Beach Bag Refill: 18 Books We Love Right Now


Amazing how much you can read during the summer, isn’t it? Lucky for readers everywhere, fantastic new books are coming out every week. If you’re looking for your next great read, consider these titles our own staffers are enjoying most these days:

Don’t miss Ann’s remembrance of poet, memoirist, and essayist Donald Hall. Revisit his Essays After Eighty and Selected Poems, and preorder A Carnival of Losses (out July 10).
Recommended by Mary Laura

The Great Believers Cover ImageThe Great Believers

I can’t stop thinking about this tight-knit group of friends from Chicago and how their lives are forever changed during the AIDS crisis of the 1980s. The Great Believers is my go-to recommendation this season for a big, sweeping, engage-all-your-emotions read.

(Read the first three pages of the novel here!)

Recommended by Sydney

We Begin Our Ascent Cover ImageWe Begin Our Ascent

This is a fascinating read about the Tour de France, teamwork, and the pressures surrounding professional cycling. Though I wouldn’t consider myself to be a sports fan, this is sports fiction that I believe most people could enjoy, with cycling as a metaphor for how we continue to move forward as people.

Recommended by Sissy

Social Creature Cover ImageSocial Creature

It’s a bold claim, but I’m making it: Social Creature is the new Secret History.

Recommended by Kathy

Sunburn: A Novel Cover ImageSunburn: A Novel

Two lovers with murky pasts, each with their own agenda. When a murder happens, which one can you believe? The thriller of the summer!

Recommended by Catherine

Dietland Cover ImageDietland

I read this when it first came out a few years ago and fell in love. Thankfully this shocking, original, uber-feminist novel is getting more well-deserved time in the spotlight with a new TV adaptation on AMC. Get ahead of the bandwagon and pick it up now!

Recommended by Mary Laura

When Katie Met Cassidy Cover ImageWhen Katie Met Cassidy

Camille Perri created beach reading magic with The Assistants, and now she’s done it again. Enjoy this fun, sexy, girl-meets-girl rom-com that’s joyful enough to offset the garbage news of the real world a little bit.

Recommended by Rae Ann

The Almost Sisters: A Novel Cover ImageThe Almost Sisters: A Novel

A surprise pregnancy and a very old family secret will keep you turning the pages in this entertaining family story, now out in paperback!

Recommended by Rae Ann

Dear Mrs. Bird Cover ImageDear Mrs. Bird

By Aj Pearce

Emmy begins answering the magazine’s advice column, pretending to be her boss. What could go wrong? This novel is funny and touching. The scenes of Emmy’s volunteer work during the Blitz give the story a serious layer, too. Fans of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society would enjoy this book.

Recommended by Andy

The Shepherd's Hut Cover ImageThe Shepherd’s Hut

Australian Tim Winton is not particularly well known in this country. Twice nominated for the Booker Prize, he writes with a powerful voice, often about his native land. The Shepherd’s Hut is about a young man’s escape from a twisted family life to the wheat-belt of Western Australia and his effort to start anew. This is Winton’s first novel in five years, and his storytelling is both alarming and exhilarating. Not a beach read (for that see Winton’s Breath) but a moving work on many levels.

And a special note about a fellow indie bookseller . . .

Number One Chinese Restaurant Cover ImageNumber One Chinese Restaurant

This is the first book by Lillian Li, an author who’s also a bookseller at Literati, a fellow independent bookstore in Ann Arbor, Michigan. If you love stories about familial chaos, pick up this novel that blends humor and poignancy in equal measure. Congratulations, Lillian!

Recommended by Keltie

Spying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth's Most Awesome Creatures Cover ImageSpying on Whales: The Past, Present, and Future of Earth’s Most Awesome Creatures

Whales have existed since time immemorial and have captured our imaginations since before Ahab. This memoir of whale-chasing and fossil-finding around the world is the perfect balace of science and poetry. If you loved Spineless, you will love it. If you love Shark Week, you will love it. If you ever once, as a kid, stood underneath the Giant Blue Whale at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., and looked up in wonder, you will love it.

Recommended by Sissy

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again Cover ImageInspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again

Inspired comes out of a Progressive’s longing to reconnect with the Bible after a period of separation.

Recommended by Stephanie

The B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival Cover ImageThe B.T.C. Old-Fashioned Grocery Cookbook: Recipes and Stories from a Southern Revival

I first encountered this cookbook years ago, and it’s still the only one I own. When I drove through Mississippi on the way home from the American Bookseller’s Association’s Children’s Institute recently, I was reminded of the extraordinary contribution Alexe and Dixie have made to their small town.

Recommended by all of us

People Only Die of Love in Movies: Film Writing by Jim Ridley Cover ImagePeople Only Die of Love in Movies: Film Writing by Jim Ridley

By Jim RidleySteve Haruch (Editor)

We’ll never forget our friend Jim Ridley, the longtime editor of our city’s alt-weekly newspaper, The Nashville Scene, who died in 2016 at the age of 50. Now, thanks to this collection of his brilliant movie reviews — compiled and edited by our own Steve Haruch — the world won’t forget what a nimble and insightful writer he was. Every film buff needs a copy.

First Editions Club: July Selection

It seems everyone’s talking about A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza — and for good reason. For one thing, it’s the first book to come from actor and book-lover Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint at Hogarth Books. Also noteworthy: Mirza herself is just 27, which makes it all the more impressive that she writes with such maturity and insight, inhabiting her characters — a mom, a dad, and three kids — as they age over several decades. But what really makes this book remarkable is how accurately and universally it captures what it feels like to be part of a family, for better and for worse.

A Place for Us is bookseller Keltie’s staff pick this month. On her shelf-talker, she writes: “What brings more drama than a family wedding? How about the wedding of the eldest daughter in an Indian Muslim-American family featuring an appearance by her long-estranged addict brother? The surface struggle is how to be an American family; the heart of the matter is how just to be a family. This novel is a love letter to every complicated family doing the very best it can.”

This isn’t a fast-paced, plot-driven book. It develops gradually, as we all do. Stick with it. As secrets, hopes, compromises, and grudges pile up, they shape each person’s identity and the family dynamic as a whole. In the letter that goes out this month to First Editions Club members, our Musing editor, Mary Laura Philpott, says: “As a daughter, a sister, and a mother, I found it to be one of the most emotionally true books about childhood, siblinghood, and parenthood I’ve ever read.”

We can’t wait to hear what you think. Reserve your signed first edition by joining the First Editions Club today. And if you’ll be in Nashville on Wednesday, July 11, at 6:30 p.m., please come hear Mirza discuss the book here in the store!

More about our First Editions Club: Every member 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. Plus, there’s no membership fee or premium charge for these books. Build a treasured library of signed first editions and always have something great to read! Makes a FABULOUS gift, too. 

 Parnassus Book Club — Upcoming Meeting Schedule

July – Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward
Monday, July 16 at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, July 18 at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, July 19 at 10 a.m.

August – Saints for All Occasions by J. Courtney Sullivan
Monday, August 13 at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Thursday, August 16 at 10 a.m.

Classics Club – Passing by Nella Larsen
Monday, July 30 at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.
Classics Club – Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz

Monday, September 24 at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

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:

Earlier this month, I finished watching the new Starz production of Howard’s End. I loved the lush nature of the cinematography with lots of wide green lawns and lakes; the use of the London cityscape to contrast with this natural world; the witty, clever dialogue and spot-on casting of the characters. While not the same as the original movie with Antony Hopkins, Emma Thompson, and Helena Bonham Carter, this mini-series offered something the movie did not — a more in-depth treatment of E.M. Forster’s classic novel. While it did seem a bit rushed at times, overall the series left me both satisfied and wanting to re-read Forster’s meaningful novel yet again.

Set in early 20th-century Britain, Howard’s End is Forster’s fourth novel, written when he was pre-occupied with the vast changes sweeping England in the years preceding World War I. In it he contrasts the intellectual, artistic Schlegels, the wealthy Wilcoxes, and the working class Basts. Idealistic Margaret and Helen Schlegel try to help the Basts while trying to sensitize the Wilcoxes to their rather snobbish notions of class and society. Then love enters the picture and all becomes quite muddled, with relationships and situations ending up not entirely as anyone’s ideals or plans expect.

Any book by E.M. Forster makes for a challenging yet rewarding experience, especially when done in a book club setting. And there is much here in this novel written in 1910 that applies to current issues in our society today. Read the book (and if you can, watch the mini-series), and discuss it all with your book club!

MORE . . .

PBS: The Great American Read — Help choose America’s favorite book! You can place one vote for each book, each day, all summer long, Vote using the PBS app or by posting on Twitter or Facebook with the designated hashtag for the book you love most.

Speaking of public television . . . have you seen the latest episodes of A Word on Words? Don’t miss new interviews with authors Anna Quindlen and Mohsin Hamid! #KeepReading

Southern Festival of Books — Author Reveal Party: Come see the list and find out who’s coming to Nashville for the festival October 12-14, 2018! Join us at 5:30 p.m. here at the store on Saturday, July 14, for the big reveal.

Keep the kiddos entertained with our storytimes every Thursday at 4 p.m. and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. — and don’t forget to look for Waldo at participating Nashville businesses throughout July! Click here for details on how to play Where’s Waldo, the local edition.

Note: Parnassus Books will be closed on Wednesday, July 4, for the holiday. Back open Thursday for regular hours!