Nancy's Picks

Former store founder and owner Nancy Olson, who has passed away, loved to get the right book into someone's hands. The story of how she championed Cold Mountain is legendary. 

Sunday Dinner: A Savor the South Cookbook (Savor the South Cookbooks) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781469622453
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: University of North Carolina Press - September 7th, 2015

The introduction alone to Bridgette Lacy’s Sunday Dinner is worth the cover price. Her moving recollections centering around family, friends, fellowship and food help to illustrate the beauty and value in sharing a good meal with those you care about. Sunday Dinner will not only remind you about that savory tradition you may have grown up with but will also inspire you to get busy cooking and baking up new culinary traditions of your own. 

The Blackhouse Cover Image
ISBN: 9781623659998
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quercus Books - August 5th, 2014

This is the first in a series featuring a policeman who is sent to his childhood home of Lewis Island in Scotland's Outer Hebrides, a “formidable and forbidding world where tradition rules and people adhere to ancient ways of life” to investigate a grisly murder involving islanders he's known all his life. It's riveting and beautifully written.

The Son Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062120403
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Ecco - January 28th, 2014

The Son chronicles the history of a Texas family from pre-Civil War cowboys to post-9/11 immigrants—authentic and violently realistic. It is a page-turning epic.

The Good Lord Bird Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594632785
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - August 5th, 2014

Imagine a comedic novel about slavery.  I couldn't, until I read James McBride's The Good Lord Bird.  He pulled it off brilliantly--a hugely entertaining romp about a young boy (the narrator) who poses as a girl after being freed by the notorious abolitionist John Brown and joins Brown's mission to do away with that "evil institution."  I've never read anything like it.  The New York Times addresses the issue:  " is officially O.K. to be boldly irreverent about not just the sacrosanct but also the catastrophic. Does this mark the triumph of irony, to the point where it has dulled our emotional response to history?  Or does it denote progress: we’ve come so far from historical horrors that we freely jest about them? Either way, it’s a risky endeavor; maladroit jokes about slavery aren’t just bad, they’re hazardous. It’s a great relief, then, that McBride--with the same flair for historical mining, musicality of voice and outsize characterization that made his memoir, The Color of Water, an instant classic--pulls off his portrait masterfully, like a modern-day Mark Twain: evoking sheer glee with every page."  I promise you will like this book. 

Nothing Gold Can Stay: Stories Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062202727
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - March 11th, 2014

I've been reading Ron Rash's book of stories, Nothing Gold Can Stay, and they're dark, beautiful and affecting. They're set in Appalachia and Kirkus's starred review said, "Rash's oneness with the region and its people makes an indelible impression."

The Burgess Boys Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812979510
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade - April 8th, 2014

Elizabeth Strout is one of my big favorites, and her book, The Burgess Boys, immersed me from the first page. It's about three siblings, raised in small-town Maine, and how they're affected by a tragic accident which kills their father. Her characters are finely and sympathetically wrought and this rich novel wastes not one word. If you haven't read this author's work, do read any (or all) of her previous novels: Pulitzer Prize-winning Olive Kitteridge, Abide With Me, Amy and Isabelle. She's certainly one of our shining literary stars.

Watergate Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307474650
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - January 8th, 2013

Watergate is a fictional portrayal of the inner workings of the Watergate scandal.  As with all good historical fiction, it begs the question of what's real and what's made up. But I didn't worry about it, I just enjoyed it. From the NYT review: "We’re propelled forward and kept highly entertained by the colorful characters, the delicious insider details, the intelligence of the dialogue…"

MR G: A Novel about the Creation (Vintage Contemporaries) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780307744852
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Vintage - October 30th, 2012

I loved it! "So God wakes up from a nap and decides to create the universe. One thing leads to another, and before long there are time, space, matter, then stars, planets, animate matter, consciousness, and, finally, intelligent human beings with moral dilemmas. Things have gotten out of hand. This strikingly original philosophical fable is playful and profound--superbly written--a rich reading experience."

All I Did Was Shoot My Man (Leonid McGill Mystery) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780451239167
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Berkley Books - February 5th, 2013

I grieved the ending of the Easy Rawlins series, set in L.A., but am enjoying his new series featuring another interesting protagonist, P.I. Leonid McGill, a NYC ex-con who wants to atone for his past criminal life. All I Did Was Shoot My Man is the latest in this series, about McGill's attempt to help a woman get her life back on track after being imprisoned unjustly, while his own family life comes unraveled. Publishers Weekly's starred review called the book "complex and satisfying." This series just gets better.

The Orphan Master's Son Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812982626
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade - August 7th, 2012

It is a tribute to Adam Johnson's writing skills to have created such sympathetic, humane, even sometimes humorous, characters in the bleak, dark environment of North Korea. I read this novel with wonder, and was inspired to learn more about the country. This is a rare accomplishment--a masterpiece--and our whole staff looks forward to getting it into the hands of our customers.

You Deserve Nothing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781609450489
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Europa Editions - August 30th, 2011

Another excellent book from Europa, (this) is largely a character study of a brilliant teacher at a prestigious private school in Paris. His students are devoted to him, though his teaching methods raise the eyebrows of his colleagues and superiors. Emotionally scarred by tragedy in his personal life and seduced by Paris's carnality and beauty, he succumbs to temptation, which changes the course of his life.

From the starred Booklist review: "... the novel advances its narrative through multiple perspectives, much as Faulkner does in As I Lay Dying . . . ..intelligent and intellectual, it is both a tribute to brilliant teachers and a cautionary tale of their imperfections.”

The Family Fang: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780061579059
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ecco - April 17th, 2012

I can't rave enough about Kevin Wilson's The Family Fang.  A full page review in Time Magazine called it "irresistible."  It is, and it is brilliant.  Caleb and Camille Fang are performing artists who use their unwilling children in their bizarre, outrageous acts, and this makes it very difficult for the children to live normal adult lives  When their worlds crash down, the kids are forced to move back in with their parents, who are planning one last grand performance.  "Filled with Kevin Wilson’s endless creativity, vibrant prose, sharp humor, and keen sense of the complex performances that unfold in the relationships of people who love one another, [it] is a masterfully executed tale that is as bizarre as it is touching."