Hot Reads for Hot Days: 26 Bookseller Favorites


When you were little, did you want to grow up and work in an ice-cream parlor so you could eat free ice cream all day? And did your parents tell you not to be silly, because of course you’d get sick of all that ice cream after a while? It’s not like that with books. Here at Parnassus, our booksellers sample the merchandise on our shelves every day and never tire of it. Here are the books we’re enjoying most — and can’t wait to share with you!

(They all go great with ice cream, by the way. It’s very hot in Nashville.)


Recommended by Catherine

An Ocean of Minutes: A Novel Cover ImageAn Ocean of Minutes: A Novel 

This is a fantastic meditation on how time changes relationships and perceptions. The action kicks off with a Station Eleven-like pandemic illness and the offer of time travel to a future with a cure.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Good Luck with That Cover ImageGood Luck with That 

Two friends are bequeathed a to-do list by a dying friend. Their journey is both laugh-out-loud funny and sad, in turns. Author Kristan Higgins infuses serious topics with heart.

Recommended by Rae Ann

Screen Shot 2018-07-31 at 8.15.33 AMThe Summer Wives: A Novel 

This multigenerational story of island life intertwines the lives of year-round residents and summer people with a murder and a family secret. An excellent narrator and a compelling story make this a great audiobook on (Or course, it’s good in hardcover, too.)

Recommended by Rae Ann

America for Beginners: A Novel Cover ImageAmerica for Beginners: A Novel 

I love this book! The cast of characters embarking on a cross-country trip hooked me into each of their stories from the beginning. I wanted to read faster and slow down at the same time.

Recommended by Ann

Angela's Ashes: A Memoir Cover ImageAngela’s Ashes: A Memoir 

Ever feel like reading a book you know is going to be fantastic? I read this when it came out 22 years ago and just picked it up again. It was as perfect as I remembered. Read it again or read it for the first time. You’ll be struck by what a pleasant childhood you had.

Recommended by Mary Laura

The Incendiaries Cover ImageThe Incendiaries 

I’m always a sucker for a college love story, but I was especially entranced by the haunting, urgent tension Kwon creates among Phoebe, Will, and the strange, charismatic outsider who comes between them. This unusual little novel was the #1 IndieNext pick for August!

(Read our interview with the author here.)

Recommended by Mary Laura

A Double Life Cover ImageA Double Life 

I’m not usually much of a thriller reader, but DAMN, I couldn’t put this one down. Based on a real unsolved crime — the Lord Lucan case in England (google it, or don’t if you want to be surprised) — this suspenseful novel about a woman hunting down the truth about her family’s grisly past is perfect vacation / late-night reading.

Recommended by Kathy

Country Dark Cover ImageCountry Dark 

It’s been compared to Larry Brown, Flannery O’Connor, and William Faulkner — and recommended by Ron Rash, Tom Franklin, and Stewart O’Nan. That’s all you need to know about this tough yet hopeful book of “country noir.”

Recommended by Kathy

The Widow Nash Cover ImageThe Widow Nash 

A young woman reinvents herself after fleeing an unhealthy relationship. Can she find happiness as a “widow” in small-town Montana at the turn of the 20th century? How long until her past catches up with her? Will her beloved father’s legacy as a skirt-chaser taint her future? What a fun read!

Recommended by River

The Madonna of the Mountains Cover ImageThe Madonna of the Mountains 

A sweeping, historial saga of family and faith and what is left to us when war threatens to steal away all that we know and love.

Recommended by John

My Year of Rest and Relaxation Cover ImageMy Year of Rest and Relaxation 

“This was the beauty of sleep,” Moshfegh writes. If you know anything about Ottessa Moshfegh, you know the cruel ironies by which her writing operates, the perverse world of sympathetically unsympathetic characters. This is not a book about rest or relaxation. And certainly don’t get this confused with “beauty sleep.”

Recommended by John

The Lost Country Cover ImageThe Lost Country 

William Gay is a flat-out monster. The former protégé of Cormac McCarthy is back from dead and could not care less about giving us a picture of the world we see every day, but is preoccupied instead with a twisted, subversive, yet elegiac representation of a South that takes no heed of where it’s been nor where it’s going. Get ready for a ride.

Recommended by Halley

The Third Hotel Cover ImageThe Third Hotel 

Hypnotic, delirious, and surreal, this novel captures not just a woman’s loss but also her journey around both a blisteringly strange Havana and the horror-infested corners of her mind.

Recommended by Steve

New Poets of Native Nations Cover ImageNew Poets of Native Nations 

Urgent and rich, this is the definition of an essential anthology.

Recommended by Karen

South Toward Home: Adventures and Misadventures in My Native Land Cover ImageSouth Toward Home: Adventures and Misadventures in My Native Land 

It’s always a good day when honorary Nashvillian Julia Reed puts out a new book. If you need a pick-me-up, these essays are guaranteed to make you laugh.

Recommended by Keltie

Crux: A Cross-Border Memoir Cover ImageCrux: A Cross-Border Memoir 

A memoir of one investigative journalist’s quest to understand her deeply troubled, but gifted, father, who variously claimed to be a shaman, a mystic, an animal whisperer and a victim of CIA mind-control experiments. Her journey criss-crosses the U.S.-Mexican border, and the border of sanity and mania. Somewhere in the crossings, the author finds herself following her father’s path in more ways than one, and wonders if there is truth to even his most outlandish claims. If you loved The Glass Castle, try this.

Recommended by Keltie

Chesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island Cover ImageChesapeake Requiem: A Year with the Watermen of Vanishing Tangier Island 

Tangier Island, Virginia, in the Chesapeake Bay, is disappearing before our very eyes. Within only a few decades, this solitary outpost of Americana, famous for its traditional (and unnconnected) ways, unique dialect, and production of blue crabs, will be underwater. Reporter Earl Swift spent a year living and fishing with the “Tangiermen,” finding them endearing, charming, loyal, decent — and maddeningly stubborn in their deep denial about their island’s fate and the causes for it. I was transfixed from page one.

Recommended by Sissy

You're on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir Cover ImageYou’re on an Airplane: A Self-Mythologizing Memoir 

Parker Posey is my favorite actress. If you find her interesting, you will love this book. If you’re not familiar with her work, you may become very confused.

Recommended by Andy

Second Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together Cover ImageSecond Wind: A Sunfish Sailor, an Island, and the Voyage That Brought a Family Together 

Nathaniel Philbrick’s mid-life crisis purchase isn’t a red Corvette — it’s the VW Bug of sailboats. Having won the Sunfish North America Championship in his twenties, he decides to clean up the old boat and rediscover the pleasures of sailing and racing. From the little ponds of Nantucket to the big competitions, this is a great book to read while you wait for Philbrick to bring us his new one in October: In the Hurricane’s Eye: The Genius of George Washington and the Victory at Yorktown.

Recommended by Andy

Jell-O Girls: A Family History Cover ImageJell-O Girls: A Family History 

The author’s great-great-great-uncle bought the patent for Jell-O for $450 and parlayed it into a vast fortune that financed the family for many generations. This is not only a fascinating corporate history of one of the best-known food brands in America, but a compelling biography of a wealthy, complicated family and the individuals within it.

Recommended by Sarah

Atticus Finch: The Biography Cover ImageAtticus Finch: The Biography 

Since the release of Go Set a Watchman, we have come to know two distinct versions of Atticus Finch: one courageous and wise, the other prejudiced and intolerant. Why the drastic change in this beloved character? Dr. Crespino examines the facts of Harper Lee’s life in the South along with the fiction of her books, and his analysis is utterly fascinating.

First Editions Club: August Selection

9781476799391His Favorites: A Novel 

There is something so wonderful and rare about a short, decisively plotted novel — a book that can be read in one satisfying afternoon. Kate Walbert’s latest novel, His Favorites, is one of the best new examples of this art form.

Our narrator, Jo, tells the story of losing her best friend in an accident during a drunken summer night on a golf cart and retreating in the following years to a private boarding school. There, she ends up in an emotionally abusive relationship with a teacher.

Though this novel fits easily into the narrative of the #MeToo movement (but not in a heavy-handed way), there’s so much more to it. It’s about what happens when someone faces loss and blame at a young age. It’s about the ramifications of a family disintegrating. And it’s about how a human being forges a new identity in the wake of tragedy, with only questionable guidance.

We’re so happy to introduce you to this page-turner, perfect for the last month of summer. Enjoy!

Yours in reading,
Catherine Bock
Inventory Manager

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

9780307949806August – 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.

September — Dispatches From Pluto by Richard Grant
Monday, September 17 at 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 19 at 6:30 p.m.
Thursday, September 20 at 10 a.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:

9780307742483In the June meetings of the Parnassus Book Club, a near-record number of 79 people came to talk about Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI. Written by David Grann, the book explores the mysterious deaths in the 1920s among the Osage Indians of Oklahoma. This tribe lived lives of prosperity and wealth, with mansions, servants and luxuries, thanks to oil found on the reservation. Their lifestyle exacerbated already deeply-held prejudices among whites in the area, and when several unexplained deaths and murders occurred, the fledgling FBI (under a young J. Edgar Hoover) stepped in. What the undercover agents unravelled was a network of evil with shocking consequences for so many in the area.

In our discussions, reader conversation focused on these points:

1.) The enormous and impressive amount of research done by David Grann
2.) The fact that this case was so little-known in history until now (and possible reasons for that), and also how many other similar incidents in our history are unknown to us
3.) The social position of Native Americans, and the nature of prejudice towards them
4.) The freewheeling, “lawless” nature of law enforcement at that time
5.) Just how remote the plains are from large cities like Washington DC and New York, and how this impacted the entire situation

While Parnassus Book Club usually discusses fiction, Killers of the Flower Moon — which was named the Best Nonfiction Book of 2017 by the independent booksellers of the American Booksellers Association — was an especially popular choice and a welcome change for all of us. I strongly recommend it for all book clubs. If your club reads it, feel free to use the talking points above!

What are YOUR favorites?

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Pick a winner: After scandal led to cancellation of the Nobel Prize in literature this year, The New Academy Prize in Literature arose to take its place. The big twist? Readers determine the short-list. Should it go to Donna Tartt? Or maybe J.K. Rowling, Patti Smith, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, or any of the other beloved artists on the long list? You have until August 14 to VOTE by clicking here.

Speaking of voting . . . Help choose America’s favorite novel in the PBS Great American Read! Episodes resume in September. Meanwhile, you can still place up to one vote for each book, each day, using the PBS app or by posting on Twitter or Facebook with the designated hashtag for the book you love most.

PS: We’re not the only ones who think ice cream and books make a tasty pairing.

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From the Ice Cream Books instagram