GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • 17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History by Andrew Morton

    Treat yourself to a riveting and real life royal war time thriller! 

    Was American born and twice divorced Wallis Simpson truly in love and trying to win the heart of King Edward VIII, who was then demoted to a mere Duke as penance for loving her in return?

    Author Andrew Morton provides sizzling and shocking details to provide some compelling answers to this key question, while raising many other questions along the way.

    17 Carnations: The Royals, the Nazis, and the Biggest Cover-Up in History by Andrew Morton (Grand Central Publishing) Recommended by Diane at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George by Kelly Carlin

    A vivid and compelling insight into the family life of one of the most brilliant and revered comics of the last half century.

    On a purely narrative level, Kelly Carlin's book is wholly engrossing; as a companion to her father's body of work, it's indispensable.

    A Carlin Home Companion: Growing Up with George by Kelly Carlin (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Ike at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel

    A Deadly WanderingI know we're all tired of hearing phrases like that about books, but I really believe this book can change lives and save lives. Matt Richtell has written an investigative book on the use of cell phones while driving. It is as compelling as it is damning.  

    A Deadly Wandering shows that there is now enough scientific evidence to support that driving while texting and talking on the phone (even speaker phone) can be as deadly or even more deadly than driving drunk. I have personally almost been hit several times while walking by a texter or phone user. You probably have too. This book proves that no one can both drive and use their phone at the same time and not be a danger to others and themselves.

    We can move the needle on this one, my friends.

    Please read it.

    Because, really: what a stupid way to die.

    A Deadly Wandering by Matt Richtel ($28.99, William Morrow & Co.), recommended by Kelly, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond VA.

  • A Plague on All Our Houses: Medical Intrigue, Hollywood, and the Discovery of AIDS by Bruce J. Hillman

    A Plague on All Our Houses examines the AIDS epidemic and the doctors behind the discovery of its cause and the tangled motivations of the search.  Readers delve into knowledge about how academia works, and whether the work is for ego or for helping the sick. The book also details how Hollywood and the government would not acknowledge what was happening as the crisis developed.

    A Plague on All Our Houses by Bruce J. Hillman (Foreedge, $29.95), recommended by Suzanne at Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • 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.

  • A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches by Tyler Kord

    Never have I ever cried laughing while reading the introduction to a cookbook. What is so upsetting about such a delicious, uncomplicated food, you might ask. Perhaps that it is that something so ordinary and comforting can be radically transformed into something surprising. Tyler Kord goes for the unconventional (cheese on fish) and the staples (broccoli, meatloaf). He reminds you to be as fancy or naughty (undressed sandwiches) as you want. Insane Clown Posse, the World Cup, Emma Straub, the sound of broken rules-- it's all here. You'll be a fancy sandwich renegade in no time.

    A Super Upsetting Cookbook About Sandwiches by Tyler Kord ($22.99, Clarkson Potter), recommended by Amanda, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • A Train in Winter by Carolina Moorehead

    How could these women be so brave? This is the story of women who risked everything to do what they felt they must--resist the German occupation. Captured, imprisoned and then deported to Ausch­witz they were subjected to unspeakable atrocities. What saved 49 of them was luck and their determination to face their situation together. Their story is gut-wrenching and their heroism is inspiringg

    A Train in Winter: An Extraordinary Story of Women, Friendship, and Resistance in Occupied France By Caroline Moorehead ($15.99, Harper Perennial), recommended by Rene, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg


    Rick Bragg reveals the raw bone of southern poverty in which he grew up; a culture of  violence, grinding pain and humiliation – delivered as a blow-by-blow assault his poor- white class endures every day. You can taste the anger and determination that propelled him, through bold honest storytelling, to the Pulitzer Prize in 1996. I didn’t want to like this book. Instead, I fell in love with it – and its author.

    All Over but the Shoutin' by Rick Bragg ($16, Vintage Books USA), recommended by Connie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken

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

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

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

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

  • 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.

  • Annie’s Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret by Steve Luxenberg

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

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

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

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

  • Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?

    If you’ve ever been interested in what your dog or your cat really thinks about your tuxedo t-shirt (or whether they think at all), then Frans de Waal’s new book is a must-read for you.

    De Waal is the renowned primatologist and writer of The Bonobo and the Atheist, as well as other essays on morality and intelligence in the animal kingdom. And in this book de Waal argues that certain animal intelligence–though different—is not inferior or superior to others (including us human folk).

    De Waal makes it clear that we should examine animals in relation to their own specific traits and capabilities in order to understand their true intelligence, rather than comparing them to the things that we humans excel it.

    By trying to get us to embody a point of view outside of our own species', this book will forever change the way we look at animal intelligence and consciousness.

    Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are? by Frans de Waal, F. B. M. De Waal (W. W. Norton) Recommended by Donovan at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival by Peter Stark

    After John Jacob Astor makes a fortune in New York, he plans Astoria, a trading post on the Pacific coast.

    His explorers face storms, mutinies, shipwrecks, starvation, murders and insanity, and finally give up. Astor's vision of Pacific Rim trade is put on hold for a couple of centuries. Astonishing history!

    Astoria: Astor and Jefferson's Lost Pacific Empire: A Story of Wealth, Ambition, and Survival  By Peter Stark ($27.99, Ecco Press), recommended by Helen, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, 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.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Beloved Dog by Maira Kalman

    Author, illustrator, and cultural commentator extraordinaire Kalman gives us a book about dogs that is, of course, about so much more. To her, dogs are constant reminders that life reveals the best of itself when we live fully in the moment and extend our unconditional love. And it is very true, that the most tender, uncomplicated, most generous part of our being blossoms, without any effort, when it comes to the love of a dog.

    Beloved Dog by Maira Kalman (Penguin Press) Recommended by Tony at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott

    I read this my first year of college when I was still trying to decide if I wanted to write.

    Chapter 3 is titled SHITTY FIRST DRAFTS.

    It's full of good advice and encouragement for the beginning writer and would make a great gift. It's less an instruction book than a series of stories focused on the process. It's informal and funny and I was better for it.

    Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott (Anchor) Recommended by Dottie at Square Books Oxford MS 

  • Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy, MD

    Damon Tweedy brings us a very personal view of the role race has played for him as a student, a doctor, and even as a patient.

    He starts with his time as one of only a handful of black students attending Duke University Medical School, where one of his professors asks if he is there to fix the lights.

    Through his internship and on to psychiatric training and practice, he sheds a light on how easy it is for us to see each other through the lens of race instead of as individuals, and how that leads to bad outcomes for everyone, but especially for black patients.

    Tweedy has written a thoughtful, provocative, and very readable account, full of engaging stories of real people whose well-being, and even survival, are affected by racial perceptions.

    Black Man in a White Coat: A Doctor's Reflections on Race and Medicine by Damon Tweedy (Picador) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols

    Blue Mind

    Marine biologist Nichols reveals groundbreaking neuroscience that proves what we intuitively know: We are emotionally, physically and spiritually healthier when we are near or in the water.

    He  presents the evidence in terms easily accessible to non-scientists and reminds us that it is imperative that we humans protect the waters of our planet for the good of all of the beings who inhabit it.

    Blue Mind: The Surprising Science That Shows How Being Near, In, On, or Under Water Can Make You Happier, Healthier, More Connected, & Better at What You Do by Wallace J. Nichols (Little, Brown and Co.) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Books for Living by Will Schwalbe

    I loved Will Schwalbe's new book, Books for Living. Will is the person we all want for a friend. He’s funny and smart and sensitive and extremely well read. He shared so much of his life and his family with us in The End of Your Life Book Club that we came to look upon him as a friend. In this collection of observations and memories our friend proposes that one of the most interesting questions you can ask someone is “What are you reading?” He tells us what he has been reading and what it has taught him. This is not a book to read quickly. Rather each chapter, which focuses on a different book and lesson, is to be savored. This is a book I will eagerly come back to again and again and always be able to find something new... he has added several books to my stack of 'must reads!’

    Books for Living by Will Schwalbe ($25.95, Knopf), recommended by René at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • 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.

  • Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson

    Brown Girl DreamingEvery now and then, a book comes along that you love and know that you MUST share. Jacquline Woodson's Brown Girl Dreaming is one of those. We here at the Booksellers know that books have the power to change lives. We also believe that sharing books like this one fosters empathy, while empowering readers young and old to tell their stories, and listen to -- and learn from -- each other. We invite you to read Brown Girl Dreaming with us this October, and hope that this book moves you same way it has moved us.

    Brown Girl Dreaming by Jaqueline Woodson ($17.99, Nancy Paulsen Books), recommended by The Booksellers at Laurelwood, Memphis TN.

  • But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking about the Present as If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman

    Whether this is the most philosophical pop culture book I’ve ever read or the most pop-culture drenched philosophy book I’ve ever read, I don’t know.

    But I do know I can’t stop thinking--and as my family and co-workers can attest, talking--about the ideas Klosterman ponders here. Whether reflecting on Thomas Kuhn’s The Structure of Scientific Revolutions or the internet’s reaction to the death of Dusty Rhodes, Klosterman has a breadth and depth of knowledge to cover a lot of cultural ground here.

    A most rewarding read!

    But What If We're Wrong?: Thinking about the Present as If It Were the Past by Chuck Klosterman (Blue Rider Press) Recommended by Frank at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review by Pamela Paul, Scott Turow

    Like many of you, By the Book is one of my favorite parts of the NYT Book Review.

    Compiled here by Pamela Paul, editor of the Book Review, are 65 author interviews (uncut and in their original format) all about writing habits, favorite authors and books and - one of my favorites - books they'd wish the president would read.

    The authors range from Michael Chabon and Khaled Hosseini to Anne Lamott and Hilary Mantel, making this a delectable treat for any book lover.

    By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review by Pamela Paul, Scott Turow (Henry Holt and Co.) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • Capital Dames by Cokie Roberts

    In Capital Dames, Cokie Roberts introduces us to the fascinating women from the north and south living in Washington DC. As you read you find the Civil War not only changed Washington DC but also changed the lives of women living in America.

    As the city evolved into a sprawling union Army camp many of the southern belles fled to confederate territory while some became nurses and spies. At the same time many other women moved to the capitol to fill positions previously held by men who were now fighting the war.

    The details of the lives of these women and their contribution to history before, during, and after the war help you understand just how important they were to America.

    Capital Dames by Cokie Roberts (Harper) Recommended by Vickie at Litchfield Books Pawley's Island SC 

  • Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era by Dan Berger

    Much like his previous book, The Outlaws of America: the Weather Underground and the Politics of Solidarity, Berger focuses herein on the radical edge of the 1960s/70s movement.

    His argument, hardly a new one, is what caused the radicalization of the civil rights movement was the attempt to imprison its most impassioned voices. The leadership of what came to be the Black Power movement was schooled for revolution behind the walls of the American supermax prison system.

    Perhaps the most influential name of Black Power, George Jackson did not leave prison alive, yet he remains a powerful symbol near half a century after George Jackson was shot down in the prison yard at San Quentin.

    Captive Nation: Black Prison Organizing in the Civil Rights Era by Dan Berger (University of North Carolina Press) Recommended by Glen at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports by Jay M. Smith, Mary Willingham

    It's been in the news for years, but Jay Smith & Mary Willingham's Cheated lays out the UNC academic/sports deception and prime players in all its breathtaking scope.

    Follow the timeline and see how the dots are connected. While I'd read about the scandal, Cheated was full of revelations. Even more than for UNC, the authors make clear how this fits into a history of multi-institutional disgrace.

    What happens next is urgent for the landscape of collegiate money-making sports and its players.

    Cheated: The UNC Scandal, the Education of Athletes, and the Future of Big-Time College Sports by By Jay M. Smith, Mary Willingham (Potomac Books) Recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell

    Clementine and Winston Churchill, both from aristocratic families, had the wedding of the year. 

    Photos in the papers, people lining the route to the church, and reports of a six hour wedding dress alteration session.  Because Clementine and Winston exchanged over 1,700 letters, we get a fascinating, up close look at their relationship through the years. 

    Winston was impulsive, defensive and rash.  Clementine was thoughtful, strong and strategic.  During World War I, she organized canteens for munition workers.  During World War II, she volunteered as a fire watcher, sitting on rooftops and calling in fires during air raids.  She and Winston went out in the dark after the bombing stopped and toured the bomb sites with flashlights. 

    Clementine is an extraordinary love story against the backdrop of tumultuous history.  I loved it!

    Clementine: The Life of Mrs. Winston Churchill by Sonia Purnell (Viking) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman

    Weisman wrote the wildly popular book The World Without Us, making the point that if we humans were to disappear, the world would do exuberantly well without us.

    He wrote this book, Countdown, to ask if there's a way that the world could do exuberantly well with us. The book grew on me. After each story, I'd say, just one more...just one more. Now that I've finished the whole book, to my surprise I realize that I'm well-educated and hopeful about something I'd pretty much given up on. What a writer! I highly recommend this book.

    Countdown: Our Last, Best Hope for a Future on Earth? by Alan Weisman (Little, Brown and Company), recommended by Sue at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Crapalachia: A Biography of Place by Scott McClanahan

    Scott McClanahan's minimalist pseudo-memoir is a funny, clever, touching and honest book about growing up in rural West Virgina. A book about being proud of and finding beauty in where you come from, even when there's no glamour in it.

    Crapalachia: A Biography of Place by Scott McClanahan ($16, Two Dollar Radio), recommended by Justin, Malaprop's Bookstore/Cafe, Asheville, NC.

  • Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard

    It turns out that Vivian Howard, in addition to being an award-winning chef, restaurateur, and star of the PBS show A Chef's Life, is also a talented writer. She tells the story of her life and community through each chapter devoted to a different vegetable. While our event with Vivian later this month has sold out, we do have plenty of signed copies of this big, beautiful and delicious tribute to the food, farmers and cooks of eastern North Carolina.

    Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South by Vivian Howard ($40, Little Brown), recommended by Mamie at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Desperation Dinners by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross

    Desperation Dinners has been one of the most influential and necessary tools in my kitchen for many years. This book may persuade you to believe you've found another 30 to 60 minutes during the dinner hour. It provides authentic and realistic tips, instructions and recipes to help even the most harried cook create tasty, nutritious and satisfying dishes in 20 minutes or less. Really--20 minutes or less. Mom's Mini Meat Loaves defy belief by tasting every bit as good as traditional meat loaf with 2/3 less prep/cook time, and the So-Simple Salsa is so good and so fast to prepare, that you will never let let another chip go without it. You owe it to yourself, and your overworked day planner app, to welcome this book into your kitchen.

    Desperation Dinners by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross (Workman $13.95) by Beverly Mills and Alicia Ross, recommended by Belinda at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Don't Suck, Don't Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh

    You don't need to be familiar with Chesnutt's or Hersh's work to appreciate this phenomenal book, but you will undoubtedly want to be once you've finished it. Hersh is a writer of intense and subtle beauty, and she will make you cry and feel a hundred other things with the power of her style alone. Through the tragic story of her close friend and tourmate, Chesnutt, Hersh evokes the torture of all that artistic genius encapsulates and makes that pain sing in a voice both opaque and elegant, grimy and pristine. Ultimately, this is a deeply affecting meditation on one's thrust toward 'important art' and on how music is a necessary expression of sadness and loneliness but also one of intense and inimitable beauty.

    Don’t Suck, Don’t Die: Giving Up Vic Chesnutt by Kristin Hersh ($14.95, University of Texas Press), recommended by Donovan, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL.

    A 2016 Southern Book Award Finalist
  • 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.

  • Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall

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

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

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

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

  • Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatible by Jerry A. Coyne

    Many people assume that the subtitle of this book suggests something that is clearly false.

    After all, if Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project, is an accomplished scientist and avowed Christian, how could religion and science possibly be incompatible?  Well, here's how.

    One of the greatest virtues of many religions is faith, which, by definition, is belief in something in the absence of evidence.  Far from being a virtue, faith is considered to be a great sin (irony intended) among scientists.  Science gets us closer to truth.  Religion never has.

    As Coyne makes painfully clear, basing one's life in religion has serious consequences for the well-being of children, women, and society at large.  Read this book if you disagree with Coyne, but, even if you're already a member of the choir, read the book anyway.

    It never hurts to read an author, especially one as gifted as Coyne, making arguments based on reason and science.

    Faith Versus Fact: Why Science and Religion Are Incompatibleby Jerry A. Coyne (Viking) Recommended by Brian at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC

  • 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.

  • Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill by Gretchen Rubin

    I love this collection – quick read that you can pick up and start from any chapter. The author deftly shows you one side of this historic man and then in a flash, shows the conflicting side. There is so much information about Winston Churchill in the literary world, this book breaks it down simply into the man that was an artist, a father, a husband and a world leader. You gain a little glimpse into the contradictions that ruled his world.

    Forty Ways to Look at Winston Churchill: A Brief Account of a Long Life By Gretchen Rubin ($17, Random House Trade), recommended by Linda, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • 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.

  • H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

    Distraught over her father's death, Macdonald decides to train a goshawk. Mabel enters her life.

    This stunning book is resonating with readers everywhere. Macdonald is willing to feel, to the depths of her soul, and to share those feelings with the world. And, with her command of language, she has the ability to enable us to understand her hawk's, and her own, thoughts, emotions, moods and instincts and their extraordinary bond.

    This book is about so much: grief, identity, relationships with humans and other species, and tolerance of, and respect for, all living beings - including oneself.

    H Is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald (Grove Press) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Hillbilly Elegy (audiobook) by J.D. Vance

    Hillbilly Elegy doesn't make any grand political statements or try to swing its reader's views one way or the other as much as it offers a glimpse into the lives and realities of this distinct segment of American society. The author himself, J.D. Vance, narrates this audiobook and adds an extra level of intimacy to this already extremely personal history of growing up as part of a culture that may be on its way out, but is still very much a way of life for a large portion of Americans. A timely and important listen!

    Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance ($14.99, HarperCollins, Audiobook: available from Libro.fm), recommended by Lane, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann

    This beautifully written memoir cuts right to the heart of what it means to be an artist in the American South, and how the region’s history has molded the creative types it has produced.

    The Virginia native shares family history and thoughts on her controversial work.

    Hold Still: A Memoir with Photographs by Sally Mann (Back Bay Books) Recommended by Carl at Fountain Bookstore Richmond VA

  • I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir by Brian Wilson, with Ben Greenman

    Brian Wilson has made some of the most groundbreaking and timeless music ever recorded. From singing along to Rosemary Clooney’s “Tenderly" at age 10 to becoming a Kennedy Center honoree in 2007, Wilson recounts the ups and downs of a Beach Boy’s life.

    I Am Brian Wilson by Brian Wilson, with Ben Greenman (Da Capo Press, $26.99), recommended by Andy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors

    I Will Find You is not light reading, but it is necessary reading for a culture that seems unable to talk reasonably and openly about sexual violence. This nonfiction account of her own rape is filled with unrelenting honesty about sexual violence, race in America, and the realities of incarceration and poverty.

    I Will Find You: A Reporter Investigates the Life of the Man Who Raped Her by Joanna Connors (Atlantic Monthly Press, $25), recommended by Brian at Scuppernong Books, Greensboro, NC.

  • I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell

    Chloe Caldwell is the kind of friend who calls you once in a while with some crazy story that never disappoints and is always worth the wait. Taking an almost memoir-istic structure, her essays show her personal growth through coping with addiction, internet/celebrity infatuation, acne, being broke, and feeling lost. Striking, funny, sometimes absurd, and always tender, Caldwell writes herself into she has always loved and needed—a friend.

    I’ll Tell You in Person by Chloe Caldwell (16.95, Coffee House), recommended by Amanda, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides

    In the late nineteenth century, one of the last unmapped places of the globe was the North Pole. The United States and the world was obsessed with news of Arctic exploration. In 1879, American naval officer and explorer George De Long set sail with a crew of 32 men on the U.S.S. Jeanette only to disappear in the Arctic waters of Russia. Their fate was not to be discovered until years later. Hampton Sides vividly reconstructs the time period and the expedition itself.

    In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeannette by Hampton Sides (Doubleday) Recommended by Square Books, Oxford MS.

  • In the Shadow of Liberty by Kenneth C. Davis

    Like paintings with shadowy figures in darkened corners, the lives of four of our nation's first presidents cannot be fully understood without opening the pages of Kenneth Davis' In the Shadow of Liberty . George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and Andrew Jackson were founding fathers who risked their lives for the principles of freedom and liberty, while denying these rights to the slaves they owned, bought, and sold their entire lives.

    Davis' exhaustive research and objective narrative reveal men whose lofty ideals were easier to legislate than to apply to their personal lives. The stories of five black slaves whose lives were entwined with these men and their families on a very intimate level are revealed in the context of a society in which the economic value of each could not be denied. Davis highlights the ironic juxtaposition of these bastions of liberty and their enslaved companions with a clarity that made me consider how very difficult it can be to truly live out the values we claim to cherish. A key title in understanding the humanity of these famous Americans for ages 10+.

    In the Shadow of Liberty, (Henry Holt $17.99), recommended by Cindy at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • 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.

  • Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride

    In the hands of such a great writer (and fellow musician) the story of The Godfather of Soul becomes not just a portrayal of one of the most important figures in musical history but in American history.

    A book that will make you crave that unmistakable James Brown sound.

    Kill 'Em and Leave: Searching for James Brown and the American Soul by James McBride (Spiegel & Grau) Recommended by Frank at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine by Steve Parker

    Beginning with early healers, chance discoveries, technological advancement, and wonder drugs, and using panels, timelines, and thematic spreads, Kill or Cure highlights information about human anatomy, surgical instruments, and medical breakthroughs while telling the dramatic tale of medical progress.

    Diaries, notebooks, and other first-person accounts tell the fascinating stories from the perspective of people who witnessed medical history firsthand.

    Kill or Cure: An Illustrated History of Medicine By Steve Parker (DK Adult) Recommended by Lynn Marie at Fountain Bookstore Richmond VA

  • Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell

    I loved this account of the precocious 19-year-old French marquis who was determined to join George Washington and the Americans against the British.

    Dry history this is not. Just as in Unfamiliar Fishes (the story of the American takeover of Hawaii), Vowell's writing is a constant reality check on history; her narrative is liberally peppered with her own irreverent, yet spot-on observations, and she is so good at showing how we are always linked to our past.

    In Lafayette, the marquis succeeds, though in the process he discovers a more fragmented people than he'd imagined, and through him, Vowell reveals the particular magic of our country's union and disunion.

    Lafayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell (Riverhead Books) Recommended by Kent at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • 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.

  • 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

  • Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King


    This book is a behind-the-scenes look at one of the great masterpieces of art, Leonardo's painting of The Last Supper.

    Leonardo painted this despite war, political and religious turmoil around him and through his research King reveals much about this fascinating period in European history as well as dozens of stories embedded in the painting.

    Leonardo and the Last Supper by Ross King (Walker & Company), recommended by The Country Bookshop, Southern Pines, NC.

  • Listen to This by Alex Ross

    From the acclaimed New Yorker music critic comes a collection of essays covering both early classical and popular music and a worthy follow-up to his successful THE REST IS NOISE.

    As a youth, Mr. Ross was a dedicated classical music lover but at the late age of 20, after purchasing his first pop album, became intrigued by the sound, noise and power of popular music and found his perspective of classical music changed forever.

    The essays are powerful and passionate and a wonderful read for those willing to expand their listening boundaries.

    Listen to This By Alex Ross ($20, Picador USA) Recommended by Tim at Quail Ridge BooksRaleigh NC

     

  • 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.

  • Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas

    What an adventurous life it was! Louisa married John Quincy Adams when she was 21, and followed him to diplomatic posts in Germany, Prussia, St. Petersburg and eventually the United States. 

    You share her struggles through multiple miscarriages, the deaths of two babies and years of separation from her children. You're there at the high points, such as her presentation to the court of the tzar. In Washington her parties and balls became legendary. 

    Full of first person accounts, from Louisa's memoirs to John Quincy's diary...Louisa makes you feel as if you know this woman. Fabulous history!

    Louisa: The Extraordinary Life of Mrs. Adams by Louisa Thomas (Penguin Press) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs

    Augusten Burroughs ALWAYS delivers.

    I love his madness, his romanticism, his hopeless inability to correct himself mid-stream and his hapless drive to overcompensate long after he's crossed the stream, and I love the way he writes about all of it.

    This was an Augusten Burroughs memoir with a happy ending.

    Lust & Wonder by Augusten Burroughs (St. Martin's Press) Recommended by Clara at A Cappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain

    In Medium Raw, Anthony Bourdain is much less cranky than he was in Kitchen Confidential, but is somehow angrier. Targets include Ruth Reichl, most professional restaurant critics, and the Food Network. Foodie or not, Medium Raw will entertain and enlighten.

    Medium Raw by Anthony Bourdain ($15.99, Echo Books), recpmmended by Colin, Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill, NC.

  • Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening by Carol Wall

    Seeing an African American man in Carol Wall's neighborhood is uncommon, and when she stops to watch what he is doing,
    she finds herself talking to a master of horticulture and philosophy.

    The book is gracefully written and more the memoir of a unique and treasured friendship than a gardening book. Wall and Giles Owita find they can trust each other with secrets no one else could understand.

    Walls explores the transformation Owita makes in her life as well as her yard and how she, in turn, becomes the student who teaches the master.

    Mister Owita's Guide to Gardening: How I Learned the Unexpected Joy of a Green Thumb and an Open Heart by Carol Wall ($25.95, G.P. Putnam's Sons a Member of Penguin Group), recommended by Marilyn, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin

    This should be required reading in any US history class for any age. Steve Sheinkin is a master at taking the most complex historical events and issues and rendering them personal and accessible. He not only makes the scope of this long, long war manageable, but personifies it in the evolution of Ellsberg from deeply patriotic analyst into an equally patriotic anti-war activist.

    If you are too young to have lived during the Vietnam War era, you will soon appreciate what it did to this country. If you lived then and think you knew what was going on, you will be surprised by the revelations Sheinkin has unearthed.

    Most Dangerous: Daniel Ellsberg and the Secret History of the Vietnam War by Steve Sheinkin (Roaring Brook Press) Recommended by Rosemary at 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.

  • 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.

  • My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl

    Books and food are two of my favorite things, so when an author flawlessly combines the two, I'm sold. I've found myself perusing the pages of this book multiple times and have recommended it to dozens of shoppers here at the bookstore. It's truly a crowd pleaser! Reichl seamlessly blends cookbook and memoir, resulting in a beautiful writing, gorgeous photography, and delicious recipes. With a focus on working through difficult life changes and making it through to the other side, we can all use a little of this book at this time of the year! If you're shopping for someone who loves a great cookbook, enjoys diving into a memoir, or can't help flipping through books on photography, this book is a winner. You'll definitely want to try her simple recipe for Congee - trust me, it's amazing!

    My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life by Ruth Reichl ($35, Random House), recommended by Amanda, Hooray for Books, Alexandria, VA.

  • My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem

    In her first time writing entirely about the road, Steinem encourages us to free ourselves from the either/or binary thinking that proliferates the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy and instead embrace the AND rooted in inclusion and balance. Yet as Steinem says, "On campuses, I saw young men wearing t-shirts that said TOO BAD O.J. DIDN'T MARRY HILLARY." All the wearers I saw were white.

    Clearly, folks--especially white males--are far from unlearning the imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchal fantasies that permeate our entire culture.

    This book illustrates key insights to aid this work. My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem (Random House) Recommended by Manny at Acappella Books Atlanta GA

  • Not That Kind of Girl by Lena Dunham

    Upon finding success as a writer, director, and actress, Dunham releases her autobiography as an exciting look into the events that shaped her.

    She offers an unedited look at her life through a series of personal essays, some humorous and others quite painful, in hopes that her stories will keep readers from repeating her mistakes. With brutal honesty, she gives detailed accounts of her hardships in love and work, without shame or apology.

    Her ability to share without excuse shows the strength that makes her such a relatable artist and celebrity.

    Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's Learned by Lena Dunham (Random House) Recommended by Emily Catherine at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

     

  • Our Man In Charleston by Christopher Dickey

    Britain’s Consul in Charleston before and during the early years of the Civil War painted one picture for the Southern in Charleston where he lived and quiet another for England.

    Robert Bunch’s secret correspondence with the British Foreign Office made clear his hostility to slavery and was credited by some as the reason the British did not become involved in the War. Robert was an unlikely spy.

    Our Man In Charleston by Christopher Dickey (Crown) Recommended by Vickie at Litchfield Books Pawley's Island SC

  • Pacific by Simon Winchester

    Simon Winchester takes on the Pacific Ocean in his latest popular history.

    To tackle a topic that is too big to adequately cover in a one volume, Winchester instead tells 10 different stories that all have the Pacific as a common thread. From nuclear testing on Bikini Island to the transfer of Hong Kong from Britian to China, Winchester illustrates the wide and varied impact the Pacific has had and continues to have on our planet.

    Whereas the Mediterranean was the focus of the ancient world and the Atlantic the center of current times, the author convincingly argues that the Pacific will be the most important ocean in our future.

    Pacific: Silicon Chips and Surfboards, Coral Reefs and Atom Bombs, Brutal Dictators, Fading Empires, and the Coming Collision by Simon Winchester (Harper) Recommended by Andy Brennan at Parnassus Books Nashville TN

  • Physics of the Future by Michio Kaku

    Physics of the Future

    In Physics of the Future, Kaku describes what future technologies might allow the human race to accomplish.

    Interestingly (and mind blowing) all of the technologies Kaku explains already exist in some form, including: teleportation, fusion power and time travel. A super exciting read.

    Physics of the Future: How Science Will Shape Human Destiny and Our Daily Lives by the Year 2100 (Anchor) Recommended by Zach at Square Books Oxford MS.

     

  • 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

  • Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away by Rebecca Newberger Goldstein

    Goldstein is a highly regarded philosopher who also happens to be a distinguished novelist, and her manifold talents are on display in this entertaining and thought-provoking book about the relevance of philosophy in the 21st century.

    Through Plato's dialogues with a diverse cast of modern-day characters, we learn that the value of philosophy isn't necessarily in the answers that it provides but the questions that it poses.  

    Plato at the Googleplex: Why Philosophy Won't Go Away by Rebecca Goldstein (Vintage) Recommended by Brian at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC

  • Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner by Ashley Christensen

    Ashley Christensen has just come out with her long-awaited cookbook, Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner (Ten Speed Press $35), and it was worth the wait. The book is more than a beautifully designed cookbook with all the signature dishes that have given Poole's its well-deserved reputation and earned Ashley the James Beard Award for Best Chef Southeast. It's a joyful show and tell of Ashley's (and Raleigh's) personal history and the renaissance of Southern food told through each beloved recipe (and yes, the Macaroni au Gratin recipe is in there).

    Poole's: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner (Ten Speed Press $35), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy by William Doyle

    You read spellbound as young JFK swims miles behind enemy lines in shark infested waters with the life jacket strap of his oldest and most injured crew member clinched in his teeth, leading his sailors to safety on a deserted island. 

    He goes back out alone in the black sea, treading water for hours hoping to flag down a passing American ship.  JFK was only 25 years old, on his own, having volunteered for combat.  Years later he kept a glass paperweight on his desk in the oval office that contained the coconut that he had carved a message in and sent to his base alerting his commander to his crew's location.

    Fabulous history!

    PT 109: An American Epic of War, Survival, and the Destiny of John F. Kennedy by William Doyle (William Morrow & Company) Recommended by Helen at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus by Dean N. Jensen

    What an astonishing book! It shines a spotlight on Leitzel and Alfredo, the two most famous stars in circus history. Leitzel, tiny with golden hair, did one hundred flips on Roman rings, and Alfredo did The Triple, three somersaults while flying between trapezes. Queen of the Air recounts their hard beginnings, their star-crossed love, and their tragic ends. You'll feel like you have a seat under the Big Top!

    Queen of the Air: A True Story of Love and Tragedy at the Circus  by Dean N. Jensen ($26, Crown), recommended by Helen, 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.

  • Real Food Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It by Larry Olmsted

    I don’t know about you, but I like to know what I am eating. This book gets into practical solutions ranging from making sure you are buying the fish you think you are, to what makes good olive oil (looking at you, Ina Garten), and the various ways in which we can and should be conscious about what we buy.

    Real Food Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It by Larry Olmsted (Algonquin Books, $27.95), recommended by Catherine at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Rude Bitches Make Me Tired by Celia Rivenbark


    Celia Rivenbark is the bestselling author of We're Just Like You, Only Prettier, and now writes a mildly profane etiquette manual for the modern age.

    She addresses real life quandaries ranging from how to deal with braggy playground moms to correctly grieving the dearly departed. Good Manners have never been so wickedly funny!

    Rude Bitches Make Me Tired by Celia Rivenbark (St. Martin's Griffin), recommended by The Country Bookshop Southern Pines NC.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton

    Once in a rare while, you hit on a true story so good you wonder that someone hasn't written a book about it. Robin Hutton struck gold with the life and times of Sgt. Reckless.

    Race horse, combat soldier, war hero, mom – this petite filly did it all. No one told HER females didn't belong in combat. So sit back with a beer (Reckless enjoyed the occasional brew) and just absorb what this equine Marine accomplished.

    Sgt. Reckless: America's War Horse by Robin Hutton ($27.99, Regnery History), recommended by Rosemary at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC.

  • Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine

    This probably isn’t the first book you’ve seen that promises to help you see Jesus’ parables in a new way, but the book is unlike any other, and Amy-Jill Levine is like no other author. Levine is a Jewish New Testament scholar who uses her knowledge to show the parables in their original context.

    Short Stories by Jesus: The Enigmatic Parables of a Controversial Rabbi by Amy-Jill Levine (HarperOne) Recommended by Allison at Blue Ridge Books Waynesville NC

  • Slaves in the Family by Edward Ball

    Ball’s tell-all book of his family’s entwinement (in every conceivable manner) in antebellum slavery is a thoroughly researched history specific to the Ball family of South Carolina.

    It’s well-written and heroically candid. But more than all that, it is a look at contemporary America, forcing us to examine the aftermath (for both races) of slavery and its legacy into the 21st century.

    Slaves in the Family By Edward Ball ($17.95, Ballantine Books), recommended by Connie, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White by Melissa Sweet

    Adults, don’t let the packaging fool you into thinking this is just a book for kids. This delightful and moving biography of E.B. White is for all ages. If Charlotte’s Web still holds a special place in your heart, this is a must read.

    Some Writer! The Story of E.B. White(HMH Books for Young Readers, $18.99), recommended by Karen at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil DeGrasse Tyson

    Astrophysicist Tyson, through a collection of previously written essays, passionately reminds us of our need for space exploration, and rejuvenates the joys of discovery we experienced during the accomplishments of NASA in the 60's and 70's.

    We were at our best in science and science education at the peak of the space program, but with the end of the shuttle missions, the interest has waned and important discoveries, in space exploration and technology, are few and far between.

    Tyson offers a persuasive argument for the need to further fund a program: that the benefits far outweigh the costs. Well written, informative and accessible.


    Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier by Neil DeGrasse Tyson ($16.95, WW Norton & Co.), recommended by Tim at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh 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.

  • Taxidermy Art by Robert Marbury

    Ok, so taxidermy seems creepy, but this book is just wonderful.Not only does it showcase truly talented artists, there is also a brief history of taxidermy and its major players throughout history.

    TAXIDERMY ART doesn't stop there. There is a wonderful guide to getting started on taxidermy in the back. Art, history, and DIY all in one book.

    Taxidermy Art: A Rogue's Guide to the Work, the Culture, and How to Do It Yourself by Robert Marbury (Artisan Publishers) Recommended by Al at Square Books Oxford MS

     

  • The Allure of Chanel by Paul Morand


    A little known treasure I discovered, this book is written by a close companion of Chanel and the story tells of her life in her words. The author and Coco spent many years together traveling and entertaining. It’s an insight into the personal life of Chanel, her politics, fears, desires and dreams. The book is beautifully illustrated by Karl Lagerfeld, Head Designer and Creative Director for House of Chanel.

    The Allure of Chanel by Paul Morand, Euan Cameron ($29.95, Pushkin Press), recommended by Linda, Books and Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • 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.

  • The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket

    With over thirty different pieces this collection has it all... 

    Short stories, non-fiction pieces, poems, excerpts from comics/graphic novels, articles from literary magazines, excerpts from chapbooks and even a transcript from a Night Vale Podcast.

    What also makes this collection so much fun to read is that it was curated by fourteen highschool students.
    Then last, but most certainly not least, there is the added bonus that the editor is Daniel Handler, who also wrote an introduction from Lemony Snicket.

    The Best American Nonrequired Reading 2014 by Daniel Handler, Lemony Snicket (Mariner) Recommended by Erin at Inkwood Books Tampa FL

  • The Blood of Emmett Till by Tim Tyson

    It's been almost 13 years since Tim Tyson's Blood Done Sign My Name, his personal and gut-wrenching story of violent racism in North Carolina. His masterful new book, The Blood of Emmett Till, is already garnering praise from around the country and from the staff at Quail Ridge Books.

    Helen says, "The horrific scenes in this book will be seared in your memory. Tyson takes you back to 1955 and puts you in the middle of the teenager's murder. Relying on extensive research and the only interview the woman involved has ever given, Tyson recounts the crime, the aftermath and the trial. The saving graces of this story are Till's mother, his uncle, one witness, the judge and the prosecutors. They emerge as heroic. Tyson writes a powerful, unrelenting closing where he blames everyone responsible from President Eisenhower on down. All the way through this book, the image of young Emmett Till—fun loving and helpful to his single mother—hovers over the shocking story."

    Rosemary says, "The story of Emmett Till is finally told, with the belated admissions of one of the key participants. What stood out strongest to me, even midst the horrors of Emmett's murder, was the bravery of Mamie Till. Imagine losing your child in such unspeakable circumstances, then putting your pain aside to do all you could to make sure his death wasn't in vain. You won't forget this book, nor should you."

    The Blood of Emmett Till by Tim Tyson (Simon & Schuster $27), recommended by the staff at Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

    Tim Tyson will visit Quail Ridge Books to discuss the book on Friday, February 17 at 7:00 p.m.

  • 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

  • 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.

  • The Death Class: A True Story about Life by Erika Hayasaki

    A former nurse, Norma Bowe decided to teach a college class on death. She never expected a three year waiting list for the class or that her students would be called to help others in transformative ways while saving their own lives. Don’t be fooled by the title, this book is inspiring and life-affirming.

    Hayasaki is a gifted journalist who spent time as a student of Professor Bowe’s to gain a unique insight into her life and the lives of the students she teaches each day.

    The Death Class: A True Story about Life by Erika Hayasaki (Simon & Schuster) Recommended by Stefani at Inkwood BooksTampa FL

  • The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena

    Mr. Ellena is the exclusive perfumer for the House of Hermes, the book is a little gem.

    While reading the book my mind tricked me into actually smelling orange blossom and bergamot and other lush and exotic scents. For anyone that loves luxury for the sake of luxury this is it.

    The Diary of a Nose: A Year in the Life of a Parfumeur by Jean-Claude Ellena ($24.95, Rizzoli Ex Libris), recommended by Linda, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL.

  • The Drone Eats with Me by Atef Abu Saif

    All the intimacy and power that Anne Frank's war diary gave us--the real breath and thoughts and fears of a human living under inhumane circumstances--are aged and magnified in Saif's account of war in Gaza.

    For 51 days he and his fellow Gazans live--and die--with the knowledge that life and death are a game of luck, controlled at the hands of an Israeli drone operator. Peace is not permitted for the people of Gaza, restricted by birth to a nation of contested land and continued acts of terror, violence, and grief. This was sixty years of life savings!- a man screams atop the rubble of his home. Ambulances screech all day long, gathering body parts of children and families that moments ago were survivors of the war, and now are its casualties.

    Saif and his friends flip a coin on the street--heads, the truce ends, tails, the truce continues. The children fight to plug in their iPads when the electricity comes on, while the adults watch the news to hear which of their friends has been obliterated in their homes this week.

    This is the fourth war Saif has lived through, and he knows that it is only by luck that he has lived, and that this war will not be the last--that one day his luck may run out. This is an essential read for those in search of peace in the midst of modern-day warfare, and even more essential for those who aren't sure which side they stand on.

    The Drone Eats with Me by Atef Abu Saif (Beacon Press) Recommended by Clara at Acappella Books Atlanta GA