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Susan's Take Ten

Susan has been a bookseller for more years than she cares to admit, first at Wellington's Books in Cary where she became the children's manager, and then at Quail Ridge Books in the ordering department for twenty-some years. She is part of a monthly poetry writing group and enjoys collecting vintage housewares. In October, she'll get a new title: Grandmother. She can't wait! 

"I start with A Tree Grows in Brooklyn as my favorite. Francie Nolan rises above poverty and loneliness in the tenements of New York City as a reader of books. Mine is a yellowed copy, scented with cat and cigar and city, from my grandmother.

Anne Tyler’s books are populated by characters living lives of gentle bewilderment in a slightly shabby contemporary Baltimore. It’s hard to pick a favorite, especially with Clock Dance just out, but I love A Spool of Blue Thread.

Another chronicler of manners, this time in 1950s London, is Barbara Pym. In her illustrious Excellent Women, Mildred Lathbury is a wry observer of the intrigues around the tea urn and the pitched battles for the vicar’s attentions.

Pym’s modern-day counterpart is novelist Joanna Trollope. I like The Other Family (2010) and Friday Nights (2008), but my Take Ten choice is An Unsuitable Match.

Jon Hassler’s first novel, Staggerford, presents an increasingly eventful week in the life of 35-year old Miles Pruitt. A bachelor and high-school English teacher in a small Minnesota town, he hopes to live his life without risks. Consider Staggerford a treasure that needs a new audience.

I woke up into poetry one morning hearing Betty Adcock reading her poem of original loss, “Rent House.” It is included in Intervale: New and Selected Poems, with poems from her first four books and a new collection. Betty is writer, teacher, and encourager to a host of North Carolina poets; her latest, and last, book of poetry is Rough Fugue

Dutifully, I always meant to read John Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress. I found my way with a children’s version from Eerdman. Gary Schmidt gives a contemporary retelling of one man’s spiritual path through the Slough of Despond and other dangers. Barry Moser’s watercolors make the journey’s steep cliffs impossibly high.

For a lasting children’s book, I choose Elizabeth Enright’s The Saturdays, first in a quartet about the Melendys. The four children pool their allowance each week to give one a special Saturday in 1940s New York City. Saturdays has the excitement and risk of adventure and the comfort of Cuffy, their housekeeper, and Father. The author’s original illustrations grace the chapters.

Bootlegger’s Daughter: A Deborah Knott Mystery, the first of twenty mysteries featuring Judge Deborah Knott and her corner of North Carolina, is Margaret Maron’s love song to her homeplace. The youngest and only daughter of Kezzie Knott’s twelve children, Deborah is spirited and nosy and a good literary friend. The earlier books are thankfully back in print courtesy of Oconee Spirit Press. 

In 1982, A Is for Alibi: A Kinsey Millhone Mystery by Sue Grafton introduced Kinsey Millhone, an investigator, later a private eye, as devoid of family as possible. With her index cards and industrial-strength black dress (it makes it unscathed through the alphabet), Kinsey sets things right through twenty-five mysteries. Grafton died after Y Is for Yesterday (2017), leaving no clue about Z, the ending, so Kinsey lives on, unchanged, with the family she’s come to create in Santa Teresa, California."

 A Tree Grows in Brooklyn [75th Anniversary Ed] Cover Image
ISBN: 9780060736262
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial Modern Classics - January 18th, 2005

A PBS Great American Read Top 100 Pick

The American classic about a young girl's coming-of-age at the turn of the century.

A Spool of Blue Thread: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553394399
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - April 26th, 2016

Just out: Anne Tyler's heartwarming new novel, Clock Dance

Excellent Women Cover Image
By Barbara Pym, A. N. Wilson (Introduction by)
ISBN: 9780143104872
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Penguin Classics - December 26th, 2006

“The finest introduction to Barbara Pym” (The New York Times): a hilarious comedy of manners by the shrewdly observant British novelist often compared to Jane Austen

An Unsuitable Match Cover Image
ISBN: 9781509823512
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Pan Macmillan - May 1st, 2018

Rose Woodrowe is getting married to Tyler Masson—a wonderful, sensitive man who is head-over-heels in love with her. The only problem? This isn’t the first time for either of them. And when you marry later in life there are a lot more people to consider. Like Rose’s daughter, Laura, who remembers her mom’s first marriage and doesn’t want her to get hurt again.

Staggerford: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345333759
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Ballantine Books - July 12th, 1986

"A writer good enough to restore your faith in fiction."
It is only a week in the life of a 35-year old bachelor school teacher in a small Minnesota town. But it is an extraodinary week, filled with the poetry of living, the sweetness of expectation, and the glory of surprise that can change a life forever....

Intervale: New and Selected Poems Cover Image
ISBN: 9780807126653
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: LSU Press - April 1st, 2001

With a penetrating eye and a deep and spiritual intelligence, Betty Adcock writes poems that range from elegy to dark humor as they confront both loss and possibility.

Pilgrim's Progress Cover Image
By Gary D. Schmidt, Barry Moser (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780802853462
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Eerdmans Books for Young Readers - September 1st, 2008

National Book Award finalist and two-time Newbery Honor-winning author Gary D.

The Saturdays (Melendy Quartet #1) Cover Image
ISBN: 9780312375980
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Square Fish - January 22nd, 2008

Meet the Melendys! The four Melendy children live with their father and Cuffy, their beloved housekeeper, in a worn but comfortable brownstone in New York City. There's thirteen-year-old Mona, who has decided to become an actress; twelve-year-old mischievous Rush; ten-and-a-half-year-old Randy, who loves to dance and paint; and thoughtful Oliver, who is just six.

ISBN: 9780312938994
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: St. Martin's Paperbacks - November 1st, 2005


Take it from the top in #1 New York Times bestselling author Sue Grafton's knockout thriller that introduced detective Kinsey Millhone—and a hot new attitude—to crime fiction…