Novels, Memoirs, Short Stories, Cookbooks & More: 26 Bookseller Favorites

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Dystopian fiction, romance, short stories, parenting guides, environmental histories, royal drama . . . We’re all over the place this month. The one thing these books have in common (other than, you know, being books) is that our Parnassus staffers loved them so much, they named them to our latest monthly favorites list. 

Have a look, grab anything that catches your eye, and let us know: What are YOU reading these days? (Chime in on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!)

Recommended by Ann

Baby, You're Gonna Be Mine: Stories Cover ImageBaby, You’re Gonna Be Mine: Stories

In this collection of short stories, Kevin Wilson moves from being a very good writer to a truly great one. It’s my favorite book of 2018 so far.

(Don’t miss Kevin Wilson’s upcoming appearance at Parnassus for a book signing on Tuesday, September 25, 2018, at 6:30 p.m.)

Recommended by Ann

Early Work: A Novel Cover ImageEarly Work: A Novel

Beautiful young wanna-be writers have sex, get drunk, read great books, procrastinate, have more sex. It should be an awful book, but Martin is such a good writer and astute observer, it winds up being fantastic.

Recommended by Ann

His Favorites: A Novel Cover ImageHis Favorites: A Novel

If you want a novel that explains how #metoo happens, this is it. Jo got into serious trouble in the past and is determined not to bother anyone in the future, making her easy prey. How the book also manages to be funny is beyond me, but it does.

Recommended by Karen

The Silence of the Girls: A Novel Cover ImageThe Silence of the Girls: A Novel

This Booker Prize-winning author known for her WWI trilogy now tackles The Iliad, but with a twist. The story is written from the point of view of Briseis, the queen who became Achilles’s war prize. After reading Madeline Miller’s Circe earlier this year, I loved seeing how another author deftly handled Greek mythology from a woman’s point of view. I hope this is a start of a trend.

Recommended by River

Whiskey When We're Dry Cover ImageWhiskey When We’re Dry

Debut author John Larison writes with the absolute power of a master. This book is for fans who wish Cormac McCarthy and Larry McMurtry would sit down over a bottle of whiskey in a small town out West and write a book together. There’s nothing left for me to do but turn back to the first page and begin again.

Recommended by Sarah

Where the Crawdads Sing Cover ImageWhere the Crawdads Sing

Owens’ experience as a nature writer shines through in her debut novel. This striking coming-of-age story is an immersive, sensory experience unlike any I’ve read before.

Recommended by Sydney

Vox Cover ImageVox

Set in near future America, a dystopian world limits women to 100 words a day. Protagonist Jean, her daughter Sonia (age six), and all other women of the country have been forced to quit their jobs and wear metal counters on their wrists to ensure they don’t go over their word limit. Any feminist interested in linguistics will enjoy this unconventional read.

Recommended by Niki

Rush: A Novel Cover ImageRush: A Novel

Rush is an absolute delight. If you loved The Help, pick up this book RIGHT. NOW.

Recommended by Catherine

The Kiss Quotient Cover ImageThe Kiss Quotient

I adored Stella and Michael and their instant chemistry. Anyone who loved Crazy Rich Asians for its compelling story and representation will fall in love with this delightful (and steamy) book.

Recommended by Sissy

I'd Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life Cover ImageI’d Rather Be Reading: The Delights and Dilemmas of the Reading Life 

Books are my life, and it’s always difficult for introverted me to explain this strange world to outsiders. Anne’s essays will resonate with other book nerds, and will give the rest of you a glimpse into my happy little existence.

Recommended by Keltie

Ninety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret Cover ImageNinety-Nine Glimpses of Princess Margaret

Confession: I picked this up because I couldn’t wait to read the juicy insider anecdotes about the first real tabloid darling. And it was full of salacious bits–but this unconventional biography is fuller and more poignant than that. It’s a portrait of a lonely, unmoored woman who presents as a caricature because she thinks that her value as a dinner guest lies in the story she gives the host to tell the next day.

Recommended by Keltie

Seaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water's Edge Cover ImageSeaweed Chronicles: A World at the Water’s Edge

For the reader who comes from some little hamlet in the world and thinks that the sun going down over the river they swam in or the mountain behind their house is The Most Beautiful View on Earth and wants to make sure their kids and grandkids get to see it and love it, too. My hamlet is Rockbridge County, Virginia — Ms. Shetterly’s is Downeast Maine. I get it. (Also, sushi will never look the same after this book. . .)

Recommended by Keltie

Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America Cover ImageDopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America

By Beth Macy

Sure, you’ve heard about the opiod crisis by now. But you don’t KNOW this story until you’ve read this book–until you’ve met the high school football star who OD’d on heroin, or the mother driving her 19-year-old honor student to prison, or the county coroner who examined a son on Monday and his parents on Tuesday. Meet the victims, the villains, and the everyday heroes fighting to end it. This is happening NOW.

Recommended by Mary Laura

Tragedy Plus Time: A Tragi-comic Memoir Cover ImageTragedy Plus Time: A Tragi-comic Memoir

I knew this book would be both funny (the author’s a comedian) and sad (it’s about the loss of his sister to suicide). But I didn’t expect such precise and nuanced writing. That’s what made reading this memoir such a surprising, affecting experience.

Recommended by Kathy

The Removes: A Novel Cover ImageThe Removes: A Novel

This story of the Indian Wars is told from three perspectives: General George Custer, his wife Libbie who went West with him, and a young white woman captured by the Cheyenne. Lovers of historical fiction, take note — it’s a great read!

Recommended by Niki

Small Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear Cover ImageSmall Animals: Parenthood in the Age of Fear

Part memoir, part parenting narrative, Small Animals is a deeply compelling look at parenthood, childhood, and fear. Brooks’ own experience of the fallout after briefly leaving her child in the car provides a riveting framework through which to explore the ways American parenthood, and particularly motherhood, has changed.

Recommended by Mary Laura

How to be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute Cover ImageHow to be a Happier Parent: Raising a Family, Having a Life, and Loving (Almost) Every Minute

They should give this book out in hospitals when babies are born — or on the first day of preschool. No one could be better suited to write it than KJ Dell’Antonia, former editor of the parenting column for the New York Times and truly happy person. Her calm, rational voice and positive, helpful approach make this a must-have for all parents of young children.

Recommended by Catherine

Run Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow.: Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes Cover ImageRun Fast. Cook Fast. Eat Slow. Quick-Fix Recipes for Hangry Athletes

I cook from this duo’s first book multiple times a week. Here they revamp favorites from that book and introduce new recipes as well. I love how they incorporate ingredients into multiple dishes so you don’t feel like you’re buying something for just one recipe. Don’t be intimidated by the tagline that these recipes are for athletes: Everyone needs good, healthy energy to get through the day.

Recommended by Andy

Rising: Dispatches from the New American Shore Cover ImageRising: Dispatches from the New American Shore

An illuminating look at the realities facing our continent’s coastline. Elizabeth Rush elegantly gives voice to those (both human and non human) already impacted by climate change.

Recommended by Betsy

The Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships Cover ImageThe Path Between Us: An Enneagram Journey to Healthy Relationships

Empathy’s a hot topic these days, and the buzz of the Enneagram continues to build. Whether you’re an Enneagram veteran or it’s totally new, this book helps you flex empathy muscles you didn’t know you had (for even the most puzzling people in your life). To all Type 4s–come find me after you read this!

Recommended by Steve

American Prison: A Reporter's Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment Cover ImageAmerican Prison: A Reporter’s Undercover Journey into the Business of Punishment

As a first-hand account of working as a security guard in a chaotic, understaffed correctional facility in Louisiana, this is gripping stuff. But Mother Jones reporter Shane Bauer interweaves his story — in which he learns disturbing things not only about the for-profit prison business, but also about his own sense of self — with well-researched historical context. A necessary companion to The New Jim Crow.

(Note: This book officially comes out on September 18. We don’t normally staff-pick books before you can walk in and get them, but we wanted to let you know about this one in time for our event with the author on Sept. 22.)

First Editions Club: September Selection

9781619022348.jpgThe Wildlands

By Abby Geni

Our First Editions pick for September is also Catherine’s staff pick for the month. She says, “A category 5 tornado rips through Mercy, Oklahoma, and the McCloud children find themselves orphaned and their home decimated. Geni’s brilliant novel follows the three remaining McClouds in the aftermath. Pick this up with confidence if you loved Karen Joy Fowler’s We Are All Completely Beside OurselvesI just fell into the story and couldn’t put down this tense and heartbreaking novel.”

We’re not the only ones loving this literary thriller. Check out what critics are saying:

Geni’s “fascination with the borders between human and animal drives this distinctive sophomore novel . . . Geni continues to create works of art with perfect voices that are simultaneously thrillers and meditations on nature. It is an incredible trick.” —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“Disasters both natural and personal are at the heart of Geni’s bold and adventurous latest . . . The novel is particularly notable for its interrogations of human relationships with the natural world, in keeping with Geni’s previous works. This is a fast-paced, high-stakes novel that will keep the reader turning the pages.” —Publishers Weekly

“Geni extends her signature and deeply unnerving exploration of the permeable line between wildness and civilization in this teeth-gritting tale of a young man broken by grief and rage and a trusting child turned fugitive, a girl disguised as a boy whose identity is scrambled and life endangered . . . Geni’s masterfully precise and harrowing depictions of emotional and physical suffering culminate in a surreal and catastrophic showdown involving a California zoo. In this staggering tale of loss intimate and ecological, Geni joins T. C. Boyle, Barbara Kingsolver, Annie Proulx, and Hannah Tinti in portraying humankind as both the planet’s most dangerous predator and one of myriad species vulnerable to ecodisasters of our own unintended devising. Riveting, provocative, and unforgettable.” —Booklist (starred review)

Join the First Editions Club now, and you’ll automatically reserve your signed copy.

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

Take note of dates. Some of these days fall earlier or later than our usual monthly book club meetings.

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.


October — Sunburn by Laura Lippman (Note: Dates are one week later than usual.)
Monday, October 22 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, October 24 at 6:30pm
Thursday, October 25 at 10am

November — Peace Like a River by Leif Enger (Note: Dates are later than usual.)
Monday, November 26 at 6:30pm
Wednesday, November 28 at 6:30pm
Thursday, November 29 at 10am

Classics Club – Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz
Monday, September 24 at 10 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.

Classics Club – Tobacco Road by Erskine Caldwell
Monday, November 12 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!


“It’s all about the book.” More thoughts on reading from Kathy Schultenover, Parnassus Book Clubs Manager:

As summer winds down, I’ve been thinking about how not every summer book has to be light and “beachy.” I read two this summer that qualify as fast-moving, absorbing page-turners. Neither could be called light, and both would make satisfying, stimulating choices for your book club list this fall — or anytime.

9781640090361.jpgThe Widow Nash by Jamie Harrison takes place in the early 20th century American West. It begins with a father and daughter who track earthquakes around the world. When he dies, she’s left to try to find the fortune he has hidden away before her abusive fiancé can get it. She decides to flee the relationship, fake her own death, and change her identity (to “the Widow Nash”) as she roams the Western states. This is a fun adventure story with a mystery at its core: Will Dulcy find happiness and the hidden fortune before her past life catches up with her?

In Country Dark by Chris Offutt, a returning Korean War veteran finally finds work running moonshine through rural Eastern Kentucky. Once he falls in love and marries, Tucker creates a loving home with his wife despite hard luck and grinding poverty. When the state threatens to take away his children, Tucker is driven to violence, and his desperate actions begin to close in around him. Offutt’s rendering of the Appalachian hills and hollows put me in mind of the FX television series Justified; many of the characters could have been interchangeable. This book comes recommended by Ron Rash (Serena), Tom Franklin (Crooked Letter, Crooked Letter), Silas House (Southernmost), Stewart O’Nan (West of Sunset), and Daniel Woodrell (Winter’s Bone).

Both of these are such compelling reads and good book club books with plenty of material to spark lively discussions.

Is your club part of our book club registry? Local book groups can order and purchase their club’s reading selections at a discount! Your club’s chosen titles are also displayed in the store on the book club shelf with the club’s name, so members can come in and find their selections easily. Registered clubs also receive notices of special book-club-related author events and seminars. To register a club, simply stop by the store and fill out a short form at the counter.

MORE bookish goodness:

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Ferrante fans, behold the first trailer for the HBO adaptation of My Brilliant Friend.

Put in your headphones: Don’t miss Ann Patchett’s episode of Alan Alda’s podcast, Clear and Vivid.

New episodes of The Great American Read, hosted by Meredith Viera, begin September 11, 2018, at 7 p.m. CST on Nashville Public Television.

Are you a once-and-done reader, or do you re-read? What would you put on your list of Six Books You’ll Want to Read Again and Again?

From BookPage: a list of highly anticipated fall nonfiction

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Coming up next on Musing: a peek inside a delightful book about books — Bibliophile, by Jane Mount