The Nitty Gritty: Memorial Drive

Reading Memorial Drive is tender & raw, watching grief build and unfold. It’s incredibly intimate. So much so that when I realized Natasha Trethewey does speaking events about this book, I marveled at her fortitude, to be laid bare that many times before audiences. To be so vulnerable. I can’t imagine telling this particular story, sharing the work of this grief, over and over again. Memorial Drive, as many truly good books are, is about Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: Orphan Island

I’m going to come clean (again): middle grades fiction is my thing. Totally my thing. We read Orphan Island for the Bookish 4th & 5th grade book club–and it was a unanimous choice. At least one of the girls had been dying to read it. And, I mean, who was I to make her suffer any longer? Besides, the author lives basically right down the street from the shop. And some of the girls had Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: Clap When You Land

I hugged this book when I finished it. I just couldn’t imagine putting the characters down & walking away from them.  I’m still not ready to let go… Even if YA novels aren’t typically your thing, this deserves a read. It’s a novel written in verse, which is pretty damn cool to begin with. It’s both stripped bare & poetic. And it’s easy to float through… And yet. The themes aren’t simplistic at all. I Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: Charm & Strange

I read the best books without having any idea why I really picked them up. In this case, the copy of Charm & Strange that I have at the store has library markings on it. For some reason, that makes it much harder to sell. So I grabbed it out of a pile of books I’d brought out to my front yard for the East Atlanta Strut-in-Place. Figured I’d read while I waited for folks to roll Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: She’s Come Undone

I picked up Wally Lamb’s She’s Come Undone on a whim. A mass market paperback version was just laying about in the store, in a pile of used books I was sorting to shelve. They don’t really sell for us, those little block-like books, so I figured nobody’d be itching to buy it anyway. So I cracked it open Saturday at about 4pm. But Monday night at 8pm I was done.  And, yes, I read to the Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: Welcome to Braggsville

I’ll be upfront with you… I have aspirations of getting my PhD in Southern Literature. And, sure, there are lots of the Southern classics that I haven’t made my way through yet. But when I was looking at a syllabus for a graduate level Southern Lit class, I ran across Welcome to Braggsville by T. Geronimo Johnson. For whatever reason, it jumped out at me (it was probably at the top of the list of required texts). Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: The Yellow House

The pull to a specific place has occupied my thoughts for the better part of 5 years now. This idea of place as a piece of who we are is what drew me to Atlanta. This city called me until I could no longer ignore it. I had to be here, in a way that I couldn’t describe to most people.  Atlanta resonates through me–my whole being–even though I didn’t grow up here. It is Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: Ecology of a Cracker Childhood

I’ve been thinking a lot about place lately: how where we are from constructs who we are. And I’ve been drawn to books that explore place as internal landscape.  My mother’s family is from South Georgia. Although I grew up in Florida, I always considered myself a dis-placed Southerner. According to my Northern oriented friends, my dad talks like a banjo. Growing up, my mother insisted we say “sir” and “ma’am” to adults, which most Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: When You Reach Me

I’ve never kept my love for middle grades novels secret. Given the option between a book for a full-grown & a middle grades book, well… middle grades wins every time. As a bookseller, I have a place to channel my love of middle grades fiction: 4th & 5th grade book club! We just finished When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. It’s become a middle grades classic over the last decade. And for good reason. Read more…

The Nitty Gritty: Three Pillars of Zen

This book is one I return to repeatedly. Partly for its clear message that, yes, enlightenment is possible for everyone. And partly because I find the discussion of how to meditate simple and refreshing. But my favorite aspect of 3 Pillars of Zen is absolutely the personal anecdotes, transcribed and laid bare for the reader, of both dokusan (meeting with the teacher) and of the enlightenment experience itself. Each time I re-read 3 Pillars of Read more…