Min Jin Lee, author of Pachinko, on identity, history, and “the defiant strength of those who resist”

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Today’s guest post is by Steve Haruch of Chapter16.org and Humanities Tennessee. 

There is a Korean concept known as han, which is widely considered untranslatable. The Los Angeles Times once called it “as amorphous a notion as love or hate: intensely personal, yet carried around collectively, a national torch, a badge of suffering tempered by a sense of resiliency.” Min Jin Lee’s most recent novel, Pachinko, never mentions the word han. But in its beguiling and nuanced way, it is at once a kind of scrolling, epic illustration of the concept and a tender, heartrending rebuke of the notion that any sort of unifying identity, across time and diaspora, can ever be easily described or distilled. Read the rest of this entry »

Miracle, Secret, or Hoax? An Interview with Novelist Jonathan Miles

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What would you do if a miracle happened to you? That’s the question behind Anatomy of a Miracle, the new novel from author Jonathan Miles (Dear American Airlines, Want Not) and this month’s selection for our First Editions Club. Read the rest of this entry »

What to Take on Spring Break: 21 Great Books for Young Readers

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Whether spring break means “road trip” or “staycation” for your family, one thing’s for certain: everybody needs something to read. Pop in for a visit and stock up, or shop online from this list of our staffers’ latest favorites for all ages.

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New Season, New Books: 22 Staff-Picked Reads

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Spring is on its way at last! While the temps can vary wildly this time of year, the good news is that all weather is perfect for reading. Whether the sunshine has you outside soaking up warmth, or the rain suggests you stay indoors (seriously, we have had SO MUCH RAIN in Nashville), our booksellers offer some favorite reads to keep you company.
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Getting Specific in the Kitchen: 13 Niche Cookbooks

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“When a person dies, a casserole is born.” That’s according to Garden & Gun magazine, which gave rave reviews to The Southern Sympathy Cookbook: Funeral Food with a Twist. As the title of this new book by Memphis-based writer Perre Coleman Magness indicates, this is no catch-all cooking guide. Magness, whose last book offered 50 different pimento cheese recipes, has a knack for zooming in for a close look at a distinct food group. This time it’s recipes for food you can take to friends, family, and neighbors when it’s time for that unique cultural experience — the Southern funeral. (Bonus: You’ll also get spot-on observations about Southern traditions and excerpts from unexpectedly funny obituaries.) That got us thinking about other super-specific cookbooks we love. Read the rest of this entry »

Nonfiction That Seeks to Understand Our Past and Present

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Looking to shake up your reading life with some nonfiction? Over the next few weeks, Parnassus Books is hosting some author-led discussions that delve into both current events and timeless issues, featuring prominent guest writers. Whether you’re in the mood for political journalism, social commentary, or historical perspective, we hope you’ll join us for any or all of these community conversations!  Read the rest of this entry »

Notes from Ann: Nickels

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I’m writing a novel. It’s going okay. I wrote a chunk of it over the summer, then had to leave it because I was traveling around giving talks. When I came back to the book after Christmas, and then again after the flu, I no longer liked what I’d written. Last summer I thought I had things figured out, but I was wrong. A couple of weeks ago I threw it all away and started again. This is the kind of thing that felt like the end of the world when I was 26, but at 54 feels like, Oh, now I’m at that part where I realize all the previously completed work is trash and must be thrown away. Okay. I remember when I realized the first 30 pages of Bel Canto were unsalvageable dreck. I sat at the kitchen table and wept. Those pages had taken eight months to write (because true dreck is composed very slowly). Someone walking into the kitchen at that moment might have thought something very bad had happened to me, and I would have had to explain that I was learning a lesson and it was hard, that’s all. Read the rest of this entry »