Here’s hoping that, in spite of everything, you’re finding time and safe space to read. It still feels weird not being able to open our doors to the public, but some things haven’t changed. Our booksellers are still reading — and still searching out new favorites to recommend! So without further ado, here is this month’s batch, including our 100th (!) First Editions Club pick and much more. Enjoy!
|Recommended by Ann
All Adults Here
By Emma Straub
This is the book you want to read now — warm, comforting, funny, charming, insightful. It’s smart without being stressful. This is Emma’s very best. I wish I had a dozen more like it.
(This is our First Editions Club selection this month. See below, and check out Ann’s interview with Emma Straub!)
|Recommended by Cat
By Amity Gaige
Juliet’s husband informs her that he wants to put their life on hold, buy a sailboat, and sail in the Carribbean for a year along with her and their two children. What starts out as a jolt to revive her from her everyday struggles turns into an experience with a horrific outcome. I loved the intense dynamic that Gaige built between Juliet and her husband, and the gorgeous images of life at sea.
|Recommended by Sissy
The Knockout Queen
By Rufi Thorpe
Imagine Scout and Dill as high school students in California. Racial tension is not Thorpe’s focus, though; she questions what is masculine, what is feminine, what it strength, and what is weakness.
|Recommended by Ben
The Mountains Sing
This vivid, sweeping, multigenerational novel about the bonds of family, scars of war, and power of forgiveness pours from the pen of this acclaimed Vietnamese poet. Alternating between the time periods and points of view of Dieu Lan and her granddaughter, Huong, she brings to life the unique traditions and trials of Vietnam’s agonizing 20th century, and portrays the universality of human struggle and hope.
|Recommended by Kathy
A Thousand Moons
My favorite read of 2020 so far, set in Paris Tennessee post-Civil War. A young Lakota girl being raised by her white fathers and a pair of former slaves is involved in a brutal crime and its retribution. A beautiful story of love in this unusual family that put me in mind of “News of the World.”
|Recommended by Ben
Simon the Fiddler
He survived the Civil War, but can quick-witted, hot-tempered, love-struck fiddler Simon Boudlin make it back to Doris Dillon, the Irish governess with whom he is smitten? As he and his scratch band travel around South Texas, Jiles’ prose is evocative of the sprawling landscape, with lyrical passages about music and skillful dialogue. Full of brawls and storms, jigs and reels, love letters and laughter, this is an adventure to get swept up in.
|Recommended by Marcia
The Love Story of Missy Carmichael
By Beth Morrey
If you want to shut out headlines and lose yourself in a warm story, invite this book in! Missy Carmichael has lost her spouse, her children are distant — one lives in another country with Missy’s only grandchild, the other is estranged — and she is becoming successful at living like a recluse. An outing to watch fish being shocked turns Missy’s life upside down. Complete with a loaner dog who captures her love!
|Recommended by Kay
The Book of Koli
By M. R. Carey
This is the first in a new post-apocalyptic science fiction trilogy set in a future where genetic modification has made even the plant life into predators. The well-written suspense and detailed world building left me eager for the sequel, and with book two set for release in September, it looks like we luckily won’t have long to wait.
|Recommended by Chelsea
The Happy Ever After Playlist
By Abby Jimenez
Sloan is literally stopped in her tracks by lost dog Tucker. When his owner Jason (both attractive and charming) shows back up to reclaim his dog, Sloan is swept off her feet. This is more than a romance — it’s a heartfelt story about choosing happiness and being true to who you really are. Plus it comes with a built-in playlist!
|Recommended by Kathy
Rebel Cinderella: From Rags to Riches to Radical, the Epic Journey of Rose Pastor Stokes
The forgotten true story of a poor Jewish immigrant factory worker who became a charismatic radical union organizer, and her storybook marriage into one of America’s richest families. Written by one of the best historians writing today, well-documented, yet a fascinating and easy read.
|Recommended by Erin
Empires of the Sky: Zeppelins, Airplanes, and Two Men’s Epic Duel to Rule the World
If you’ve seen footage of the Hindenburg crash, it’s hard to imagine a time when anyone thought those giant balloons of hydrogen were a good idea. But for decades, they were the much safer and more comfortable alternative to their deathtrap cousin, the airplane. The race for air travel supremacy between Zeppelin and Pan Am Airways makes for fascinating history; this is a read that flies.
|Recommended by Jordan
There I Am: The Journey from Hopelessness to Healing—A Memoir
This moving and heartfelt memoir gracefully tells the story of pain, joy, hope, and redemption. It holds elements of relatability for everyone as well as shocking twists that will keep you turning the pages. I can not get over how well-written and inspiring this treasure of a story is. You will immediately feel like Ruthie Lindsey is your dear friend. Bonus: She lives here in Nashville!
|Recommended by Steve
If you find yourself turning to poetry in these truly weird times, Jane Hirshfield’s new collection is no less than a balm: smart, rigorous, compassionate. Return to “Spell to Be Said Against Hatred” as many times as you need.
First Editions Club: May Selection
In this moment, I could not be happier to be sending you Emma Straub’s All Adults Here. What better to read right now than something that, though it looks seriously and deeply at family dynamics, manages to bring so much humor, light and warmth?
As we all cope with the constant change and uncertainty around us, I found it immensely reassuring to dive into the fictional lives of the Strick family. Astrid, the matriarch, has a bit of a life-altering moment when she witnesses a bus crash that kills an acquaintance. In the aftermath, we meet her adult children and teenage granddaughter, and follow them as they reckon with both their changing relationships over time and their own individual struggles. To anyone spending a lot of time with family these days, thinking about loved ones, or trying to put together group Zoom calls with siblings, the relationships Emma Straub brings to life feel so very poignant.
So, set aside your own long-building family drama for a bit and let Emma Straub take you within one of her own making. And then take another walk around the block.
Yours in reading,
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.