We Loved These Books — You Might, Too

They're baaaaack... The crayons have come home, and their new book is one of our favorites.
They’re baaaaack… The crayons have come home, and their new book is sure to please readers of all ages.

September is here! Before we jump into our latest list of favorite reads, you might want to take a moment to bookmark the September events calendar. We’ll be hosting authors ranging from Jenny Lawson (Furiously Happy) and Mary Norris (Between You and Me: Confessions of a Comma Queen) to Elisabeth Egan (A Window Opens) and some guy you may have heard of named Jonathan Franzen (Purity). Some of these events require tickets and are presented by Salon@615, our collaborative series with Humanities Tennessee and the Nashville Public Library and Foundation. Find out more and reserve your tickets on the Salon@615 site.

Now, on to what our booksellers have been reading lately:

The Gates of Evangeline

A keep-the-lights-on debut novel in the vein of Gone Girl and The Girl on the Train, only spookier, tells of Charlie Cates, a New York journalist, who finds that her dreams have a way of coming true. After the death of her young son, this psychic “gift” takes her to a Louisiana estate to document a 30-year-old missing child case. The steamy, moss-covered setting practically becomes one of the characters as Charlie and readers sink deeper into the wealthy but deceitful Deveau family’s sordid history of betrayal and possibly murder. – Mary Grey James

Luckiest Girl Alive 

Underneath the slick surface of what looks like a Devil Wears Prada–style indulgence, there’s heart here. Partly a novel of manners, partly a thriller, totally a page-turner. Find me after you read it, and let’s discuss. – Mary Laura Philpott


I was wondering what that “give to everybody” book would be this fall, and now I’ve found it. If you like our Shop Dog Diaries series on MUSING, you’ll adore the funny, sweet, beautifully designed journal of Plum, a Whoosel (part whippet, part poodle, part Jack Russell) who lives with children’s book creator Emma Chichester Clark. Every dog-loving human needs a copy. – Mary Laura Philpott

A Manual for Cleaning Women: Selected Stories 

By Lucia Berlin, Stephen Emerson (Editor), Lydia Davis (Foreword by)
Berlin crafts miracles from the everyday, uncovering moments of grace in the laundromats and halfway houses of the American Southwest, in the homes of the Bay Area upper class, among switchboard operators and struggling mothers, hitchhikers and bad Christians. – River Jordan

The Given Day 

Lehane’s eighth best-selling novels is one of my top ten of all time. Sexy, historic, romantic, violent, and ever so timely in the face of recent events in our Nation. If readers haven’t discovered Lehane’s masterful storytelling, this is the perfect place to begin.  – River Jordan

The Visiting Privilege: New and Collected Stories 

In the event that you missed out on Joy Williams’s steady and stealthy domination of the short story genre over the last four decades, allow this to be your conversion. Williams wastes no time or words getting to the soft, gross, gooey heart of each of her stories. This collection is ruthless, and it is all the more gorgeous for it. – Lindsay Lynch

Above the Waterfall 

By Ron Rash

As you might imagine, a story set in contemporary Appalachia will have its share of darkness and hopelessness. Ron Rash is astounding in his ability to portray that, but not leave out the beauty and the draw of the place. Not to mention, his characters in this novel are as carefully and heartbreakingly created as the landscape Rash builds around them. – Catherine Bock

Out of Africa: And Shadows on the Grass 

Want more “dish” about Beryl Markham after Circling the Sun and West With the Night? Try this wonderful classic written by Markham’s rival-in-love, Isak Dineson. – Kathy Schultenover

Rising Strong 

This is the followup to the breakout hit Daring Greatly. Brown enthralled an audience of over 750 people in Nashville last month, and she was every bit as wonderful in person as I hoped she would be. – Ginger Nalley

The Fall of Princes 

Mr. Goolrick’s latest is depraved, seductive, wretched and unforgettable – the most gorgeously written slap to the face. A true classic tragedy at its finest for the modern age. – Grace Wright

Screen Shot 2015-08-31 at 10.53.03 AMFull Cicada Moon 

Turn to page 242 and read “One Small Step.” I still get chills every time I read this verse, and it sums up better than anything this charming and necessary tale. – Grace Wright

Dome of the Hidden Pavilion: New Poems

I found myself laughing at moments, although a book of poems touching on war does not usually carry such a gift. Yet this collection is funny and breaks your heart as it sweeps you along. – Nathan Spoon

Patrick Leigh Fermor: An Adventure 

I’ve long been interested by Paddy Fermor’s travelogues across Europe and Artemis Cooper has done a brilliant job of putting together the fascinating pieces of this elusive writer whom, according to one reviewer “survived enough assaults on his existence to make Rasputin seem like a quitter.” Paddy walked from Holland to Constantinople before the Second World War, swam the Hellespont, captured a German general, wandered the Caribbean, befriended everyone of consequence and wit, and wrote about it all with characteristic elegance. – Bill Long-Innes


“There is indeed the inexpressible. This shows itself; it is the mystical.”–Ludwig Wittgenstein Each word in Massey’s spare poems matters and evokes a world–our place and our displacement in it. The title is taken from a Dickinson poem that begins, “A nearness to Tremendousness . . .” – Margy Roark

 The Day the Crayons Came Home 

By Drew Daywalt, Oliver Jeffers (Illustrator)
I didn’t think it was possible for a book to be more clever than the predecessor to this one, The Day the Crayons Quit, but this is. – Sissy Gardner

John Adams

This is easily my favorite David McCullough book. An incredible sweep of 18th century history, it makes superb use of family letters and diaries, particularly those between John and Abigail Adams. That exhaustive research provides a glimpse into the people and events that shaped our country’s founding. and shows us how ideas, principles, and belief in a better tomorrow drove men like Adams to great things. – Andy Brennan

First Editions Club — September Selection


There can be a soothing pleasure in watching someone juggle three balls really well, but I think most of us would agree that it’s more fun, and certainly more impressive, to watch someone juggle 10 balls. Especially when eight of those balls are on fire, and three balls are swapped out for a butcher knives, and the last one turns into a chainsaw. That’s when you can’t help but marvel, How is he doing that?

That’s how I felt reading Jonathan Franzen’s new novel, Purity. I kept stopping to wonder, How? The book is both wildly ambitious and peacefully capable as Franzen guides the reader through a fast paced trip around the world and through recent history. Purity, also known as Pip, is a self-destructing girl in San Francisco who doesn’t know her own identity, which her crazy hermit of a mother explains is for her own safety. For some other writer, the mystery of Pip would be enough storyline for an entire novel, but not Franzen. He’s got Andreas Wolf in East Berlin, a Julian Assange-like character who has so many secrets he devotes his life to outing other people’s secrets, though he’s got to do it while hiding in the jungles of South America. Then we have Tom and Leila in Chicago who are revealing secrets by the more traditional means of journalism. They, of course, have their own troubled histories. With all the story lines established, Franzen begins to juggle, looping the characters in and out of one another’s lives in ways you’ll never see coming. As much as he has up in the air, he never breaks a sweat, and nothing gets dropped.

This is going to be The Big Book this year, extensively discussed and extravagantly lauded. And you’ve got a signed first edition. We’re feeling really good about that. We hope you enjoy it.

Yours in reading,
Ann Patchett

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 gone on to earn 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 — September Selection

Everything, Everything

I think the best love stories are the ones that do more than just remind you what it’s like to fall in love. The best love stories take you back to that moment when you look at someone and think, “Oh. I love them,” and it feels like your stomach drops a little bit and the heart in your chest gives a little leap, or sometimes it just settles over you like a blanket around your shoulders on a chilly night.

Coincidentally, after Stephanie babysat our youngest shop dog Mary Todd Lincoln for a few days, the pup developed a real appreciation for YA.
Coincidentally, after Stephanie babysat our youngest shop dog Mary Todd Lincoln for a few days, the pup developed a real appreciation for YA.

There are some really great love stories in young adult literature: Anna and Étienne, Eleanor and Park, Aristotle and Dante, and, of course, Hazel and Gus. We read them because we’ve never fallen in love, and we want to know what it might be like. Or we read them because we have fallen in love, and we’re hooked on the feeling. Or maybe we read them because we’ve fallen out of love, and we want to hope that, if it happened once, it can happen again.

Readers, I hope you fall as madly in love with Nicola Yoon’s luminous debut novel, Everything, Everything, as I did. I love this book. I love Maddy’s sharp, witty voice, her longing for something more, her curiosity and caution about the world outside her bedroom window. I love the inventive way Yoon reveals Maddy’s story. I love the dimension and complexity of Yoon’s characters.

But most of all, I love that this is a story about how love can remake you into something new, how love can reveal possibilities you never knew existed, because they were beyond even your ability to imagine. It’s like Maddy says: “Love opens you up to the world.”

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

Every member of our YA First Editions Club receives a first edition hardcover of the selected book of the month, signed by the author. There is no membership fee to join — and no line to stand in for the autograph. You’re billed just for the regular cost of each book (+ shipping if you’d like yours mailed to you). Not only will you have the hottest new book when it comes out, you’ll have it straight from the author’s hands, with an original signature! Choose a 3, 6, or 12-month membership for yourself or as a gift.

Parnassus Book Club

FC9781594633812September – Land of Love and Drowning by Tiphanie Yanique
Monday, September 14 at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday,September 17 at 10 a.m.

October – The Kept by James Scott
Monday,October 12 at 6:30pm — Join us as the author leads the discussion!
Wednesday, October 14 at 6:30pm
(Note: There will be no Thursday meeting this month.)

Classics Book Club

November – To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Monday, November 2, 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:


The book or the movie? We almost always know which is best. But it’s still fun to see Hollywood’s take on a favorite book. And read-the-book/see-the-movie/discuss is a great activity for a book club. I’m looking forward to two movies due out this fall that are based on great book club reads. And both of these movies and books deal with timely topics straight from today’s headlines.

The Danish Girl (the movie) will star Eddie Redmayne as Danish artist Einar Wegener (Lili Elbe), one of the first people to undergo sex reassignment surgery. The novel The Danish Girl by David Ebershoff (who also wrote The 19th Wife) is a fictionalized account of a real-life love story and marriage in the 1920s.  When artist Gerda Wegener paints her husband Einar dressed in women’s clothing, it begins a chain of events that will change their whole lives, including their marriage. They both must deal with radical change, plus questions of gender and identity.

The film Queen of the Desert will star Nicole Kidman, James Franco, Damian Lewis, and Robert Pattinson. The movie is based on the life of Gertrude Bell, the woman also called the “female Lawrence of Arabia” or sometimes “the brains behind Lawrence of Arabia.” Here’s a preview: 

Bell explored and mapped the world of the Arabs at the turn of the last century. She played a crucial role for British intelligence during World War I in obtaining the loyalty of Arab leaders, and after the war played a major role in creating the modern Middle East. She also helped draw and define the borders between Iraq and Jordan that exist today, as she worked with Winston Churchill and Arab leaders. How she got into a position to effect this is depicted in her biography Desert Queen, written by Janet Wallach, subtitled, The Extraordinary Life of Gertrude Bell: Adventurer, Adviser to Kings, Ally of Lawrence of Arabia. I did this book with the book clubs at Davis Kidd, and it was such a popular and readable choice. Janet Wallach based her account on Bell’s letters, diaries, and memoirs written by her family and associates. It reads like a novel, with Ms. Bell’s marriage, lovers, adventures, troubles and triumphs.

Read-the-book/see-the-movie/discuss! And have fun with your book club this fall!

— Kathy

books-for-girls-9-12Need more? Don’t miss our monthly Bookmark column in Nashville Arts Magazine.

Literary girl power! You’ll want to save these two HUGE lists of great books with characters and storylines that are especially empowering for girls. One for girls in elementary / middle grades, and another for teens and YA fans. Both were compiled by Steph for the Girls to the Moon conference. Go, girls.

Hanging out with book-loving customers, visiting authors, and fellow booksellers at Parnassus makes life feel like a party. Hear our Mary Laura Philpott talk about that — plus some of her favorite books to hand-sell — on the Beaks & Geeks podcast.

Also: Did you catch our recommendations in Lit Hub? The Great Booksellers Fall Preview features previews of fantastic fall releases from booksellers across the country — including our Lindsay, Andy, Catherine, Steph, ML, Mary Grey, and Ann — “because booksellers will never lie about the books they love.” True.