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RECENT RECOMMENDATIONS FROM SOUTHERN INDIES...
I am generally dismissive of these expanded commencement addresses that clog the shelves every graduation season, but I can't seem to get this one out of my mind. Despite the lofty title of Dean of the College of Education at Harvard, Ryan's contribution to the genre is plain-spoken, funny, honest, and honestly helpful. He focuses on asking yourself a series of broad questions regularly to enhance your character, your quality of life, and your contribution to the world. You can read it in about two hours. This book is great for anyone in transition: moving, retiring, starting a new job. I highly recommend it. I can't stop thinking about it.
Wait, What? And Life's Other Essential Questions by James E. Ryan ($19.99, HarperOne), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.
Remarkable. I remember reading W.G. Sebald for the first time and feeling that I was in the headspace, for a moment, of some type of uber-thinker. What an amazing montage she's created here: of theology and politics and the ancient and the ever-present. And what's more, it gets you right where you live. We've all yearned; we all yearn--right up until the end. That's what she's written: that story. I'd like to congratulate her but I'm a little scared of her--what a mind to have inside one's head.
Forest Dark by Nicole Krauss ($27.99, Harper), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
My weak spots are trains, westerns and mysteries, so I was compelled to pick up the new Longmire mystery by Craig Johnson. I flipped through the first few pages and tried to feign disinterest--as a brooding Western lawman would do--but I failed spectacularly and found myself riding alongside Sheriff Walt Longmire, back to his early days as a Wyoming deputy. His efforts to stay alive then serve as the backdrop for his current challenge to confront his darkest enemy. The gun- and book-toting Longmire, and the cast of unique characters on the Western Star kept me guessing as I rode the rails with them for miles through the Wyoming wilderness.
The Western Star by Craig Johnson ($28.00*, Viking), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
I was hooked at the line, “He’s gonna be sorry he ever messed with me and Loretta Lynn.” Leah Weiss’s debut goes right for the heartstrings with a brutal portrayal of the difficult life in small town Appalachia. Protagonist Sadie Blue is pregnant, and two weeks into her marriage to Roy Tupkin, realizes it was all a mistake. Armed with Loretta Lynn and a new friend in town, she begins to fight for a way out. Told from the perspective of a number of townsfolk, the reader develops a more thorough understanding of all the forces and characters at play in the community. Plus, it has a killer ending!
If the Creek Don’t Rise by Leah Weiss ($15.99*, Sourcebooks Landmark), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.
My Absolute Darling is a brand new debut novel that you will be hearing a lot about. Abbe and I found it remarkable and compelling, as have a host of other readers, while some have been repulsed by it. A disturbing, authentic, and suspenseful account of the worst and best that can coincide in the world, My Absolute Darling contains gorgeous descriptions of the natural world of the California coast, original and complex characters, and encounters with intimate, inescapable evil. Fourteen-year-old Turtle Alveston is the hero and she and her father are individuals you will not be able to get out of your mind.
My Absolute Darling by Gabriel Tallent ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.
I was not planning on getting addicted to a novel, but after reading the first scene of The Salt Line I was hopelessly riveted. Let me say that Holly Goddard Jones' take on post-apocalyptic fiction involves an America ravaged by a particularly vicious species of tick, so this book might get you feeling phantom itches. I loved The Salt Line for its combination of suspense, social commentary, and a well-drawn cast of characters that had me constantly questioning my loyalties. Pick up this top-notch literary thriller and pack the bug spray-- not that it will save you.
The Salt Line by Holly Goddard, ($2600*, GP Putnam's Sons), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.
When fifteen-year-old Anna can’t stand her home life, she steals her stepmother’s credit card and runs away to Los Angeles to stay with her aspiring actress half-sister and ends up getting hired to research the Manson girls, a real group of murderous young women in the 1960s, for an indie film. What Anna ends up finding isn’t quite refuge; instead, it’s a clear look at herself and a realization about the dark heart of American girldom (as well as a little romance).
American Girls by Alison Umminger ($9.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA.