GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi

    How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. KendiIn the follow up to his essential Stamped from the Beginning, Ibram X. Kendi has given us another indispensable book in How to Be an Antiracist. Blending personal memoir with history, social science, law, and social justice, Kendi continues to reframe and redefine what it means to be “antiracist” in the world today. Accessibly written and constantly engaging, How to Be an Antiracist is a perfect book for our historical moment and one that I hope will continue to reshape my own and others’ thinking.

    How to Be an Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi ($27.00*, One World), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • The Blessing: A Memoir by Gregory Orr

    The Blessing: A Memoir by Gregory OrrI feel blessed having read Geoffrey Orr's memoir The Blessing. I was captivated by his opening confession that he feels blessed by a family tragedy. He avoids the usual cliches by not mythologizing the death of his brother and his struggle to regain his place in the world. The book lacks the "look at me" quality of many "overcoming adversity" memoirs and instead steps readers through the scenes building to and following the loss. His "big reveal" of how writing saved him is more of a soft landing on the far side of disaster. It carries the scars of the tragedy into a new place that is, obviously, a blessing.

    The Blessing: A Memoir by Gregory Orr ($15.00*, Milkweed Editions), recommended by Book No Further, Roanoke, VA.

  • River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen Prejean

    River of Fire: : My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen PrejeanSr. Helen Prejean's memoir of her spiritual life prior to Dead Man Walking has an engaging conversational tone which makes her journey accessible and interesting--particularly to those interested in the intersection of faith and social justice. Of special interest to Catholics will be the chapters on Vatican II and how the changes affected the life of nuns in convents, but this is highly recommended to people of all faith traditions.

    River of Fire: My Spiritual Journey by Sister Helen Prejean ($27.00*, Random House), recommended by Wordsworth Books, Little Rock, AR.

  • The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom

    The Yellow House by Sarah M. BroomSarah M. Broom grew up in New Orleans, New Orleans East to be exact, an area that tourists don't go to. Often neglected by the city administration, the area suffered even greater during the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. This is a memoir of family history, the city's history, class and racism through the lens of the house Sarah grew up in, which was lost to "The Water." As she continues to get pulled back to the city despite her attempts at distance, she struggles with the meaning of "home" when it seems like home is always working against you. Exceptional and moving, this is the kind of memoir against which other memoirs get judged.

    The Yellow House by Sarah M. Broom ($26.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

     A Summer 2019 Okra Pick

  • Semicolon by Cecilia Watson

    Semicolon by Cecilia WatsonAn interesting take and an in depth look at the punctuation mark that haunts the literary and English speaking world alike. Cecilia Watson has brought us a book designated to those of us who just can't quite figure out how we feel about the semicolon.

    Semicolon by Cecilia Watson ($19.99*, Ecco), recommended by Bookmarks, Bookmarks, NC.

  • Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl

    Late Migrations by Margaret RenklLate Migrations is a gorgeous, somber treasure of a book. Death and its many forms permeate Margaret Renkl’s meditative work; from the death of her father to the death of a small bird in the road, grief is a constant companion throughout these pages. But the sorrow never becomes overwhelming; in fact, each passage takes on a unique, bittersweet wisdom that can only be gained by experiencing loss. Renkl’s part memoir, part nature writing, and part essay collection is a such a unique reading experience, and one I will remember and recommend for many years to come.

    Late Migrations by Margaret Renkl ($24.00*, Milkweed Editions), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

     A Summer 2019 Okra Pick

  • Botany at the Bar by Selena Ahmed, Ashley Duval, Rachel Meyer

    Botany at the Bar by Selena Ahmed, Ashley Duval, Rachel MeyerA whimsical encyclopedia about the history, creation, and use of bitters in a playful and richly illustrated format. A perfect gift for someone who appreciates scientific method, but also enjoys a great (and interesting) cocktail.

    Botany at the Bar by Selena Ahmed, Ashley Duval, Rachel Meyer ($22.95*, Roost Books), recommended by Righton Books, St. Simons Island, GA.

  • They Bled Blue by Jason Turbow

    They Bled Blue by Jason TurbowWith his last book (the wonderful Dynastic, Bombastic, Fantastic) Jason Turbow made me a fan of the Oakland A's, a team for which I had no opinion whatsoever. Now with They Bled Blue, the author has made me appreciate the history of a team I actively dislike, maybe even hate. The Dodgers of the late 70's and early 80's were an interesting bunch and Turbow's new book is expertly told and really gives you an entire picture of LA in 1981: the drugs, the celebrities, Fernandomania, the MLB strike of 1981 and the hugely impactful MLBPA victory, the contracts and the inner workings and of course the baseball. Jason Turbow once again strikes gold--or perhaps Dodger blue--with the must-read sports book of the summer.

    They Bled Blue by Jason Turbow ($26.00*, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Naturally Tan by Tan France

    Naturally Tan by Tan FranceTan France's autobiographical memoir outlines his life growing up, coming out, fashion, and of course, getting cast in Queer Eye. Anyone who has watched this show needs to read this right now, and even if you haven't, you should still pick it up. It is a very thoughtful memoir that is honest about race, perception, bullying, love, marriage, and fashion. He is very-real, very-direct addressing of these topics to be eye-opening while also showing a vulnerable side of him that we don't often experience on the show.

    Even some of the remarks that he makes quickly in the book and doesn't elaborate on in great detail (i.e. "brown people cannot run through an airport even if we are late for a flight") will leave an imprint on you. It is personal, real, and even those who tend to shy away from this genre, will find themselves interested in the conversational and captivating story of Tan France.

    Naturally Tan by Tan France ($27.99*, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff, Georgia Hardstark

    Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff, Georgia HardstarkLook. Listen. This is the best book about people talking about their obsession with true crime and pets. Also, their anxiety, therapy, cults, addictions, feminism, and how an overheard story about murder at a party led to a long, coffee-drenched lunch that then led to the My Favorite Murder Podcast and the Murderino Empire (it's an empire if I say it's an empire). It's not a cult, so no need to call your dad...unless he's interested in true crime. Everything you love about the podcast, although Kilgariff and Hardstark dive deeper and share more than ever.

    Warning: May result in screaming "Stay Sexy and Don't Get Murdered!" to friends, family, and the occasional stranger. But seriously, SSGDM, readers!

    Stay Sexy & Don't Get Murdered by Karen Kilgariff, Georgia Hardstark ($24.99*, Forge Books), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene

    Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson GreeneSome memoirs transcend the author's experience and become universal. I always thought of those as the good ones. Then I read Jayson Greene's memoir of loss and grief and was forced to confront the fullness of his individual humanity in a way I haven't experienced before. Grief is distinctly personal and Greene's story of the death of his two year old child is simply unfathomable to me, yet his honesty and willingness to sit in the fearfulness of life resonated deeply.

    Once More We Saw Stars is a wonderfully written memoir that connects on an almost primitive level.

    Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene ($25.00*, Knopf), recommended by Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, LA.

  • Furious Hours by Casey Cep

    Furious Hours by Casey CepI had hoped that reading Casey Cep's Furious Hours would be like listening to some of my favorite true crime podcasts (S-Town, anyone?), and I was not disappointed. The book weaves together the stories of a black reverend suspected of killing off his family members for insurance fraud, the lawyer who defended him in court countless times, and Harper Lee, who had planned to write a book about them. Equal parts biography, history, and reporting, Furious Hours is the rare nonfiction book that actually reads like fiction.

    Furious Hours by Casey Cep ($26.95*, Knopf), recommended by New Dominion Bookshop, Charlottesville, VA.

  • Chumps to Champs: How the Worst Teams in Yankees History Led to the '90s Dynasty by Bill Pennington

    Chumps to Champs: How the Worst Teams in Yankees History Led to the '90s Dynasty by Bill PenningtonA great book to get you through the 162-game season, Bill Pennington's book did what I had previously believed to be impossible: made me care about the Yankees. Chumps To Champs is full of big characters with even larger personalities, from legendary Yankee owner George Steinbrenner to quietly effective--and hugely under-appreciated--Buck Showalter. I will never be a Yankees fan but I am a big fan of this book.

    Chumps to Champs: How the Worst Teams in Yankees History Led to the '90s Dynasty by Bill Pennington ($28.00*, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Problem of Democracy by Nancy Isenberg, Andrew Burstein

    The Problem of Democracy by Nancy Isenberg, Andrew BursteinFor most of history, John Adams and his son, John Quincy, have been given a bad rap for being unpopular at their times (both one term presidents) as well as skeptics of democratic government. I used to be one of the haters myself. But as the political situation has progressed (or regressed) over the years and a lot of the problems the Adams's foresaw have come true, we realize maybe the bad rap was a unjustified. This dream team of Isenberg and Burstein dig deep into the political thinking of this father and son who deserve far more credit then they've ever received. Excellent stuff.

    The Problem of Democracy by Nancy Isenberg, Andrew Burstein ($35.00*, Viking), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis

    Southern Lady Code by Helen EllisWell, bless my heart. I love this masterful, whip-smart essay collection so much, I might just dip some Nutter Butters into melted white chocolate, dot them with candy buttons, eat them, and call it a day. Or maybe I'll hop a flight to Topeka, where I won't take part in a three-way. Or maybe I'll clean my whole apartment! The truth is, I just don't quite know what to do with myself after reading Southern Lady Code. It is so, so GOOD, so rooted in its perspective, and so candid; plus, it's so remarkably, frequently moving, oftentimes in unexpected ways. In short, this book is...well, whatever Southern Lady Code is for "a triumph."

    Southern Lady Code by Helen Ellis ($22.00*, Doubleday), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

     A Spring 2019 Okra Pick

  • Finding My Voice by Valerie Jarrett

    Finding My Voice by Valerie JarrettI enjoyed this intimate portrayal of Valerie's Jarrett life from childhood to life after eight years in President Obama's administration. This memoir will greatly appeal to anyone who appreciates political memoirs, gender and race studies, or current events.

    Finding My Voice by Valerie Jarrett ($30.00*, Viking), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Phillpott

    I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura PhillpottI don't usually read a book of essays, but Mary Laura Philpott's book I Miss You When I Blink had just the right touch of humor and honesty to appeal to me. Philpott's candid reflections on her life will mirror what many women see in their own. Her take on marriage, kids, career choices and her own perfectionist tendencies is guaranteed to make you laugh out loud.

    I Miss You When I Blink by Mary Laura Phillpott ($26.00*, Atria Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     A Spring 2019 Okra Pick

  • Holy Envy by Barbara Brown Taylor

    Holy Envy by Barbara Brown TaylorTaylor, a Christian professor emeritus at Piedmont College, discusses how she brought the world's religions to the doorstep of her classroom in a small Georgia college town. Most students had only been exposed to Christianity, and the field trips to mosques and synagogues as well as speakers from various traditions broadened many minds. Brown's explanation of why we should be open to other religions instead of protective of our own should resonate well with the reader.

    Holy Envy by Barbara Brown Taylor ($25.99*, HarperOne), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • See You in the Piazza by Frances Mayes

    See You in the Piazza by Frances MayesThis is not your typical guide book to Italy. Yes, it points you to wonderful, often overlooked gems throughout Italy. But it is the writing itself that makes it unique. It is personal and clearly written with love. It brings you into the feel of the country, not just it's sights which makes it a wonderful read whether you're in Italy or at home.

    See You in the Piazza by Frances Mayes ($27.00*, Crown), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Parkland Speaks by Sarah Lerner (editor)

    Parkland Speaks by Sarah Lerner (editor)Parkland Speaks is a powerful compilation of essays, poems, photographs and artwork from the survivors of the Parkland High School shooting. I read this book over the course of a week, wanting to spend time with each piece trying to absorb the emotion and experience behind each piece. As a reader, I experience such a  wide range of feelings - sadness for the victims, anger that our country hasn't enacted the change to prevent shootings  like this, but also a lasting sense of hope at these amazing teenagers who are dedicated to sharing their stories and creating true change for the future. Parkland Speaks is  difficult but powerful read that should be required reading for everyone.

    Parkland Speaks by Sarah Lerner (editor) ($17.99*, Crown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson

    The Elephant in the Room by Tommy TomlinsonHonest, heart-breaking, and affirming. This is not your run-of-the-mill diet book, or just someone crowing about their weight loss. It's an in-depth spiritual investigation of why and how a person becomes and stays fat. I also enjoyed reading about Tommy's career in newspapers and sports. He's such a gifted writer and I look forward to hand-selling this one.

    The Elephant in the Room by Tommy Tomlinson ($27.00*, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Sunrise Books, High Point, NC.

     A Winter 2019 Okra Pick

  • Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer

    Love Makes a Family by Sophie BeerLove this book and all the ways it celebrates love! Showing children all the different ways that families show love--and all the different kinds of families there are--with such a fun, vibrant illustrations makes this really special!

    Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer ($11.99*, Dial Books), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • #Chill by Bryan E. Robinson

    #Chill by Bryan E. RobinsonRobinson's approach to workaholism comes from his own experience, so it is a compassionate and knowing approach to a subject that could otherwise get thorny. Still, you'll want to give it to your boss and your boss's boss, and anyone else whose own workaholism keeps you at your desk after hours. 

    #Chill by Bryan E. Robinson ($22.99*, William Morrow), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • 1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich

    1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich1000 books is no small list and Mustich has clearly given them all much thought and consideration. As a devotee of the written word and all the many stories kept between covers, I would add a few more. That's part of the fun of this book - finding new things to read and remembering the ones I loved so much I am ready to go to bat for their inclusion. 

    1,000 Books to Read Before You Die by James Mustich ($35.00*, Workman Publishing Company), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Protest Kitchen: Fight Injustice, Save the Planet, and Fuel Your Resistance One Meal at a Time by Carol J. Adams, Virginia Messina

    Protest Kitchen: Fight Injustice, Save the Planet, and Fuel Your Resistance One Meal at a Time by Carol J. Adams, Virginia MessinaI can't wait to handsell this book. Like many aspiring vegans, I know there are hundreds of reasons (including and addition to the health-related ones) to adopt a vegan diet. In Protest Kitchen, readers learn how their food choices relate to politics, health, economics, pollution, the environment, misogyny, and so much more--this is fascinating stuff. I love the way the book combines recipes with recommended actions for people who want to make a change (even if they're not quite ready to adopt all the suggestions quite yet!). 

    Protest Kitchen: Fight Injustice, Save the Planet, and Fuel Your Resistance One Meal at a Time by Carol J. Adams, Virginia Messina ($16.95*, Conari Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Southern Discomfort by Tena Clark

    Southern Discomfort by Tena ClarkLove The Help but want it to be more gritty and real? This is the book for you! Tena Clark tells the story of growing up gay in Mississippi with a cheating father and a mother who drank to excess. She and her older sisters were in charge of keeping the peace when their parents fought, and sometimes that meant throwing the gun in the pool so no one would get shot. Clark's honesty and talent for storytelling shine in this memoir that reads like a Southern Gothic novel. You can't help but like all the characters even when they're up to no good. 

    Southern Discomfort by Tena Clark ($27.00*, Touchstone), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

     A Fall 2018 Okra Pick

  • Instantly Southern by Sheri Castle

    Instantly Southern by Sheri CastleIt's my girl Sheri Castle! Sheri writes an amazing cookbook. Her New Southern Garden Cookbook and The Southern Living Community Cookbook sit on my shelves with broken spines and food stains all over them.  And now she's written a new Southern cookbook for everyone's favorite new small appliance! An award-winning cooking instructor, Sheri's directions are always spot on and delicious. Hoppin' John Risotto? Hummingbird Coffee Cake?  I'm all in!

    Instantly Southern by Sheri Castle ($16.99*, Clarkson Potter), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

     A Fall 2018 Okra Pick

  • Winnie's Great War by Lindsay Mattick, Josh Greenhut, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)

    Winnie's Great War by Lindsay Mattick, Josh Greenhut, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator)There was a real "Winnie" and a war and a soldier named Harry Colebourn. There was a zoo--the London zoo--where Winnie met Christopher Robin Milne, the boy who was the real Christopher Robin. Last but not least, there was A. A. Milne who observed and recorded the playful relationship his son had with a very tame and affectionate bear and who continues to challenge us to believe in sweetness and light in a world of loss and sorrow. This is an exciting combination of fact and fiction for older readers. 

    Winnie's Great War by Lindsay Mattick, Josh Greenhut, Sophie Blackall (Illustrator) ($16.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • In the Land of Happy Tears: Yiddish Tales for Modern Times by David Stronberg (ed.)

    In the Land of Happy Tears: Yiddish Tales for Modern Times by David Stronberg (ed.)I love fables and folk tales and was excited to read this collection. Not knowing much about Yiddish folklore, I found this interesting. The stories are told in a way that adults and young readers will enjoy and I think makes the case that folk tales are still an important part of storytelling.

    In the Land of Happy Tears: Yiddish Tales for Modern Times by David Stronberg (ed.) ($17.99*, Delacorte Books for Young Readers), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson

    One Person, No Vote by Carol AndersonThis is the book every voter needs to read before the 2018 midterm elections. It's important to know the past so we can change the future. One Person, No Vote is horrifying in its explicit, thorough, and well-researched documentation of voter suppression from 1865 to the present. Highly recommend.

    One Person, No Vote by Carol Anderson ($27.00*, Bloomsbury Publishing), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

     A Summer 2018 Okra Pick

  • Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs

    Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-JobsLisa Brennan-Jobs had an unconventional childhood. Her dad, Steve Jobs, wouldn't claim her for years. Her mom, Chrisann Brennan, had an unstable life and sometimes could barely make ends meet. Lisa and her mom moved from home-to-home until her dad finally accepted that Lisa was his daughter and began offering them support. Lisa discusses her mom's unorthodox parenting as well as her dad's moodiness and unpredictability. It's a fascinating and sometimes disturbing look at the man behind the genius of Apple. 

    Small Fry by Lisa Brennan-Jobs ($26.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Just Breathe by Mallika Chopra, Brenna Vaughan

    Just Breathe by Mallika Chopra, Brenna VaughanSimple, accessable and fun, Just Breathe is certain to become THE mindfulness and meditation go-to book for children, young adults and even adults interested in dipping their toe into the mindfulness lifestyle.  

    Just Breathe by Mallika Chopra, Brenna Vaughan (12.99*, Running Press Kids), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke by Andrew Lawler

    The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke by Andrew LawlerAs a bookseller on Roanoke Island, I have seen and/or carry possibly every book written on The Lost Colony so I approached this book with some wariness--and then, despite thinking I knew everything there was to know, couldn't put it down!

    Lawler does an astounding job trying to get to the bottom of every single theory ever attached to America's oldest history mystery. The last two decades of digs and research have uncovered new discoveries and he goes to ground on these most current theories as well as every theory proposed since 1587. His research and willingness to explore each rabbit hole--farther than anyone I've ever read--is incredible and exhaustive.

    I already know this is going to be my number one non-fiction/history pick for summer 2018.

    The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and the Search for the Lost Colony of Roanoke by Andrew Lawler ($29.95*, Doubleday Books), recommended by Downtown Books, Manteo, NC.

  • Game Changers by Lesa Cline-Ransome, James Ransome

    Game Changers by Lesa Cline-Ransome, James RansomeThe Williams sisters get their due in this spot-on biography by the husband and wife author/illustrator team. Venus and Serena’s power, grace and competitive spirit come shining through in the words, and the vibrant illustrations—check out the two-page spread of the Williams family cleaning the tennis courts as the sun rises with the pinks and oranges simply popping off the page!—are the perfect accompaniment to this story of two of the most dominant athletes of our time. 

    Game Changers by Lesa Cline-Ransome, James Ransome ($17.99*, Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Calypso by David Sedaris

    Calypso by David SedarisWhat is there even left to say about a David Sedaris book? This is the first one I've read since moving to North Carolina, so I found it particularly funny to know more about the places he mentions and visits. These stories are so very personal. They touched me deeply and I was moved by his honesty.

    Of course, there are still times that I spit coffee all over myself because I made the mistake of drinking while reading. This new one from Sedaris will not disappoint.

    Calypso by David Sedaris ($28.00*, Little Brown and Company), recommended by Bookmarks, Winston-Salem, NC.

  • How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan

    How to Change Your Mind by Michael PollanMichael Pollan has a special gift for spotting subtle, tectonic shifts in our culture’s central values. Then he writes books that bring our awareness to these movements just as the subsurface geologic plates smash together, producing dizzying earthquakes in our institutions and spectacular volcanoes of ideas. Pollan didn’t create the local food movement, but his books helped bring our attention to it, catapulting the conversation to farmers markets and dinner tables everywhere and helping to make mainstream formerly fringe ideas about food, eating, and health.

    In How To Change Your Mind, Pollan has turned his eye to an entirely new field of study. Fifty years after the colossal PR disaster for psychedelics that were the 1960’s, Pollan has documented the quiet efforts of a small but passionate cabal of scientists, activists, doctors, and healers to re-legitimize what had been the deeply buried but extremely promising studies in the 1950’s and early 1960’s looking at the potential of psychedelics (most specifically LSD and Psilocybin) as incredible medicines on a number of health & wellbeing frontiers. What the Omnivore’s Dilemma, The Botany of Desire, and Food Rules did for the way we think about our eating habits How to Change Your Mind is set to do for all fields of study involving end of life care, addiction, depression, and (most radically of all) questions of spirituality and meaning.

    “Paradigm shift” is a phrase that has become entirely over-used, but I can think of no better words to describe what Pollan has documented. We may be seeing the beginning of a revolution in several major fields that are every bit as central to who we are as the food we choose to eat. Stop what you are doing, go get a copy of How to Change Your Mind, and strap in for a truly mind expanding read.

    How to Change Your Mind by Michael Pollan ($28.00*, Penguin Press), recommended by Underground Books, Carrollton, GA.

  • Carolina Catch by Debbie Moose

    Carolina Catch by Debbie MooseAs a seafood lover new to North Carolina, this book has been invaluable! Not only do I now know what in-season fish and shellfish to look for at the grocery store and at restaurants, but I have a deeper understanding of how what I'm buying and eating affects fishing overall and the fisherman who catch them. Plus, yummy recipes!

    Carolina Catch by Debbie Moose ($35.00*, University of North Carolina Press), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell

    And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’ConnellI often tell people that becoming a mother was equal parts wonderful and abysmally dark and get blank stares but here it is, a tale like mine, articulated with clarity and wit! I'm excited to be able to recommend this honest and relatable recounting of the early days of modern pregnancy and motherhood.

    And Now We Have Everything by Meaghan O’Connell ($26.00*, Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan

    The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. PanThe Astonishing Color of After is the kind of novel that you want to force on everyone you know. There is visceral sorrow and pain here, but the magic woven throughout imbues every bit of the story with just enough wonder and hope to hold you up. The writing is stunning and full of intoxicating descriptions; scenes of a giant red bird descending and the scents and sights of a Night Market in Taiwan completely blew me away. What color am I after reading this book? Technicolor.

    The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan ($18.99*, Little, Brown Books for Young Readers), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice

    I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice Oh my! Such lovely poetic writing that detail such difficult times! Ruth is surviving in a household of chaos and illness and she paints the reality of an extremely painful situation as her husband, Simon, suffers from ALS and is immobile. Although she lives with caregivers who are in her house constantly and 5 children who have had to deal with a Dadda who can’t play with them, she has managed to find meaning and love in her life full of sadness and loss. This she does because she has many friends who love her and children who bring her joy. It is an amazing memoir! I loved her rambling style of writing which is so reflective of her chaotic life but so expressive! That she finds joy in the midst of her suffering makes me grateful for all that I have. A must read!

    I Found My Tribe by Ruth Fitzmaurice ($25.00*, Bloomsbury USA), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames

    Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard ThamesWhile most people will not be willing to go to the frugality extremes of the Thames family, this inspiring memoir should jolt everyone out of their normal spending practices for a second and encourage us to examine if our spending really brings us happiness or is instead covering up a deeper issue that should be addressed.

    Meet the Frugalwoods by Elizabeth Willard Thames ($22.99*, HarperBusiness), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara

    I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamaraI'll Be Gone in the Dark is a story of obsession and violence, a woman and a killer. As much a book of true crime as it is a book about a time and a place. And a person: Michelle McNamara. She is a streak of good in the darkness, and how fortunate we are to have this record of her perceptiveness, honesty, and humanity. Go ahead and plan to stay up all night. It's that good (and that scary).

    I'll Be Gone in the Dark by Michelle McNamara ($27.99*, Harper), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot

    Heart Berries by Terese Marie MailhotThis is the boldest kind of writing because it speaks directly to people. Terese Marie Mailhot addresses numerous people she has loved in her life--a mother, a father, a lover, and others--and in doing so, she gets right to the core of it: what it feels like to love, to accept love, despite our and its limitations.

    Heart Berries is a deep, wrenching, searching sort of book, and it contains impossibly raw, yet seamless, sentences: "You think weakness is a problem. I want to be torn apart by everything." It isn't sensational. To call anything in this memoir "sensational" would be to eschew its logic.

    Everything in Heart Berries rings true to me. Many up-turned stones appeared familiar, felt new. This writing is tactile. Though it deals in questions of love, health, grief, inheritance, and shame, it gave me something to hold.

    Heart Berries by Terese Marie Mailhot ($23.00*, Counterpoint LLC), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Girl Running by Annette Bay Pimentel, Micha Archer

    Girl Running by Annette Bay Pimentel, Micha ArcherI learned so much from this beautiful picture book. Bobbi Gibb was the first woman who ran the Boston Marathon--but she had to do it in secret. This story of her life is fascinating and incredibly inspiring, heightened by the gorgeous collage art of Micha Archer. 

    Girl Running by Annette Bay Pimentel, Micha Archer ($17.99*, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.

  • This Narrow Space by Elisha Waldman

    This Narrow Space by Elisha WaldmanThis Narrow Space is incredibly well written, honest, and compelling! While dealing with some very delicate issues, namely the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and life-threatening pediatric illness, Dr. Waldman manages to express his observations and views without voicing any obnoxious political opinions! He is idealistic, yet humble; brilliant, yet ever eager to seek and to learn. He speaks of everyone with respect. I went into this book interested in the cultural and medical experiences of an accomplished physician; I came out blown away by the reflections of a profoundly gifted writer.

    This Narrow Space by Elisha Waldman ($25.95*, Schocken Books), recommended by Vero Beach Book Center, Vero Beach, FL.

  • Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant

    Dispatches from Pluto by Richard GrantYou think you know Mississippi? I bet you don't know THIS Mississippi. Dispatches from Pluto sheds bright light on a Mississippi that is is confounding and confusing and at times horrifically entertaining.

    This book should be required reading for anyone born and raised in Mississippi, especially those of us who chose to leave. Large portions of Richard Grant's life in The Delta is probably unbelievable to those who have never experienced the rural South. I love the way Grant examines his friendships with those who hold vastly different viewpoints. It is healthy and respectful relationships with those that have different values that make us better people.

    Dispatches from Pluto by Richard Grant ($16.00*, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

     A Fall 2015 Okra Pick /  A 2016 Southern Book Prize Winner

  • Daily Writing Resilience: 365 Meditations & Inspirations for Writers by Bryan Robinson

    Daily Writing Resilience: 365 Meditations & Inspirations for Writers by Bryan RobinsonThe perfect gift book for the writer (or writer-to-be) in your life!

    Daily Writing Resilience: 365 Meditations & Inspirations for Writers by Bryan Robinson ($13.95*, Llewellyn Publications), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

     A Winter 2018 Okra Pick

  • Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers

    Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver JeffersThis ADORABLE new picture book is a great gift for any young readers who might enjoy vibrant pictures of the Earth and their surroundings.

    Here We Are: Notes for Living on Planet Earth by Oliver Jeffers ($19.99, Philomel Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

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

    Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann FennellyThe book itself is small and brightly colored. On the cover is a popsicle stick with a fragment of frozen purple goodness hanging on. Inside are delightful morsels that are both heart-rending and side-splitting. You'll want to devour them all in one sitting, but try to savor them. Get a little juice on your chin.

    Heating & Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly ($22.95, Norton), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

     A Fall 2017 Okra Pick

  • Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan

    Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe HaganWhat a well-written, entertaining trashing of the King of Culture Vultures, Jann Wenner, and his coterie of drug-addled, revoltingly ambitious and very attractive nest-prodders. There’s genuine dish on every single page; as a very young man who read and was consciously influenced by the writing in Rolling Stone, I feel personally insulted and maimed by what these people did to steer the "counterculture", but I have respect for the cohesive and thorough application of their evil will. A useful, engaging, mirror-smashing exposé, highly recommended.

    Sticky Fingers: The Life and Times of Jann Wenner and Rolling Stone Magazine by Joe Hagan ($29.95*, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad

    Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad Roben Farzad's debut is a fast-paced tale of drugs, sex, and Dom Perignon set in a swanky Miami hotel called The Mutiny. The book seems destined for the silver screen until you realize that it's too ridiculous to believe. But that's the thing: every freaky cocaine-fueled moment, each kingpin ordered assassination, every larger-than-life character, every celebrity cameo is actually real. So, put the soundtrack to Miami Vice on the in the background, grab yourself decadent drink, and settle in for a ripping good read!

    Hotel Scarface by Roben Farzad ($26.00*, Berkely Books). recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

     A Fall 2017 Okra Pick

  • Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben Blum

    Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben BlumAn intriguing true tale about a bank robbery committed by a group of Army Rangers, one of whom is the 19-year-old cousin of the author. I think the bottom line is this: we ask the people who fight our wars to do terrible things. Do we then get to ask how they got to be so terrible?

    Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime by Ben Blum ($28.95*, Doubleday Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Grant by Ron Chernow

    Grant by Ron ChernowChernow does it again. Common knowledge: Grant won the war for Lincoln; he drank; he came into office as a rank amateur. Chernow gives us a bigger picture: Grant's appreciation for Lee; his stature as the first modern general; his abolitionism; his life in the Gilded Age.

    Grant by Ron Chernow ($40.00, Penguin Press), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The 57 Bus by Dashka Slater

    The 57 Bus by Dashka SlaterFrom Page 158 Books: It was fascinating to step into the life of a gender non-binary individual. I really enjoyed that perspective.

    From the publisher: If it weren't for the 57 bus, Sasha and Richard never would have met. Both were high school students from Oakland, California, one of the most diverse cities in the country, but they inhabited different worlds. Sasha, a white teen, lived in the middle-class foothills and attended a small private school. Richard, a black teen, lived in the crime-plagued flatlands and attended a large public one. Each day, their paths overlapped for a mere eight minutes. But one afternoon on the bus ride home from school, a single reckless act left Sasha severely burned, and Richard charged with two hate crimes and facing life imprisonment. The case garnered international attention, thrusting both teenagers into the spotlight.

    The 57 Bus: A True Story of Two Teenagers and the Crime That Changed Their Lives by Dashka Slater ($17.99*, Farrar Straus Giroux), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Morningstar by Ann Hood

    Morningstar by Ann Hood Ann Hood and I lived in similar worlds growing up, if not geographically, then economically and culturally. What is most relevant, though, is the similarity of our reading lives as children and teens: we received little guidance in what we "should" read, and yet it seems that the right books appeared at the right time, deeply influencing the people we are now. If you were a "bookworm" (and I mean that is the best way) as a child, and pick up this book, I suspect that you'll feel a similar connection, and likely find Hood's recounting of her early years through the important books in her life as charming as I did.

    Morningstar by Ann Hood ($22.95*, W.W. Norton & Company), recommended by Malaprop's, Asheville, NC.

  • From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty, Landis Blair

    From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty, Landis BlairThis book is...so...COOL! Maybe I'm just a macabre soul, but Caitlin Doughty argues that much of Western culture has grown too apart from death by avoiding it as much as possible. This prevents us from grieving in proper ways. She takes us around the world studying a variety of different death practices that may leave some of you more squeamish types squirming, but the result is very profound and beautiful and whimsical. It certainly has me thinking about how I would like to go, and now I have so many more ideas (again...macabre)!

    From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty, Landis Blair ($24.95*, WW. Norton & Company), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Nine Continents: A Memoir in and Out of China by Xiaolu Guo

    Nine Continents: A Memoir in and Out of China by Xiaolu GuoSometimes I pigeonhole myself by only reading about things that I can relate to, stories that are familiar, people that I "know." I put this book off for a long time because of this. Finally starting it, I quickly devoured it, my narrow focus totally blown open. Xiaolu Guo's memoir proves that she has mastered the intricacies of the language that was once foreign to her, saying a lot about who she is. A story about identity, Guo has always sought out the new, and now I feel inspired to do the same.

    Nine Continents: A Memoir in and Out of China by Xiaolu Guo ($26.00*, Grove Press), recommended by Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.

  • Wait, What? And Life's Other Essential Questions by James E. Ryan

    Wait, What? And Life's Other Essential Questions  by James E. RyanI 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.

  • October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China Miéville

    October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China MiévilleChina Miéville’s October is an electrifying centenary tour through Russia’s axial 1917. Acting as expert guide, he whisks readers through the labyrinthine history of that land, past Tzars and Rasputin, to focus on the intimate details of factory-level debates, cabinet meetings, bureaus, letters, trains, revolutions, and the Revolution. Most of us have a sense of where this particular drama ends or at least what came later, but Miéville throws the reader into scene after scene of this spectacular story. Read more at Lemuria Books blog...

    October: The Story of the Russian Revolution by China Miéville ($26.95, Verson), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Evicted by Matthew Desmond

    Evicted by Matthew DesmondI know I’ve recommended this book before, but it’s just out in paperback, has won the Pulitzer, and is absolutely required reading. Take a look at how other people are living. Let your compassion motivate you to action. Admire Matthew Desmond’s brilliance.

    Evicted by Matthew Desmond ($17.00*, Broadway Books), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler

    An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar AdlerRequired reading for the cook who seeks equanimity and peace both in the kitchen and in life. Tamar Adler is a modern-day MFK Fisher.

    An Everlasting Meal: Cooking with Economy and Grace by Tamar Adler ($16.00*, Scribner Book Company, recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Flight Path by Hannah Palmer

    Flight Path by Hannah PalmerPart memoir, part urban history, Hannah Palmer's Flight Path is entirely fascinating, witty, and tender. Years after leaving the South for Brooklyn, Palmer returns to Atlanta ready to start a family and searching for her roots. While her husband doubles down on home improvements, a pregnant Palmer hits the pavement, intent on finding out what happened to her childhood homes, which have disappeared along with entire neighborhoods and cities beneath the sprawling complex of the busiest airport in the world. In gorgeous prose at turns poetic and wry, Palmer investigates not only how Hartsfield-Jackson has shaped the city that gave birth to it, but how a city shapes a person, the human relationship to place, and how much anyone can really know "home." Palmer's journey is enthralling, and I found myself questioning, mourning, and hoping along with her. I'll never look at Atlanta the same way again, or any city for that matter.

    Flight Path by Hannah Palmer ($16.95*, Hub City Press), recommended by Hills & Hamlets Bookshop, Chattahoochee Hills, GA.

    A Spring 2017 Okra Pick!

  • The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

    The Snow Leopard by Peter MatthiessenIn 1973, Peter Matthiessen travels to the Himalayas in search of the elusive Snow Leopard. What follows is a spiritual journey and a travelogue unlike any I’ve read before. A masterpiece of nature writing.

    The Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen ($18.00*, Penguin Books), recommended by Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood

    Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia LockwoodFrom the publisher: From Patricia Lockwood--a writer acclaimed for her wildly original voice--a vivid, heartbreakingly funny memoir about balancing identity with family and tradition. Father Greg Lockwood is unlike any Catholic priest you have ever met--a man who lounges in boxer shorts, loves action movies, and whose constant jamming on the guitar reverberates "like a whole band dying in a plane crash in 1972." His daughter is an irreverent poet who long ago left the Church's country. When an unexpected crisis leads her and her husband to move back into her parents' rectory, their two worlds collide...

    From the staff at The Country Bookshop: This is the funniest book I've read this year. You will Laugh. Out. Loud.

    Priestdaddy: A Memoir by Patricia Lockwood ($27.00*, Riverhead Books), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell

    Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom BissellThe best book I've ever read about video games. Bissell takes games seriously as an art form worthy of thoughtful criticism while never idealizing away their flaws. Extra Lives is broken up into memoir-ish chapters focusing on the author's relationship to a single game at a time. "Grand Thefts" is a devastating high point, but they all have unique insights.

    Extra Lives: Why Video Games Matter by Tom Bissell ($15.95*, Vintage Books), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris

    Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David SedarisTheft by Finding has all David's humorous and insightful hallmarks and is, at the same time, very different from his previous books, with more sadness and seriousness, at least for the beginning entries. If you grew up in Raleigh you will have a lot of aha! moments being reminded of what a different place it was in 1977. It's really interesting to watch David evolve from the guy with lots of anxiety, no money, and a few addictions, to the celebrated writer he is today, with anxiety intact, of course. The real stars of the book are David's family, who come through as an eccentric bunch, but also a very close and loving one who enjoy one another.

    Theft by Finding: Diaries (1977-2002) by David Sedaris ($28.00, Little Brown), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Mark Twain's America: A Celebration in Words and Images by Harry L. Katz, Library of Congress

    Mark Twain's America: A Celebration in Words and Images by Harry L. Katz, Library of CongressA perfect gift for anyone who loves presidential biographies and Ken Burns documentaries. Put together by the Library of Congress, this breathtakingly detailed and entertaining book full of American history, shown through the lens of one of its greatest icons, is perfect for any coffee table.

    Mark Twain's America: A Celebration in Words and Images by Harry L. Katz, Library of Congress ($40, Little Brown & Company), recommended by Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy

    The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road by Finn MurphyA thoughtful and lively look behind the scenes of long-haul trucking, one of the many jobs that operate conveniently out of mind for most Americans. Murphy has seen a lot during his years on the road, and he doesn't pull any punches sharing his thoughts. This is a fun, hard-to-put-down read that just might inspire you to drop whatever you're doing and hit the road-- or at the very least to be more appreciative of those who do!

    The Long Haul: A Trucker's Tales of Life on the Road by Finn Murphy ($26.95, W.W. Norton), recommended by Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Things Like the Truth: Out of My Later Years by Ellen Gilchrist

    Things Like the Truth: Out of My Later Years by Ellen GilchristThings like the Truth offers a collection of nonfiction essays about Ellen Gilchrist's life, family, home, work, aging, and the fun of fighting to stay healthy in an increasingly undisciplined culture. This collection brings together for the first time essays by Ellen Gilchrist on her later life and family. Essays such as "The Joy of Swimming" reveal how Gilchrist, as an aging person, thinks about the joys one can discover late in life. Other essays focus on surgery, money, childhood memories, changing perspectives, and the vagaries of the age.

    Gilchrist pays special attention to her evolving relationships with her adult children and the pleasures and pitfalls of being a grandmother and great-grandmother. The volume also includes essays from her diary about the sense of place in her mountain home near her work at the University of Arkansas and about life after Hurricane Katrina on the Mississippi Gulf Coast, her second residence.

    Things Like the Truth: Out of My Later Years by Ellen Gilchrist ($29.95, University Press of Mississippi). recommended by Garden District Book Shop, New Orleans, LA.

  • Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor

    Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown TaylorDescribed as a spiritual memoir, this book is more than that. It’s a meditation on understanding and learning to appreciate those periods when our lives are not what we'd like them to be: we're facing difficulties in our work, or our relationships, or we're depressed, or stressed, or simply not able to perform in our lives in the way we want to or think we should be able to. The author, an Episcopal priest, believes that there is much we can learn from the dark—both literally and metaphorically--from the simple act of being able to truly see the stars, to learning about ourselves and others as a way of reaching love, understanding, and joy. Often, she says, it is while we are in the dark that we grow the most.

    Learning to Walk in the Dark by Barbara Brown Taylor ($14.99, HarperOne), recommended by Malaprops Bookstore, Asheville, NC.

  • Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

    This is a book for Readers with a capital R!  Will Schwalbe delights and details the pleasure and necessity of reading.  Every chapter features a different book and something that the author got from reading it--Slowing Down, Choosing Kindness, Recharging, Losing, Mastering the Art of Reading (of which I personally underline most of the chapter) and so many more. In fact the only times I put this book down was to write down my own feelings on what I had just read. A perfect book for any bookworm, and one that I'll be sharing with my book club friends!

    Books for Living by Will Schwalbe ($25.95, Knopf), recommended by Fountain Books, Richmond, VA

  • The Revenge of Analog by David Sax

    The Revenge of Analog by David SaxHave you ever heard your father complain about the “kids these days”? This book laments the long lost art forms of brick and mortar stores, vinyl records, etc.

    In The Revenge of Analog, business and culture reporter and author David Sax lays out a compelling and eye-opening rebuttal to the prevailing orthodoxies that the digital world is king. Sax does not write from the perspective of a Luddite, fearful of technology or averse to new technological discoveries; indeed, he illuminates how cyber and digital discoveries in many ways both enhance and simplify our world. But he lays out how cyber advances have often been oversold and that a portion of the public is turning back to the products, technologies and areas of their lives the tech revolution supplanted. The Revenge of Analog is a thought-provoking, fascinating look at how our world is illuminated, expanded and limited by the choices around us. Read more at Lemuria's blog...

    The Revenge of Analog by David Sax ($27.00, Public Affairs), recommended by Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King

    Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross KingRoss King, author of the very wonderful Brunelleschi’s Dome, takes on Monet, and the fascinating story behind the creation, in the last decade of his life, of the enormous water lily paintings that reside in the Orangerie in Paris. King brings Monet to life in his old age, living quietly in his paradise at Giverny. Given to bouts of discouragement and rage (he slashed or burned many canvases), his vision obscured by cataracts, Monet worked obsessively until his death at 86. King focuses on life in the French countryside during WWI and on Monet’s relationship with his closest friend, Georges Clemenceau, war hero and Prime Minister of France, who kept Monet buoyed up with frequent lunches, drinking, smoking, and amusing correspondence. Clemenceau was instrumental in Monet’s donation of the water lily panels to the people of France, although their friendship nearly ended when year after year Monet would not, or could not, let go of the paintings. Highly recommended for art and WWI buffs.

    Mad Enchantment: Claude Monet and the Painting of the Water Lilies by Ross King ($30.00, Bloomsbury USA), recommended by Lisa, Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler

    The Blue Hour by Isabelle SimlerThis gorgeous ode to twilight will encourage readers to slow down and savor all things vespertine.

    The Blue Hour by Isabelle Simler ($19.00, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore

    The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate MooreBe forewarned: The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women will make you very, very angry. Now we may look at early 20th Century attitudes toward radium with shock (radium toothpaste? jockstraps?) At the time, corporate America knew the danger, even if consumers didn't. And no one was more vulnerable than the literally glowing women who painted the in-demand radium dials of watches and instruments. Their years of suffering and legal conflicts led to safer working conditions for others. Think of their legacy when someone cavalierly proposes rolling back worker protections.

    The Radium Girls: The Dark Story of America's Shining Women by Kate Moore ($26.99, Sourcebooks), recommended by Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion

    South and West: From a Notebook by Joan DidionImagine stumbling on ten Beatles songs that got cut from The White Album. South and West is like that, Joan Didion at her thrilling best. These essays were written in 1970, about the time she published, well, The White Album.

    South and West: From a Notebook by Joan Didion ($21.00, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Ann, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Man Walks Into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown

    Man Walks Into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete BrownIn this Bill Bryson-esque history of pub culture and drinking in England, author Pete Brown carbonates the proceedings with just the right amount of humor and trivia (from "taking you down a peg" to Crocodile Dundee) to make it all go down smoothly.

    Man Walks Into a Pub: A Sociable History of Beer by Pete Brown ($15.95, Pan Books), recommended by Steve, Fountain Books, Richmond, VA.

  • John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister, Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator)

    John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister, Eliza Wheeler (Illustrator)Tolkien loved dragons as a boy, but never found one until he created Smaug. This biography is a perfect introduction to his work. It would be a great family read-aloud, and it includes a bibliography.

    John Ronald's Dragons: The Story of J. R. R. Tolkien by Caroline McAlister, Eliza Wheeler (illustrator)($18.99, Roaring Brook Press), recommended by Jackie, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop by Ronald Rice (Editor)

    My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop by Ronald Rice (Editor)The independent bookstore relationship is a must read for those who must write or wish to. 84 authors share their inspirations and experiences with their favorite local haunts. This would make a great gift for both the book lover and the bookstore lover! Plus...the book jacket is very cool, a great addition in a personal library.

    My Bookstore: Writers Celebrate Their Favorite Places to Browse, Read, and Shop by Ronald Rice/editor ($23.95, Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers), recommended by Dori, Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello

    Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello

    This collection of essays dips into so many genres I can't even explain it. Passarello tells the stories of 16 famous animals immortalized by humans and examines how their stories shape our understanding of humanity. It is witty, informative, and she even takes the perspective of Darwin's tortoise. Yes.

    Animals Strike Curious Poses by Elena Passarello ($16.95, Sarabande Books), recommended by Halley, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Freeman’s: Home--The Best New Writing on Home by John Freeman (Editor)

    Freeman's: Home--The Best New Writing on Home by John Freeman (Editor)

    John Freeman is dear to me and the Freeman's anthologies (this is the third) are his most ambitious and accessible projects to date. If you currently read Best American Short Stories or Pushcart Prize anthologies, stretch your wings a bit and try this dazzlingly international collection. The new issue spotlights never-before-published stories, essays, poetry by Edwidge Danticat, Herta Müller, Juan Gabriel Vásquez, Gregory Pardlo, Kay Ryan, Aleksandar Hemon, Viet Thanh Nguyen, and many more.

    Freeman's: Home--The Best New Writing on Homeby John Freeman (Editor) ($16.00, Grove Press), recommended by Kelly, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.

  • Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

    Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke

    Like a cross between Leslie Jamison and Alison Bechdel, in this graphic memoir Kristen Radtke takes the best of the contemporary essay and brings her story to life with clean and evocative illustrations. Imagine Wanting Only This is a travelogue of displacement, following Radtke to abandoned mining towns, bombed-out ruins, and a lava-covered Icelandic island. What grounds it all, though, is the way Radtke examines what motivates her restlessness: the death of her uncle from a rare genetic mutation, the breakdown of a relationship. Kristen Radkte is a many-talented literary artist, and this remarkable debut will stay with me.

    Imagine Wanting Only This by Kristen Radtke ($25.95, Pantheon Books), recommended by Travis, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades--Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too by Steven Raichlen

    Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades--Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too by Steven Raichlen

    We are still licking our chops from the dinner we did with this author a while back! Steven Raichlen, America's "master griller" (Esquire), has completely updated and revised his bestselling encyclopedia of chile-fired rubs, lemony marinades, buttery bastes, pack-a-wallop sauces, plus mops, slathers, sambals, and chutneys. It’s a cornucopia of all the latest flavor trends, drawing from irresistible Thai, Mexican, Indian, Cajun, Jamaican, Italian, and French cuisines, as well as those building blocks from America’s own barbecue belt.

    Barbecue Sauces, Rubs, and Marinades--Bastes, Butters & Glazes, Too by Steven Raichlen ($17.95, Workman Publishing), recommended by Kelly, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

    The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel

    Do you ever think about getting away from the world? Ever contemplate taking a break and relaxing out in the woods by yourself for while? Well, one guy decided to do just that…for 27 years.

    The Stranger in the Woods is the true story of the hermit Christopher Knight. In 1986, 20-year-old Knight decided to completely leave society and disappear into the woods of Maine. For the next three decades, Knight lived completely by himself, surviving by pilfering off the summer cabins that surrounded the nearby lake. To the locals, he became known as the North Pond Hermit. It wasn’t until 2013 that a determined resident finally caught him stealing food from the lake’s summer camp, and the hermit and his hideout were revealed. Read more at Lemuia’s blog…

    The Stranger in the Woods by Michael Finkel ($25.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Abbie, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War by Lynne Olson

    Last Hope Island Britain: Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War by Lynne Olson

    Both Helen and Rosemary recommend Lynne Olson's new history:

    Rosemary: The contributions of smaller Allied nations (such as Norway) are often overlooked in WWII histories. In the starting days of the war, governments and partisans in exile congregated in London. Olson (Citizens of London) returns to its setting to detail how refugee communities came to England's aid (among them, Polish and Czech pilots for a decimated RAF) and England to theirs. All didn't go swimmingly, but all realized that England indeed was their Last Hope Island against Hitler.

    Helen: Last Hope Island is an eye-opening account of heroic people who refused to give up as Europe fell to the Nazis. They came to Great Britain, calling it "Last Hope Island," to fight until the bitter end. Polish pilots became the most aggressive pilots in the air. When the leader of a French underground spy ring was captured, his young secretary took over. After giving his estate to the Allies to use as a military hospital, a Scottish lord led the soldiers who defused bombs. A fascinating history full of new personal stories from World War II.

    Last Hope Island: Britain, Occupied Europe, and the Brotherhood That Helped Turn the Tide of War($30, Random House), recommended by Helen and Rosemary, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Radical Candor by Kim Scott

    Radical Candor/Kim Scott Radical Candor is the best book on being a boss (i.e., managing people) that I've ever read. Kim's system is elegantly simple, eminently useful, and applicable to anyone who has ever been an employee or an employer. Unlike the dry tone of most business books, Kim sounds like an older sister sharing hard-won experiences and her gossipy Silicon Valley examples also make the book a fun peek into the tech companies like Google and Apple that are now mainstays of the Fortune 500.

    Radical Candor by Kim Scott ($26.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Jill, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds by Lyndall Gordon

    There's much that's a mystery about Emily Dickinson, but one traumatic event of her life is well-documented: the affair between her brother Austin and Mabel Loomis Todd, an Amherst College professor's wife. Lyndall Gordon uses the affair and the feud it caused to explore Emily Dickinson's life and the untold dramas that fueled her poems. This is riveting reading that will challenge anyone's notion of Dickinson as a quaint spinster.

    Lives Like Loaded Guns: Emily Dickinson and Her Family's Feuds by Lyndall Gordon ($20, Penguin Books), recommended by Travis, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary

    Margaret Wise Brown left this earth far too soon, but in the little time she was here, she created a mind-blowing amount of children's books that captured, "with a sense of awe and wonder," the magic of childhood. Gary's pitch-perfect account of Brown's life is filled with her subject's whimsy and zest for life, and it reveals the many hurdles Brown faced in trying to go against the grain in her work life and love life. Chapter by chapter, Gary builds a loving portrait of a woman whose childlike view of the world lent her an extraordinary gift in writing for children and who battled turmoil within and without despite her playful, witty exterior. This book is proof of Margaret Wise Brown's "radiant living that was lived among us."

    In the Great Green Room: The Brilliant and Bold Life of Margaret Wise Brown by Amy Gary ($26.99, Flatiron Books), recommended by Hannah, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • 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.

  • Hallelujah Anyway Rediscovering Mercy by Anne Lamott

    Anne Lamott again finds a way to teach us life lessons by looking at the remarkable and unremarkable things around us. Her take on mercy is one that many will find relevant. And who doesn't need to have a little mercy in these times?

    Hallelujah Anyway by Anne Lamott ($20, Riverhead), recommended by Linda, Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Battle for Home The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria by Marwa Al-Sabouni

    From the publisher: From Syria's tolerant past, with churches and mosques built alongside one another in Old Homs and members of different religions living harmoniously together, the book chronicles the recent breakdown of social cohesion in Syria's cities. With the lack of shared public spaces intensifying divisions within the community, and corrupt officials interfering in town planning for their own gain, these actions are symptomatic of wider abuses of power With firsthand accounts of mortar attacks and stories of refugees struggling to find a home, The Battle for Home is a compelling explanation of the personal impact of the conflict and offers hope for how architecture can play a role in rebuilding a sense of identity within a damaged society.

    From Kimberly at The Country Bookshop: "An architect walks you through the building and character and history of Homs, Syria. Through sketches of buildings and towns, the current situation and how it came to pass is explained."

    The Battle for Home The Vision of a Young Architect in Syria by Marwa Al-Sabouni ($25.95, Thames & Hudson), recommended by Kimberly, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker

    This beautiful book should be in every doctor's office, every waiting room, every home. With brilliant images of girls in their natural habitat, this book celebrates strong girls with great gusto.

    Strong is the New Pretty by Kate T. Parker ($30, Workman Publishing), recommended by Rachel, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss

    This isn't a self-help or get rich quick book; it's the ultimate browsable treasure trove of tidbits of information from the lives of individuals who are masters of their craft. Topics range from fitness & diet to friendships, work habits, tech, and everything in between. Who doesn't want to hear some sage advice from people like Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sebastian Junger, Jamie Foxx, or Sam Harris? Just the info on pg. 138 about evening and morning rituals is well worth the price of admission (and truly changed my life for the better). If you take from this book what the author intends, you'll "like 50%, love 25%, and never forget 10%."

    Tools of Titans by Tim Ferriss ($28, Houghton Mifflin), recommended by Lane, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Brand New Catastrophe by Mike Scalise

    Everyone loves a good catastrophe story, and Mike Scalise has a great one-- the rupture of a brain tumor that leads to a rare pituitary disorder at age 24. Not many of us share a diagnosis with Andre the Giant, but Scalise makes this tale of hospitalization and recovery both relatable and strangely hilarious. And at its heart, it's a book about how the stories we tell shape us, catastrophic or not.

    The Brand New Catastrophe by Mike Scalise ($15.95, Sarabande Books), recommended by Travis, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein and George Plimpton

    The first oral biography I ever read, one that sticks with me. Edie Sedgwick: beautiful, wealthy, flighty and famous, falls in with Andy Warhol's coterie in exploding mid-60s New York. Told by a vast array of would-bes, weres and hangers-on, the tale of what happens next (brilliant and bad) is edited to crystal perfection and tragic in its detail.

    Edie: American Girl by Jean Stein and George Plimpton ($17, Grove Press), recommended by Matt, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis

    Lewis’s book the Undoing Project is a compelling collaboration between two extraordinary men and one of the greatest partnerships in the history of science. Not only does the book tell the story of how these two laid the foundation for behavioral economics it also gives us insight to their complicated personalities and drive.

    The Undoing Project by Michael Lewis ($28.95, W.W. Norton & Company), recommended by Vickie, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • S.P.Q.R: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard

    The winter months are a great time to read that book you’ve been putting off. For me, it’s Mary Beard’s S.P.Q.R.—a sweeping history of all aspects of Roman history. A renowned classicist, Beard illustrates why Rome is still relevant today, with a passion for the subject that appeals to students of Roman history as well as newcomers.

    S.P.Q.R.: A History of Ancient Rome by Mary Beard ($17.95, Liveright Publishing Corporation), recommended by Andy, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life By Ayelet Waldman

    Want a laugh-out-loud book about depression? A feel-good book about LSD? An engaging look at chemistry, history, and law? Look no further. Waldman is difficult and she knows it. She’s trying to get better. We root for her every step of the way.

    A Really Good Day: How Microdosing Made a Mega Difference in My Mood, My Marriage, and My Life By Ayelet Waldman ($24.95, Knopf Publishing Group), recommended by Ann, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living by Krista Tippett

    Amidst all the noise and anger in society, Krista Tippett offers a refuge, an oasis where we can learn the value of listening, and learn to respect and appreciate people and the world around us. In her latest book, she offers a message of hope. The Peabody Award-winning radio host of On Being, Krista is a master of what she terms "generous listening," with a strong curiosity, and a "willingness to be surprised, to let go of assumptions and take in ambiguity." What better model could we ask for? 

    Becoming Wise: An Inquiry into the Mystery and Art of Living (Penguin $28), recommended by René at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

    Quail Ridge Books is hosting Krista Tippett at the UU Fellowship of Raleigh for the paperback release of the book on Friday, March 3.

  • Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living by Manjula Martin

    How DO you make money as a writer without losing your mind or your soul? The short answer is, “It depends.” The long answer is the entirety of this book: honest, engaging essays by writers including Cheryl Strayed, Roxane Gay, Nick Hornby, Susan Orlean, Alexander Chee, and Jennifer Weiner.

    Scratch: Writers, Money, and the Art of Making a Living by Manjula Martin ($16, Simon & Schuster), recommended by Mary Laura, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.