After a long summer season with our best-selling Turnrow 20 yet — the number-one seller, in case you're interested, was National Book Award nominee Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk — it's time for a new list of recommended reading for the fall/holiday season. There are so many great regional titles on the way — titles you won't find just anywhere, by the way — that we could almost compile a second list later.
But for now, here are the books we've read over the last few months that made a lasting impression on us....
And When She Was Good by Laura Lippman
A tense, smart drama about a suburban madam by a popular crime fiction writer. The novel depicts her entry into this curious line of work alongside her attempts, several years later as a single mother, to untangle herself from its clutches.
Arcadia by Lauren Groff
A wise and beautifully written novel that moves through the years, from idyllic youth to early love and into the future as a family reconciles their life in a utopian commune.
The Black Count
by Tom Reiss
An unexpectedly thrilling, swashbuckling biography about the father of writer Alexandre Dumas. The elder Dumas, the model for the Count of Monte Cristo, rose from life on a slave plantation in Haiti to distinguished service as Napoleon's top general during the French Revolution.
A collection of greatest hits and new stories from one of our favorite American fiction writers, who depicts the modern Native American lifestyle with humor and darkness.
Brave Squish Rabbit by Katherine Battersby
Our favorite cute small rabbit must find his friend Twitch Squirrel, discovering, in turn, what it means to be brave. A perfect picture books for little kids and grown-up kids. Signed bookplates coming soon.
Burma: Rivers of Flavor by Naomi Duguid
The daring cook will love attempting these exotic, flavorful dishes. A lovely travelogue as well as indispensable guide to a delicious cuisine. Read about our Burma potluck here. Signed copies available.
A Daring Life: A Biography of Eudora Welty by Carolyn J. Brown
In just 100 pages, Brown gives us a complete portrait of Welty the writer as well as her literature and her Mississippi home. A wonderful biography for curious lovers of Mississippi literature that's equally accessible for young adult readers.
A hitchhiking soldier back from Iraq comes upon a farm near the Gulf Coast and serves as hero to a 12-year-old who fears his mother's shady new boyfriend. Key (Alabama Moon) doesn't shy away from trouble, striking the right chord so that readers young and old will enjoy this tense, gripping, coming-of-age tale.
Live by Night
by Dennis Lehane
Lehane departs from the detective novel for this thrilling story of mobsters during the 1920s, a great sprawling tale that takes the reader from Jazz Age Boston to the Cuban-inflected neighborhoods of Tampa and Havana. Signed copies available.
by Martin Amis
One of the great modern wordsmiths unleashes an anarchistic novel about a mild-mannered young man who must keep his perverse, checkered past secret from a volatile, lotto-winning and possibily psychotic uncle. A real attention-getter for fans of colorful writing and off-color humor. Signed copies available.
by Michael Koryta
Fans of Greg Iles and John Hart should get to know the books of Michael Koryta, a strong writer whose suspense novels are smart and engaging. This novel, one of his finest, involves a murder that brings together two estranged brothers haunted by their past, one a high school football coach and the other a bail bondsman. Signed copies available.
The Revised Fundamentals of Caregiving by Jonathan Evison
An inspiring novel about an underddog who manages to crawl out from under the tragedy of his life and find work as private nurse to a 19-year-old with muscular dystrophy. A series of events finds these two on a road-trip as each gathers the missing pieces of their lives from unlikely allies along the way. A potent mix of humor, tragedy and inspiration. Signed copies available.
Ride a Cockhorse by Raymond Kennedy
What a surprise to find this riotously funny, recently reissued novel from the 1990s. A New England "cougar" lets go of her inhibitions and plots to take over the small-town bank where she works. Fans of A Confederacy of Dunces would do well to light the fuse on this one.
Six Months in 1945 by Michael Dobbs
An historian with a knack for story and character follows the meetings, negotiations and strategies of Allied world leaders in the pivotal months when World War II evolves into the Cold War. A solid history that stands out for its vivid, personal depictions of Roosevelt, Churchill, Stalin and Truman, among many other supporting characters.
Another brilliant collection of poetry, this one a meditation on the Mississippi poet's mixed-race heritage. There is beautiful, unforgettable images etched throughout this verse, composed by the state and national poet laureate.
Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon Meacham
No surprise that Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Meacham paints a riveting, nuanced picture of Thomas Jefferson in the role of President, adept as both a philosopher and a politician. A brilliant and highly readable assessment that resonates deeply in this political season.
Trials of the Earth by Mary Hamilton
One of the Delta's most beloved book is back in print! Celebrating 20 years since its first publication, these are the unbelievable true memoirs of Mary Hamilton, one of the first women to enter the Delta territory during its settling in the late 1800s-early 1900s. The story of her family's hardship sticks with readers to the point of obsession.
We End in Joy
by Angela Fordice
This memoir by the daughter of former Mississippi Governor Kirk Fordice was an unexpected treat. Not an apology or defense of her father, this is instead a funny, warm and wise story about not only living in the spotlight as Mississippi's first family, but also about the joy, pain and wonder of the average family's life. Signed copies available.
The Wall by Marlen Haushofer
A truly wonderful and memorable novel that falls in and out print. We were thrilled to see it's to be republished this fall. While alone in the woods on vacation, a woman finds herself unable to escape her mountain refuge after a catastrophe wipes out humanity.
You & Me
by Padett Powell
A grandiose and episodic call-and-response novel featuring two nameless characters, sitting on a porch "somewhere between Jacksonville, Florida, and Bakersfield, California," engaged in conversation that ranges from the crude and ridiculous to the perverse and philosophical. Powell forges moments of both high and low-brow comedy into a truly entertaining and uncommon satire. Watch a clip from his reading at Turnrow. Signed copies available.