24 Books We’re Thankful for Right Now

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OK, don’t overthink it, just answer with the first title that comes to mind: What book are you grateful for right now? We asked our staffers that question, and you’ll find their wide-ranging answers — from new fiction and nonfiction to old favorites and classics — on this list.

Meanwhile, we’re grateful for YOU. If you see a book you want to read, just click the title to toss it into your cart — or come see us in the store!

Recommended by Ann

The Ninth Hour Cover ImageThe Ninth Hour 

I’m thankful for my pal Sister Nena, so I always like a good novel about nuns. No one does a better job than Alice McDermott. This one is moving and beautifully written.

Recommended by Ann

Uncommon Type: Some Stories Cover ImageUncommon Type: Some Stories

I’m so thankful this guy can do more than act. I was more than a little surprised to find out what a great writer he is. These are exactly the stories you’d think Tom Hanks would write.

Recommended by Karen

Independent People Cover ImageIndependent People 

Iceland vacation? Time to pick up the classic Icelandic book. I expected it to be bleak, but was grateful to find Laxness has a very sharp wit. This is a book to savor with its rich cast of characters, and it will make you want to see this complex country yourself.

Recommended by Kathy

Lilac Girls Cover ImageLilac Girls 

So thankful that people kept hounding me to read this. The stories of three very different women during WWII make for a very compelling read!

Recommended by Keltie

Spineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone Cover ImageSpineless: The Science of Jellyfish and the Art of Growing a Backbone 

I have a pal who says we should all have a shelf of memoirs, like reference books. I love the ones about women finding their way (Julia Child, Katherine Graham, Gloria Steinem). This one is about a woman finding her way along a pretty different path — but it’s going on my shelf.

Recommended by Keltie

Code Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II Cover ImageCode Girls: The Untold Story of the American Women Code Breakers of World War II 

I am thankful every time I read a story that teaches me something about history I never knew. These Code Girls in DC in the 1940s saved the lives of lot of soldiers and sailors — and, you know, helped win a big war.

Recommended by Keltie

The Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars Cover ImageThe Glass Universe: How the Ladies of the Harvard Observatory Took the Measure of the Stars 

Grateful for women pioneers, especially at my alma mater. Who run the world? GIRLS. Credit (and excusable artistic-license grammar) to Beyonce.

Recommended by Ella

The Hot Zone Cover ImageThe Hot Zone 

Okay, this is a really random read for me, because I usually stick to fiction, but the investigative writing of this book about the spread of ebola made it even more entertaining. I’m grateful that I read this book to broaden my genre horizon.

Recommended by Cat

American Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West Cover ImageAmerican Wolf: A True Story of Survival and Obsession in the West 

This has to be one of the most immersive books that combines natural history, regional politics, and the cult fascination with wolves. This in-depth look into the Yellowstone Wolf Project centers on 0-Six, the most famous of the wolves, and the people closest to the project. I’m so grateful Blakeslee wrote it.

Recommended by Mary Laura

Signs of Hope: Messages from Subway Therapy Cover ImageSigns of Hope: Messages from Subway Therapy 

I’m thankful for the ways human beings reach out to spread light, especially when it feels like the world is at its darkest.

Recommended by Sissy

I Capture the Castle: Young Adult Edition Cover ImageI Capture the Castle: Special Hardcover Edition 

Thankful for the powerful ending of this book. It’s hopeful, strange and not at all what I expected. It suits me.

Recommended by Katherine

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

I recommended this memoir in hardcover last year because 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 be grateful for this insightful gem.

Recommended by Betsy

Sourdough Cover ImageSourdough

For those who adored Sloan’s previous novel Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore, this is a must-read. Sparkling, smart, and terribly funny. I’m grateful that in a world of rapid technological advance there are still BLT sandwiches on sourdough.

Recommended by Betsy

On Living Cover ImageOn Living 

Newly released in paperback! Egan reflects on her career as a hospice chaplain, weaving her own voice with intimate portraits of the dying in a memoir that walks the thin space between death and life. I am thankful for Egan’s wisdom. Similar to Atul Gwande and Paul Kalanithi, she bears witness to ways the dying teach us how to live. (Also, don’t miss her Modern Love essay “Married to a Mystery Man.”)

Recommended by Kevin

Letters to a Young Poet Cover ImageLetters to a Young Poet 

I’m thankful that Rilke corresponded with this young man, who wrote for advice on his poetry and in return received these profound reflections on creativity, peace, solitude, faith, and love. “Art too is just a way of living, and however one lives, one can, without knowing, prepare for it.”

Recommended by Grace

MIS(H)Adra Cover ImageMIS(H)Adra 

This book absolutely blew my mind. They have an incredible grasp of how best to utilize the comics medium, and the story they tell leaps from the pages with every frame. Definitely worth reading and rereading and rereading again.

Recommended by Grace

A Darker Shade of Magic Collector's Edition Cover ImageA Darker Shade of Magic Collector’s Edition 

This book is packed to the brim with lush world-building, witty banter, and characters that refuse to let your heart go. If you have somehow missed this series, here’s your chance to jump in with this beyond-gorgeous edition. (Or if you have already been lured into this tale, maybe you need an additional copy to stare at adoringly?)

Recommended by John

Ema the Captive Cover ImageEma the Captive 

I’ve been reading a lot of translated work recently and am quite thankful Aira’s voice has made its way into my sphere. On the edges of civilization in 19th century Argentina, Ema and her infant child are captured by a group of soldiers. Aira’s feel for the natural world is brilliantly descriptive while his understanding of human nature is as subtle as it is sprawling. Don’t miss this one.

Recommended by John

In the Midst of Winter Cover ImageIn the Midst of Winter

Allende is never one to shy away from the timely and complicated issues of human rights and immigration. In the Midst of Winter takes these issues head on yet does it through the lens of an unlikely love story. I am thankful for translated works such as Allende’s that meld into fluency of our daily American lives and remind us of what’s important.

Recommended by John

The House of the Spirits Cover ImageThe House of the Spirits 

I can’t recommend an Allende novel without including The House of the Spirits. This is an incredible book. Spanning 90 years of the Trueba family and tracing the post-colonial, social and political upheavals of Chile, Allende weaves together a familial epic like no other. What began as a letter to her 100-year-old dying grandfather resulted in a debut novel that launched her into literary stardom.

Recommended by John

Gap Gardening: Selected Poems Cover ImageGap Gardening: Selected Poems 

Waldrop is swift and elusive. An extremely prolific poet (and an author of nearly 20 books of poetry), she has a style that is efficient yet protean, surprising even the most careful of readers and somehow retaining the ability to have a new voice with each poem. If you’re looking for a new and exciting challenge, Waldrop better be your next choice.

Recommended by Andy

A Legacy of Spies Cover ImageA Legacy of Spies 

It’s Le Carre. And George Smiley makes his first appearance in more than 25 years. That’s all you need to know.

 The First Editions Club: October Selection

Uncommon Type: Some Stories Cover ImageUncommon Type: Some Stories 

The first remarkable thing about this month’s First Editions Club selection is that the author is none other than Tom Hanks. Yes, that Tom Hanks — the award-winning actor and filmmaker with the power to make us laugh, cry, and gasp all in the same movie. Turns out he can write, too.

But the more remarkable aspect of this month’s selection is the story collection itself. Somehow it’s both a delightful surprise and exactly what I would have expected from Tom Hanks (had I known to expect a book of short fiction from him at all). In some of the stories, there’s a wistful sense of nostalgia; others are more playful. All of them reflect Hanks’ empathetic view of humanity. He makes us care, just like we do when he inhabits a character onscreen. Talk about range.

Enjoy!
Mary Laura Philpott
Musing editor

Parnassus Book Club

November — Still Life by Louise Penny
Monday, November 13 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, November 15 at 6:30pm
Thursday, November 16 at 10am

 

 

Classics Club — Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger
Monday, November 27 at 10am and 6:30pm

 

(Book clubs will not meet in December.)

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!

“It’s All About the Book”

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

What makes for informative, stimulating, and fun book club discussions? That’s something we all want to know. Of course it helps to have a leader who’s knowledgeable and prepared. But what can we as members do to make our club meetings all they can be? One way is by becoming an engaged, thoughtful reader. If you don’t mind a little homework, I can almost guarantee more fulfilling, interesting, and livelier meetings if you do the following as you read your club’s selected book each time:

1. Make a list of characters and perhaps a brief description of each.
2. Underline passages (or use page markers) to highlight sentences that “speak” to you…beautiful descriptions, pithy dialogue, humorous lines, whatever you might want to point out and share.
3. Keep a small notebook by your side to jot down questions you have as you read.
4. Write down your thoughts and feelings immediately upon finishing the book.

With these discussion starters you’ll have valuable material right there where you can easily recall it. Active readers make the best book club members!

— Kathy

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

Meanwhile, the book-lover’s version of the World Series / Final Four / Superbowl, etc. is coming up next week: The National Book Awards!

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The winners will be announced at the National Book Awards ceremony on November 15, which will be streamed live on the National Book Foundation’s website. Read the nominees and decide which books YOU like best:

FICTION
Elliot Ackerman, Dark at the Crossing
Lisa Ko, The Leavers
Min Jin Lee, Pachinko
Carmen Maria Machado, Her Body and Other Parties: Stories
Jesmyn Ward, Sing, Unburied, Sing

NONFICTION
Erica Armstrong Dunbar, Never Caught: The Washingtons’ Relentless Pursuit of Their Runaway Slave, Ona Judge
Frances FitzGerald, The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America
Masha Gessen, The Future Is History: How Totalitarianism Reclaimed Russia
David Grann, Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI
Nancy MacLean, Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America

POETRY
Frank Bidart, Half-light: Collected Poems 1965-2016
Leslie Harrison, The Book of Endings
Layli Long Soldier, WHEREAS
Shane McCrae, In the Language of My Captor
Danez Smith, Don’t Call Us Dead: Poems

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Have you been watching A Word on Words on Nashville Public Television? The third season of the Emmy-winning literary interview mini-show has begun. Catch up on the latest episodes online, including guest authors Elizabeth Strout, Weike Wang, Lisa Ko, Matthew Quick, John Grisham, and — coming up this weekend — Jesmyn Ward.

If you haven’t yet, there’s still time to get your ticket to see Dan Rather on November 14. Your entry to this special edition of Salon@615 comes with a book!

Coming up next on Musing: more books we’re grateful for — this time for kids and teens!