Chelsea's Take Ten
Chelsea is our online guru, braving the world of social media and website management for the store. If she had her way, this list would be full of Harry Potter books, but she decided to step away from her passion to create a list that might just have something for everyone on it. When not obsessively reading, you can find Chelsea obsessively staring at her corgi, Duck.
The greatest novel ever written. What more is there to say that hasn’t already been said? My favorite book of all time. If you want to read The Great American Novel, this is it.
After the Wizarding World, Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse is my favorite place to escape to. Six of Crows follows six uniquely talented young criminals as they attempt an “impossible” heist. Both Six and the sequel, Crooked Kingdom, provide my YA fantasy fix. The wit-filled dialogue and splendid storytelling is present throughout all of Bardugo’s books, but this might be the masterpiece.
I was an English major so between high school and college, I read my fair share of classics. None of them affected me the way Dante’s vivid poetry of the Divine Comedy did. My journey through the nine circles of Hell with Dante was an audacious blend of history, religion, and fiction that blew my 15-year-old brain and continues to do so with every reread.
An important addition in Southern literature, Pat Conroy’s South of Broad introduced me to some of the most dynamic characters I have come across. Set in Charleston, SC, Conroy follows a motley crew of teenagers--black and white, gay and straight, rich and poor--into adulthood as they deal with issues such as racism, the AIDS epidemic, and suicide. The physical and metaphorical flood that overwhelms the characters stuck with me for years.
Jodi Picoult is one of my favorite writers so when it came time to choose just one of her books for this list, I struggled. Nineteen Minutes, her take on the timely story of school shootings, sticks out to me for its time-jumping style and important use of secondary and tertiary characters. Picoult’s courtroom dramas never fail to put into words the feelings we tend to deem “indescribable.”
It is hard to nail down this book’s genre and I think that is what I love about it so much. Set in a small cornfield town, Bone Gap weaves together magical realism, mystery, and contemporary fiction to tell the story of Finn O’Sullivan and the enigmatic secondary characters that move through his life. Told through alternating POVs such as Finn’s, an ugly girl who likes bees more than people, and the missing girl that drives the narrative, Bone Gap is a beautifully-written story that will be unlike anything you’ve read.
It is New Year’s Eve and four people from varying walks of life happen upon each other on rooftop, all planning on jumping to their deaths. Hornby approaches the serious subject of suicide with a constant wit-filled dialogue and a string of belly laughs. The characters are annoying, grimy, and pathetic yet brimming with a relatability I have yet to find in any other book tackling mental illness.
Set in the 2020s, Parable of the Sower tells the story of hyper-empath, Lauren, and the dystopian world she calls home. Forced from her homestead, Lauren sets off on a journey both physical and metaphysical, as she begins the creation of her new belief system, Earthseed. A solid tip-toe into the world of science fiction for those wary of the genre.
Robert Langdon is my literary husband and so I find it a travesty that this story of his is so often overlooked. It is The Da Vinci Codebut replace Paris with Washington, D.C. and the Quest for the Holy Grail with the secrets of the Masonic Temple. Like Brown’s other books, I could not put it down.
My favorite book from last year revolves around two women who love the same man: Sadie, his mother and Tenley, the mother to his baby, and their continued struggle to find peace with his tragic death. The characters were so complex that I couldn't figure out whether I wanted to give them a hug or punch them in the face. The Western NC setting was beautifully written, a character itself, contributing to the characters development and sucking me in so far that I planned a trip to the mountains the weekend after I finished this book.