Your Next Favorite Reads, Selected by Your Own Personal Booknerds

(Booksellers Sissy and Tristan with some of the books our staff love so much they’re recommending them to you.)

Ever wish you had a personal assistant to help you get more done in a day? We can’t quite offer that (trust us, we can’t even remember to pick up our own dry cleaning); but we can offer you a cadre of personal book-shoppers. 

We’ve started your browsing for you with this hand-picked list, where our booksellers share their favorite reads of right now, from new releases to paperbacks. See something that catches your eye? Simply click the title to toss it into your cart. We’ll gladly send your selections right to your door (or hold them for you at the store if you’re in Nashville).

Now, if we may suggest . . .

Who Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders Cover ImageWho Killed These Girls?: Cold Case: The Yogurt Shop Murders

Beverly Lowry looks deep into the horrors of four unsolved killings in Austin in the early 1980’s with a detective’s mind and a novelist’s heart. The result is a book that is gripping, moving, and as good as any depiction of a murder case that’s been published since In Cold Blood. Is true crime not your thing? It isn’t my thing either, but this transcends the genre. Brilliant. (The book comes out Oct. 11. I’ll interview Lowry at the Southern Festival of Books on the 15th.) – Ann Patchett

Some Writer!: The Story of E.B. White Cover ImageSome Writer! The Story of E.B. White

Adults, don’t let the packaging fool you into thinking this is just a book for kids. This delightful and moving biography of E.B. White is for all ages. If Charlotte’s Web still holds a special place in your heart, this is a must read. – Karen Hayes

Homegoing Cover ImageHomegoing

This fascinating novel opens in 18th century Ghana, whose residents are not just victims, but sometimes willing participants, in the slave trade with the English. Two sisters from different villages never meet, but they start a family tree whose branches are chronicled into the 20th century. Gyasi presents the stories of these characters so vividly; even as the decades race by you will feel an intimate connection with each one. (Don’t miss Yaa Gyasi at the Southern Festival of Books!) – Karen Hayes

Witness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul Cover ImageWitness to the Revolution: Radicals, Resisters, Vets, Hippies, and the Year America Lost Its Mind and Found Its Soul

This oral history of the unrest gripping the US as the 1960s bled into the ’70s makes for a truly engaging narrative. Woodstock, the Chicago Eight, the My Lai massacre, the Pentagon Papers, Altamont, the rise of the Weather Underground, the invasion of Cambodia, Kent State . . . it all happened between August 1969 and September 1970, and it’s all told here by those who bore witness to it. – Andy Brennan

I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir Cover ImageI Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir

Brian Wilson has made some of the most groundbreaking and timeless music ever recorded. From singing along to Rosemary Clooney’s Tenderly at age 10 to becoming a Kennedy Center honoree in 2007, Wilson recounts the ups and downs of a Beach Boy’s life. – Andy Brennan

A Summons to Memphis Cover ImageA Summons to Memphis

A man is called home to Memphis from New York by his two middle-aged sisters to deal with their elderly father who is about to re-marry. Did you know there was so much Nashville and middle-Tennessee history in this wonderful novel? – Kathy Schultenover

El Paso Cover ImageEl Paso

The bestselling author of Forrest Gump shifts the scene to the American Southwest in this tale of border wars, Pancho Villa, family and revenge. Catch Groom at the Southern Festival of Books! – Kathy Schultenover

Cruel Beautiful World Cover ImageCruel Beautiful World

At one point while reading this book, I yelled out loud: “Don’t do it!” (I can’t tell you when or why — that would spoil it.) A haunting story about a disappearance, it’s also a portrait of a family — and one of my favorite releases of this fall. – Mary Laura Philpott

The Wangs vs. the World Cover ImageThe Wangs vs. the World

The story is built around a family road-trip full of comic moments, but these aren’t the Griswolds, and they’re not headed to Walley World. Every member of the Wang family is fighting to hang onto his or her own very specific American dream as they journey from California to New York after the loss of the family fortune. Jade Chang’s voice is fresh, her take on the immigrant narrative is new, but her themes are timeless. A really fun read. – Mary Laura Philpott

The Wonder Cover ImageThe Wonder

Emma Donoghue has not so much written this book as she has carefully carved it with a scalpel. Taking a slice of history from mid-nineteenth century Ireland, Donoghue draws out every tension between science and religion, the British and Irish, miracles and elaborate hoaxes. I stayed up half the night to find out how it ended. – Lindsay Lynch

Fates and Furies Cover ImageFates and Furies

For everyone last year who told me, “Oh, I think I’ll wait ’til it’s out in paperback” when I tried to sell you this book: you have no excuses now. Groff’s backlist titles also got a spiffy redesign, so you should probably just go ahead and buy those, too. – Lindsay Lynch

Whistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History Cover ImageWhistlestop: My Favorite Stories from Presidential Campaign History

I’m obsessively checking campaign coverage these days, so it’s a relief to examine turning points in past presidential campaigns and already know how everything turned out. – Niki Coffman

Atlas Obscura: An Explorer's Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders Cover ImageAtlas Obscura: An Explorer’s Guide to the World’s Hidden Wonders

This isn’t a $35 travel book so much as the best, cheapest coffee table book you could ever buy. A gorgeous encyclopedia of the coolest sights on the planet. It is so large, and so thorough, that there literally is something in it for everyone. – Tristan Charles

A Confederacy of Dunces Cover ImageA Confederacy of Dunces

Revisit a classic! A hilarious comedy tinged with a bit of tragic melancholy, this Pulitzer Prize winner is defined by its protagonist, the ever deluded Ignatius J. Reilly, whose complaints about his malfunctioning pyloric valve never cease to amuse. Ignatius may dominate the novel, but he would be nothing without New Orleans, his home and the novel’s playground. Though loosely structured, Ignatius’ ridiculous narrative adventures in the Crescent City never bore. A picaresque if there ever was one. – Peter Taylor

Real Food Fake Food: Why You Don't Know What You're Eating and What You Can Do about It Cover ImageReal Food Fake Food: Why You Don’t Know What You’re Eating and What You Can Do about It

I don’t know about you, but I like to know what I am eating. This book gets into practical solutions ranging from making sure you are buying the fish you think you are, to what makes good olive oil (looking at you, Ina Garten), and the various ways in which we can and should be conscious about what we buy. – Catherine Bock

When in French: Love in a Second Language Cover ImageWhen in French: Love in a Second Language

Lauren Collins blew me away with her hilarious and eloquent account of learning French abroad. Armchair linguists and anyone fascinated by words and how they get lost in translation will not be able to put this down. – Katherine Klockenkemper

The Last Wolf & Herman Cover ImageThe Last Wolf & Herman

The Last Wolf is one fabulous sentence that runs for 70 pages. Afterwards, you can turn the book over and read the novella Herman. This book is beautiful, difficult, and absolutely worth it. – Nathan Spoon

All Is Not Forgotten Cover ImageAll Is Not Forgotten

This book isn’t brand-new, but I feel it didn’t get enough attention this summer. I love reading mysteries in the fall, and Walker kept me guessing. I’m VERY CHOOSY with my thrillers, and this is a smart one. – Sissy Gardner

Over the Plain Houses Cover ImageOver the Plain Houses

Did you read this the last time I recommended it? If not, hurry: Franks will be in Nashville for the Southern Festival of Books this month! This is a haunting look at a woman’s life in rural North Carolina during the early 1900s that fans of Bloodroot and Oral History will love. – Sissy Gardner

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln Cover ImageTeam of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

Right now I have a big crush on Abe (write-in candidate!), but it’s Doris I’m taking to bed. – Margy Roark

Leaves of Grass Cover ImageLeaves of Grass

Listen: you can’t get joy like this for $5.95 anywhere else. Whip it out of your pocket whenever you need to keep encouraged. He stops somewhere waiting for you. – Margy Roark

News of the World Cover ImageNews of the World

This is a deceptively small novel that holds a multi-layered, fully realized story featuring a character that had me head over heels in love. I haven’t been this moved by a character since Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird. (That’s a serious disclosure.) – River Jordan

 And for younger readers . . . 

Little Red and the Very Hungry Lion Cover ImageLittle Red and the Very Hungry Lion

Instead of traveling through the woods, this Little Red travels across the African plains to bring her Auntie some medicine. The Very Hungry Lion didn’t know what he was getting in to when he decided to mess with this smart, strong girl! – Jackie Gregory

Because of an Acorn Cover ImageBecause of an Acorn

Because of an acorn, a forest grows. A beautiful, simple story about the connections within an ecosystem. Perfect to read before heading out for a fall hike at Radnor Lake or the Warner Parks. – Jackie Gregory

Full of Beans Cover ImageFull of Beans

I really liked this group of kids!  I loved the book and was surprised by some of the history I learned about Key West, which plays a vital and interesting role in the story. – Ginger Nalley

Hillary Cover ImageHillary

This is possibly the only thing I’ll be reading until November 8th. – Niki Coffman

Beautiful Blue World Cover ImageBeautiful Blue World

In the fictional world of Sofarende there is war, and it is getting closer to home for 12-year-old Mathilde and her best friend Meg. Perfect for 4th or 5th graders who are ready for something more advanced but aren’t ready for YA content yet. – Catherine Bock

The Best Man Cover ImageThe Best Man

Hooray for Richard Peck fans! This is a great new read about navigating middle school and life in a multi-generational family from the Newbery medalist. – Rae Ann Parker

Kids of Appetite Cover ImageKids of Appetite

Told in alternating chapters between Vic and Mad, Kids of Appetite centers around a police interrogation room and life with a group of semi-homeless kids who help Vic carry out his father’s last wishes. This is an emotional read full of heart and hope. – Rae Ann Parker

Girl Mans Up Cover ImageGirl Mans Up

I only meant to read one page of this book. Thirty unintentional pages later, I couldn’t put it down. Pen has stolen my heart always. Her voice is so honest and raw, it is enrapturing. Girl Mans Up is such an incredible look at gender, family, and love that I hope it becomes an instant classic. – Grace Wright


ParnassusNext — October Selection

22065080.jpgVassa in the Night

Growing up is hard, especially for Vassa, who lives with her stepmother and her two “suitably sisteresque” step-sisters. The nights last hours longer than nights should last (maybe even days longer), and she’s accidentally indentured herself to a local convenience store owner who has the bad habit of chopping off people’s heads.

But as hard as life is, at least Vassa has her wise-cracking, mischief-making doll, a cute boy with an apparent death wish, and the very night itself willing to help her, if only she can figure out how to ask. This is Vassa’s world, which is really just a step sideways from our own, but covered over with magic that is more dangerous than delightful.

Sarah Porter’s urban retelling of the Russian fairy tale “Vasilisa the Beautiful” is lush and compelling from the very first page. Porter masterfully explores how we grieve and grow and become who we were always meant to be. Her beautiful prose makes both the magic and the emotions of this book so real, you’ll swear you might actually reach out and brush them with the tips of your fingers.

Stephanie Appell
Manager of Books for Young Readers

First Editions Club — October Selection

I try not to make a habit out of staying up late to read. There is something wonderful about it that encapsulates the quintessential pleasures of being a reader, but I still have to wake up in the morning to be at the bookstore. I’m always excited to come to work, but less so if I’ve stayed up until 3 a.m. Sometimes, though, I can’t help it, because the book I’m in the middle of is simply so engrossing and delightful that I can’t put it down.

This is precisely what happened when I was reading A Gentleman in Moscow. Count Alexander Rostov and the employees and residents of the Metropol Hotel are as enchanting and varied as any cast of characters I have come across, and Amor Towles is a master of pacing, mixing fairytale-like strokes of chance into the plot.

It is 1922 when Count Alexander Rostov is sentenced to live out the rest of his life in the Metropol Hotel in Moscow by a Bolshevik tribunal — he is deemed an unrepentant aristocrat. As with everything in his life, he bears his sentence with dignity and grace. But as the decades unfold throughout the book the Count finds that he must create his own meaning and purpose in his insulated, and yet still international, world. This has to be one of my favorite books of the year and I am so excited we are able to share it with you.

Yours in Reading,
Catherine Bock
Special Sales and Office Manager, Parnassus Books

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. 

Parnassus Book Club

OctoberThe Burgess Boys by Elizabeth Strout
Monday, October 17 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, October 19 at 6:30pm
Thursday, October 20 at 10am

163560NovemberCommonwealth by Ann Patchett
Monday, November 14 at 6:30pm – with Ann leading the discussion!
Wednesday, November 16 at 6:30pm
Thursday, November 17 at 10am

Classics ClubAnd Then There Were None by Agatha Christie
Monday, November 28 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:


FC9780062073488.JPGTo re-read or not to re-read: Why revisit a book you’ve already read when there is so much new to read these days? I get it. I also get that if you’ve had a “magical” experience with a book, you might fear losing that feeling upon re-reading. I confront this question nearly every month, as I’ve usually read our selection for the Parnassus Book Club a year or more before we meet.

I usually find that re-reading allows me to focus on literary elements like character development, editorial style, and language, because I’m already familiar with the plot. Re-reading also enables me to bring to the book all that I’ve heard and learned about it since my first reading. Take, for example, our September choice: Circling the Sun. Having read and loved this book last year, I certainly needed to refresh my memory in order to lead our discussions, but I admit to sighing in resignation at the thought of spending reading time on something I’d already read once. To my surprise, I truly savored the book the second time! Pondering McLain’s choices as to which significant episodes and experiences from Beryl Markham’s life to include in the book made the second reading so much fun.

I also highly recommend re-visiting a classic in a book group. Even though we’ve all read titles like The Great Gatsby and To Kill a Mockingbird years ago, reading them as mature adults is an altogether difference experience. Life experiences and world events have happened to us since our youth; we now bring different selves to the books. For that reason, I always ask members of our Classics Book Club to re-read our selections, not just to discuss them from memory. I’m always fascinated to hear which books hold up well and which are perceived very differently from how they were before. In my own case, for example, two of my very favorites, Main Street by Sinclair Lewis and The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck, moved me deeply as a college student and have been just as powerful upon multiple re-readings. On the other hand, The Good Soldier by Ford Maddox Ford doesn’t resonate quite the same way with me now.

Reading a book more than once can be such a valuable experience for book club members. Approach it as an opportunity and you might be surprised how much more you’re able to bring to the discussion!

— Kathy

thumbnail_finalapproved_semple_todaywillbedifferent_revisemjp_1Want more? Don’t miss our Bookmark column in Nashville Arts magazine, which includes more favorites such as Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen; Today Will Be Different by Maria Semple; Eyes on the Street: The Life of Jane Jacobs by Robert Kanigel; and The Rain in Portugal: Poems by Billy Collins.

Also out this month: The best of the best! Check out 2016’s Best American Short Stories; Best American Mystery Stories; Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy; Best American Essays; Best Science and Nature Writing; Best American Infographics and more!

Speaking of the best: The New York Times has a great read-along guide to all the big fall book awards.

Coming up next on Musing: Short, fun interviews with authors packing their bags to attend the Southern Festival of Books later this month. Make sure you’re subscribed, so you don’t miss a thing! –>

And finally: The deepest gratitude from the bottom of our hearts to everyone who spread the word and supported #BankOnBooksellers. You helped us raise LOTS of money (still counting!) for booksellers in need through the Binc Foundation, including funds that will help our manager of books for young readers, Stephanie. If you’re still feeling generous — or didn’t manage to place a winning bid — you can always donate directly to Binc and help provide a safety net for booksellers everywhere. THANK YOU!