“I Love . . .”

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We asked our booksellers to finish that sentence, and the results range from new fiction releases to classic novels to historical adventure, and — yes — even a few love stories. If you’re looking to fall in love with a book, here’s your list of 30+ great reads. 

We LOVE readers!

My Brilliant Friend

By Elena Ferrante

I love a good binge read, especially when the books are brilliant and addictive as crack. Get all four novels in the series, tie a red ribbon around them, and give them to your beloved (or, better yet, your best friend). No one will miss the chocolate. – Ann Patchett

Shot in the Heart

I love this book more than any other piece of true crime nonfiction. It’s the story of Gary Gilmore (remember The Executioner’s Song?) as told by his younger brother Mikal. He does a MUCH better job with the material than Norman Mailer. – Ann Patchett

But You Did Not Come Back: A Memoir

I love when powerful memoirs come in small packages. Living in France during WWII, Loridan-Ivens and her father were both deported to concentration camps. Her father did not survive, but she went on to live a full creative life. One of the few survivors of the holocaust alive today, Loridan-Ivens writes this eloquent testament in the form of a letter to her father. – Karen Hayes

Originals: How Non-Conformists Move the World

By Adam M. Grant, Sheryl Sandberg (Foreword by)

I love business books. There, I said it. I’m an efficiency-loving, productivity-digging, card-carrying nerd. This book is full of fascinating observations and useful tips for everyone, including creatives. – Mary Laura Philpott

Simon Thorn and the Wolf’s Den

I love stories about secret worlds that lurk right under our noses. Simon is a 12-year-old boy who thinks he’s a weirdo because he can talk to animals. When his mother is kidnapped, Simon finds out he’s a member of an entire kingdom of people who can shift into animal form. Soon he’s training at a secret school at New York’s Central Park Zoo and fighting evil. This book is perfect for Percy Jackson fans and anyone who would choose reading a good book over doing homework. – Rae Ann Parker

Sudden Death

I love the simple things: the seventeenth-century Baroque painter Caravaggio, metaphysical tennis matches, and notorious mis-readings of Thomas More’s Utopia. Obviously, Alvaro Enrigue understands this and that’s why he put all of these things into his wonderful postmodern masterpiece Sudden Death. – Lindsay Lynch

Free Men

I love when authors do the seemingly impossible, like turn the idea of “a Creek Indian, an escaped slave, and a white man meet up in the Alabama woods and commit a murder” and turn it into a story of self-discovery, a meditation on freedom, and an accurate historical fiction novel. Katy Simpson Smith has managed to do all that and more. – Catherine Bock

The Expatriates

I love books with different, alternating narrators. This story involves three American women in the expat community of Hong Kong whose lives intersect in sudden and irrevocable ways. Some are calling it this season’s Atonement. – Kathy Schultenover

Salt to the Sea

I love that Ruta Sepetys’ new book shines light on not only the sinking of the Wilhelm Gustloff but also the deep vein of humanity that managed to survive in a time we mainly remember for its atrocities. Prepare yourself – Salt to the Sea will fill your heart to bursting. – Grace Wright

A Darker Shade of Magic

I love the pirates, the princes, and the four magical imaginings of London nearly brimming off the page in this novel. Now is your chance to fall in love with them too before Victoria Schwab’s launch of the equally thrilling sequel, A Gathering of Shadows, here on Feb. 23 at 6:30 p.m. – Grace Wright

One Year Wiser: 365 Illustrated Meditations

I love inspirational quotes. Don’t roll your eyes. This book has introduced me to several new authors. What more could an introvert want? – Sissy Gardner

Ines of My Soul

I love stories about women who paid no mind to what society expected of them. Based on the life of Ines Suarez, a little-known woman who was instrumental in the founding of Chile, this suspenseful and gorgeous novel is one of my favorites. It’s not new, but it is amazing. – Catherine Bock


By Sara Pennypacker, Jon Klassen (Illustrator)

I love Pax, and you will too. It’s a beautiful exploration of love, loyalty, survival, and hope. Every once in a while, a children’s book comes along that’s really a book for readers of all ages. To a list that includes Charlotte’s Web, Where the Wild Things Are, and Tuck Everlasting, I’m adding Pax. It’s really that good. – Stephanie Appell

The Wonderful Fluffy Little Squishy

I love the title of this book, but I love what’s inside the book even more! Eddie is a heroine to cheer for as she travels all over her town in search of the most wonderful fluffy little squishy to give her mother as a birthday gift. By the end of the story, you’ll want a wonderful fluffy little squishy of your own, but they appear to be found only within the pages of this book. – Stephanie Appell


I love an enthralling fantasy simply told. For fans of The Once and Future King and Beauty and the Beast, here’s a magical world brought so perfectly to life you’ll recall the summers of your childhood, where you could lie down with a book and wake up in a deep, dark wood. – Tristan Charles

The Book with No Pictures

I love reading this book with my kids.  They think it’s hilarious, and the full-out laughter of my kids is one of my favorite sounds. – Ginger Nalley

The Argonauts

I love Maggie Nelson’s ability to weave together personal essay, poetry, philosophy, literary theory and more without skipping a beat. The Argonauts is a wonderful meditation on love in all of its forms. – Lindsay Lynch

The Great Gatsby

I love this book because of Jordan Baker. – Andy Brennan

Midnight Jesus: Where Struggle, Faith, and Grace Collide 

I love J.M. Blaine’s ability to capture the human condition in the most broken of places, a bar, a bridge, a back alley or trailer park, and fill the darkest of moments with light. – River Jordan

The Only Child

By Guojing

I love this book because it takes me on a journey of wordless wonder. Powerful storytelling! – River Jordan

The French Lieutenant’s Woman

I love the Victorian era, because its violent contradictions are endlessly interesting to me. Darwin’s (r)evolutionary thinking; the sentimentalization of hearth, home, children; religious rigidity; fear of sexuality (which protected women, really, if you consider how many died in childbirth); and the resultant seamy underbelly of the forbidden. Here it all is for you! Plus, an ironic but affectionate narrator with a vast knowledge of that era. – Margy Roark

Letters to Poseidon

I love this book because it helped me realize that I have always wanted to read a book of 21st century letters to the ancient god Poseidon. This is your chance to do the same. – Nathan Spoon

First Editions Club — February Selection

Free Men

 When I try to explain this book to people, I always sound like I’m starting a “3 guys walk into a bar” joke — except instead it’s, “A Creek Indian, an escaped slave, and a white man somehow cross paths in the Alabama woods in the late 18th century and commit a murder.” I love it. It’s no wonder that when Katy Simpson Smith came across that fact in some historical research, she knew it would make for a great story.

In Free Men we learn that all three men were on the run from something before they even met, and we also meet the man who is tasked with bringing them to justice, a tracker named Le Clerc. Like us readers, Le Clerc becomes fascinated with the men and their motivations. (I am purposefully being vague here because one of the things I loved most was discovering what drove each man to leave his old life behind and what each was striving toward in his journey.)

I hope you become as captivated as I was by the world Katy Simpson Smith has reconstructed in Free Men.

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 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. 

ParnassusNext — February Selection

Anna and the Swallow Man

“A word is a tiny moment of time devoted to the conjuring aloud of some small corner of what is.”

Gavriel Savit’s stunning debut novel, Anna and the Swallow Man, is not a long or particularly complicated book. Its story is, actually, quite simple: After her father disappears, presumably arrested by the Nazis, seven-year-old Anna Łania is taken in by a mysterious figure called The Swallow Man. The two of them wander war-stricken northern Europe and try to stay both alive and invisible.

Beneath this simple premise lies an incredible exploration of the meaning of family and the value of life itself. Is survival worthwhile if, in order to survive, you must surrender everything that makes you human? Is there some element of humanity that survives when everything else is stripped away? In breathtaking prose, Savit raises these questions through the story of Anna and her unlikely guardian. The book’s true brilliance is that Savit leaves readers to decide the answers for themselves. Anna’s story lingers long past its last page.
Stephanie Appell
Manager of Books for Young Readers


Parnassus Book Club

FC9780804176392February — Vanessa and Her Sister by Priya Parmar
Monday, February 15 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, February 17 at 6:30pm
Thursday, February 18 at 10am

March — The Marauders by Tom Cooper
Monday, March 14 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, March 16 at 6:30pm
Thursday, March 17 at 10am

Classics Book Club  – The Good Soldier by Ford Madox Ford
Monday, March 21, at 10am and 6:30pm

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:

FC9780060581800As a child, my favorite books were the Little House books of Laura Ingalls Wilder. A big reason they earned my affection was Ms. Wilder’s creation of setting. I was drawn in to the rural and small-town family life on the prairies of the Midwest and looked forward to entering that world each time I opened one of her novels. And now, getting older and having read so much, I count even more on a book to pull me in to a specific time and place. I want to know the when and the where, yes, but also the social mores, ways of thinking and acting, the customs and culture of the time and place in which my book is written. Oftentimes, the setting has as much of pull as the plot in drawing me back to the book.

I love knowing, for example, that in a Louise Erdrich novel, I will be returning to the “rez,” or to the small North Dakota/Minnesota towns nearby, and all that this will mean in her story. And reading William Gay will invariably put me somewhere in rural Lewis County, Tennessee, with his writings. I also enjoy the world of the South Carolina lowcountry, depicted again and again in the novels of Pat Conroy. Of course, not all authors have signature settings. Our own Ann Patchett, for example, has vividly put her readers in such varied locales as the Amazon jungle (State of Wonder), on the streets of Boston (Run), and in a home for unwed mothers in Kentucky (Patron Saint of Liars). Another example of different settings would be works by the great E.M. Forster who transports the reader to Italy (A Room With a View), England (Howard’s End), and India (A Passage to India).

I love using setting as a spark to begin a book club discussion. If you start by talking about setting early on in a meeting, you may find your conversation naturally flows from there, because other components — like plot and character — inevitably are directly affected by setting. Pay close attention to the details the author has used to create the atmosphere and milieu of the story, and let them draw you in to the “environment” of the book. You’ll have some great discussions.

— Kathy

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Want more? Catch our monthly Bookmark column in Nashville Arts Magazine each month.

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