything...especially when her older sister, Bitsy, blamed Lovey for the irreparable damage.

    Bitsy became the cheerleader. The homecoming queen. The perfect Southern belle who could do no wrong. All the while, Lovey served as the family scapegoat, always bearing the brunt when Bitsy threw blame her way.

    At eighteen, suffocating in her sister's shadow, Lovey turned down a marriage proposal and fled to Arizona--a place as far from Mississippi as she could find.

    In time, she became a successful advertising executive and a weekend yoga instructor, carving a satisfying life for herself, free from Bitsy's vicious lies. But now that she's turning 45, Lovey is feeling more alone than ever and questioning the choices that have led her here.

    When she gets a call from her father insisting that she come home three weeks early for her parents' 50th anniversary, Lovey is at wits' end. She's about to close the biggest contract of her career, and there's a lot on the line. But despite the risks, her father's words, "Family First," draw her right back to the red-dirt roads of Mississippi.

    Lovey is welcomed home by a secret project--a memory garden her father has planned as an anniversary surprise for her mother. As she helps create this sacred space, Lovey begins to rediscover her roots, learning to live perennially in spite of life's many trials and tragedies.

    Years ago, Lovey chose to leave her family and the South far behind. But now that she's returned, she's realizing things at home were not always what they seemed.

    Perennials by Julie Cantrell| Thomas Nelson| 9780718037642 | Read the first chapter

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  • Tales of a Cosmic Possum by Sheila Ingle

    Tales of a Cosmic Possum by Sheila IngleSheila Ingle's husband John was brought up in Ingle Holler in Union, South Carolina, with eight other Ingle families. They worked together in the mills, shared their gardens, attended church, and enjoyed the playing and singing of the songs from the Grand Ole Opry. When five of the brothers went off to war, those who couldn't fight took care of their families. The Ingles stuck together, just like they were taught in the Appalachian hills of Erwin, Tennessee. Love of God, love of family, and love of country were modelled in each home. In fact, one year Make Ingle put his sons and grandsons together to build Hillside Baptist Church. Adults kept up with the newspapers and the radios; world happenings were important. Any type of sickness brought a barrage of soup and cornbread, because children still had to eat. On those twenty acres, the children played in the creek, cowboys and Indians, and hide-and-seek. They built their own wagons and sleds to race down the hill on the dry, hickory leaves. All the boys learned to shoot a .22 caliber, and John's mother Lois could light a match with her shots. Living in Ingle Holler was home, where each one was accepted.

    Tales of a Cosmic Possum by Sheila Ingle| Ambassador International | 9781620206126

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  • The Art of Loading Brush by Wendell Berry

    The Art of Loading Brush: New Agrarian Writings by Wendell Berry "Berry's essays, continuing arguments begun in The Unsettling of America 40 years ago, will be familiar to longtime readers, blending his farm work with his interests in literature old and new . . . Vintage Berry sure to please and instruct his many admirers." ―Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

    Wendell Berry's profound critique of American culture has entered its sixth decade, and in this new gathering he reaches with deep devotion toward a long view of Agrarian philosophy. Mr. Berry believes that American cultural problems are nearly always aligned with their agricultural problems, and recent events have shone a terrible spotlight on the divides between our urban and rural citizens. Our communities are as endangered as our landscapes. There is, as Berry outlines, still much work to do, and our daily lives―in hope and affection―must triumph over despair.

    Mr. Berry moves deftly between the real and the imagined. The Art of Loading Brush is an energetic mix of essays and stories, including "The Thought of Limits in a Prodigal Age," which explores Agrarian ideals as they present themselves historically and as they might apply to our work today. "The Presence of Nature in the Natural World" is added here as the bookend of this developing New Agrarianism. Four stories from an as-yet-unfinished novel, better described as "an essay in imagination," extend the Port William story as it follows Andy Catlett throughout his life to this present moment. Andy works alongside his grandson in "The Art of Loading Brush," one of the most moving and tender stories of the entire Port William cycle. Filled with insights and new revelations from a mind thorough in its considerations and careful in its presentations, The Art of Loading Brush is a necessary and timely collection.

    The Art of Loading Brush by Wendell Berry| Counterpoint LLC | 9781619020382 | Read the first chapter

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  • The Fonville Winans Cookbook by Cynthia LeJeune Nobles and Melinda Risch Winans

    The Fonville Winans Cookbook by Melissa Risch Winans and Cynthia LeJeune NoblesFonville Winans began his career by documenting the lives of Depression-Era Cajuns in the coastal town of Grand Isle and later became the official photographer for the state of Louisiana. An enthusiastic tinkerer and occasional inventor, Winans experimented obsessively with recipes.

    The Fonville Winans Cookbook incorporates recipes he found or invented in the 1950s or 1960s, recorded in two journals that his daughter-in-law, Melinda Winans, found after his death. The recipes range from the Cajun cuisine that he claimed as his favorite to Mexican and Chinese recipes that he brought home from his travels at a time when tamales and fried rice where virtually unknown in Baton Rouge.

    No book on Fonville Winans would be complete without his photographs, and this cookbook features many that have hitherto gone unpublished. Readers will be fascinated by the photos and the biography of this extraordinary man, and home cooks will enjoy cooking his easy and satisfying recipes.

    The Fonville Winans Cookbookby Cynthia LeJeune Nobles and Melinda Risch Winans  | Louisiana State University Press| 9780807167687

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  • The Ice House by Laura Lee Smith

    The Ice House by Laura Lee SmithFrom a writer who's been praised for her "intelligence, heart, wit" (Richard Russo, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Empire Falls), The Ice House follows the beleaguered MacKinnons as they weather the possible loss of the family business, a serious medical diagnosis, and the slings and arrows of familial discord.

    Johnny MacKinnon might be on the verge of losing it all. The ice factory he married into, which he's run for decades, is facing devastating OSHA fines following a mysterious accident and may have to close. The only hope for Johnny's livelihood is that someone in the community saw something, but no one seems to be coming forward. He hasn't spoken to his son Corran back in Scotland since Corran's heroin addiction finally drove Johnny to the breaking point. And now, after a collapse on the factory floor, it appears Johnny may have a brain tumor. Johnny's been ordered to take it easy, but in some ways, he thinks, what's left to lose? This may be his last chance to bridge the gap with Corran--and to have any sort of relationship with the baby granddaughter he's never met.

    Witty and heartbreaking by turns, The Ice House is a vibrant portrait of multifaceted, exquisitely human characters that readers will not soon forget. It firmly establishes Laura Lee Smith as a gifted voice in American fiction.

    The Ice House by Laura Lee Smith| Grove Press | 9780802127082 | Read the first chapter

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  • The Indigo Girl by Natasha Boyd

    The Indigo Girl by Natasha BoydAn incredible story of dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

    The year is 1739. Eliza Lucas is sixteen years old when her father leaves her in charge of their family's three plantations in rural South Carolina and then proceeds to bleed the estates dry in pursuit of his military ambitions. Tensions with the British, and with the Spanish in Florida, just a short way down the coast, are rising, and slaves are starting to become restless. Her mother wants nothing more than for their South Carolina endeavor to fail so they can go back to England. Soon her family is in danger of losing everything.

    Upon hearing how much the French pay for indigo dye, Eliza believes it's the key to their salvation. But everyone tells her it's impossible, and no one will share the secret to making it. Thwarted at nearly every turn, even by her own family, Eliza finds that her only allies are an aging horticulturalist, an older and married gentleman lawyer, and a slave with whom she strikes a dangerous deal: teach her the intricate thousand-year-old secret process of making indigo dye and in return -- against the laws of the day -- she will teach the slaves to read.

    So begins an incredible story of love, dangerous and hidden friendships, ambition, betrayal, and sacrifice.

    Based on historical documents, including Eliza's letters, this is a historical fiction account of how a teenage girl produced indigo dye, which became one of the largest exports out of South Carolina, an export that laid the foundation for the incredible wealth of several Southern families who still live on today. Although largely overlooked by historians, the accomplishments of Eliza Lucas influenced the course of US history. When she passed away in 1793, President George Washington served as a pallbearer at her funeral.

    This book is set between 1739 and 1744, with romance, intrigue, forbidden friendships, and political and financial threats weaving together to form the story of a remarkable young woman whose actions were before their time: the story of the indigo girl.

    The Indigo GirlbyNatasha Boyd| Blacktone Publishing| 9781455137114 | Read the first chapter

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  • The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash

    The Last Ballad by Wiley CashThe New York Times bestselling author of the celebrated A Land More Kind Than Home and This Dark Road to Mercy returns with this eagerly awaited new novel, set in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina in 1929 and inspired by actual events. Thechronicle of an ordinary woman's struggle for dignity and her rights in a textile mill, The Last Ballad is a moving tale of courage in the face of oppression and injustice, with the emotional power of Ron Rash's Serena, Dennis Lehane's The Given Day, and the unforgettable films Norma Rae and Silkwood.

    Twelve times a week, twenty-eight-year-old Ella May Wiggins makes the two-mile trek to and from her job on the night shift at American Mill No. 2 in Bessemer City, North Carolina. The insular community considers the mill's owners--the newly arrived Goldberg brothers--white but not American and expects them to pay Ella May and other workers less because they toil alongside African Americans like Violet, Ella May's best friend. While the dirty, hazardous job at the mill earns Ella May a paltry nine dollars for seventy-two hours of work each week, it's the only opportunity she has. Her no-good husband, John, has run off again, and she must keep her four young children alive with whatever work she can find.

    When the union leaflets begin circulating, Ella May has a taste of hope, a yearning for the better life the organizers promise. But the mill owners, backed by other nefarious forces, claim the union is nothing but a front for the Bolshevik menace sweeping across Europe. To maintain their control, the owners will use every means in their power, including bloodshed, to prevent workers from banding together. On the night of the county's biggest rally, Ella May, weighing the costs of her choice, makes up her mind to join the movement--a decision that will have lasting consequences for her children, her friends, her town--indeed all that she loves.

    Seventy-five years later, Ella May's daughter Lilly, now an elderly woman, tells her nephew about his grandmother and the events that transformed their family. Illuminating the most painful corners of their history, she reveals, for the first time, the tragedy that befell Ella May after that fateful union meeting in 1929.

    Intertwining myriad voices, Wiley Cash brings to life the heartbreak and bravery of the now forgotten struggle of the labor movement in early twentieth-century America--and pays tribute to the thousands of heroic women and men who risked their lives to win basic rights for all workers. Lyrical, heartbreaking, and haunting, this eloquent novel confirms Wiley Cash's place among our nation's finest writers.

    The Last Ballad by Wiley Cash| William Morrow & Company | 9780062313119

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  • The Sisters of Glass Ferry by Kim Michele Richardson

    The Sisters of Glass Ferry by Kim Michele Richardson"An emotionally resonant tale of secrets, regret, and absolution that held me spellbound. You simply have to read it." --Sara Gruen, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water for Elephants

    Spanning several decades and written in an authentic voice both lyrical and wise, The Sisters of Glass Ferry is a haunting novel about small-town Southern secrets, loss and atonement, and the unbreakable bond between siblings.

    Glass Ferry, Kentucky, is bourbon country. Whiskey has been a way of life for generations, enabling families to provide and survive even in the darkest times. Flannery Butler's daddy, Beauregard "Honey Bee" Butler, was known for making some of the best whiskey in the state, aged in barrels he'd take by boat up and down the Kentucky River until the rocking waters turned the spirits smooth and golden. Flannery is the only person Honey Bee ever entrusted with his recipes before he passed on, swearing her to secrecy as he did so.

    But Flannery is harboring other secrets too, about her twin sister Patsy, older by eight minutes and pretty in a way Flannery knows she'll never be. Then comes the prom night when Patsy--wearing a yellow chiffon dress and the family pearls--disappears along with her date. Every succeeding year on the twins' birthday, Flannery's mother bakes a strawberry cake, convinced that this is the day Patsy will finally come home. But it will be two tumultuous decades until the muddy river yields a clue about what happened that night, compelling Flannery to confront the truth about her sleepy town, her family's past, and the choices she and those closest to her have made in the name of love and retribution...

    The Sisters of Glass Ferry by Kim Michele Richardson| Kensington Publishing Corporation | 9781496709554

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