If you’re reading this, then you probably have friends and family who are avid readers too. Long hold lines at the library and limited budgets mean we don’t always get those new novel releases for ourselves, but what better gift is there than a book? Not only will you be sharing a riveting story with someone else, but you’ll also (hopefully) be supporting your local or independent bookstore. So, wrap up the new Barbara Kingsolver or Delia Owens’ debut and make someone very happy this season.
Where the Crawdads Sing
A Reese Witherspoon book club pick and one of our Fall/Winter Reads, this novel is resonating with readers and would be perfect for almost anyone on your list but especially the environmentalists. In Delia Owens’ debut, rumors of the “Marsh Girl” have haunted Barkley Cove, a quiet town on the North Carolina coast. So in late 1969, when handsome Chase Andrews is found dead, the locals immediately suspect Kya Clark, the so-called Marsh Girl. But Kya is not what they say. Sensitive and intelligent, she has survived for years alone in the marsh that she calls home, finding friends in the gulls and lessons in the sand. Then the time comes when she yearns to be touched and loved. When two young men from town become intrigued by her wild beauty, Kya opens herself to a new life–until the unthinkable happens.
Whiskey in a Teacup
An all-inclusive and colorful guide to Southern living for women, actress Reese Witherspoon presents her life as a Southern belle of Nashville, Tennessee, in her first book. From style advice inspired by her late grandmother Dorothea to the essential appetizers of a Kentucky Derby party, Witherspoon gives her best tips and advice to achieve that “combination of beauty and strength that made Southern women delicate on the outside and fiery on the inside.” Perfect for those Southern belles (and guys too).
Louisiana’s Way Home
Kate DiCamillo’s latest young adult novel can be enjoyed by all ages. Main character Louisiana isn’t usually worried by her eccentric granny’s “middle-of-the-night” ideas, but it feels different for some reason when Granny wakes Louisiana up at night, telling her “the reckoning” is coming and they need to cross the Florida/Georgia state line to escape it. Louisiana misses her best friends and can’t help feeling that she’s destined to say goodbye to everyone in her life. Louisiana’s Way Home is a story about graciousness as Louisiana meets daunting change head-on and carves a home for herself in and with the residents of a small, Georgia town.
In 1927, Zora Neale Hurston went to Plateau, Alabama, to interview 86-year-old Cudjo Lewis and record his firsthand account of the raid that led to his capture and bondage 50 years after the Atlantic slave trade was outlawed in the United States. She returned four years later and spent more than three months talking about Cudjo’s past: memories from his childhood in Africa, the horrors of being captured and held in a barracoon for selection by American slavers, the harrowing experience of the Middle Passage packed with more than 100 other souls aboard the Clotilde, and the years he spent in slavery until the end of the Civil War. Never before published, Barracoon brilliantly illuminates the tragedy of slavery and one life forever defined by it. Perfect for the Zora—and history—buffs on your list.
The Letters of Flannery O’Connor and Caroline Gordon
Newly published correspondence that sheds light on two literary luminaries, this volume serves as a sort of master class as Caroline Gordon critiques Flannery O’Connor’s work, starting with Wise Blood. Gordon called her “a rare phenomenon: a Catholic novelist with a real dramatic sense, one who relies more on her technique than her piety.” The two developed a 13-year friendship—discussing everything from relationships to religion—with Gordon acting as a mentor and helping to shape some of O’Connor’s most acclaimed work, including “A Good Man Is Hard to Find” and “The Displaced Person.” Those who enjoyed The Habit of Being will want to add this to their collection.
Becoming Mrs. Lewis
Fans of The Chronicles of Narnia author C.S. Lewis will want to add this to their collection. At first glance, the romance between Lewis and married New York poet Joy Davidman seems incredibly unlikely, but their minds bonded over letters, their correspondence beginning in 1950 when Davidman sent Lewis her first letter. Their scholarly discussions brought Davidman to England and back several times until, eventually, she and Lewis married. Becoming Mrs. Lewis is a rich historical-fiction novel by Patti Callahan Henry that not only explores a romance founded on intellect and faith, but the powerfully independent and passionate woman who captivated the heart and mind of an author who so easily captivated us.
Who wouldn’t appreciate unwrapping the new Barbara Kingsolver? Her latest work of fiction centers around the Knox family, who lives at the corner of Sixth and Plum in Vineland, New Jersey. Willa and her husband have each lost their jobs and are doing what they can to bring paychecks home to their crumbling house. They already live with their fiery, activist daughter, Tig, and Willa’s curmudgeonly father-in-law, but matters are made worse when Willa’s son, Zeke, leaves his newborn in his parents’ care. The Greenwood family also lives at the corner of Sixth and Plum … in the 19th century. Thatcher is a husband and public servant, fascinated by the newly published ideas of Charles Darwin, but he is being discouraged from teaching them at his school. The friends he’s found in a female scientist and radical reporter push encourage him to speak his truth. The Knox and Greenwood families each feel as if they are facing the end of the world, and their separate stories interweave to tell a singular tale about uncertain times.
View our entire Fall/Winter Reading List here for more book ideas.