GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy LefteriLefteri has written a powerful story of a family who has suffered mightily during the Syrian war as they watched their city and country being decimated. Their journey to escape the devastation is in itself a harrowing experience. Beautifully written and heartbreaking, Nuri, a beekeeper, and his wife Afra struggle to maintain hope as forces pull them apart. It was difficult to read but so poignant and I couldn’t put it down! This story speaks to the power of love, loss and the strength of family.

    The Beekeeper of Aleppo by Christy Lefteri ($27.00*, Ballantine Books), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat

    Everything Inside by Edwidge DanticatEverything Inside transported me into the distant, unknown worlds of Haitian, Caribbean, and Haitian-American culture. Each story explores the tenuousness of relationships--how things can change in an instant, or how a fuzzy detail about someone we feel close to becomes clearer and more telling in retrospect. These are beautifully written and moving that will linger with me in the weeks and months to come.

    Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat ($25.95*, Knopf), recommended by Bards Alley, Vienna, VA.

  • Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

    Vintage 1954 by Antoine LaurainFor those who have not yet caught on to the magic that is Antoine Laurain, Vintage 1954 is a lovely introduction. His trademark uniqueness is on full display here as he weaves a tale of wine, time-travel, UFOs, and international cooperation that becomes remarkably believable the more you read. Through many celebrity cameos and subtle descriptive flourishes, the world of Paris in 1954 leaps off the page. Grab a good glass of wine and a comfy chair and immerse yourself in the quirky creativity that is Antoine Laurain.

    Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain ($14.95*, Gallic Books), recommended by Square Books, Oxford, MS.

  • The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary

    The Flatshare by Beth O'LearySure, the premise of The Flatshare requires you to suspend some disbelief, but that's true of the very best romantic comedies, isn't it? Beth O'Leary has created a feel-good page turner with characters you'll actually care about. Perfect for summer reading, and begging to be translated onscreen.

    The Flatshare by Beth O'Leary ($26.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by The Bookshelf, Thomasville, GA.

  • 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.

  • The Lost Man by Jane Harper

    The Lost Man by Jane HarperJane Harper has created yet another masterpiece, this one a standalone set in the outback region of Queensland Australia. It is a beautifully written character driven novel where the extreme hardship of living and surviving in the outback is one of the major characters.

    It is the story of the Bright brothers told from the perspective of Nathan--the oldest of the three--as he tries to make sense of how his middle brother, Cameron, ended up alone in the middle of the desert dead of dehydration when he had a well-stocked and working car not far away. Was it something sinister or was it suicide as the authorities seem to believe. If suicide, what might have driven this charismatic well liked young man with a wife and two young daughters to take his life. The Lost Man is a story of family dynamics, of abuse and of lots of what if's.

    The descriptions of the scenery and life in the outback would be enough alone to keep up your interest, but added to that is a cast of characters who you feel like you know intimately by the end of the book. A cast of characters who all have secrets and who make you wonder did Cameron kill himself or did one of them do the unspeakable?

    The Lost Man by Jane Harper ($27.99*, Flatiron Books), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear

    Sweet Little Lies by Caz FrearA woman’s body is found strangled in a garden in London. When the victim’s identity is discovered it throws Detective Catrina Kinsella’s life into a nightmare that she couldn’t have imagined.  The victim, as it turned out, was actually someone that Cat had once known. She was someone who had disappeared from Ireland years earlier and was never seen again. While on vacation in Ireland with her family when she was 8, she witnessed her father give the then young girl a ride. Later when the girl disappeared, Cat heard her father lie to the police about ever knowing her. Now, years later the woman’s body is found not far from where her father now lives and works in London. Was it coincidence or something far more sinister?

    Cat is flawed, she’s sassy-mouthed, she’s complex and deep-down, and she’s compassionate. But most of all she believes people should have to pay for their crimes. Sweet Little Lies is a debut mystery that really delivers. It is a dark story with a touch of humor and a wonderfully developed character who I would love to see again. 

    Sweet Little Lies by Caz Frear ($26.99*, Harper), recommended by Fiction Addiction, Greenville, SC.

  • The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor

    The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregorImmersive, nuanced, and exquisitely strange, the interconnected stories within The Reservoir Tapes are a feat of genius. Jon McGregor offers us snippets of an array of lives within a small English town, which come to assemble the blast radius of the recent disappearance of a young teenager. The sheer range of voices within is stunning, as is the tone, which manages to be at once thoughtful, ominous, and humdrum. No event passes without being challenged, complicated, and re-considered from angle-upon-angle, perspective-upon-perspective. I both gloried in the small details and tactile prose—a llama that wasn’t even a llama, the bike grease that refuses to be scrubbed from one’s hands—and furiously flipped pages. This brilliant book is haunted by the specter of normality, which creeps back into the lives of townspeople altered by tragedy. 

    The Reservoir Tapes by Jon McGregor ($22.00*, Catapult), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise

    The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer WiseA young man reluctantly takes over the family business (a shoe factory in China) and discovers the corruption and exploitation inherent in the system there. In the midst of coming to terms with all of that, Alex meets a seamstress named Ivy and they become close. But Ivy has an ulterior motive and while it aligns with some of Alex's sympathies, he's been manipulated and knows it.

    Beautiful writing and a plot that pulls you in and won't let go! 

    The Emperor of Shoes by Spencer Wise ($26.99*, Hanover Square Press), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • A Theory of Love by Margaret Bradham Thornton

    A Theory of Love by Margaret Bradham ThorntonWith more thought and more travel than the usual love story, A Theory of Love is the story of Helen and Christopher's romance and marriage and ultimately the understanding of how people understand love and learn to know what they need from a partner in a marriage. The exotic locales change but the marriage is wonderfully recognizable as the couple navigates their lives. 

    A Theory of Love by Margaret Bradham Thornton ($27.99*, Ecco Press), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Disoriental by Négar Djavadi

    Disoriental by Negar DjavadiI devoured this book. Kimia's family history, and consequently the history of Iran, is given in tantalizing bits and pieces. It was fascinating, informative, and exceptionally well-written. I highly, highly recommend it!

    Disoriental by Négar Djavadi ($18.00*, Europa Editions), recommended by Union Ave Books, Knoxville, TN.

  • Tangerine by Catherine Managan

    Tangerine by Christine ManaganIn the beginning I wasn't sure what Tangerine was trying to be--a Gothic thriller like Rebecca? a symphony of unreliable narrator voices, like in the TV drama The Affair? a love triangle?

    As I read on, I decided that it reminded me of nothing more than The Talented Mr. Ripley. Maybe in its setting: a hot, tropical place like Tangier, where expat Americans and Brits love to feel free of all constraints and even laws. In its voice, too, though instead of being narrated entirely by Ripley, Tangerine takes turns between the voices of its two heroines. Both are flawed and both are entirely relatable, up to a point. Take nothing for granted in this debut that is much more than the sum of its influences.

    Tangerine by Christine Managan ($26.99*, Ecco Press), recommended by Bookmiser, Inc., Roswell, GA.

  • Bad Seeds by Jassy MacKenzie

    Bad Seeds by Jassy MacKenzieIf you like stories set in South Africa well you need to check out Jassy MacKenzie. This contemporary series casts a gimlet eye on a society of such disconcerting contradictory opposites that I'd rather travel there vicariously than go in person. Good stuff!

    Bad Seeds by Jassy MacKenzie ($15.95*, Soho Crime), recommended by McIntyre's Fine Books, Pittsboro, NC.

  • Registers of Illuminated Villages by Tarfia Faizullah

    Registers of Illuminated Villages by Tarfia Faizullah Tarfia Faizullah’s Registers of Illuminated Villages is a stunning exploration of what is taken, destroyed, lost and gained over time by war, by violence, by aging. It is an elegy that celebrates as it laments, unraveling both personal and large-scale trauma. The speakers of these poems consider the power and nature of memory post-9/11, especially as war represents a destroyer of human memory. How does one confront the losses of entire villages? How does one confront the loss of a single sister?

    Faizullah’s poems are bodily and aromatic; they evoke fruits and spices, blossoms and skies. They rebel against the exoticizing of a place and its people; they confront ignorance and prejudice and hatred, saying, “Suck on a mango, bitch.” They explore the painful and precious memories of childhood, the simultaneity of religion and injustice. They are reverently irreverent. Faizullah gathers together lists of destruction and violence, exploring the lives that have been laid to rest beneath those numbers. Her poems are a tapestry of powerful voices, woven together with masterfully precise language; the speaker of each and every poem seemingly saying, “[t]here are so many bodies inside this one.”

    Registers of Illuminated Villages by Tarfia Faizullah ($16.00*, Graywolf Press), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher

    Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-ZecherThis devastating, beautifully wrought story reminds us that the mentality of Us vs Them can only end badly for both. Make any effort to get to know Them, and We realize that They are just like Us. They are Us with different clothes, accents, hair, skin. I am also reminded that a love story isn’t any good unless it breaks your heart.

    Sadness Is a White Bird by Moriel Rothman-Zecher ($26.00*, Atria Books), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, 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.

  • Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak

    Three Daughters of Eve by Elif ShafakShafak crafts a novel that is highly philosophical and entertaining. There are themes that speak to world politics and feel so right in their timing as well as timeless questions about God and love. A propulsive read that will leave you wanting more of Shafak's skill with language.

    Three Daughters of Eve by Elif Shafak ($27.00*, Bloomsbury USA), recommended by Malaprop's Bookstore/Café, 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.

  • An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine

    An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih AlameddineOn the first page, a 72-year-old woman in Beirut starts to tell us how she accidentally shampooed her hair blue. I fell in love with her and the book soon after. Aaliya tells us about her family, her city, and her beloved books in one of the most irresistible voices in modern literature.

    An Unnecessary Woman by Rabih Alameddine ($16.00, Grove Press), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • 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.

  • The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy

    The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati RoyRecently I sat in an Adirondack chair in the North Carolina mountains, and was transported to a graveyard in India through Arundhati Roy's haunting new novel, The Ministry of Utmost Happiness . Each of the main characters―Anjum, a transgender woman; Tilottama, a woman involved with many men but in love with only one; and Musa, the man with whom she is obsessed―were complex and fascinating people. It has been many years since the publication of Roy's last novel, The God of Small Things. The Ministry of Utmost Happiness will sustain us while we wait for more of her engaging characters and beautiful writing.

    The Ministry of Utmost Happiness by Arundhati Roy ($28.95, Knopf), recommended by Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka Aoki

    He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka AokiIf summer 2017 won’t actually take you to Hawaii, travel via the written word! Aoki’s novel is filled with love and food and dancing and family drama. This book is perfect for: anyone who wants to sink into a character-driven read suffused with Hawaiian culture.

    He Mele A Hilo (A Hilo Song) by Ryka Aoki ($18.95, Topside Signature), recommended by Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • My Italian Bulldozer by Andrew McCall Smith

    My Italian Bulldozer by Andrew McCall SmithWhen writer Paul Stewart heads to the idyllic Italian town of Montalcino to finish his already late book, it seems like the perfect escape from stressful city life. Upon landing, however, things quickly take a turn for the worse when he discovers his hired car is nowhere to be found. With no record of any reservation and no other cars available it looks like Paul is stuck at the airport. That is, until an enterprising stranger offers him an unexpected alternative. While there may be no cars available there is something else on offer: a bulldozer. With little choice in the matter, Paul accepts and so begins a series of laugh out loud adventures through the Italian countryside, following in the wake of Paul and his Italian Bulldozer. A story of unexpected circumstance and lesson in making the best of what you have, My Italian Bulldozer is a warm holiday read guaranteed to put a smile on your face.

    My Italian Bulldozer by AndrewMcCall Smith ($25.95, Pantheon Books), recommended by Page & Palette, Fairhope, AL.

  • The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre; Jordan Stump (Translator)

    The Waitress Was New By Dominique Fabre; Jordan Stump (Translator)

    Observational and mundane, this is a novel that inhabits the mind of an ordinary man for three days as his life abruptly changes. For all those who need a dose of Parisian café in their lives.

    "Let the world turn around us, beyond our spotless bars, in the end every day will be carefully wiped away to make room for the next."

    The Waitress Was New by Dominique Fabre; Jordan Stump (Translator) ($16, Archipelago Books), recommended by Elizabeth, Avid Bookshop, Athens, GA.

  • The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa SeeLisa See is finally back with a wonderful new novel about the healing powers of tea, on the body, heart, and spirit.

    In The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane (Scribner $27), explore a minority culture within China, the Akha people, and learn about the tea they grow. It tells the tale of a woman and her daughter separated after birth, and their mutual yearning to find each other again. They search for and find answers in the tea that has shaped their lives.

    The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane by Lisa See ($27.00, Scribner Book Company), recommended by Amber, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag

    So, the title. "Ghachar ghochar" is an untranslatable phrase uttered when things become hopelessly tangled. Like the knot on the cover. Like the lives of Vincent's family after a sudden, collective change in financial status. Like their relationship with the relentlessly imperturbable ants that have invaded the family's living quarters. Translated from Kannada (a southern Indian language), this novella-length book will grab you from the first pages and hold you until the end. A compelling, engrossing family drama that I would call delightful, but for the ending …

    Ghachar Ghochar by Vivek Shanbhag ($15, Penguin Books), recommended by Elese, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • 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.

  • Outline by Rachel Cusk

    From the publisher: Outline is a novel in ten conversations. Spare and lucid, it follows a novelist teaching a course in creative writing over an oppressively hot summer in Athens. She leads her students in storytelling exercises. She meets other visiting writers for dinner. She goes swimming in the Ionian Sea with her neighbor from the plane. The people she encounters speak volubly about themselves: their fantasies, anxieties, pet theories, regrets, and longings. And through these disclosures, a portrait of the narrator is drawn by contrast, a portrait of a woman learning to face a great loss.

    Outline by Rachel Cusk ($16.00, Picador USA), recommended by Angie, The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Burmese Days: A Novel by George Orwell

    Orwell draws on his years of experience in India to tell this story of the waning days of British imperialism. A handful of Englishmen living in a settlement in Burma congregate in the European Club, drink whiskey, and argue over an impending order to admit a token Asian. Definitely my favorite work of fiction! Great historical context, wonderful writing and the best ending to any book ever!

    Burmese Days: A Novel by George Orwell ($14.95, Harvest Books), recommended by John, Cavalier House Books, Denham Springs, LA.

  • I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora

    Caldecott Honor-winning author and illustrator Rachel Isadora returns with I Just Want to Say Good Night, a new spin on the classic Goodnight Moon by Margaret Wise Brown and Clement Hurd, set on the African plains.

    I Just Want to Say Good Night follows Lala as she puts off going to bed by saying goodnight to her family's cat, goat, chickens and more one at a time. "Isadora perfectly captures the universal ritual of a child saying goodnight to everything as a way to stall going to bed," said Erin Barker, buyer and manager at Hooray for Books! in Alexandria, Va. "The book is humorous and gentle, and the main character is adorable.”

    I Just Want to Say Good Night by Rachel Isadora ($17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by Erin, Hooray for Books, Alexandria VA.

  • Marshlands by Matthew Olshan

    In the tradition of Wilfred Thesiger's The Marsh Arabs and J. M. Coetzee's Waiting for the Barbarians, Marshlands explores a culture virtually snuffed out under Saddam Hussein, and how we cement our identities by pointing at someone to call "other." Elegant, brief, and searing, the book shivers with the life of a fragile, lost world.

    Marshlands will live on my favorite shelf, for sure. It is a surprising and well-written novel by Matthew Olshan, who also has a fun children’s book titled A Voyage in the Clouds: The (Mostly) True Story of the First International Flight by Balloon in 1785.

    Marshlands by Matthew Olshan ($14, Farrar, Straus and Giroux), recommended by Emöke, Malaprops Books, Asheville, NC.

  • The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden

    A magical debut novel: part fairy tale and part historical fiction set in medieval Russia.

    The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden ($27, Del Rey Books), recommended by Amy, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Dry by Jane Harper

    An atmospheric debut mystery that takes place under the blistering Australian sun. A federal agent returns to his hometown to find a decades old crime influencing his investigation of a horrific new one. Tightly paced and hard to put down.

    The Dry by Jane Harper ($25.99, Flatiron Books), recommended by Bonnie, Litchfield Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Golden Age by Joan London

    The Golden Age, by Australian novelist and bookseller Joan London, takes place in a hospital for children recovering from polio in Perth in the 1950’s. That may not sound like a particularly cheerful subject and, in many ways, it isn’t. The novel covers not only the ravages of polio, but also, because it centers around a Jewish immigrant family, it discusses the ravages of war. London’s writing, however, is transcendent. What could be a bleak, mournful tale is instead a beautiful story about finding poetry in the halls of a hospital and hope in the face of despair. This is a book I read all in one sitting because I just didn’t want to stop.

    The Golden Age by Joan London ($17, Europa Editions), recommended by Laura, Reading Rock Books, Dickson, TN.

  • Kristin Lavransdatter, I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset

    Written by Nobel Prize-winning author Sigrid Undset, this trilogy is a masterpiece, with each book in the series better than the last. Set in the 14th-century and reveling in the everyday details of medieval life in Norway, the saga follows one woman through childhood, young love, married life, motherhood and into old age. The Wreath is Kristin's coming-of-age story: she recklessly enters a relationship with an older man that puts her at odds with her father and the Christian church she was raised in. Persevere past the unfamiliar names and places and you will be rewarded with a richly immersive literary experience.

    Kristin Lavransdatter, I: The Wreath by Sigrid Undset ($16, Penguin), recommended by Elese, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill NC.

  • Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton

    This isn’t a $35 travel book so much as the best, cheapest coffee table book you could ever buy. A gorgeous encyclopedia of the coolest sights on the planet. It is so large, and so thorough, that there literally is something in it for everyone. Atlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders by Joshua Foer, Dylan Thuras, Ella Morton (Workman Publishing, $35.00), recommended by Tristan at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Finding Fontainebleau: An American Boy in France by Thad Carhart

    I never stop recommending Thad Carhart's memoir of the second time he moved to France, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, which is a primer on the workings of pianos, and a sheer delight to read. Now, Carhart goes back to 1954, when his family of seven moved into a charming old mansion near the Château de Fontainebleau (his father was a NATO official), and immersed themselves in a France still recovering from WWII. His rich experiences as a kid alternate with chapters on the history of the chateau and the assorted French kings who inhabited it. And when he has returned to Fontainebleau as an adult, he gets to share in a restoration of the chateau, and retrace the steps of his childhood in a way we all sometimes wish we could. A perfect book for a summer escape to a very different place and time.

    Finding Fontainebleau: An American Boy in France (Viking $27), recommended by Kent at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh

    The Glass PalaceTo read a novel by the masterful Amitav Ghosh is to be swept along in a sea of facts, linguistic oddities, and almost fantastical characters on a grand scale. Elephants with anthrax! Exiled royalty! The teak forests of Burma, the rubber plantations of Malaysia, WWII, photography, love, trade, nationalism, family. A page-turning epic.

    The Glass Palace by Amitav Ghosh (Random House). Recommended by Elese at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer

    An incredible story of a 14-year-old boy whose African village is devastated by drought.

    Reading in the little village library and scavenging for parts he accomplishes the impossible. I loved this book when it first came out in 2009, and now a young readers edition has just been released in paperback.

    Truly inspirational, the author demonstrates that anything is possible with education and determination.

    The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba, Bryan Mealer, Elizabeth Zunon (Harper Perennial) Recommended by Andy Brennan at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer by Alan Huffman

    Possibly to my parents chagrin, I've always had an intense fascination with dangerous places and conflicts, and the men and women who risk their lives to share them with the world. Tim Hetherington was one such man.

    A immensely talented and singular photojournalist, he managed not only to record some of today's most dangerous conflicts, but he did so in such a way as to put a human face to these faraway wars.

    Here I Am chronicles his time in Liberia, his celebrated work with the soldiers of Afghanistan (as well as his involvement with Sebastian Junger and the documentary Restrepo) and the months leading up to his tragic death in Libya in 2011. Huffman, like Hetherington did before him, has taken a larger-than-life figure and contained him within one concise, emotional and inspiring portrait.

    Here I Am: The Story of Tim Hetherington, War Photographer by Alan Huffman (Grove Press) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson

    This stunning novel falls into the category of so tragically sad but so true and beautiful that everyone ought to read it, kind of like Little Bee or What is the What.

    It's story of seven-year-old Elijah who, after being taken from his Nigerian immigrant mother, bounces around London from foster home to foster home. When he lands with Nikki and Obi, a couple deeply committed to being Elijah's forever family, things seem hopeful. But as they delve further into Elijah's troubled past, and into the deeply rooted beliefs his mother has left him with, the success of the match and the safety of the family falls into question.

    Watson gracefully walks the line between storytelling and tackling the difficult issues, and while she never comes off as preachy you walk away from this book with a deeper understanding of culture, race, and their possible implications on adoption.

    Where Women Are Kings by Christie Watson (Other Press), recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL.

  • Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard

    What a delicious memoir of a New Yorker, now married to a Frenchman and living in the south of France!

    The couple impulsively buys a quirky old house that belonged to famous poet. They become parents, Gwendal leaves his job, and they open a specialty ice cream shop. This fascinating combination of history, cultures, cuisine (wonderful recipes included) and small town life is at once funny, touching, honest, and totally engaging. I loved it.

    Picnic in Provence: A Memoir with Recipes by Ellizabeth Bard (Little Brown and Company) Recommended by Carol at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh

  • Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller

    While Fuller’s first book, Cocktails Under the Tree of Forgetfulness, paints an exquisite picture of her early life in Africa, this memoir portrays her later life as she tries to navigate the world outside her African experience.

    She marries an American in the hopes that he will take her away from her unorthodox upbringing only to discover that her life does not fit as she had hoped.  She confronts her life and its difficulties, revealing the complexity of her family as they deal with suffering and loss.

    A poignant narrative that is worth reading.

    Leaving Before the Rains Come by Alexandra Fuller (Penguin Press) Recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL

  • In The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison

    In The Garden of Burning Sand, Corban Addison weaves a wonderful tale of a power struggle in an African city.

    Centered on a case of child molestation, Addison  introduces characters from all walks of life to give you the perspective of what child molestation does to everyone.  The child in this story has Downs Syndrome and she finds people to help her in the court system.  They are limited in what they can legally do, but they still work to bring justice to the child.

    Addison wants to show how we as Americans have to be willing to help these children by bringing DNA labs to African courts  This is definitely a novel with a message , but with skill he gives us an excellent story to surround the issues that he wants us to be aware of.  If this book had been tackled by a less skilled author, it would have been a book that you thought you should read and you would struggle through.  Corbin was able to weave a beautiful story through the difficult issues that he brings to the front in this excellent novel.  I encourage you to read it.

    In The Garden of Burning Sand by Corban Addison (Quercus) Recommended by Molly at Fountainhead Bookstore Hendersonville NC

  • Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard

    In this haunting coming of age story, we meet a young Moroccan named Lakhdar who spends his days in Tangier watching girls, reading French detective novels, and gazing across the water at the elusive lights of Spain.

    When he is kicked out of his house for an improper relationship with his cousin, he begins a journey that takes him from the streets of Tangier to the Straits of Gibraltar, and finally to Barcelona, where he finally finds some semblance of a home despite the squalor and chaos of his surroundings. 

    Set against the backdrop of the Arab Spring and the collapse of the European economy, Street of Thieves is a dark and beautiful portrait of a boy's fateful path to manhood.

    Street of Thieves by Mathias Enard (Open Letter Books) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Sweetland by Michael Crummey

    Michael Crummey takes you into the heart of the insular fishing community of Chance Cove, Sweetland Island, Newfoundland.

    68-year-old Moses Sweetland's family goes back to the founding of the island. He is the only holdout when the government offers the residents a generous cash settlement to relocate, but only if everyone signs on. Told in sparse, beautiful prose, with generous helpings of the local dialect, the characters and story are reminiscent of Annie Proulx's The Shipping News, where conversations give hints of the tangled history and relationships of family and friends who have known each other for generations.

    Sweetland is a requiem for the intimate knowledge of place that a transient society can just barely remember.

    Sweetland By Michael Crummey (Liveright Publishing) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Kindness Diaries by Leon Logothesis

    The incredible journey of one man who sets out to circumnavigate the globe on a vintage motorbike fueled by kindness.

    Follow the inspirational journey of a former stockbroker who leaves his unfulfilling desk job in search of a meaningful life. He sets out from Los Angeles on a vintage motorbike, determined to circumnavigate the globe surviving only on the kindness of strangers. Incredibly, he makes his way across the U.S., through Europe, India, Cambodia, and Vietnam, and finally to Canada and back to the Hollywood sign, by asking strangers for shelter, food, and gas. Again and again, he's won over by the generosity of humanity, from the homeless man who shares his blanket to the poor farmer who helps him with his broken down bike, and the HIV-positive mother who takes him in and feeds him.

    At each stop, he finds a way to give back to these unsuspecting Good Samaritans in life-changing ways, by rebuilding their homes, paying for their schooling, and leaving behind gifts big and small. The Kindness Diaries will introduce you to a world of adventure, renew your faith in the bonds that connect people, and inspire you to accept and generate kindness in your own life.

    The Kindness Diaries: One Man's Quest to Ignite Goodwill and Transform Lives Around the World by Leon Logothesis (Reader's Digest) Recommended by Jamie at Ducks Cottage Manteo NC

  • Killed at the Whim of a Hat: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill

    Jimm Juree, first-person narrator of this excellent mystery, is a crime reporter out of work. Her mother, with early dementia, sold the family home and business and relocated to southern, rural Thailand. Jimm's grandfather, a retired cop, rarely talks and her younger brother who wants to be a world-class body builder moved with the family; her older brother, a transgendered former beauty queen now computer hacker stayed in the city.

    Suddenly, things begin to happen in their new village: A Volkswagon van, complete with two skeletons, is discovered by a well-digger then a visiting Buddist abbott is violently murdered shortly after Jimm meets a nun and a monk who become suspects in the case. As Jimm works the case hoping to break back into news, she finds allies in unexpected places.

    The charm of Whim isn't the crime story. It's the characters, the whimsey, and the humor woven subtly through the novel that make it a cut above the rest. Of course, the chapter headings, quotes from President Malaprop, are well worth the read. Don't miss the beginning of this excellent new series!

    NOTE: Many readers will remember Cotterill's wonderful series about Dr. Siri, a 70-something Laotian county coroner.
    I predict even more fans for Jimm!

    Killed at the Whim of a Hat: A Jimm Juree Mystery by Colin Cotterill ($18.99, Minotaur), recommended by Molly, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • The Blackhouse by Peter May

    This is the first in a series featuring a policeman who is sent to his childhood home of Lewis Island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, -a formidable and forbidding world where tradition rules and people adhere to ancient ways of life- to investigate a grisly murder involving islanders he's known all his life.

    It's riveting and beautifully written.

    The Blackhouse By Peter May ($14.99, Quercus Books) Recommended by Nancy, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Happy Death by Albert Camus

    His first book and my favorite.

    I admit, although I don't like how he portrays most women in this book, I appreciate his descriptions, his words, how real and raw many parts are, how I can feel a moment described.

    I pick up this book every year at different seasons because it feels changed to me depending on the time of the year, my age in life. It's hard to describe a book I always go back to, to attempt an explanation on why I love it, I just do.

    Happy Death By Albert Camus ($15, Vintage), recommended by Erin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • The Story of a New Name by Elena Ferrante

    The second book of the Neapolitan Novels series is a rich portrait of two girls and their friendship.

    Beginning in the 1960s when the more academically gifted Lila marries instead of continuing her education, we follow Elena through her success. Psychologically acute, this is a great work of modern fiction, and good news, there will be one more book.

    The Story of a New Name By Elena Ferrante (Europa Editions) Recommended by Sandra at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay

    It was first published in 1989, but this historical novel set in South Africa is as relevant today as then.

    A five-year-old English boy is sent to a boarding school and the cruelty against him and the blacks who serve them there is almost unimaginable. The boy learns he must be independent (the power of one), learn to think, and with help from the local librarian, a musician/scientist, a teacher, and others along the way, easily rises to first in his class.

    The underlying theme of apartheid's injustices and the dramatic events of a boy's growing up make this a powerful story.

    The Power of One by Bryce Courtenay ($16.00, Ballantine Books), recommended by Nancy, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Mud Season by Ellen Stimson

    Imagine living in the middle of the country and you decide to pick up your family (your husband and three children) and move to Vermont with no job in sight. 

    Because you've always wanted to live in a beautiful place. 

    And then imagine that although you're now living in the beautiful country, you haven't a clue because you're a city family.  This book will explain how it all settles out, with lots of laughter and tears along the way.  And you've got to read this book if for no other reason than to find out why they have so much mud in Vermont in the spring.

    We met this fantastic and vibrant woman recently in New Orleans. I think that she might have the best laugh in the book world. Read her book... it will no doubt make you laugh as well.

    Mud Season by Ellen Stimson (Countryman Press), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.