Nancy Olson and the staff at Quail Ridge Books & Music have included literary thrillers, a collection of short stories, and the history of a much-beloved classic among their recommendations. Enjoy! Make sure to share your own reading suggestions in the comments section at the bottom of the page.
A Death at the White Camellia Orphanage by Marly Youmans (Mercer $24)
After his little brother is murdered at the orphanage, 11-year-old Pip runs away and travels the South by riding the rails in this gripping, beautifully written picaresque Depression-era novel. Your heart will be moved by the people Pip meets and his quest for family.
Alice Bliss: A Novel by Laura Harrington (Penguin $15)
A profoundly moving story of a 15-year-old girl whose beloved father is deployed to Iraq. Alice is a true heroine – passionate, strong-minded and intelligent – and the story is fully realized as her family, friends, and the whole community cope with what thousands of other military families are experiencing.
Nightwoods by Charles Frazier (Random House $16)
Frazier’s virtuosic storytelling and insight into human nature have created a literary thriller in which a young woman inherits her murdered sister’s troubled children in 1960’s Appalachia, changing her life in difficult, hopeful, dangerous ways.
A Vacation on the Island of Ex-Boyfriends by Stacy Bierlein (Elephant $16)
An insightful, delightful collection of short stories that explores the many dimensions of a woman’s heart through the experiences of a diverse and unique cast of ladies. The worlds invented here are inspiring and unique, original in the manner through which the physical landscape never fails to inform the emotional one.
Freeman by Leonard Pitts, Jr. (Agate $16)
This fine historical novel portrays America’s story at the end of the Civil War just after the assassination of President Lincoln. A freed slave leaves Philadelphia to travel to the deep south to try to find his wife, and in a parallel story a headstrong white woman leaves her Boston home to open a school for free bondsmen in Mississippi. This Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist tells a gripping, powerful, disturbing story of love.
Louise’s Gamble by Sarah Shaber (Severn $28.95)
An intelligent, historical mystery (after Louise’s War) about a young widow from the N.C. coast who works in the OSS in Washington, D.C., during World War II. When she befriends a war refuge, she is drawn into a dangerous game of mafia bosses, Nazi spies, banished royalty and Sicilian aristocracy–placing not only her job, but her life, in jeopardy.
Twelve by Twelve: A One-Room Cabin off the Grid & Beyond the American Dream by William Powers (New World $14.95)
Powers uses his month in a small cabin in rural North Carolina to examine big and small issues, and at the same time tell wonderful stories of his interaction with local characters, including an ATV-riding 11-year-old, one family of illegal immigrants, and another of ill-prepared back-to-the-landers. It’s the rare read that’s enjoyable as well as thought-provoking.
Prague Fatale by Philip Kerr (Penguin $26.95)
The latest book in Philip Kerr’s acclaimed detective series features Bernie Gunther, a copy in World War II Berlin, working for the Nazis, whom he despises.Murders will need investigating and Bernie’s reputation means he’s tapped to solve them against his own wishes. In addition to superb writing and plotting, the novels follow actual historical events and in the afterward Kerr tells you what happened to the people on whom the characters in the book are based. Each novel stands alone, but you’ll want to read them all.
The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E. B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic by Michael Sims (Walker $16)
Sims beings the somewhat shy and melancholy E. G. White to life. It’s great fun to trace the roots of his books in the childhood trips with his family to a lake in backwoods Maine, or in the barn on his farm where he meets the first of several Charlottes. Once you’ve read this, you’ll want to dive into those wonderful stories all over again.
Ardent Spirits: Leaving Home Coming Back by Reynolds Price (Scribner $17)
A young Reynolds Price heads off to England on a Rhodes scholarship – unfamiliar territory – where he learns about literature, life and love. He chronicles his emotional insecurities, anxieties and his eventual return to his alma mater, Duke, to teach writing and literature. Along the way, he recalls his friendships with various literary luminaries like Stephen Spender and W. H. Auden.
About Quail Ridge Books & Music
Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh was founded by Nancy and Jim Olson in 1984. In 2001, they were recognized with three awards: Publishers Weekly Bookseller of the Year, The Louise Pannell Award for Excellence in Children’s Bookselling, and the Charles Haslam Award for Excellence in Bookselling. Nancy Olson was inducted into the Raleigh Hall of Fame in 2007 and was awarded the Raleigh Medal of Arts in 2010. Quail Ridge Books & Music is an independent shop with a friendly, knowledgeable staff dedicated to providing the best in customer service. The store provides a wide variety of carefully selected books, events, discussion groups, and town hall meetings.
Quail Ridge Books & Music is open every day from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. They are closed on Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Day, and the first Sunday of January (Inventory Day). They are conveniently located just off the Raleigh 440 Beltline, across from Meredith College.
Our State‘s summer reading list is proudly presented by Asheville School. Since its founding more than a century ago, Asheville School has been preparing high school students with an education for a lifetime. An academic experience for students in grades 9 through 12 focuses on a traditional core curriculum, and challenges young men and women, while giving them the foundation to become better thinkers and communicators. As one of the nation’s leading co-ed college preparatory boarding schools, Asheville School teaches students respect and responsibility to others and one’s self. The 275 students represent 24 states and 13 countries, and learn in a nurturing, close-knit community set on a campus of 300 acres in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Asheville, N.C. Recent graduates are attending Harvard, Stanford, Columbia, University of Pennsylvania, Cornell, Caltech, UNC-Chapel Hill, Davidson, Duke, University of Virginia, Furman, Emory, NC State, and Wake Forest, among others. For more information, visit ashevilleschool.org, call (828) 254-6345, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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