Arts & Culture

Summer Reading List from Our State

Enjoy this list of suggested summer reading from our friends at Purple Crow Books in Hillsborough.

summer reading

Purple Crow Books in Hillsborough provides us with this week’s summer reading list. We’re pleased to provide Our State fans and friends with book suggestions all summer long!

Scroll down for more information about Purple Crow Books and leave your own reading list suggestions in the comments section at the end of this page.

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    The Dry Grass of August by A.J. Mayhew
    This is the first book by this writer. She jokes that it took her eighteen years to write it. It was worth the wait. Set in Charlotte in the 1950s, it tells the story of a family experiencing the racial turmoil of the time. The characters experience all the upheaval of deep family conflict amidst the backdrop of Southern culture prior to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s. This book explores the close relationship developed with “the help” and the price paid by that close bond. Filled with suspense, it is also a coming of age story and a look at to how difficult life was, not only for minorities, but the people who came to love them as well.
    In the Garden of Beasts by Erik Larson
    Erik Larson’s previous books made history come alive and this book is no exception. Though this story is pure history, it reads like a great novel. Set in Berlin in 1933, the book tells the story of William Dodd, who has been appointed ambassador to Germany. His family comes with him and experiences the uprising of Nazi Germany as Hitler seeks to restore Germany to a national power. His daughter, Martha, becomes especially captivated by some of the handsome new soldiers in The Third Reich. Filled with suspense, this book is a reminder not only of the horror of the time, but also of its many victims.
    In the Sanctuary of Outcasts by Neil White
    What a story! After living a life of greed and white collar crime, the author lands in federal prison in Carville, Louisiana. The federal prison located there shares a space with the last leprosy colony in the continental United States. This book introduces us to patients and inmates alike and we end up embracing them for their dignity and strength. They become people we’d like to know. This is also a story of White’s transformation to a kinder, more gentle soul. Inspiring, and humorous in places, this book will stay with you a long time after you put it down.
    Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
    Any fan of historical fiction is probably familiar with Geraldine Brooks. This book is another winner! It is set in Martha’s Vineyard and it is the story of the first Native American to graduate from Harvard. The narrator is a young white woman whose father is the minister of the settlement. He spends his days trying to convert the native Wampannag to Christianity. What follows is the story of the clash of culture and ideals between these two peoples. Filled with historical research, the reader feels the struggles of the time and the destines that followed. A great read!
    Mrs. Darcy and the Blue-Eyed Stranger by Lee Smith
    Lee Smith has long been a favorite author of Purple Crow Books, and this publication of short stories is classic Lee. Most of the characters are strong Southern women caught in some sort of emotional turmoil. They all find a way to survive, and many ultimately laugh at themselves and their circumstances. Smith’s writing can be hysterically funny and sad at the very same moment. One of Purple Crow’s favorites, House Tour, is based on a true happening here in Hillsborough and they found themselves laughing long after they finished the story. This book makes a great beach read and a sampling of one of the classic, great Southern authors.
    Moonwalking with Einstein by Joshua Foer
    This book is a funny look at a subject we all eventually need help with – remembering. This is not just a how to book; It is an investigation of the obsession with memory. The author ended up in the finals of the United States Memory Championship and offers tips he acquired from other memory aces, as well as tricks from Cicero and medieval scholars. There’s lots of humor here also. Read it and find hope!
    The Paris Wife by Paula McLain
    What would it have been like to be married to Ernest Hemingway? Caught up in the fast paced life of Paris in the era of jazz and “hard living,” this book explores the marriage of Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley. Ultimately, it is a love story, but one not easily forgotten. One ends up asking if Hadley ever found what she really wanted and at what cost.

    About Purple Crow Books

    Purple Crow Books is located in the heart of Historic Downtown Hillsborough. Hillsborough was recently named “the most literary town in the South.” They are home to noted authors Alan Gurganus, , Michael Malone, Lee Smith, Craig Nova, Randall Kenan, David Payne, Zelda Lockhart, Hal Crowther, Frances Mayes, Jill McCorkle, John Bemis, and others.

    Purple Crow is open Monday through Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. They specialize in local authors and children’s books. They welcome special orders and are always happy to hear what you’re reading. They can be reached at 919-241-4266 or purplecrowbooks@gmail.com.

    Click here to read more about Purple Crow Books in this recent Our State story.

    If you’re going

    Purple Crow Books
    109 W. King Street
    Hillsborough, NC 27278
    (919) 732-1711

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    4 Responses to Summer Reading List from Our State

    1. Let me add Deadly Portfolio A Killing in Hedge Funds by NC author John J. Hohn http://jjhohn.com/. I’ve had a great time reading his first work of fiction. His background in the financial industries lends itself to the tragedy that surrounds the families in this book. So far the book doesn’t lack in suspense.

    2. jim campbell says:

      Just finished John Hart’s new novel “Iron House”. This book is terrific and best yet of his four books. One of the things which make it grand, there are at least four story endings before the book finishes. Highly recommend this read.
      Will keep you in suspense throughout the book.
      This book is certainly a candidate for another Edgar Award!

      Would also recommend “Beasts in the Garden” non-fiction and a good read. This in keeping with his “The Great White City”.

      One last recommendation is “The Fall of Giants”. This is probably the best book I have ever read and learned so much about Europe and early 1900′s. Will keep you spell bound. Easy to keep up with the four different families and their lives in this period.

    3. Averette Lackey says:

      The list is great! I would like to suggest a few also:

      * ADRENALINE by Jeff Abbott (don’t expect much sleep when you start this!)
      * THE BLUE DEATH- The Intriguing Past and Present Danger of the Water You Drink- by Dr. Robert D. Morris
      * THE QUICKENING by Michelle Hoover

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