46 Books We Currently Love Even More Than Books in General

Posted on Updated on

FullSizeRender 345

What a season to be a book-lover. Take a look at our staffers’ latest favorite reads below and let us know: what looks good to you? And make sure you read through to the end, too, to find out the newest selections for our book subscription boxes — the First Editions Club and ParnassusNext — plus exciting previews of upcoming events!

Recommended by Ann

Bluebird, Bluebird Cover ImageBluebird, Bluebird 

Hooray! I can whole-heartedly recommend this mystery/thriller about a black Texas Ranger working a suspicious case in East Texas. The book takes on many big American problems, so it is both timely and wildly entertaining.

Recommended by Ann

The Art of Death: Writing the Final Story Cover ImageThe Art of Death: Writing the Final Story 

I love everything this woman writes. This small book is part of a series in which different writers are asked to tackle Big Ideas. Edwidge draws from literature and life to make order out of her mother’s death and death in general. The book is so smart and oddly soothing. Recommended for anyone who may someday die.

Recommended by Karen

Glass Houses Cover ImageGlass Houses 

This is the 13th Chief Inspector Gamache mystery, but it’s the first one I’ve read — proving that you can start anywhere in this series and throughly enjoy it. There’s a reason this series, set in Montreal and the tiny village of Three Pines, continues to grow in popularity with each book.

Recommended by Mary Grey

The Last Ballad Cover ImageThe Last Ballad 

What sets this historical tale of injustice and courage apart is its main character, Ella May, a woman with human foibles but a heroine just the same. The multi-layered story, based on actual events in 1929, is told from several viewpoints, but Ella remains the focal point of this dramatic account of one community in the Appalachian foothills of North Carolina. Perfect for book clubs.

Recommended by Mary Laura

Little Fires Everywhere Cover ImageLittle Fires Everywhere 

There’s a reason everyone’s using the fire emoji when they tweet about this family drama set in a wealthy suburb — and it’s not just the title. What a page-turner!

(Read more about it here.)

Recommended by Mary Laura

The Book of Separation Cover ImageThe Book of Separation 

If you loved Mirvis’ Modern Love essay “Finding God in a Hot Slice of Pizza,” you’ll love this whole book — a brave and elegant memoir about ending a relationship with not just a spouse, but a religion and a way of life.

Recommended by Keltie

Ranger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime Cover ImageRanger Games: A Story of Soldiers, Family and an Inexplicable Crime 

An intriguing true tale about a bank robbery committed by a group of Army Rangers, one of whom is the 19-year-old cousin of the author. I think the bottom line is this: we ask the people who fight our wars to do terrible things. Do we then get to ask how they got to be so terrible?

Recommended by Keltie

Books for Living: Some Thoughts on Reading, Reflecting, and Embracing Life Cover ImageBooks for Living: Some Thoughts on Reading, Reflecting, and Embracing Life 

This love letter to books reminds us that usually the most satisfying reading we do is not when we’re reading the Best Book Ever or the hot new book everyone’s talking about, but the exact right book at exactly the right moment: the book that cheered you on, that salved a broken heart, that got you up off the mat, that changed your mind.

Recommended by Kathy

The Twelve-Mile Straight Cover ImageThe Twelve-Mile Straight 

Twins — one black, one white — are born to a Georgia sharecropper’s daughter. Who’s the father? This and other secrets drive local families to go to any lengths to cover up their actions in this page-turner of an epic story, surprisingly relevant today.

Recommended by River

Dinner at the Center of the Earth Cover ImageDinner at the Center of the Earth 

I am hypnotically obssessed with this novel. Englander’s best work yet is certain to be a serious contender for the Pulitzer.

(See Nathan Englander right here at Parnassus TONIGHT!)

Recommended by River

Lightning Men Cover ImageLightning Men 

Mullen’s latest historical mystery, set in the racially charged atmosphere of 1960s Atlanta, is both timely and entertaining.

Recommended by Grace

Machine Learning: New and Collected Stories Cover ImageMachine Learning: New and Collected Stories 

The stories in this collection — all of them! — manage some sort of delightful alchemy. In just a few pages, they are immediately engrossing but also manage to build worlds as rich as Howey creates in his novels. Savor this collection. You won’t see the universe the same way again.

Recommended by Grace

The Tiger's Daughter Cover ImageThe Tiger’s Daughter

Rapturous! Enthralling! Bewitching! How many words of praise do I need to get you to pick up this book and have one of the best experiences of your life? The Tiger’s Daughter is a lusciously imagined epistalory fantasy that blends the feeling of divine myth with characters that you can’t help but feel are real. I could not have hoped for a better book than this.

Recommended by Betsy

The Lonely Hearts Hotel Cover ImageThe Lonely Hearts Hotel

Two orphans with artistic souls survive poverty in Montreal during the Great Depression. Separated as teenagers, they spiral into a dark underworld but are eventually reunited to revisit a shared childhood dream. I was enchanted by this novel from the moment I started it. O’Neill’s writing is whimsical and haunting — the most cinematic reading experience I’ve had in a long while.

Recommended by Catherine

Made for Love Cover ImageMade for Love

This has got to be one of the most absurd books I have ever read in my entire life. Imagine if Stefan the NYC correspondent from Saturday Night Live wrote a novel — and turned out to be an immensely talented and insightful writer. If that idea makes you chuckle and feel a bit curious, you need to pick up this book.

Recommended by Halley

Catapult: Stories Cover ImageCatapult: Stories 

Striking, perfect fiction from one of the most exciting voices in literature today. Readers of Joy Williams and Flannery O’Connor will be delighted by the stories in Catapult.

Recommended by Halley

The Complete Ballet: A Fictional Essay in Five Acts Cover ImageThe Complete Ballet: A Fictional Essay in Five Acts 

The Complete Ballet reads like a gracefully choreographed dance. It leaps between truth and fiction, romance and crime, grabbing the reader by the hand and leading you gracefully onto the stage and into literary meditation. John Haskell is a master.

Recommended by Betsy

What Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel about Everything Cover ImageWhat Is the Bible?: How an Ancient Library of Poems, Letters, and Stories Can Transform the Way You Think and Feel about Everything 

Rob Bell is a public theologian who writes brilliantly and accessibly about why there is no such thing as a simple read of the Biblical text. He explores the context behind such sacred text, creating a mesh of Biblical studies, mysticism, and humor — and a breath of fresh air for those of us who live in the Bible Belt.

Recommended by Sissy

A Bigger Table Cover ImageA Bigger Table

This is radical Christianity, looking for the similarities that unite us rather than the differences that can tear us apart. Super-relevant in this political climate.

Recommended by John

The Door Cover ImageThe Door 

The New York Review of Books classics series is full of hidden gems, and Szabo, the most translated Hungarian novelist, was chosen for the series for great reason. The Door reads like a fever dream — a shadow of a shadow that reveals more about our own lives than any of us would like to admit. It’s a flat-out brilliant novel. Don’t miss it.

Recommended by John

Leaves of Grass Cover ImageLeaves of Grass 

I set out to cover this reading gap in my life and am extremely happy I did. To truly understand how free-verse poetry works, in all its difficulty and grace, you must start with the timeless and beautiful Leaves of Grass.

Recommended by John

Where I'm Calling from Cover ImageWhere I’m Calling From 

Often minimalist and brief, Carver’s stories come from the bitter and beautiful mess of our own human existence. Raymond Carver is an American giant, his work is a true gift, and Where I’m Calling From is the perfect way to step in.

And more — for young readers!

Pictures & Stories
Recommended by Rae Ann

How to Make Friends with a Ghost Cover ImageHow to Make Friends with a Ghost 

The perfect picture book for October doubles as a sweet book about friendship.

Recommended by Devin

Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow Cover Image

Smoot: A Rebellious Shadow 

Remember Peter Pan’s energetic shadow? Smoot may have him beat. Smoot has had a dull life until one day, he pops free from his human. Then as any rebellious shadow would do, he goes on adventures and gets in a little bit of trouble.

Recommended by Katherine

Fall Ball Cover ImageFall Ball 

Bobby and his friends love to play outside in the crisp weather after school with Sparky the dog, but it gets dark so quickly! Thankfully, Bobby has cozy pajamas and a warm meal waiting at home where he can cuddle with mom and dad and watch football on TV before bed.

For Independent Readers
Recommended by Jackie

Wishtree Cover ImageWishtree 

This beautiful story is told from the point of view of a tree! Red became a “wishtree” long ago, when someone tied a wish written on a scrap of fabric to one of his branches. Shortly before Wishing Day this year, however, someone carves the word “LEAVE” into his trunk, and it’s clear the message is aimed at the family who lives nearby. Despite the Don’t talk to people rule, Red decides to get involved in the lives of two of the children who live near him.

Recommended by Jackie

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street Cover ImageThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

This is a lovely family story about five quirky siblings and their parents in Harlem. One day they find out their landlord won’t be renewing their lease, so they devise all sorts of ways to try to convince him to let them stay. The only trouble is, they don’t really know anything at all about him, other than that he’s cranky and reclusive. As their various plans fall apart, they learn more about Mr. Beiderman and his past.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The War I Finally Won Cover ImageThe War I Finally Won

The sequel to The War That Saved My Life is finally here! The rest of Ada’s story — her battle with the past and courage in village life during WWII — is worth the wait!

(Read Rae Ann’s interview with the author here.)

Recommended by Ella

The Notations of Cooper Cameron Cover ImageThe Notations of Cooper Cameron

Cooper Cameron struggles to please everyone in his life after the death of his grandfather. This book portrays mental illnesses extremely well while also showing how difficult it is for people with mental illnesses to maintain the life they had. This is a must-read for anyone who loved Out of My Mind and Wonder.

Graphic novels:
Recommended by Rae Ann

Swing It, Sunny Cover ImageSwing It, Sunny 

In this sequel to Sunny Side Up, adjustment to a new family situation is difficult, but friends, 70s TV, and a new hobby help Sunny stay Sunny-side up!

Recommended by Ashley

All's Faire in Middle School Cover ImageAll’s Faire in Middle School

If ever there was a book that captures that nauseating, constantly unsure, terrified feeling of being in middle school, this is it. Set against the backdrop of the Florida Renaissance Faire, this graphic novel is just plain fun, tender, and wise. Fans of Roller Girl will not be disappointed by Jamieson’s sophomore novel!

Young Adult 
Recommended by Ashley

Wicked Like a Wildfire Cover ImageWicked Like a Wildfire 

‘Tis the season for witchy stories. Fans of Practical Magic and gorgeous (I do mean GORGEOUS) writing will love Popović’s debut, set against the lush backdrop of Montenegro. Family secrets abound!

Recommended by Stephanie

Genuine Fraud Cover ImageGenuine Fraud 

This twisty tale ranks among the cleverest and most thought-provoking novels I’ve read all year. E. Lockhart engages wholeheartedly with the trope of the social-climbing orphan while simultaneously using it as a lens to explore issues of gender expectations and class. Did I mention it’s also a gripping page-turner with a narrator whose voice leaps off the page from the get-go? Jule may be a genuine fraud, but Genuine Fraud is a genuinely great read.

Recommended by Katherine

13 Minutes Cover Image13 Minutes 

Natasha was dead for thirteen minutes, but she doesn’t remember how she ended up in the icy lake. Now her best friends are acting strangely, sending cryptic texts to each other that seem to link them to what happened. A psychological thriller full of twists and high-stakes drama. You won’t know who to believe.

Recommended by Katherine

Moxie Cover ImageMoxie

One of the best books of the year. Never has a novel tackled sexist dress codes, hallway harassment, and dubious authority figures so head-on in a high school setting. Your blood will boil but your heart will ultimately soar, making you want to pass it on to everyone you know.

Recommended by Grace

Jane, Unlimited Cover ImageJane, Unlimited 

This is one of the most intriguing and enthralling books I have ever had the pleasure of reading. Kristin Cashore lives up to all expectations with her witty, clever story of making choices with no idea where they might lead. (And of course there are those fabulous umbrellas.)

 The First Editions Club: October Selection

Leonardo Da Vinci Cover Image

Leonardo Da Vinci

Rarely do we pick a nonfiction title for First Editions Club. If we do, it has to be a truly outstanding book that not only informs but entertains, and does so in exquisite prose. Walter Isaacson’s Leonardo da Vinci is exactly such a book. His passion for his subject comes through on every page, and I feel confident telling even the most die-hard fiction readers to give it a shot.

What struck me in reading this book was that da Vinci’s ability to create masterpieces came not from some superhuman well of intellect or talent, but from his incredible powers of observation. In his boundless curiosity, the artist made thousands of pages of hand-written notes seeking to understand and explain the patterns he found in nature. Nowhere is this more evident than in the Mona Lisa, arguably the greatest work of art in the world. Her lips, her eyes, the water in the background . . . there’s so much more to it than we can see at a glance.

Many of Walter Isaacson’s books make this point, actually: Steve Jobs, Einstein, and Benjamin Franklin all chronicle great minds who embraced the overlap of science and art. In Leonardo da Vinci, he proves again that true creativity requires crossing disciplines — something Isaacson himself has done masterfully here. Historian and author Jon Meacham agrees: “Like his subject, Walter Isaacson is a Renaissance man. Versed in letters, science, history, technology, and the affairs of the age, he is the perfect biographer for Leonardo.” If you usually stick to novels, let me urge you to cross disciplines yourself with this biography. I think you’ll love it.

Enjoy!
Andy Brennan
Parnassus Store Manager

ParnassusNext — October Selection

All the Wind in the World Cover ImageAll the Wind in the World 

Longlisted for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature

Here’s what the book-flap says: “Keep your eyes open . . . your head down . . . and your love secret. Sarah Jac Crow and James Holt have fallen in love working in the endless fields that span a bone-dry Southwest in the near-future–a land that’s a little bit magical, deeply dangerous, and bursting with secrets. To protect themselves, they’ve learned to work hard and — above all — keep their love hidden from the people who might use it against them. Then, just when Sarah Jac and James have settled in and begun saving money for the home they dream of near the coast, a horrible accident sends them on the run. With no choice but to start over on a new, possibly cursed ranch, the delicate balance of their lives begins to give way — and they may have to pay a frighteningly high price for their love.”

Sounds amazing, right? Your heart will be in your throat as you read, and you won’t want to put it down. We can’t wait for you to discover our favorite YA book of October!

Every member of ParnassusNext receives a first edition hardcover of each month’s  selected book, 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). 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 3, 6, or 12 months for yourself, or buy a gift membership for your favorite YA reader.

“It’s All About the Book”

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

Every year in the September meetings of the Parnassus Book Club, I remind people of the upcoming Southern Festival of Books (October 13-15 this year!) and what a wonderful weekend it is, full of author talks, panel discussions, music, and children’s events. I especially like to make sure they’re familiar with Coffee with Authors, always a highlight of the festival. Held on Saturday morning from 9:30-11 a.m., it has for the past few years featured three or four authors in a panel, facilitated by Parnassus’ own Mary Laura Philpott — a writer herself, co-host of A Word on Words on Nashville Public Television, and editor of all that you read here on Musing. It’s a do-not-miss in my book.

In its earliest days, this morning event was a breakfast with an audience of book clubs, hosted by the Women’s National Book Association. Over the years such notable authors as Elizabeth Strout, Tom Franklin, Lee Smith, Melanie Benjamin, Lily King, Tom Perrotta , Ann Patchett, and Helen Simonson have been featured, among many others. Now it has morphed into an official festival event for a broader audience of readers, sponsored by both the WNBA and Humanities Tennessee. For the past three years, Mary Laura has created a delightful synergy, a fun atmosphere, and an informative conversation, and this year will be better than ever with visiting writers Claire Cameron (The Last Neanderthal), Wiley Cash (The Last Ballad), Nicole Krauss (Forest Dark), and Stephanie Powell Watts (No One is Coming to Save Us).

Screen Shot 2017-10-03 at 12.52.53 PM

Coffee with Authors is always free, but reservations are advised, taken by email to Lee Fairbend: LFairbend@comcast.net. Come — and bring your book club!

— Kathy

Parnassus Book Club

                Monday, October 9 at 6:30pm
                Wednesday, October 11 at 6:30pm
                Thursday, October 12 at 10am
                *Note: this is one week earlier than usual.
November — Still Life by Louise Penny
Monday, November 13 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, November 15 at 6:30pm
Thursday, November 16 at 10amClassics Club Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Monday, November 27 at 10am and 6:30pm

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

Want more? As always, don’t miss our monthly roundup of great reads in the Bookmark column of Nashville Arts Magazine.

Also: The Southern Festival of Books is almost upon us! Having a hard time waiting? Our friends at Chapter 16 are featuring lots of festival-related book coverage these days. Make sure you’re subscribed to Musing, too, so you don’t miss all that’s coming up here — including more festival previews!

Speaking of events: Have you SEEN the lineup for the Salon@615 series this fall?? There are still tickets available for these remaining events — get ’em while you can!

Screen Shot 2017-10-04 at 10.06.37 AM.png

Oct. 17 – John and Hank Green
Oct. 18 – Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor of Welcome to Night Vale
Oct. 26 – Billy Collins
Nov. 1 – John Boyne
Nov. 3 – Tamora Pierce
Nov. 6 – Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis
Nov. 11 – Elizabeth Gilbert
Nov. 14 – Dan Rather

See you soon!