Susan's Picks

SusanSusan is our MASTER Bookseller, and the expert on tracking down & ordering books. She is especially fond of poetry and British mysteries.

She handles our online sales and can find books when no one else can. For her, Quail Ridge is a family affair; her son practically grew up here. 

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry Cover Image
ISBN: 9780812983456
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Random House Trade - March 26th, 2013

The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry has the quiet pleasures of an English village novel--and something more. Harold Fry, recently retired and underfoot, receives a letter from Queenie, a former coworker who proved herself a friend long ago, writing from hospice to say goodbye. Harold writes his few small words, but is struck by all the connections in his life he had let go. At the postbox, where his journey should be over, it begins. Harold starts his 600-mile walk the length of England to say goodbye, and in walking keep Queenie alive.


This story is deep and tender and engrossing and opens up the truth of many lives. For the many fans of Major Pettigrew's Last Stand--enjoy.

Cannery Row Cover Image
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ISBN: 9780140177381
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Penguin Books - February 1st, 1993

John Steinbeck set down the truth of "the poem and the stink and the grating noise" that is Cannery Row in Monterey in California.

In language both tender and tough, in indelible vignettes and shaggy-dog stories, Steinbeck examines, as delicately as biologist Doc does a tidal pool, the inhabitants whose lives have fetched up in the shadows of the canneries: the girls from Dora's; Lee Chang, whose grocery is a miracle of supply; Mack and his men--bums, philosophers, both--of the Palace Flophouse and Grill; and Doc, owner and operator of the Western Biological Laboratory, who loves true things.

The Imperfectionists (Random House Reader's Circle) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385343671
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Dial Press - January 4th, 2011

You'll be hearing a lot about this book, and every praise is true.

The Imperfectionists is a quirky, engrossing look at the life and times of an international newspaper, and Rome is as much a character as the staff: Lloyd, the impecunious stringer in Paris, looking to an inflated word count to pay the rent or buy a decent shirt; Arthur the obituary writer ("Claw your way to the bottom, did you?"); and Corrections Editor Herman Cohen ("See also: Excessive dashes; Exclamation Points; and Nitwits").

As a former copy editor (is there any other kind than disgruntled?), I love the feel of this scruffy newsroom.

Lights on a Ground of Darkness: An Evocation of a Place and Time Cover Image
ISBN: 9780803226425
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Bison Books - September 1st, 2009

Ted Kooser gathered his remembrances of his mother's people as a last gift to her.

This is a beautiful, generous book.

Roseanna: A Martin Beck Police Mystery (1) (Martin Beck Police Mysteries) Cover Image
By Maj Sjowall, Per Wahloo, Henning Mankell (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780307390462
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage Crime/Black Lizard - September 30th, 2008

The police procedural started here.

The Martin Beck police mysteries set the foundation for the form—the daily accumulation of paperwork and setbacks, intuition and the hard slog, that closes a case. ROSEANNA, the first of the series by Maj Sjowall and Per Wahloo, is as fresh now as it was 25-some years ago when I first read it. The 10-book series is being reissued, with THE FIRE ENGINE THAT DISAPPEARED, the fifth, out this month, and THE ABOMINABLE MAN to come in October. Scandinavia is well-policed by the likes of Kurt Wallander (Mankell), Inspector Sejer (Fossom), and Harry Hole (Nesbo). Martin Beck taught them well.

Wabi Sabi Cover Image
By Mark Reibstein, Ed Young (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780316118255
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - October 1st, 2008

"Wabi sabi" is seeing beauty in "what is simple, imperfect, natural, modest and mysterious." As Wabi Sabi the little cat journeys to find the meaning of her name, readers are immersed in beauty in this splendid picture book. Savor the pages: the textured, dimensional collages of Ed Young; Reibstein's simple and lyrical text; the translated haiku of Japanese poets Basho and Shiki.

A gem for all ages, WABI has my vote for this year's Caldecott Medal. For ages 4 and up.

The Good Wife Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312425012
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: St. Martins Press-3pl - March 21st, 2006

Patty Dickerson, pregnant, 27, gets a call in the middle of the night that ends her remembered life. Her husband, Tommy: "Listen, me and Gary got in a little spot tonight. I'm in jail." "The little spot" becomes 25 to life for second-degree murder, and O'Nan builds, detail by detail, year by year, Patty's side of the sentence. From O'Nan's masterful writing, I know these people--Patty, Tommy, son Casey, her family, the people who shun her and the few who don't--and I know them as people. And "the long pause that's kept them from their real life"? At the end: "It's over. He's home. They made it." Wonderful!