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!"

The Bright Forever by Lee Martin has all the makings of a good beach read—suspense, compelling characters, and fast-paced action.

All of this and it contains gorgeous writing! Nine-year-old Katie Mackie disappears when she rides her bike to the library to return some books.  Katie's math tutor, Mr. Dees, and a drug-addled newcomer, Raymond R., become the focus of the investigation.

Each of them has a motive. The final chapter of the book was stunning in what it revealed about one of the characters. I would say that I couldn’t put it down, but several times I had to take a break from the tension! The book was a 2006 Pulitzer Prize finalist and would make a good book club discussion book. The paperback includes a discussion guide.

 

The Bright Forever by Lee Martin (Three Rivers Press) Recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

The men who surrounded Washington during his two terms as president included powerful minds like Jefferson, Hamilton, and Madison, and soldiers such as Henry Knox, Lafayette, and the traitor Benedict Arnold.

In the middle was Washington, weary of politics and longing to retire.  He worried that people thought he was not smart enough to understand Hamilton's financial ideas, and he named his greyhound Cornwallis.

Washington emerges as a very human leader.  Fabulous history!


Washington's Circle: The Creation of the President by David S. Heidler, Jeanne T. Heidler (Random House) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

 

Inspector is an absolutely riveting historical thriller.

I'd not read one of David Morrell's mysteries before, and now I want to devour them all. I'm even going to check out the original Opium-Eater to learn more about his fascinating protagonist, Thomas De Quincey.

Inspector of the Dead by David Morrell (Mulholland Books) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

In this powerful book of poems, which centers around women in Bangladesh known as the birangona (survivors of war atrocities during the Liberation War in 1971), Faizullah explores what's been forgotten or silenced about these women's experiences, as well as her own assumptions, related to her experience as a Bangladeshi American woman living in a cultural space of both/and/or.

Reading the poems in Seam, I respect the level of mastery displayed in their vivid imagery and fresh approach to form. But what lingers is the poet's ability to refute the impersonal language of the state in the face of the complex realities of war, to answer it with the personal, private vocabulary that makes up the best poetry, the poetry that haunts us, makes us question, to see, as Faizullah writes, how thin the seam / between the world and the world.


Seam by Tarfia Faizullah (Southern Illinois University Press) Recommended by Heather at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

 

I don’t read many biographies, but I love memoirs and this is one of my all-time favorites.

Journalist Steve Luxenberg discovers that his mother had a sister, Annie, who was disabled and institutionalized. She had kept it a secret for over 50 years.

His search for the truth about is a story of family, the depression, the Holocaust and the nation’s treatment of disabled adults.


Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg (Hachette) Recommended by Allison at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

 

In the blink of an eye, Bob Spitz turned fifty, finished an eight-year book project and a fourteen-year marriage that left him nearly destitute, had his heart stolen and broken on the rebound, and sought salvation the only way he knew how.

He fled to Europe, where he hopscotched among the finest cooking schools in pursuit of his dream.

The Saucier's Apprentice: One Long Strange Trip Through the Great Cooking Schools of Europe by Bob Spitz (W. W. Norton )Recommended by Douglas at Octavia Books New Orleans LA