okra picks

Okra Picks are a bumper crop of titles chosen each season by SIBA Indie Bookstores to handsell. These books are Southern in nature but cover all genres, not just fiction. Southern readers love their writers! Don't miss this season's strong selection of unmissable, fresh-picked Southern titles.


DISCOVER THE CURRENT CROP OF FRESH OKRA PICKS...

  • Blacktop Wasteland by S.A. Cosby

    Blacktop WastelandBlacktop Wasteland by S. A. Cosby
    Flatiron Books, July 14, 2020

    A husband, a father, a son, a business owner…And the best getaway driver east of the Mississippi.

    "Sensationally good—new, fresh, real, authentic, twisty, with characters and dilemmas that will break your heart. More than recommended." —Lee Child

    Beauregard "Bug" Montage is an honest mechanic, a loving husband, and a hard-working dad. Bug knows there's no future in the man he used to be: known from the hills of North Carolina to the beaches of Florida as the best wheelman on the East Coast.

    He thought he'd left all that behind him, but as his carefully built new life begins to crumble, he finds himself drawn inexorably back into a world of blood and bullets. When a smooth-talking former associate comes calling with a can't-miss jewelry store heist, Bug feels he has no choice but to get back in the driver's seat. And Bug is at his best where the scent of gasoline mixes with the smell of fear.

    Haunted by the ghost of who he used to be and the father who disappeared when he needed him most, Bug must find a way to navigate this blacktop wasteland...or die trying.

    Like Ocean's Eleven meets Drive, with a Southern noir twist, S. A. Cosby's Blacktop Wasteland is a searing, operatic story of a man pushed to his limits by poverty, race, and his own former life of crime.

  • After Squidnight by Jonathan Fenske

    After SquidnightAfter Squidnight by Jonathan Fenske
    Penguin, July 28, 2020

    From the creator of the award-winning A Pig, a Fox, and a Box comes a sly, silly picture book about artistic squids that will get every reader giggling!

    Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor-winning author and illustrator Jonathan Fenske's appealing illustration style and clever text make this intriguing book a must-have for every young reader's shelf

    When the clock strikes midnight, a squad of squids creeps out of the ocean--and over to your house! Their mission? To leave their inky mark by drawing on walls, the floor, and even your toys. This rhyming tale showcases a crew of creative creatures as they make art (or maybe just a mess) and leave you to deal with the consequences!

  • Deal With the Devil by Kit Rocha

    Deal With the DevilDeal With the Devil by Kit Rocha
    Tor Books, July 28, 2020

    Deal with the Devil is Orphan Black meets the post-apocalyptic Avengers by USA Today and New York Times bestselling author duo Kit Rocha.

    Nina is an information broker with a mission—she and her team of mercenary librarians use their knowledge to save the hopeless in a crumbling America.

    Knox is the bitter, battle-weary captain of the Silver Devils. His squad of supersoldiers went AWOL to avoid slaughtering innocents, and now he's fighting to survive.

    They're on a deadly collision course, and the passion that flares between them only makes it more dangerous. They could burn down the world, destroying each other in the process…

    Or they could do the impossible: team up.

    This is the first book in a near-future science fiction series with elements of romance.

  • Memorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey

    Memorial DriveMemorial Drive by Natasha Trethewey
    Ecco, July 28, 2020

    A chillingly personal and exquisitely wrought memoir of a daughter reckoning with the brutal murder of her mother at the hands of her former stepfather, and the moving, intimate story of a poet coming into her own in the wake of a tragedy.

    At age nineteen, Natasha Trethewey had her world turned upside down when her former stepfather shot and killed her mother. Grieving and still new to adulthood, she confronted the twin pulls of life and death in the aftermath of unimaginable trauma and now explores the way this experience lastingly shaped the artist she became.

    With penetrating insight and a searing voice that moves from the wrenching to the elegiac, Pulitzer Prize–winning poet Natasha Trethewey explores this profound experience of pain, loss, and grief as an entry point into understanding the tragic course of her mother's life and the way her own life has been shaped by a legacy of fierce love and resilience. Moving through her mother's history in the deeply segregated South and through her own girlhood as a "child of miscegenation" in Mississippi, Trethewey plumbs her sense of dislocation and displacement in the lead-up to the harrowing crime that took place on Memorial Drive in Atlanta in 1985.

    Memorial Drive is a compelling and searching look at a shared human experience of sudden loss and absence but also a piercing glimpse at the enduring ripple effects of white racism and domestic abuse. Animated by unforgettable prose and inflected by a poet's attention to language, this is a luminous, urgent, and visceral memoir from one of our most important contemporary writers and thinkers.

  • Guillotine by Eduardo C. Corral

    GuillotineGuillotine by Eduardo C. Corral
    Graywolf Press, August 4, 2020

    The astonishing second collection by the author of Slow Lightning, winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize.

    Guillotine traverses desert landscapes cut through by migrants, the grief of loss, betrayal's lingering scars, the border itself—great distances in which violence and yearning find roots. Through the voices of undocumented immigrants, border patrol agents, and scorned lovers, award-winning poet Eduardo C. Corral writes dramatic portraits of contradiction, survival, and a deeply human, relentless interiority. With extraordinary lyric imagination, these poems wonder about being unwanted or renounced. What do we do with unrequited love? Is it with or without it that we would waste away?

    In the sequence "Testaments Scratched into Water Station Barrels," with Corral's seamless integration of Spanish and English, poems curve around the surfaces upon which they are written, overlapping like graffiti left by those who may or may not have survived crossing the border. A harrowing second collection, Guillotine solidifies Corral's place in the expanding ecosystem of American poetry.

  • The Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi

    The Lazy Genius WayThe Lazy Genius Way by Kendra Adachi
    WaterBrook, August 11, 2020

    Being a Lazy Genius isn't about doing more or doing less. It's about doing what matters to you.

    "I could not be more excited about this book."—Jenna Fischer, actor and cohost of Office Ladies podcast.

    The chorus of "shoulds" is loud. You should enjoy the moment, dream big, have it all, get up before the sun, track your water consumption, go on date nights, and be the best. Or maybe you should ignore what people think, live on dry shampoo, be a negligent PTA mom, have a dirty house, and claim your hot mess like a badge of honor.

    It's so easy to feel overwhelmed by the mixed messages of what it means to live well.

    Kendra Adachi, the creator of the Lazy Genius movement, invites you to live well by your own definition and equips you to be a genius about what matters and lazy about what doesn't. Everything from your morning routine to napping without guilt falls into place with Kendra's thirteen Lazy Genius principles, including:

    • Decide once
    • Start small
    • Ask the Magic Question
    • Go in the right order
    • Schedule rest

    Discover a better way to approach your relationships, work, and piles of mail. Be who you are without the complication of everyone else's "shoulds." Do what matters, skip the rest, and be a person again.

  • Loathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park

    Loathe at First SightLoathe at First Sight by Suzanne Park
    Avon, August 18, 2020

    "Bursts with humor, heart, and great energy. I loved it! Park is a hilarious new voice in women's fiction."—Helen Hoang, author of The Kiss Quotient

    "[A] punchy adult debut set in the world of video game design. Park makes tough topics go down easy by couching them in wry humor and lighthearted romance, and her fierce, snarky heroine is irresistible. This smart rom-com is a winner."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

    In a debut perfect for fans of Jasmine Guillory and Sally Thorne, a junior video game producer finds herself getting closer and closer to the one person she hates most after a mass troll attack online almost ruins her life.

    Melody Joo is thrilled to land her dream job as a video game producer, but her new position comes with challenges: an insufferable CEO; sexist male coworkers; and an infuriating—yet distractingly handsome—intern, Nolan MacKenzie, aka "the guy who got hired because his uncle is the boss."

    Just when Melody thinks she's made the worst career move of her life, her luck changes. While joking with a friend, she creates a mobile game that has male strippers fighting for survival in a post-apocalyptic world. Suddenly Melody's "joke" is her studio's most high-profile project—and Melody's running the show.

    When Nolan is assigned to Melody's team, she's sure he'll be useless. But as they grow closer, she realizes he's smart and sexy, which makes Melody want to forget he's her intern. As their attraction deepens, she knows it's time to pump the brakes, even with her Korean parents breathing down her neck to hurry up and find a man.

    With her project about to launch, Melody suddenly faces a slew of complications, including a devastating trolling scandal. Could the man she's falling hard for help her play the game to win—in work and in love?

  • When These Mountains Burn by David Joy

    When These Mountains BurnWhen These Mountains Burn by David Joy
    G.P. Putnam's Sons, August 18, 2020

    Acclaimed author and "remarkably gifted storyteller" (The Charlotte Observer) David Joy returns with a fierce and tender tale of a father, an addict, a lawman, and the explosive events that come to unite them.

    When his addict son gets in deep with his dealer, it takes everything Raymond Mathis has to bail him out of trouble one last time. Frustrated by the slow pace and limitations of the law, Raymond decides to take matters into his own hands.

    After a workplace accident left him out of a job and in pain, Denny Rattler has spent years chasing his next high. He supports his habit through careful theft, following strict rules that keep him under the radar and out of jail. But when faced with opportunities too easy to resist, Denny makes two choices that change everything.

    For months, the DEA has been chasing the drug supply in the mountains to no avail, when a lead--just one word--sets one agent on a path to crack the case wide open . . . but he'll need help from the most unexpected quarter.

    As chance brings together these men from different sides of a relentless epidemic, each may come to find that his opportunity for redemption lies with the others.

  • RESPECT by Carole Boston Weatherford, Frank Morrison (Illustrator)

    RESPECTR-E-S-P-E-C-T by Carole Boston Weatherford, Frank Morrison (Illustrator)
    Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August 25, 2020

    From a creative team with multiple Caldecott Honors comes this vibrant portrait of Aretha Franklin that pays her the R-E-S-P-E-C-T this Queen of Soul deserves.

    Aretha Franklin was born to sing. The daughter of a pastor and a gospel singer, her musical talent was clear from her earliest days in her father's Detroit church where her soaring voice spanned more than three octaves.

    Her string of hit songs earned her the title "the Queen of Soul," multiple Grammy Awards, and a place in the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But Aretha didn't just raise her voice in song, she also spoke out against injustice and fought for civil rights.

    This authoritative, rhythmic picture book biography will captivate young readers with Aretha's inspiring story.

  • I Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (Illustrator)

    I Am Every Good ThingI Am Every Good Thing by Derrick Barnes, Gordon C. James (Illustrator)
    Nancy Paulsen Books, September 1, 2020

    An upbeat, empowering, important picture book from the team that created the award-winning Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut

    I am
    a nonstop ball of energy.
    Powerful and full of light.
    I am a go-getter. A difference maker. A leader

    The confident Black narrator of this book is proud of everything that makes him who he is. He's got big plans, and no doubt he'll see them through--as he's creative, adventurous, smart, funny, and a good friend. Sometimes he falls, but he always gets back up. And other times he's afraid, because he's so often misunderstood and called what he is not. So slow down and really look and listen, when somebody tells you--and shows you--who they are. There are superheroes in our midst!

  • The Deepest South of All by Richard Grant

    The Deepest South of AllThe Deepest South of All by Richard Grant
    Simon & Schuster, September 1, 2020

    Bestselling travel writer Richard Grant offers an entertaining and profound look at a city like no other.

    Natchez, Mississippi, once had more millionaires per capita than anywhere else in America, and its wealth was built on slavery and cotton. Today it has the greatest concentration of antebellum mansions in the South, and a culture full of unexpected contradictions. Prominent white families dress up in hoopskirts and Confederate uniforms for ritual celebrations of the Old South, yet Natchez is also progressive enough to elect a gay black man for mayor with 91% of the vote.

    Much as John Berendt did for Savannah in Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil and the hit podcast S-Town did for Woodstock, Alabama, so Richard Grant does for Natchez in The Deepest South of All. With humor and insight, he depicts a strange, eccentric town with an unforgettable cast of characters. There's Buzz Harper, a six-foot-five gay antique dealer famous for swanning around in a mink coat with a uniformed manservant and a very short German bodybuilder. There's Ginger Hyland, "The Lioness," who owns 500 antique eyewash cups and decorates 168 Christmas trees with her jewelry collection. And there's Nellie Jackson, a Cadillac-driving brothel madam who became an FBI informant about the KKK before being burned alive by one of her customers. Interwoven through these stories is the more somber and largely forgotten account of Abd al Rahman Ibrahima, a West African prince who was enslaved in Natchez and became a cause célèbre in the 1820s, eventually gaining his freedom and returning to Africa.

    Part history and part travelogue, The Deepest South of All offers a gripping portrait of a complex American place, as it struggles to break free from the past and confront the legacy of slavery.

  • Pea, Bee, & Jay #1 by Brian "Smitty" Smith

    Pea, Bee, & Jay #1Pea, Bee, & Jay #1 by Brian "Smitty" Smith
    HarperAlley, September 1, 2020

    Get ready to roll with Pea, Bee, & Jay in this brand-new early reader graphic novel series by Brian "Smitty" Smith, perfect for fans of Narwhal & Jelly, emerging readers, and comic lovers alike!

    Like all peas, Pea loves to roll. So when a no-good strawberry dares him to roll all the way off the farm, he swears he can do it—eazy me-zee!

    But along the way, a powerful thunderstorm strikes and bounces Pea off course...and right into two unlikely new buds: a bee named Bee who thinks she knows it all, and a bird named Jay who can't figure out how to fly.

    On their own they may not look like much, but if this trio can stick together, they just might help Pea find his way back home!

  • The Big Door Prize by M.O. Walsh

    The Big Door PrizeThe Big Door Prize by M. O. Walsh
    G. P. Putnam's Sons, September 8, 2020

    The New York Times bestselling author of My Sunshine Away returns with another instant Southern classic: a gripping and heartfelt novel about a mysterious machine that upends a small Louisiana town, asking us all to wonder if who we truly are is who we truly could be.

    What would you do if you knew your life's potential? That's the question facing the residents of Deerfield, Louisiana, when the DNAMIX machine appears in their local grocery store. It's nothing to look at, really--it resembles a plain photo booth. But its promise is amazing: With just a quick swab of your cheek and two dollars, the device claims to use the science of DNA to tell you your life's potential. With enough credibility to make the townspeople curious, soon the former teachers, nurses, and shopkeepers of Deerfield are abruptly changing course to pursue their destinies as magicians, cowboys, and athletes--including the novel's main characters, Douglas Hubbard and his wife, Cherilyn, who both believed they were perfectly happy until they realized they could dream for more...

    Written with linguistic grace and a sense of wonder, The Big Door Prize sparkles with keen observations about what it might mean to stay true to oneself while honoring the bonds of marriage, friendship, and community, and how the glimmer of possibility can pull these bonds apart, bring them back together, and make second chances possible, even under the strangest of circumstances.