Reading Our Way into Spring

march reads

This is how the first month of spring goes in Nashville: One day, the sun has everybody peeling off their jackets and toasting themselves in the welcome warmth. The next, we’re standing at the store window watching sleet turn to ice in the parking lot, cursing our wicked cases of spring fever. On days like those, at least we’re surrounded by great things to read. Here are a few of our favorites.

men we reapedMen We Reaped, Jesmyn Ward
I was a big fan of Ward’s National Book Award winning novel Salvage the Bones but I liked this memoir even better. Ward tells us the story of growing up poor and black in rural Mississippi, and about the young men she knew and loved and lost. The bright and relentless life she shines on the everyone, including herself, makes this book an education, the writing makes it beautiful. I highly recommend it. – Ann Patchett




suicide indexThe Suicide Index, Joan Wickersham
Don’t be put off by the title.  This is a fascinating book in which a daughter deconstructs her father’s life and her parent’s marriage in order to find out what lead her father to kill himself without warning. Part murder mystery, part psychological examination, completely flawless writing. I found it impossible to put down. – Ann Patchett




news from spainThe News from Spain, Joan Wickersham
I loved Wickersham’s nonfiction book The Suicide Index so much that I immediately went to her latest work of fiction. The News from Spain is made up of seven unrelated love stories, all titled “The News from Spain.” If it sounds like a clever trick, it is, but is also an astonishingly good book.  Joan Wickersham is my new hero. – Ann Patchett




martianThe Martian, Andy Weir
What happens when a botanist/mechanical engineer is stranded on Mars alone? Read this and find out. The science is as real as it comes, but it’s the story that keeps the pages turning. This is commercial fiction at its best. – Karen Hayes




redeploymentRedeployment, Phil Klay
It’s oftentimes harder to sell a short story collection than to sell a novel, but sometimes a collection comes along so beautifully crafted that the entire pitch is having you open the book. This is my request: open Redeployment to any page you like and start reading. Klay’s enviable talent for telling the most tragic, interesting, and comic stories in as few words as possible places him alongside the best writing in the history of the genre. That’s the second most impressive thing about him; the first is that Redeployment is his debut. (All of our copies are signed first editions.) – Tristan Hickey



ashberyQuick Question, John Ashbery
John Ashbery is frequently described as America’s greatest living poet. This may sound like an exaggeration until we consider how he has the most expansive vocabulary in American poetry since Walt Whitman. Also there is the question of just how many John Ashberys are contained within his massive body of work. As if appearing like waves on the ocean, it seems to me there are too many to count. Quick Question contains 63 of his latest. – Nathan Spoon



jane fox meJane, The Fox, and Me, Fanny Britt and Isabelle Arsenault
This thoughtful graphic novel, perfect for anyone who has ever loved a book like a best friend, is the most beautiful book I’ve read all year. – Yashwina Canter




fangirlFangirl, Rainbow Rowell
Honest and hilarious, this book turns fandom on its head and engages wholeheartedly with what it means to be a “fan.” After the brilliance of Eleanor and Park, this book proves that everything Rainbow Rowell touches turns to gold. – Yashwina Canter




it's complicatedIt’s Complicated: The Social Lives of Networked Teens, Danah Boyd
I have a preteen daughter. Prepping in whatever way I can — to protect and defend Girl Land as long as possible. Boyd, an MIT professor, is no lightweight. Read it and come kvetch with me. – Margy Roark




war and peaceWar and Peace, Cozy Classics
In 12 words, illustrated by tiny felt characters, it’s the perfect gift for baby. Or you. Not into Tolstoy? Pick any other title from the Cozy Classics series. They’re all adorable.- Miriam Mimms




good luckThe Good Luck of Right Now, Matthew Quick
Quick uses his unique sense of humor to draw us into a novel about people who do not fit in but desperately want to be heard, understood, and loved. – Sissy Gardner




wide and starry skyUnder the Wide and Starry Sky, Nancy Horan
The author of Loving Frank brings to life the love story and marriage of Robert Louis Stevenson and Fanny, his American wife, a relationship complicated by his debilitating tuberculosis and by her former husband. – Kathy Schultenover




officer spyAn Officer and a Spy, Robert Harris
Straight out of today’s headlines of whistle blowers and rampant intelligence agencies comes an historical novel of an international affair occurring over a century ago.  Robert Harris makes 19th century Paris come alive as he tells the tale of Georges Picquart, head of the counterespionage agency that sentenced Alfred Dreyfus, a young Jewish officer, to a lifetime of confinement on Devil’s Island for trading secrets with the Germans.  By chance, Picquart begins to find evidence of Dreyfus’s innocence; and as he strives to rectify the framing of Dreyfus, he becomes a victim himself at the hands of the government and army to which he has devoted his life.  Compelling, illuminating, fascinatingly relevant. – Mary Grey James


bearThe Bear, Claire Cameron
After reading the Musing interview with Claire Cameron, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on this book. It’s so compelling that I read the whole thing in a single night. If you liked Room by Emma Donoghue, you will love this book. – Niki Coffman




holyThe Holy or the Broken: Leonard Cohen, Jeff Buckley, and the Unlikely Ascent of “Hallelujah,” Alan Light
Is this song about the spiritual or the physical? Both? Neither? These days you hear “Hallelujah” everywhere, but it didn’t start off as a hit. Originally written by Leonard Cohen, made famous by Jeff Buckley, and covered by artists ranging from Brandi Carlile to Justin Timberlake, the song and the lyrics have evolved with each new recording. Music lovers, poets, and English majors will enjoy following the editorial journey taken by this gorgeous piece of music. (Makes a great palate cleanser between intense novels, too.) – Mary Laura Philpott



12 days Twelve Days: The Story of the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Victor Sebestyen
A riveting day by day account of the Hungarian Revolution. Sebetyen’s research included material and documents that only became available after the collapse of the Warsaw Pact. Twelve Days provides an interesting perspective in light of the recent events in the Ukraine. – Andy Brennan




baconBacon Nation: 125 Irresistible Recipes, Peter Kaminsky and Marie Rama
(This book is about bacon. It’s a recommendation from Opie, one of our store dogs. It’s about bacon. And also about many ways to eat bacon. Did he mention bacon? Bacon.)




ciderCider with Rosie, Laurie Lee
Pure poetry. This is an account of a childhood spent in Gloucestershire, England, during and after World War I — and a delightful insight into rural life at the beginning of the 20th century. To quote Laurie, “We lived where he [his father] had left us: a relic of his provincial youth; a sprawling, cumbersome, countrified brood too incongruous to carry with him; and I, for one, scarcely missed him. I was perfectly content in this world of women… bullied and tumbled through the hand-to-mouth days, patched or dressed up, scolded, admired, swept off my feet in sudden passions of kisses, or dumped forgotten among the unwashed pots.” – Bill Long-Innes



I’m not sure a book has ever captured the joy of the life of a reader quite as well as this one. If, like me, you find yourself constantly and happily running out of both space in your home and time in your life for all the books you want to read, please, pick up this little book. It won’t take up much room, and you’ll read it in one sitting. It’s the one for you. – Stephanie Appell