Star's Picks: Summer 2021
Fiction, Non-fiction and more.
Quarterly Book Recommendations from Star Lowe
former owner and book slinger at Star Line Books
Summertime, summertime, sum-sum-summertime, awwww!
"For five years I had the privilege of owning and operating an indie bookstore
Star Line Books, in Chattanooga Tennessee. I have an insatiable appetite for
books and a fervent need to share them with other readers. I look forward to
continuing to literate my community, via a quarterly supplement, by sharing my latest reads and what new releases I am anticipating.
A favorite activity of mine is perusing the New York Times Book Review. This Sunday supplement has kickstarted my week for as long as I can remember. So as I was mulling over ideas for my summer reading post, a recent By the Book column popped in my head. An old favorite of mine, Diane Johnson, answers a series of questions fans of hers will devour. (“Le Divorce,”1997, is still one of my favs, and a delightful summer pick.)
I love these insightful features, and used the format in my ‘in conversation with’ author events. I have yet to come away empty handed from reading and soliciting questions posed to authors and readers, too. See what questions you might come up with as you read through this season's list."
On Star's Nightstand and TBR (to be read) List
by Caleb Johnson, Picador, June 5, 2018
Caleb Johnson’s Treeborne is so good that I’m re-reading it.
This debut novel tells the story of a family who've made their home in an unusual place. Janie Treeborne lives on an orchard at the edge of Elberta, Alabama, and in time, she has become its keeper. Elberta has seen fierce battles, violent storms, and frantic change—and when the town is once again threatened from without, Janie realizes it won’t withstand much more. So she tells the story of its people.
As the world closes in on Elberta, Caleb Johnson’s debut novel lifts the veil and offers one last glimpse. Treeborne is a celebration and a reminder: of how the past gets mixed up in thoughts of the future; of how home is a story as much as a place.
LORNA MOTT COMES HOME
by Diane Johnson, Knopf, June 2021.
Lorna Mott Comes Home is in my TBR (to be read) pile.
Lorna Mott Dumas is small, pretty, riddled with anxiety, and the epitome of success. She has lovely children, grandchildren, good health, a French husband, a wonderful house and a career as an art lecturer; she leads an intellectual life. However, one day, in both an impulsive and planned decision, she decides to leave her husband, who's a notorious seducer, and France, and return to America. Much has changed for Lorna, and the reader watches as she struggles to create a new life for herself.
by Vita Sackville-West, Vintage, July 2017.
...because who wouldn’t want to attend one of West’s anything-but-shallow British house parties? I recently picked up a new edition of this one at Hub City Bookshop.
This book was an instant bestseller when it was originally published in 1930. It follows Sebastian, a young, handsome, moody heir to Chevron, a vast ducal estate. Sebastian loves the countryside and his estate, but has grown to hate the social world that his family represents. At one of the typical house parties thrown by his mother, Sebastian meets two people who give him a new sense of self: Leonard Anquetil, an arctic explorer, who questions his mode of living; and Lady Roehampton, a married society beauty who breaks his heart. When Sebastian reaches the brink of despair, it is his younger sister, Viola, who opens for them both a gateway to another world.
by Susan Orlean, Random House, 1998 (Ballantine Books, 2000 in paperback)
Susan's writing makes nonfiction read like fiction.
The Orchid Thief is a tale of obsession, as eccentric John Laroche, determined to clone an endangered flower, takes the reader and Orlean on a journey throughout America's flower-selling subculture, leaving both with a newfound understanding of passion, tenacity, and devotion.
by Bobby C. Rogers, University of Pittsburgh Press Sept. 26, 2010.
Paper Anniversary by Bobby C. Rogers holds truths and wisdom that have fed my southern soul.
This collection was the winner of the 2009 Agnes Lynch Starrett Poetry Prize, and judges have remarked that Bobby's poetry "...like all good poems...travel[s] to large subjects: the limits of language, love, and its absence, joy."