Book Club, Book List

October Celebrity Book Club Selections

In the past few years we’ve noticed that once a celebrity recommends a books, we immediately see an uptick in sales for that title. Eventually we realized that it’s kind of hard to keep up with all of them, so we should put together a feature with each month’s picks from some of our favorite people and organizations. If there is an online book club you follow that you don’t see featured here – LET US KNOW! We’d love to include it for next month!

Book clubs that choose books monthly are featured first, followed by bi-monthly, followed by sporadic recommendations. Since some of the book clubs don’t update monthly, we’ll include the most recent selection, even if it’s still the same as the previous month. If the selected book features a quote, it means that it was also loved by indie booksellers and was featured in the Indie Next List!

This month we’re excited to add the Netflix Book Club!

TO PURCHASE: Click on the cover that interests you to be directed to it’s page on our website!

Sankofa by Chibundu Onuzo

Onuzo is an incredibly talented author that you should be reading if you aren’t already. This book is certain to be on several awards lists and notable lists. It is definitely on mine!

Shane Mullen, Left Bank Books, St. Louis, MO

A woman wondering who she really is goes in search of a father she never knew—only to find something far more complicated than she ever expected—in this “stirring narrative about family, our capacity to change and the need to belong” (Time).

Anna is at a stage of her life when she’s beginning to wonder who she really is. In her 40s, she has separated from her husband, her daughter is all grown up, and her mother—the only parent who raised her—is dead.

Searching through her mother’s belongings one day, Anna finds clues about the African father she never knew. His student diaries chronicle his involvement in radical politics in 1970s London. Anna discovers that he eventually became the president—some would say dictator—of a small nation in West Africa. And he is still alive…

When Anna decides to track her father down, a journey begins that is disarmingly moving, funny, and fascinating. Like the metaphorical bird that gives the novel its name, Sankofa expresses the importance of reaching back to knowledge gained in the past and bringing it into the present to address universal questions of race and belonging, the overseas experience for the African diaspora, and the search for a family’s hidden roots.

Examining freedom, prejudice, and personal and public inheritance, Sankofa is a story for anyone who has ever gone looking for a clear identity or home, and found something more complex in its place.

The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles

Fabulous storytelling, impeccable style, interesting and relatable characters, humor, mystery, and a tremendous understanding of humanity and its foibles. Lincoln Highway is a road trip not to be missed!

Trish Brown, One More Page Books, Arlington, VA

The bestselling author of A Gentleman in Moscow and Rules of Civility and master of absorbing, sophisticated fiction returns with a stylish and propulsive novel set in 1950s America

In June, 1954, eighteen-year-old Emmett Watson is driven home to Nebraska by the warden of the juvenile work farm where he has just served fifteen months for involuntary manslaughter. His mother long gone, his father recently deceased, and the family farm foreclosed upon by the bank, Emmett’s intention is to pick up his eight-year-old brother, Billy, and head to California where they can start their lives anew. But when the warden drives away, Emmett discovers that two friends from the work farm have hidden themselves in the trunk of the warden’s car. Together, they have hatched an altogether different plan for Emmett’s future, one that will take them all on a fateful journey in the opposite direction—to the City of New York.

Spanning just ten days and told from multiple points of view, Towles’s third novel will satisfy fans of his multi-layered literary styling while providing them an array of new and richly imagined settings, characters, and themes.

We Are Not Like Them by Christine Pride & Jo Piazza

Lifelong friends, one Black and one white, have their relationship tested after the tragic shooting of an unarmed Black teen. A thought-provoking and timely read.

Mary Kay Burnett, Buttonwood Books and Toys, Cohasset, MA

Told from alternating perspectives, an evocative and riveting novel about the lifelong bond between two women, one Black and one white, whose friendship is indelibly altered by a tragic event—a powerful and poignant exploration of race in America today and its devastating impact on ordinary lives.

Jen and Riley have been best friends since kindergarten. As adults, they remain as close as sisters, though their lives have taken different directions. Jen married young, and after years of trying, is finally pregnant. Riley pursued her childhood dream of becoming a television journalist and is poised to become one of the first Black female anchors of the top news channel in their hometown of Philadelphia.

But the deep bond they share is severely tested when Jen’s husband, a city police officer, is involved in the shooting of an unarmed Black teenager. Six months pregnant, Jen is in freefall as her future, her husband’s freedom, and her friendship with Riley are thrown into uncertainty. Covering this career-making story, Riley wrestles with the implications of this tragic incident for her Black community, her ambitions, and her relationship with her lifelong friend.

Like Tayari Jones’s An American Marriage and Jodi Picoult’s Small Great ThingsWe Are Not Like Them explores complex questions of race and how they pervade and shape our most intimate spaces in a deeply divided world. But at its heart, it’s a story of enduring friendship—a love that defies the odds even as it faces its most difficult challenges.

The Between by Tananarive Due

A man risks his soul and his sanity to save his family from malevolent forces in this brilliant novel of horror and the supernatural from the award-winning pioneer of speculative fiction and author of the classic My Soul to Keep. 

When Hilton was a boy, his grandmother sacrificed her life to save him from drowning. Thirty years later, he begins to suspect that he was never meant to survive that accident, and that dark forces are working to rectify that mistake. 

When Hilton’s wife, the only elected African American judge in Dade County, Florida, begins to receive racist hate mail from a man she once prosecuted, Hilton becomes obsessed with protecting his family. The demons lurking outside are matched by his internal terrors—macabre nightmares, more intense and disturbing than any he has ever experienced. Are these bizarre dreams the dark imaginings of a man losing his hold on sanity—or are they harbingers of terrible events to come? 

As Hilton battles both the sociopath threatening to destroy his family and the even more terrifying enemy stalking his sleep, the line between reality and fantasy dissolves . . . 

Chilling and utterly convincing, The Between is the haunting story of a man desperately trying to hold on to the people and life he loves as he slowly loses himself. 

Euphoria by Lily King

Loosely based on Margaret Mead’s time in Papua New Guinea, this engaging, insightful novel features three young anthropologists in the 1930s who studied the remote, primitive Sepik River tribes. Euphoria is about cutting-edge research and revolutionary ideas, but inevitably it is also about the complications within the scholars’ relationships when societal norms are stripped away, and love, greed, jealousy, and control are left unfettered. Artfully narrated, alternating between first person and third person as well as journal entries, King’s novel offers a unique view into these rich and complicated characters.

Katie McDougall, Parnassus Books, Nashville, TN

Euphoria is Lily King’s nationally bestselling breakout novel of three young, gifted anthropologists of the ’30’s caught in a passionate love triangle that threatens their bonds, their careers, and, ultimately, their lives. Inspired by events in the life of revolutionary anthropologist Margaret Mead, Euphoria is dazzling … suspenseful … brilliant…an exhilarating novel.”–Boston Globe

Land of Big Numbers by Te-Ping Chen

I loved this stunning debut collection of stories. Chen digs deep and uses her experience as a foreign correspondent to portray the voices and lives of people living in modern China. These stories will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading the book. Highly recommended.

Cody Morrison, Square Books, Oxford, MS

Gripping and compassionate, Land of Big Numbers traces the journeys of the diverse and legion Chinese people, their history, their government, and how all of that has tumbled—messily, violently, but still beautifully—into the present.

Cutting between clear-eyed realism and tongue-in-cheek magical realism, Chen’s stories coalesce into a portrait of a people striving for openings where mobility is limited. Twins take radically different paths: one becomes a professional gamer, the other a political activist. A woman moves to the city to work at a government call center and is followed by her violent ex-boyfriend. A man is swept into the high-risk, high-reward temptations of China’s volatile stock exchange. And a group of people sit, trapped for no reason, on a subway platform for months, waiting for official permission to leave.

With acute social insight, Te-Ping Chen layers years of experience reporting on the ground in China with incantatory prose in this taut, surprising debut, proving herself both a remarkable cultural critic and an astonishingly accomplished new literary voice.

Feasting Wild by Gina Rae La Cerva

Two centuries ago, nearly half the North American diet was foraged, hunted, or caught in the wild. Today, so-called “wild foods” are becoming expensive luxuries, served to the wealthy in top restaurants. Meanwhile, people who depend on wild foods for survival and sustenance find their lives forever changed as new markets and roads invade the world’s last untamed landscapes.

In Feasting Wild, geographer and anthropologist Gina Rae La Cerva embarks on a global culinary adventure to trace our relationship to wild foods. Throughout her travels, La Cerva reflects on how colonialism and the extinction crisis have impacted wild spaces, and reveals what we sacrifice when we domesticate our foods –including biodiversity, Indigenous and women’s knowledge, a vital connection to nature, and delicious flavors. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, La Cerva investigates the violent “bush meat” trade, tracking elicit delicacies from the rainforests of the Congo Basin to the dinner tables of Europe. In a Danish cemetery, she forages for wild onions with the esteemed staff of Noma. In Sweden–after saying goodbye to a man known only as The Hunter–La Cerva smuggles freshly-caught game meat home to New York in her suitcase, for a feast of “heartbreak moose.”

Thoughtful, ambitious, and wide-ranging, Feasting Wild challenges us to take a closer look at the way we eat today, and introduces an exciting new voice in food journalism.

Bewilderment by Richard Powers

Richard Powers is peerless when conveying the intimate and universal in family relationships. Bewilderment is tender, riveting, and true. It took my breath away.

Lesley Rains, City of Asylum Bookstore, Pittsburgh, PA

A heartrending new novel from the Pulitzer Prize–winning and #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Overstory.

The astrobiologist Theo Byrne searches for life throughout the cosmos while single-handedly raising his unusual nine-year-old, Robin, following the death of his wife. Robin is a warm, kind boy who spends hours painting elaborate pictures of endangered animals. He’s also about to be expelled from third grade for smashing his friend in the face. As his son grows more troubled, Theo hopes to keep him off psychoactive drugs. He learns of an experimental neurofeedback treatment to bolster Robin’s emotional control, one that involves training the boy on the recorded patterns of his mother’s brain…

With its soaring descriptions of the natural world, its tantalizing vision of life beyond, and its account of a father and son’s ferocious love, Bewilderment marks Richard Powers’s most intimate and moving novel. At its heart lies the question: How can we tell our children the truth about this beautiful, imperiled planet?

Passing by Nella Larson

Nella Larsen’s powerful, thrilling, and tragic tale about the fluidity of racial identity that continues to resonate today. A New York Times Editors’ Choice. Now a major motion picture starring Tessa Thompson and Alexander Skarsgård

Clare Kendry is living on the edge. Light-skinned, elegant, and ambitious, she is married to a racist white man unaware of her African American heritage, and has severed all ties to her past after deciding to “pass” as a white woman. Clare’s childhood friend, Irene Redfield, just as light-skinned, has chosen to remain within the African American community, and is simultaneously allured and repelled by Clare’s risky decision to engage in racial masquerade for personal and societal gain. After frequenting African American-centric gatherings together in Harlem, Clare’s interest in Irene turns into a homoerotic longing for Irene’s black identity that she abandoned and can never embrace again, and she is forced to grapple with her decision to pass for white in a way that is both tragic and telling. This edition features a new introduction by Emily Bernard and notes by Thadious M. Davis.

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