Recommended Reading from Southern Indie Booksellers, culled from their websites, newsletters, emails, facebook and twitter posts, and from the moments when they stop us in the street to push a book in our hands sayings "You've got to read this!"

I like a certain amount of surprise in my life, but when it comes to getting older I've found I'd like to have fair warning about what to expect.

Donald Hall, a former Poet Laureate and National Medal of the Art winner, has written a beautiful collection of essays from the vantage point of 86 years old.

They are funnier than I imagined they would be, as well as inspiring and heartening, and the prose is pitch perfect.


Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall (Houghton Mifflin) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 
9780544287044

Very short (flash) fiction in graphic novel format. 

Carre has really done something special here, creating intricate stories that last only a few frames. The artwork is lovely, the tales melancholic and slightly gothic.

It goes by quickly, but you'll want to keep revisiting the individual stories to pick out each and every nuance.


Heads or Tails by Lilli Carre, LILLI Carr (Fantagraphics Books) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 

 

In 2006 when Elizabeth McCracken and her husband were living in France, she gave birth to a stillborn son.

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination is an intimate look at the tragedy.  McCracken is very clear about the things that helped and the things that made healing more difficult.  She tells without holding back about delivering the infant after learning he had died, and about her second pregnancy and the ways it was influenced by the first. 

I gained great insight from this book into what grieving people need, and although I know all of us grieve differently, McCracken’s book will help me support those in my life who suffer from the death of a loved one. In one of my favorite quotes from the book, McCracken says, -The dead don’t need anything.  The rest of us could use some company. -

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by  Elizabeth McCracken (Back Bay Books) Recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

TenNapel has created a very real Reptiles vs. Amphibians world in which Little Herk, the weakest of the Nnewts, is forced to flee his home when his town is invaded by the scary Lizzarks.

Confined to water due to his underdeveloped legs, Herk navigates the big wide world with an evil overlord hot on his tail. He must find the strength he possesses within himself, different from all the others -- his life depends on it!


This is a great start to a new graphic novel series for kids. Fans of Zita the Spacegirl, Amulet and Bones - here's something new for you!


Escape from the Lizzarks by Doug TenNapel (Graphix) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL 

If you possessed the power of human regeneration, what would you do with it?

In the case of Dale Sampson, debut novelist Venturini's antihero, you use your 'gift' for the ultimate good:
reality television. After a horrific incident in high school, Dale realizes he has the ability to spontaneously
regenerate his organs and limbs. Following years of depression, he decides -- with the help of his longtime
best friend and spurred on by the disastrously romantic idea of saving a high school sweetheart -- to give
himself up to the reality show moguls in Hollywood.

As outlandish as the plot may sound, this novel is thought-provoking and inspirational, with more than a
few laughs along the way.


The Heart Does Not Grow Back by Fred Venturini (Picador) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

A family vacation in the Rocky Mountains turns tragic when a young girl goes missing. 


Her younger brother is the only one who remembers what happened and is overcome by guilt and denial.
The parent’s relationship disintegrates while their young daughter’s whereabouts remain a mystery.

You will not be able to put this one down.

Every character is significant to the plot development. There is nothing rushed or gimmicky about this literary thriller.
It is a page turner, but only because you want to see how each character is living despite a set of terrible circumstances.

Easily the best book I’ve read in 5 years.

Descent by Tim Johnston (Algonquin) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood Books Tampa FL