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Our Take Ten Staffer for May: Sandra Griffin

From Mamie: Sandra Griffin applied to be a seasonal bookseller at Quail Ridge Books in 2003 but was turned away for applying too late. The next summer she asked about a position early on, got the job, and has never left. She no longer works on the sales floor but takes care of the consignment books that the store receives. She also speaks to groups who want to know about the store and get information about new books. And no, she doesn’t just talk about books set in Paris! As a former educator, Sandra loves to entice others into enjoying her favorite pastime. Here are her top ten books, with her review below each one:





Staff Pick Badge
Anna Karenina (Word Cloud Classics) Cover Image
By Leo Tolstoy, Constance Garnett (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781607108153
Availability: On our shelves now
Published: Canterbury Classics - December 3rd, 2012

After seeing the movie Doctor Zhivago as a teenager, I had a great need to read anything set in Russia. So why not start with what some say is the greatest novel of all time? The complexity of the story and its many characters had me intrigued through multiple readings. Perhaps I’ll make it my summer read!

Rabbit, Run Cover Image
ISBN: 9780449911655
Availability: On our shelves now
Published: Random House Trade Paperbacks - August 27th, 1996

I love most everything that John Updike wrote, and this book probably started that admiration for me. The angst of twenty-something Harry Angstron, the main character, might even be relatable to millennials today. I remember devouring all the sequels.

Even Cowgirls Get the Blues: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553349498
Availability: On our shelves now
Published: Bantam - April 1st, 1990

I laughed my way through this book. My copy is yellowed with age and has many dog-eared pages. Who could come up with a character who hitchhikes across the country using her enormous thumb? It was the perfect novel for the late seventies, especially for this wanna-be hippie.

The Color of Water: A Black Man's Tribute to His White Mother Cover Image
ISBN: 9781594481925
Availability: On our shelves now
Published: Riverhead Books - February 7th, 2006

In this autobiography and tribute to his mother, James McBride weaves an amazing story of his chaotic life growing up as one of twelve siblings of a white Jewish woman and an African American father and stepfather. I admired the grit of this woman and her desire to provide a good education for all her children. I was thrilled to meet McBride when he came to Quail Ridge Books.

Bel Canto [Movie Tie-in]: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062891907
Availability: Available from warehouse in 1-5 business days
Published: Harper Perennial - September 4th, 2018

Once my sons got to be teenagers, I was able to return to more frequent reading of novels. Thanks to the late Nancy Olson’s “paperback boat” at the front of her Wade Avenue store, I found great books, including this strange and terrifying tale of guns and music set somewhere in South America.

The Namesake: A Novel Cover Image
Email or call for price
ISBN: 9780618485222
Availability: Hard to find: allow 24 hours for information
Published: Mariner Books - September 1st, 2004

Though she had won a Pulitzer Prize for her book of short stories, this was the first novel written by Ms. Lahiri. The theme of the immigrant experience of the Indian-American characters helped me understand my own background as a grandchild of Polish and Lithuanian immigrants. After this book, I make sure I read anything written by Lahiri.

Half of a Yellow Sun Cover Image
ISBN: 9781400095209
Availability: On our shelves now
Published: Anchor - September 4th, 2007

My older son was an English major in college, and I always wanted to know about the books he was reading. After hearing about how much he liked The Purple Hibiscus, I was excited to report to him that the author had a new book, Half of a Yellow Sun. Any of her books could have been one of my Take Ten selections.

Plum Wine Cover Image
ISBN: 9780385340830
Availability: On our shelves now
Published: Dial Press Trade Paperback - March 27th, 2007

North Carolina is a treasure trove of amazing writers, and Raleigh is lucky to have Ms. Davis-Gardner. I enjoyed getting to know her as a customer of QRB, so naturally I wanted to read her novel set in Japan, the country where she began her teaching career. I loved this romantic story with an intriguing plot crafted by thorough research into a culture unknown to most Americans.

The Paris Wife: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780345521316
Availability: On our shelves now
Published: Ballantine Books - November 27th, 2012

No, I don’t read every new book that’s set in Paris, but I try! After my first visit to the City of Lights, I was thrilled to find this new book about Ernest Hemingway’s first wife, Hadley Richardson, and the time they spent living as the “it” couple in the Latin Quarter of my favorite city during the Jazz Age.

Staff Pick Badge
My Brilliant Friend: Neapolitan Novels, Book One Cover Image
By Elena Ferrante, Ann Goldstein (Translated by)
ISBN: 9781609450786
Availability: On our shelves now
Published: Europa Editions - September 25th, 2012

This book caught my eye in the international section of the store when it was first published. I picked it up and started reading immediately. I loved this story of an intense female friendship set in Italy. I anxiously awaited each book in the series of four as the girls became women and Italy became a unified country.