A Fresh Crop of Spring Books: Our Latest Favorites

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It’s a good thing there are plenty of readers working at Parnassus, because there are so many fantastic new books out this spring. Here are our booksellers’ latest favorites — from fiction and memoir to cooking and kids’ books.

(PS: Chime in on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram and let us know what YOU’RE reading these days!)

Parnassus on Wheels Cover ImageParnassus on Wheels

by Christopher Morley

This charming novel was written in 1917 and has been in print since that time. It was the inspiration for our own Parnassus on Wheels bookmobile, not to mention the name of our store. The story is written from the point of view of Helen McGill, a spinster who chucks her lonely life in the country keeping house for her brother (a writer) to hit the road in a horse-drawn caravan selling books town to town. She manages to fall in love along the way. The witty dialogue in this book reminds me of something out of a Claudette Colbert movie. Read it, pass it on to a friend, and let’s keep this in print for another 100 years. – Karen Hayes

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Cover ImageEvicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City

by Matthew Desmond

It turns out rundown apartments rented by the very poor in dangerous neighborhoods cost as much as decent apartments in middle class neighborhoods. The difference is the rent can consume 90% of the income of the poor renter, and when they can’t pay they’re evicted. This book stands among the classics of social justice books.  If you loved Behind the Beautiful Forevers, this is for you. – Ann Patchett

Lab Girl Cover ImageLab Girl

by Hope Jahren

I wasn’t sure about the title of this book or the cover, but all the pages inside are fantastic. Hope Jahren shows us what it means to be passionately committed to science. She would do anything to study trees. The writing is beautiful, the stories are both shocking and funny. This one is a jewel. – Ann Patchett

The Little Red Chairs Cover ImageThe Little Red Chairs

by Edna O’Brien

This seems like a regular story about a sleepy little Irish town until the handsome stranger arrives. I don’t want to tell you more than that. Don’t read the reviews. They give too much away. Edna O’Brien is 87 years old and it is clear she is the master of her craft. – Ann Patchett

The Nest Cover ImageThe Nest

by Cynthia D. Sweeney

Middle-aged siblings squabbling over their promised trust fund (the “nest”) that one has squandered with his wastrel ways… what’s not to like? Delicious satire, humor and the poignant ways of family interaction. THE novel of the spring season. – Kathy Schultenover

Outline Cover ImageOutline

by Rachel Cusk

 Will someone please ask Rachel Cusk if she’s available to narrate my life and imbue it with as much graceful beauty as she has in Outline? That’d be great, thanks. – Lindsay Lynch

The Year of the Runaways Cover ImageThe Year of the Runaways

by Sunjeev Sahota

Three young men from India come to England through very different means and one Sikh woman in England has her part to play. What plays out in the first year the men are in England is tense, heart-wrenching, and eventually hopeful. Immigration is tough. – Catherine Bock

Flawed Cover ImageFlawed

by Cecelia Ahern

In Celestine’s world, people who commit moral crimes are labeled Flawed and divided from society. Celestine is a perfect example of everything that is not flawed — right up until she makes a single, painful choice. A beautiful story about standing up against what’s wrong even when you have everything to lose. – Grace Wright

Illuminae Cover ImageIlluminae

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

Like any good sci-fi, Illuminae may be about planetary assaults, bio-engineered weapons, and one crazy AI, but what it is really about are the current issues we face every day: war, the refugee crises, fear-mongering, and — somehow, incredibly, in the middle of the madness — the love that makes us stand up and fight. – Grace Wright

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone Cover ImageHarry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone

by J. K. Rowling

This is not the first time I’ve read Harry Potter. (I’m a proud Gryffindor!) It IS the first time I’ve read it since the wild popularity of books like The Hunger Games, though. Seeing how Rowling laid the groundwork for the success of the current wave of dystopic fiction is fascinating study in the growth of a genre. Bonus: You get to lose yourself in the world of Hogwarts again — what’s not to love?! – Niki Coffman

A Passage to India Cover ImageA Passage to India

by E. M. Forster

I picked this up because it’s one Zadie Smith loves. You can read the back of the book for details, but I love it now too for its exploration of the way generalization compromises more interesting truths; the shadow between the idea and the reality; and the ways even well-intentioned people miss each other. All this, with a wicked sense of humor: good, rare company. – Margy Roark

The Summer Before the War Cover ImageThe Summer Before the War

by Helen Simonson

Same time and place as Downton Abbey, with similarly lovable characters and the issues they face. Helen Simonson beautifully renders the manners and mores of small town Britain in the story of schoolteacher Beatrice Nash and her challenges as an independent woman living under the “old ways,” while learning to love a man. Yeah, it’s really good! – Kathy Schultenover

Where the Light Gets in: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again Cover ImageWhere the Light Gets in: Losing My Mother Only to Find Her Again

by Kimberly Williams-Paisley (foreword by Michael J. Fox)

Dementia is a grim subject, but Williams-Paisley is already a master storyteller. Her book pulled me in immediately. I cannot wait to read more of her work. – Sissy Gardner

Apostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve Cover ImageApostle: Travels Among the Tombs of the Twelve

by Tom Bissell

Tom Bissell’s interests are a map with no edges — he’s written cogently on topics ranging from Werner Herzog to Grand Theft Auto to Tommy Wiseau to the creative process itself. In Apostle, his curiosity shifts to the lives and legends of Jesus’ most beloved followers. If you want a brilliant, secular exploration of these men from a respectful (and humorous) layman, this is the book for you. – Tristan Charles

The Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature: Writings from the Mainland in the Long Twentieth Century Cover ImageThe Big Red Book of Modern Chinese Literature: Writings from the Mainland in the Long Twentieth Century

by Yunte Huang (editor)

Filled with both poetry and prose, this book is a literary testament to China’s century of crisis, as well as to the resurgence of creativity and current moment of promise. – Nathan Spoon

The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories Cover ImageThe Paper Menagerie and Other Stories

by Ken Liu

I don’t have the words to do justice to Ken Liu’s beautiful story collection, so I’ll let NPR’s Amal El-Mohtar take the reins on this one: “I will be honest, and blunt, because this is a book that has scoured me of language and insight and left itself rattling around inside the shell of me. I have never been so moved by a collection of short fiction.” – Lindsay Lynch

Sara Moulton's Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better Cover ImageSara Moulton’s Home Cooking 101: How to Make Everything Taste Better

by Sara Moulton

When I was a brand-new adult, I turned on Sara Moulton’s “Cooking Live” every weeknight and watched this woman make a full dinner — mistakes and all — in 30 minutes on live TV. Other than my own mom and grandmother, this is the person who taught me to cook. I’d buy her book based on sentimental value alone, but it’s also full of brilliant, basic, useful cooking instruction. – Mary Laura Philpott

Bel Canto Cover ImageBel Canto

by Ann Patchett

Now I know why people are breathless when they whisper, Bel Canto. If I were shipwrecked on a desert island with three books I hope this would be one of them. I would happily read and re-read for life. – River Jordan

The Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine's Lost Correspondence Cover ImageThe Pharos Gate: Griffin & Sabine’s Lost Correspondence

by Nick Bantock

This intoxicating wonder celebrates 25 years. Must read, must gift, must have! – River Jordan

Bears Make the Best Reading Buddies Cover ImageBears Make the Best Reading Buddies

by Carmen Oliver, Jean Claude (illustrator)

Adelaide’s reading buddy sniffs out good books and has claws just right for turning pages. The joys of reading and friendship shine in this adorable picture book. – Rae Ann Parker

Booked Cover ImageBooked

by Kwame Alexander

Kwame Alexander scores a goal with Booked, the follow-up to his Newbery medal winning novel, The Crossover. This book is perfect for soccer players and anyone who likes books about sports, friendship, or family. – Rae Ann Parker
Demon Dentist Cover Image

Demon Dentist

by David Walliams, Tony Ross (illustrator)

I was a bit anxious about reading this book with my kids because I did not want to give them a reason to be afraid of the dentist.  But we started reading it, and absolutely loved it!  This is a hilarious book, reminiscent of Roald Dahl. – Ginger Nalley

First Editions Club — April Selection

Spain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939 Cover ImageSpain in Our Hearts: Americans in the Spanish Civil War, 1936-1939

From award-winning, bestselling author Adam Hochschild (To End All Wars; Bury the Chains; King Leopold’s Ghost) comes a fascinating history of a war that at one time was all over the international headlines. The Spanish Civil War changed the way wars were fought and foreshadowed the coming darkness of World War II. In Hochschild’s account, we view events through the eyes of a dozen characters, including Ernest Hemingway, George Orwell, and lesser-known but equally fascinating soldiers and civilians, ranging from honeymooners to reporters.

Using personal letters and diaries of volunteer soldiers and their families, Hochschild illuminates the spirit of those who felt compelled to leave the comfort of home and dedicate themselves to a cause. Some 2,800 Americans flooded to Spain to support the Republic’s efforts to stave off a fascist uprising led by Francisco Franco and aided by Hitler and Mussolini, and nearly a quarter of them perished there. Hochschild also sheds light on those who supported Franco, most notably the role that Texaco played in supplying fuel to the fascists.

What can we learn today from this tale of a hard-fought, failed cause? Plenty. History lovers, consider it a must-read.

Yours in Reading,
Andy Brennan
Store 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 — April Selection

When We Collided Cover ImageWhen We Collided

Reader, I think you’re going to fall for Vivi Alexander in the space of about three pages. It’s pretty hard not to. She’s warm, funny, artistic, and determined to make you her new friend. Her voice simply leaps off the page and into your heart before you’ve even had time to realize what’s happened.

I also think you’re going to fall for Jonah Daniels, but it might take a few more pages than it did for you to fall for Vivi. Jonah’s a little quieter than Vivi, you see, but he’s got a lot going on: His family’s kind of falling apart, and he’s just trying to keep it together and get through the day. And then he meets Vivi.

But don’t go thinking When We Collided is your average girl-meets-boy romance. Emery Lord is interested in something much more complicated, messy, and honest than that. In sentences so beautiful you’ll want to read them over and over again, she has written the story of two people who save each other and themselves. When you reach the end, you’ll discover these words on your heart: “Vivi was here.”

Stephanie Appell
Manager of Books for Young Readers

Every member of ParnassusNext 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 cost of each book (+ shipping if you’d like yours mailed to you). Not only will you have one of the best YA books of the month when it comes out, you’ll have it straight from the author’s hands, with an original, authentic signature! Choose a 3, 6, or 12 months for yourself, or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader.

Parnassus Book Club

29209-1April — The Color of Water by James McBride (the 2016 Nashville Reads selection!)
Monday, April 18 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, April 20 at 6:30pm
Thursday, April 21 at 10am

May — West of Sunset by Stewart O’Nan
Monday, May 16 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, May 18 at 6:30pm
Thursday, May 19 at 10am

Monday, May 23 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!

Cover_APRIL-2016_2.jpgWant more? Catch our monthly Bookmark column in Nashville Arts Magazine each month.

On the road: Find our Parnassus on Wheels bookmobile around town.

Meet your favorite writers! Be the first to know about upcoming author visits and ticketed events (yes, including Stephen King on June 11) by subscribing to our events newsletter.