GREAT READS HANDPICKED BY GREAT SOUTHERN BOOKSELLERS...

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  • A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter

    Salter writes sex sans sentimentality and his breakthrough novel will make you blush and book a flight to France. Following an affair between a Yale dropout and young French woman, Sport avoids the sappy story trap through sparse, seductive prose.

    Buy this book and read it when no one is watching. Literature has rarely been this lusty.

    A Sport and a Pastime by James Salter (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Recommended by Everett at Square Books Oxford MS

  • A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott

    I have read Kate Alcott's previous books, so I had high expectations for this novel.

    I believe this is my favorite of all the books. The view of Old Hollywood portrayed through the making of the film Gone With The Wind is captivating. Adding in the rise of the Nazi party and war in Europe gives a rare glimpse into two very separate places and how one impacts the other.

    Kate's female characters never disappoint and Julie is no exception. When you reflect on how truly unusual her path was for a Smith educated heiress she becomes even more engaging. Historical fiction fans, movie fans and readers who want to disappear into a book must read this book.

    A Touch of Stardust by Kate Alcott (Doubleday) Recommended by Jackie at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker

    This book isn’t brand new, but I feel it didn’t get enough attention this summer. I love reading mysteries in the fall, and Walker kept me guessing. I’m VERY CHOOSY with my thrillers, and this is a smart one.

    All Is Not Forgotten by Wendy Walker (St. Martin’s Press, $26.99), recommended by Sissy at Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson

    When Alice is sent from her desk job at a New York publishing house to the Bel Air mansion of M.M. Banning, a reclusive one-hit wonder in the literary world, she relishes the idea of doing something new and helping Mimi write her next great novel.

    But it turns out, she's mostly wanted to take care of Frank, Mimi's 9-year-old son, a precocious genius who loves old Hollywood movies and dresses better than anyone you've ever met, but who can't seem to bring himself to socialize with other kids.

    As Alice is charmed by Frank, she starts to wonder about the life Mimi has built for the two of them and whether she actually has a place in it, however temporary. Fans of Graeme Simsion's The Rosie Project will be drawn to Frank and his social awkwardness that somehow manages to also be endearing.

    Be Frank With Me by Julia Claiborne Johnson (William Morrow) Recommended by Melissa at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC.

  • Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty

    Sometimes when the going gets tough I like to set aside that serious literary novel that’s collecting dust on my nightstand and hole up with a fun, breezy whodunit that’s just plain brain candy. This funny thriller did the trick for me, so I’m looking forward to tuning into HBO on February 19 for the much buzzed-about six-episode miniseries adaptation starring Reese Witherspoon and Nicole Kidman.

    Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty ($16, Berkley Books), recommended by Katherine, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN.

  • Circling the Sun by Paula McLain

    Paula McLain does an exceptional job of capturing Beryl Markham and her singular life, as well as painting a vivid portrait of Kenya and a host of other noteworthy characters, including Karen Blixen, Dennys Finch-Hatton and the two British princes, Harry and David.

    I've been a fan of Beryl Markham's since reading her memoir, West With the Night, in the '80s, and have also read whatever I could about her. This is a beautifully written, authentic novel of the acclaimed horse trainer, pioneer aviator, and gifted writer, about whom Hemingway famously wrote -She can write rings around all of us who consider ourselves as writers...it is really a bloody wonderful book.

    Circling the Sun by Paula McLain (Ballantine) Recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • Come Rain Or Come Shine by Jan Karon

    Wedding bells ring in Jan Karon’s next Mitford installment!

    Little Dooley Kavanagh is all grown up and intending to marry the love of his life, Lace Harper. Short on money, they’ve decided to keep their ceremony sweet and uncomplicated.

    Elegant, even, in its simplicity. The whole family’s invited. If you’re at all familiar with the people of this quaint town, then you know that at best, this day will be sweet, but it will not be simple. Determined to have the beautiful day they deserve, Dooley and Lace do their best to roll with the punches all the way down the aisle.

    A pleasant update on Karon’s lovable and unpredictable characters.

    Come Rain Or Come Shine by Jan Karon (G.P. Putnam's Sons) Recommended by MM at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Damaged by Lisa Scottoline

    Mary DiNunzio is a successful attorney and a partner at the Rosato & DiNunzio firm. Her schedule has gotten complicated, due to her wedding being a few weeks away. However, when an elderly man named Edward comes in for a free consultation, Mary’s world is turned upside down. Edward’s grandson, Patrick, is being sued by a teacher’s aide for assault. Sadly, it is this shy, dyslexic boy who bears the markings of abuse. As Mary becomes more involved in finding out the truth, she becomes the only chance Patrick has at surviving and leading a healthy life. Is Mary going to lose everything she has in order to protect Patrick, or will the evidence prove Mary wrong?

    Lisa Scottoline packs a powerful punch in this novel. Despite it being the fourth in a series, the plot works well as a stand-alone story. Readers, like Mary, will be drawn in right from the moment they meet Patrick and they will be kept guessing as they try to figure out the truth through all the multiple twists and intense secondary storylines. Damaged is a book that weaves its way into readers’ hearts. The author does an excellent job at showing the current struggles children with learning disorders face on a daily basis. Filled with a large family, human emotions, and one dramatic courtroom scene, readers of literature and mysteries will devour this book.

    Damaged by Lisa Scottoline, recommended by Nicole at My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Fingersmith by Sarah Waters

    Fingersmith by Sarah WatersForget Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train. Move over Big Little Lies and The Woman in Cabin 10. Because Fingersmith has one of the best jaw dropping, plot twisting, Oh-My-God-Did-That-Just-Happen moments that I've ever read.

    Fingersmith by Sarah Waters ($17.99, Riverhead Books), recommended by Katie, Fountain Bookstore, Richmond, VA.

  • Free Men by Katy Simpson Smith

    I loved Katy Simpson Smith's Free Men (Harper $26.99), a novel set in 1788, in what will become Alabama, and based on the true story of an escaped slave, a white orphan, and a Creek Indian who are on the run together after committing a serious crime. As in Smith's first novel, The Story of Land and Sea (Harper $15.99), set on the NC coast during the Revolution, and which I also loved, she demonstrates a remarkable ability to fully immerse the reader in a bygone era. Free Men is part crime thriller and part meditation on freedom and the personal cost of clashing societies in a new world. Joseph Ellis has called Smith "the most sophisticated historical novelist of her generation."

    Free Men by Katy Simpson Smith (Harper), recommended by Sarah at Quail Ridge Books | Raleigh, NC.

  • Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon

    A big, heartrending novel about the entangled lives of two women in 1920s New England, both mothers to the same unforgettable girl.

    In 1917 Beatrice Haven—the unwed teenage daughter of wealthy Jewish industrialists—sneaks out of the house in the middle of the night to abandon her newborn baby at the foot of a pear tree hoping the girl will be discovered by a poor Irish Catholic family led by headstrong Emma Murphy.

    Ten years later, Prohibition is in full swing and post–World War I America is in the grips of rampant xenophobia. Bea is inadvertently reunited with Emma Murphy and the abandoned child—now a bright, bold, cross-dressing girl named Lucy Pear—forever altering the fates of all three women.

    Leaving Lucy Pear by Anna Solomon (Viking) Recommended by Bookstore1Sarasota Sarasota FL

  • Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

    Jodi Picoult's Leaving Time was everything a Picoult fan could want and more. Told from four different points of view, it is a story of a young girl searching for her mother, a missing elephant researcher, and the two people she has enlisted to help her: a once famous psychic who has lost her ability to communicate with the dead, and a down on his luck private investigator.

    Picoult employs the use of the elephants, as she has done with many different subjects throughout her novels, to further the story while teaching the reader countless new facts about the majestic creatures, mainly how they grieve. Time has the familiar Picoult tone but is vastly different from her previous novels. Picoult's uncanny ability to get inside the head of each character, man or woman, child or adult, keeps us connected to each character, hanging on every word to find out what each individual fate will be.

    Even Picoult's biggest fans, who have come to expect shocks, won't see the twist ending coming and that is perhaps the most impressive thing about the consistently unpredictable Jodi Picoult.

    Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult ($28, Ballantine), recommended by Chelsea, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh NC.

  • Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas

    There's something so perfectly universal about a novel about family, and Let Me Explain You is no different.

    Stavros Stavros Mavrakis--Greek immigrant, father of three, proprietor of the Gala Diner--believes that he will be dead in ten days. With this in mind, he writes an e-mail to his estranged ex-wife and three grown daughters, telling them exactly how they should "fix" their lives. His family writes off the email as a cry for attention, but when Stavros goes missing they begin to reevaluate their own lives and his place in them.

    This is a hilarious and tender novel about fathers and daughters, love, loss, and the impact our decisions have on those we love. You'll laugh, you'll cry--it's a veritable Greek tragicomedy!

    Let Me Explain You by Annie Liontas (Scribner) Recommended by Amanda at Inkwood Books Tampa FL
     

  • Love and Ghost Letters by Chantel Acevedo

    This is the first novel by Chantel and it is as good as her other two.

    Josephina is the daughter of a Cuban police sergeant in pre-Castro Cuba. She leads a wonderful life until she falls for a poor man.

    She becomes estranged from her father and at one point thinks her father is dead. But he is not and the letters he writes to her (she thinks she is getting letters from a ghost) reveals his family relationship and his love for her.

    A wonderful story of family with a pervasive Cuban flavor. I loved it! This book won the 2006 International Latino Book Award.

    Love and Ghost Letters by Chantel Acevedo (St. Martin's Griffin) Recommended by Stephanie at Page & Palette Fairhope AL

  • Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen

    A coming of age novel reminiscent of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn. Mimi is a precocious young girl who struggles to survive under emotionally difficult family circumstances. Mimi wonders if she will ever achieve her dream of leaving Miller's Valley and making something of her life.

    Beautifully written!

    Miller's Valley by Anna Quindlen (Random House) Recommended by Linda at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles

    Andrew at Lemuria Books reviews Mississippi Blood, the final, riveting chapter in Greg Iles's Natchez Burning trilogy. (The second volume, The Bone Tree, was a 2016 Southern Book Prize winner). The whole trilogy is set in the Natchez, Mississippi, and centers on long-running Iles protagonist Penn Cage, who also appeared in The Quiet Game in 1999. The trilogy also features appearances from characters in the previously stand-alone and unrelated thriller Dead Sleep from 2001.

    "I personally first encountered the character of Penn Cage about four years ago on the pages of his second novel, Turning Angel. Penn became the latest in my personal parade of literary types that I treasure: the non-professional private eye," writes Andrew, about characters intertwined inseparably from their setting: "And that’s the thing about these characters: they inevitably become inseparable from their settings. Penn lives and breathes Natchez like its sins and successes are wholly his burden to bear."

    Read more about Mississippi Blood at Lemuria Book's blog.

    Mississippi Blood by Greg Iles ($28.99, William Morrow & Company), recommended by Andrew, Lemuria Books, Jackson, MS.

  • 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.

  • Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank

    Artist Rebecca Simms turns to Pawleys Island as a sanctuary from her tumultuous past. In this quaint town, she finds a cast of characters who are desperate to know her past and help her have a better future. Abigail Thurmond left the drama of the courtroom behind, when she retired to Pawleys Island to begin a new career as an author. However, when she meets Rebecca, Abigail knows she must dive back into her old career, to fight for Rebecca. Dorothea Benton Frank’s writing is a bit predictable, but light-hearted, which makes for a good beach read. Though this is the fifth book in the series, it works well as a standalone. The setting of Pawleys Island makes this a great vacation for one’s mind.

    Pawleys Island by Dorothea Benton Frank ($7.99, Berkley Publishing Group), recommended by Nicole, My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • Purity by Jonathan Franzen

    Purity is a big novel that will support the existing view that one of our finest novelists is Jonathan Franzen.

    The title character, Purity (Pip) Tyler, is a young woman of our time, a recent college graduate with no serious job prospects and a heap of debt. She becomes increasingly disturbed by not knowing who her father is, and signs up for an internship with The Sunlight Project, an internet outfit whose mission is to expose all sorts of secrets, because she thinks that TSP also might help locate her father.

    The group is run by Andreas Wolf, who was born in Cold War East Germany, and his family relationships might seem to make Pip’s look like the Cleavers, but hers are not at all simple, either.

    Psychological, political, and sexual constructs are formed by both state and personal dramas, and how they unravel forms a story with the sort of meaning one hopes for but does not often find in the modern novel.

    Purity by Jonathan Franzen (Farrar Straus Giroux) Recommended by RH at Square Books Oxford MS

  • Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews

    Beach trip checklist:
    - sunscreen
    - sunglasses
    - lounge chair
    - great summer

    A talented young florist tries to make a go of her business in Savannah and finds more than her share of challenges along the way. This latest from Mary Kay has everything you could want: Romance; break ups; drama; intrigue. Oh, did I mention Goldendoodles? A total escape! I had so much fun reading this book!

    Save The Date by Mary Kay Andrews ($26.99, St. Martin's Press), recommended by Samantha, Quail Ridge Books, Raleigh, NC.

  • The Bright Forever by Lee Martin

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

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

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

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

  • The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy

    In an age when the once romantic American Southwest is beginning to fall victim to the same capitalization as the rest of the country, young and starry-eyed Billy Boyd embarks on a quest of Greek proportions across the unclaimed landscape.

    The Crossing is the second book in McCarthy's Border Trilogy stands on its own beautifully, but rises to an entirely more transcendent level
    when read with the other two books (All the Pretty Horses and Cities of the Plain).

    With his beautiful imagery, deeply sympathetic characters, and haunting social commentary, Cormac McCarthy shines as one of the greatest writers of all time.

    But this book is not for the faint of heart—it will literally change your life.

    The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy (Vintage) Recommended by Kate at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Eyes Have It by Julie Allan

    Elizabeth “Lizzie” Long has recently been informed by her husband that he is moving on, and she also learned the news about her beloved Uncle’s passing. Lizzie packs up her dogs and moves back home to McClellanville, South Carolina, to soak up the healing vibes of the low country. With the help of her Aunt, and old friends, Lizzie realizes all that she has been missing in life and what she truly wants for her future. As Lizzie makes peace with her present, will she allow her past pain to control her chance at happiness? Julie Allan delivers a quaint, low country romance story that provides a delightful set-up to a series. Fans of wholesome, second chance romances, will appreciate this debut novel. The beautiful South Carolina coastline sets the scene for this book. Readers will chuckle at Lizzie’s predicaments and they will be anxious to find out how her life plays out in the end.

    The Eyes Have It by Julie Allan ($12.99, Bublish, Inc.), recommended by Nicole, My Sisters Books, Pawleys Island, SC.

  • The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield

    If you are looking for a somewhat irreverent novel, don't mind some raunchy humor and language, but love a good story despite all this, you will love this novel.

    A cast of misfits comes together to form a wacky softball team and in the process learns about forgiveness and starting over. The novel centers around Jake, a 12-year-old whose love of vintage clothing and romance novels irritates his mom's live-in boyfriend. A neighbor befriends Jake and provides the things he needs to be himself. Jake soon becomes an asset that The Flood Girls, the softball team, can't afford to lose.

    The Flood Girls by Richard Fifield (Gallery Books ) Recommended by Linda H. at Fiction Addiction Greenville SC

  • The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins

    Rachel's daily train commute takes her past the back yards of a residential street.

    She loves to fantasize about the people who live there. At one house she often sees an attractive young couple on the patio. They seem so happy, so perfect. A few doors down is another house she dreads seeing, yet she cannot avert her eyes. It was her's. Now her ex lives there with his new wife -and child.

    This brilliantly crafted thriller draws you in as it reveals the complex interconnection of these characters' lives. The story is narrated in turns by three characters. Even though they are all females of roughly the same age, Hawkins has created such distinct voices that I always knew who was speaking and totally accepted each of them.

    This is riveting,  intelligent writing. 

    The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins (Riverhead) Recommended by Samantha 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 Last Magazine by Michael Hastings

    Michael Hastings, the kick-ass young journalist of the McCrystal affair and the first to write about Bowe Bergdahl in Rolling Stone in 2012, died last year in a car wreck.

    In his file was the manuscript for this novel, edited by his widow, Elise Jordan. Loosely based on Hastings’ experiences in the magazine world, it is a biting commentary full of guts, sex, and arrogant or off-kilter characters.

    A great read, realistically animating the intense and crazy world of political journalism.

    The Last Magazine by Michael Hastings (Plume) Recommended by Lisa at Square Books Oxford 

  • The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle

    The Marriage Lie by Kimberly BelleCould it happen to you? The divergence between what Iris thinks she knows about her partner of more than seven years and what she learns about him through digging into his past, after an unforeseen event, tugs emotionally and rationally. Throughout the story, Iris finds many reasons to question every decision she is faced with. Hold on, this one has plenty of twists right up to the last page.

    The Marriage Lie by Kimberly Belle ($15.99, Mira Books), recommended by Page 158 Books, Wake Forest, NC.

  • The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson

    Okay, y’all. This is the most addictive, unflinching, smart book I’ve read so far this year.

    And, believe me, I could go on with the adjectives. Instead, I’ll let Joshilyn herself tell you what kind of books she writes: Weirdo Fiction with a Shot of Southern Gothic Influence for Smart People Who Can Catch the Nuances but Who Like Narrative Drive, and Who Have a Sense of Humor but Who Are Willing to Go Down to Dark Places.

    The Opposite of Everyone’s Paula Vauss joins Arlene Fleet, Ro Grandee, and Shandi Pierce in Joshilyn’s pantheon of incredible female protagonists. Do yourself a favor. Get to know all of them. Start with Paula.

    The Opposite of Everyone by Joshilyn Jackson (William Morrow & Company) Recommended by Cindy at Malaprops Bookstore Asheville NC

  • The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

    I loved this delightful book about a genetics researcher (he doesn't realize he has Asperger's syndrome) who decides to find himself the perfect wife. 

    From the candidates that fill out the detailed applications to his best friend who is trying to map the world with his bedroom conquests (using the candidates his friend discards), this book is a wonderful story full of characters that you will adore.

    The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion (Simon & Schuster), recommended by The Country Bookshop Southern Pines NC.

  • The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin

    A fictionalized account of the real-life friendship between the writer, Truman Capote, and the socialite and fashion icon, Babe Paley.

    Paley and the Swans (Pamela Churchill, Slim Keith, C. Z. Guest, Gloria Guinness) were the very definition of elegance, beauty and sophistication.During the 1950s and 1960s they lived a glamorous life at the pinnacle of New York society.

    This novel is delicious (like champagne in book form!) Gossipy and scandalous, ultimately it is a poignant look at the value of friendship and human connection.

    The Swans of Fifth Avenue by Melanie Benjamin (Delacorte Press) Recommended by Abbe at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC

  • The Trespasser by Tana French

    This was my first Tana French novel, and now I have to go back and read them all. A taut procedural with a healthy dose of paranoia, The Trespasser finds Detective Antoinette Conway navigating a hostile work environment while solving what seems to be an open-and-shut murder case. French is a master manipulator, and this novel had me thinking in an Irish accent.

    The Trespasser by Tana French (Viking, $27.00), recommended by Travis at Flyleaf Books, Chapel, NC.

  • Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty

    A busy couple formerly on the brink of realizing their dreams reflects on a fortuitous gathering with their best friends and another couple in a tale that explores the role of guilt in relationships and the power of everyday moments in family life.

    Liane Moriarty's novels consistently feature spot-on observations about contemporary life, irresistible humor, and page-turning suspense. Her last two books, Big Little Lies and The Husband's Secret, were both massive #1 New York Times bestsellers.

    Truly Madly Guilty by Liane Moriarty (Flatiron Books) Recommended by Bookstore1Sarasota Sarasota FL

  • Villa America by Liza Klaussman

    Villa America is a beautifully crafted, thoroughly entertaining work of historical fiction about Sara and Gerald Murphy, part of the so-called Lost Generation of the 1920s.

    As ex-pats living in the south of France, the Murphys strove to create an idyllic world for themselves and their circle of friends that included Hemingway, Picasso and Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald. This carefully researched book tells a story of the charmed, extravagant lives of these people who, despite their efforts to escape, found themselves vulnerable to the realities of misfortune and tragedy.

    Klaussmann is a gifted writer with the ability to give voice to the most fundamental truths of humanity. There were passages I read again and again, marveling at their beauty and insight.

    Villa America by Liza Klaussmann (Little Brown and Company) Recommended by Samantha at Quail Ridge Books Raleigh NC