Summer’s Not Over — Keep Right on Reading and Relaxing

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Do not despair. Despite all those back-to-school flyers about pencils and backpacks, summer is nowhere near over. (At least not for grownups, right?) It’s August! The sun’s out, the days are long, and every week brings a new crop of fantastic new releases in your neighborhood bookstore. So plant yourself defiantly in a hammock and insist on what’s yours: one more month of leisurely reading time. Reality can wait its turn.

We recommend:

The Light of the World: A Memoir 

In her new book, Elizabeth Alexander introduces us to her husband, the artist Ficre Ghebreyesus, and invites us to fall in love with him just as she did. Firce is impossible not to love, and his loss is impossible not to grieve. While this is a book about his death, it is so much more the story of the complete vibrancy of his life. An astonishing book. – Ann Patchett

A God in Ruins

Atkinson’s novel Life After Life was an inventive book that focused on the many possible lives of Ursula Todd. And while A God in Ruins is related to this book, you do not have to have read the first book to enjoy this less acrobatic follow-up. The pivotal points of both stories take place in England during WWII, but this book portrays the full life of Ursula’s brother Teddy. It is a poignant and engrossing read. – Karen Hayes


Who would you talk to if you had the ability to make a phone call into the past? (Now available in paperback.) – Ginger Nalley

Pirate Hunters: Treasure, Obsession, and the Search for a Legendary Pirate Ship 

This is the true story of long ago pirates and modern day treasure hunters. Kurson has found a fascinating tale to tell and has the abilitiy to keep you on the edge of your seat while telling it. – Ginger Nalley

Let Me Tell You: New Stories, Essays, and Other Writings 

You’ll remember Shirley Jackson as the writer who used to scare the pants off you when you were a kid. This collection of never-before-released stories and essays is full of the gothic weirdness and stunning writing that have earned Jackson her place among the best American storytellers of the twentieth century. – Lindsay Lynch

The Scorpio Races 

You can read the back of this book to see what it is about, but this is a book that is not about the things it is about. This is a book about the smell of the sea after a storm, the feel of a very fast, very dangerous horse moving beneath you, the sound of the wind whipping through your hair, and the pounding of hooves on the sand and in your heart. It is a masterpiece, and I adored it. – Stephanie Appell

More Happy Than Not 

How do you become who you are? Why do you love who you love? Can you change who you are by erasing where you’ve been? Adam Silvera explores these questions through the story of Aaron Soto, a young man from the Bronx. Silvera paints Aaron and his friends, family, and neighborhood with an easy and intimate brush, in prose both familiar and conversational. The writing is buoyant, the reading effortless. More Happy Than Not will remove your heart from your ribcage, break it into little pieces, and then put it back together again, not quite the same as before. Silvera’s accomplishment is that you’ll be glad it did. – Stephanie Appell

Not My Father’s Son: A Memoir 

By Alan Cumming
So much more than his role of Eli Gold on “The Good Wife”…this memoir is eye-opening and even suspenseful, as Alan tells of his strange childhood and his life in theater and television. A great read! – Kathy Schultenover

Confederates in the Attic: Dispatches from the Unfinished Civil War 

A Pulitzer Prize winner takes a tour of the South to better understand why “Forget, Hell!” is a common response when asking about the “War of Northern Aggression.” Written almost 20 years ago, it has all of the relevance and immediacy of today’s headlines. – Mary Grey James

You Too Can Have a Body Like Mine 

I love a sick sense of humor, and this novel reminds me a lot of Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger. Our protagonist thinks her roommate might be losing it. Truth is, we all are. – Sissy Gardner


By Fran Ross, Harryette Mullen (Afterword by), Danzy Senna (Introduction by)
Praise be to the publishing gods who saved this book from out-of-print purgatory. Originally published in the 1970’s, Fran Ross’s Oreo is the funniest book I’ve read in 2015. – Lindsay Lynch

We All Looked Up

By Tommy Wallach

Told from the alternating perspectives of four Seattle teenagers, We All Looked Up follows the story of the city in the weeks following the news that a massive asteroid is hurtling towards Earth with a 66.6% chance of impact. Amidst the ensuing chaos, the four characters become connected through cleverly interwoven details and experiences. They form a Kurt Vonnegut-inspired “karass,”a cosmically significant bond among a group who might not otherwise have reason to find each other. Together, they discover new thoughts about morality, friendship, strength, and love in a time of crisis. This debut novel invokes questions about what it means to live and how precious time is best spent. – Sarah Arnold


Are you are a geek? Do you feel like there are no beach reads for you? Look no further. Filled with pop culture references and plenty of action, Armada moves quickly and keeps you entertained. – Catherine Bock


Read if you loved one of the following: Austen’s Persuasion; Asimov’s I, Robot; and/or Barthes’ A Lover’s Discourse. With gorgeous prose that shines with glimmers of poetry, Speak delves into our emotions, our loss, our memories, and most importantly our language. – Grace Wright

West with the Night 

By Beryl Markham, Sara Wheeler (Introduction by)
A true classic, this deserves the same acclaim and readership as the work of Markham’s contemporaries Ernest Hemingway, Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, and Isak Dinesen. If the first responsibility of a memoirist is to lead a life worth writing about, Markham succeeded beyond all measure. Born Beryl Clutterbuck in the middle of England, she and her father moved to Kenya when she was a girl, and she grew up with a zebra for a pet; horses for friends; baboons, lions, and gazelles for neighbors. I keep my copy of this within arm’s reach. It is dogeared tried with long passages underlined. Markam’s words are perfect prose, storytelling with such lucid power we inhabit the page. Recommended for anyone who loves memoir, biography, travel, Africa, history, and strong women. Wild and wondrous storytelling. – River Jordan

Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget 

Clear, snappy writing from an essayist who’s exactly my age and remembers the same things about the 80s, 90s, and early aughts. There’s also a lot she doesn’t remember, and it’s those blackout drunk nights that bother her. We’ve all been there (right…? right??), but Hepola has the guts to dig up the roots of her behavior and write about it. – Mary Laura Philpott

Learning Outside the Lines

By Jonathan Mooney, David Cole (Joint Author)
This is a wonderful book for “unusual learners” that is written by a pair of unusual learners. Jonathan Mooney (dyslexic) and David Cole (ADHD) met at Brown University during their transfer orientation. They hit it off and soon made a pact to write a book together. This is that book. Jonathan went on to graduate with honors in English, while David graduated with honors in visual arts. How did they do it? As an unusual learner myself, I appreciated finding out. If this topic matters to you, you will too. – Nathan Spoon

What Have You Lost? 

By Naomi Shihab Nye (Selected by)
This is a collection of poems on loss for young adults. However, because of the varieties of loss explored in these pages, it is also worthwhile reading for adults every age. Sometimes we are sorry to lose things. Other times we are happy about our losses. I am glad my friend Naomi did not lose the poem I sent her that is included in this wonderful book! – Nathan Spoon

Dylan Goes Electric! Newport, Seeger, Dylan, and the Night That Split the Sixties 

Another Dylan book? One might think it has all been told before, but Elijah Wald sheds new light on one of the most significant moments in music history. The author of The Mayor of McDougal Street pulls together all the tales and stories of the Newport Folk Festival show that drove Pete Seeger over the edge. Wald argues that not only did Dylan change, but the music business itself was changed forever. – Andy Brennan

Among the Ten Thousand Things

Pierpont is in her 20s, but as she tells this story of a family in crisis she writes convincingly from the perspectives of a 40ish-year-old woman, a middle-aged man, a teenaged boy, and an 11-year-old girl. How does she do that? I don’t know. But it’s impressive and entertaining. – Mary Laura Philpott


This is without a doubt my favorite book of the year. The quirky narrative voice of Ian the goldfish feels like what would happen if The Book Thief met Where’d You Go, Bernadette?, and I couldn’t help but root for Ian and the peculiar cast of characters he encounters on his fall from the top floor of the Seville. It’s unusual and funny and weird and smart, but mostly it’s positively delightful. – Niki Coffman

Bonus recommendation for those who like to experience books through their ears:

A Full Life: Reflections at Ninety (AUDIO CD)

By Jimmy Carter, Jimmy Carter (Read by)

The only thing better than reading A Full Life is listening to the audio! Having President Carter ride with me in the car as I go to the grocery store has been a thrilling and life-expanding experience. I cannot recommend it enough. – Ann Patchett

Parnassus First Editions Club — August Selection

I love stories about “the forgotten women of history,” in part because there are so many. Most of these women never achieved fame or were overshadowed by the men they worked with or married. Beryl Markham was no such woman; she gained fame (though not fortune) in her own lifetime. It has only been relatively recently that Markham’s name has been forgotten . . . and then rediscovered.

Markham has already told her own story — beautifully, at that — in her own autobiography, West with the Night. This, however, is something else. I am so excited for you to read the fiction that Paula McLain has created from this remarkable woman’s life. You may have already fallen in love with McLain’s writing in her previous novel, The Paris Wife. If you read that, then you know she has a gift for bringing distant times and places to life and a talent for developing her characters in multidimensional ways. It’s an altogether different experience from reading a history book.

I hope you enjoy your last month of summer, and I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did. Let’s not forget Beryl Markham.

Yours in Reading,
Catherine Bock
Special Sales and Office Manager

Every member of our First Editions Club receives a first edition of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. Books are carefully chosen by our staff of readers, and our picks have a record of earning major recognition including the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, and the PEN/Faulkner Award. There’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books; just the monthly cost of each book (+ shipping if you’d like yours mailed to you). Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too. 

Young Adult First Editions Club — July Selection

It’s always a thrill when a book we fall in love with before publication ends up charming other readers, too — especially when we manage to pick a book that goes on to earn critical acclaim, as Never Always Sometimes did when it received this starred review from Kirkus:

“Two best friends discover love during their last few months of high school. Dave and Julia have always been thick as thieves. Before starting high school, the pair concocted a list of things they promised to never do in order to fight becoming high school clichés. Now it’s the end of their senior year, and Julia has decided to take out the Nevers list and break the rules, one at a time. Meanwhile, Dave has decided to set aside his longtime crush on Julia and date the sporty Gretchen. Sparks fly, hearts are broken, and love is found in this charming rose-colored depiction of the last few months of school. Peppered throughout this love story are amusing asides involving substitute-teacher seduction and prom escapades, but its beating heart lies in the friendship and romance between Dave and Julia, a pair of teens who are genuine, emotional, and sometimes too clever for their own good. There is a kernel of truth in every cliché, and Alsaid cracks the teen-lit trope of friends becoming lovers wide open, exposing a beautiful truth inside. He also perfectly captures the golden glow of senioritis, a period when teens are bored and excited and wistful and nostalgic all at once. Everything is possible in this handful of weeks, including making up for squandered time. A good romance is hard to come by. This is a great one.”

I agree: It’s great. I hope you’ll love it.

Yours in reading,
Stephanie Appell
Manager of Books for Young Readers

Every member of our YA First Editions Club receives a first edition copy of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. There is no cost to join the club other than the monthly cost of each book (+ shipping if you’d like yours mailed to you). When the most amazing new books come out, you’ll have them… autographed! Choose a 3, 6, or 12-month membership for yourself or as a gift.

Parnassus Book Club

Screen Shot 2015-08-04 at 12.31.10 PMAugust Neverhome by Laird Hunt
Monday, August 17, 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 19, 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, August 20, 10 a.m.

Classics Book Club

August – For Whom the Bell Tolls by Ernest Hemingway
Monday, August 24 at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Are you a member of our store book club? Would you like to be? Parnassus Book Club meetings are free and open to anyone. Buy the book, read along, and join the discussion!

“It’s All About the Book”

More thoughts on reading from Kathy Schultenover, Parnassus Book Clubs Manager:

9780679724759Sometimes after a super-successful blockbuster bestseller, an author’s next work just doesn’t measure up. Readers’ expectations are high and often tend to be critical of the new book, however eagerly they have awaited it. Well, no such problem with the latest effort from Paula McLain. Her last novel, The Paris Wife, was such a book club favorite everywhere, a bestseller for months, and a personal favorite of mine; and her new book, Circling the Sun, promises to be just as big. It’s about Beryl Markham, the first woman to fly solo across the Atlantic from east to west, England to North America. Beryl’s own book, West With the Night, covers this material in Markham’s own words, but Circling the Sun tells her story in the style of historical fiction. It begins during her early years with her father on a farm in Kenya, motherless after her mother leaves to go back to England. Growing up in a world of men, horses, and “natives” shapes the woman Beryl becomes, and colors her relationships with the men in her life. An obsession with Denys Finch Hatton, British big-game hunter, is especially important, as is her relationship with Lord Delamere, a father-figure who develops her skills as a horse-woman. How she becomes an aviator is fascinating, given the state of aviation and airplanes in the 1920s. Also interesting are her complicated friendships with women, most notably Karen Blixen (who become the writer we know as Isak Dineson), with whom she shared Denys Finch Hatton. Paula McLain’s smooth and readable prose makes the story flow, as it did in The Paris Wife. I hated to see this one end and recommend it for all book clubs for the coming year.

These books also make for fascinating reading about Beryl Markham:
Markham’s own memoir about her life as a pioneer aviator, horse-woman, and lover of Africa contains beautiful writing that makes it a classic.
Karen’s story of the years 1914-1931 spans her time managing a coffee plantation in Kenya and her relationships with Denys Finch Hatton, Beryl Markham, and other colorful characters who made up the British ex-pat circle in East Africa at that time.
This is the biography of this legendary soldier, lover and big game hunter.
NashvilleArtsLogoSpotWant more? Remember you can always find suggestions in Nashville Arts Magazine, where we contribute the monthly Bookmark column. And don’t forget to visit Chapter16, the fantastic website produced by Humanities Tennessee, where you can find book reviews and author interviews, all with local connections. Happy reading!