North Augusta author Christine Hurley Deriso says she used to read fiction exclusively but has switched to nonfiction, including sociology and psychology books that explain how people work. Still, she says, such a book should be "briskly written, and fun and fresh."
A Malcolm Gladwell book, "Outliers: The Story of Success," is at the top of her recommended reading list. She said Mr. Gladwell can read the pulse of culture and creates a fun and insightful read about what it takes to succeed. Mrs. Deriso wrote "The Right Under Club" and, in November, "Talia Talk."
Her top 10:
- "Outliers: The Story of Success," by Malcolm Gladwell. This book follows different paths to success.
- "The Wordy Shipmates, by Sarah Vowell." An irreverent journey through our country's origins and its influences today.
- "Beautiful Boy: A Father's Journey Through His Son's Addiction," by David Sheff. Ms. Deriso says her own addiction is to depressing memoirs, and she recommends this tale of a parent's worst nightmare.
- "Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping," by Paco Underhill. This anthropological jaunt through your favorite mall or superstore resonates now that the economy is in shambles.
- "The Worst Hard Time," by Timothy Egan. A page-turning and heartbreaking retelling of the nightmarish Dust Bowl.
- "A Thousand Splendid Suns," by Khaled Hosseini. Currently a fan of nonfiction, this novel departs from the list with a fictionalized take on the horrors of the Taliban.
- "Into Thin Air," by Jon Krakauer. A disastrous ascent up Mount Everest will leave you gasping for air, Ms. Deriso says.
- "To Kill a Mockingbird," by Harper Lee. Her coming-of-age book about loving and criticizing your culture to improve it. On a personal note, Atticus Finch reminds her of her dad.
- "Portnoy's Complaint," by Philip Roth. A book she champions for being relatable, she warns that its content can be "as racy as a Seth Rogan movie."
- "The Sneetches and Other Stories," by Dr. Seuss. A book by a classic author about how our similarities outweigh our differences.
At the top of Karin Gillespie's list is the book that united her with her husband. When she checked out The Crimson Petal and the White, by Michel Faber, she noticed that the last person who had checked out the book was someone she had met a couple of times. The 900-page Victorian romance was a conversation starter during their next encounter.
"It was like he was seeing me for the first time," said Mrs. Gillespie, who wrote the Bottom Dollar Girl books and, most recently, "Earthly Pleasures," under the pen name Karen Neches.
Her top 10:
- "The Crimson Petal and the White," by Michel Faber. A Victorian romance that inspired Ms. Gillespie's own romance.
- "The Secret History," by Donna Tartt. A murder mystery with great characterization.
- "The Accidental Tourist," by Anne Tyler. Her funniest and most relatable book, Ms. Gillespie says.
- "Bridget Jones's Diary," by Helen Fielding. "One of the funniest books you'll ever read," Ms. Gillespie claims.
- "The Thirteenth Tale," by Diane Setterfield. A story about a secret past.
- "Operating Instructions: A Journal of My Son's First Year," by Anne Lamott. A must-read for new mothers, Ms. Gillespie says.
- "The Artists Way, A Spiritual Path to Higher Creativity," by Julia Cameron. A life-changing book that inspired Ms. Gillespie to write. A must-read for creative types, she said.
- "The Stand," by Stephen King. Ms. Gillespie thinks it has potential to be this generation's Paradise Lost.
- "Nothing Special: Living Zen," by Charlotte Jo Jo Beck. An explanation of humanity.
- "Gone With the Wind, by Margaret Mitchell. Ms. Gillespie said she had to include one Southern novel, and this was it for the book's enduring characters.
Columia County Librarians
Nos. 3 and 4 on the list compiled by a group of Columbia County librarians are titles featured in this year's Columbia County Reads Together program.
Both were written by Kathy Reichs, who will be a guest speaker at the library in April.
Their top 7:
- "A Mercy," by Toni Morrison
- "The Shack," by William P. Young. Inspirational fiction
- "Break No Bones," by Kathy Reichs
- "Bare Bones," by Kathy Reichs.
- "Marly and Me," by John Grogan. A funny book that Sherryl James, the reference service manager, recommends before you see the movie.
- "The Total Money Makeover," by Dave Ramsey. Good tips for today's tight budgets.
- "American Sublime," by Elizabeth Alexander. The poet will speak at the presidential inauguration, and this is her best collection.
David Hutchison, the owner of The Book Tavern bookstore downtown, has made his list of books he'll read and reread this year, and invites readers to read with him.
His top 10:
- "What Are People For?," by Wendell Berry. Mr. Hutchison describes it as a collection of essays that projects a concern for extract-ing ourselves from the global super-economyand returning us to household economies.
- "The Power and the Glory," by Graham Greene. Mr. Hutchison's interest in Greene came reading Shusaku Endo, who is called the Graham Greene of Japan. The novel explores the tension between religion and materialism.
- "Inkdeath," by Cornelia Funke. Inkdeath is the conclusion to a trilogy. Mr. Hutchison will reread "Inkheart," the first book, and "Inkspell," the second book, about a bookbinder and his daughter who can read characters out of the pages of a book into real life.
- "The Road," by Cormac McCarthy. Mr. Hutchison considers "The Road" the pinnacle of McCarthy's work and plans on rereading the book before seeing the movie this year.
- "The World is Flat," by Thomas Friedman. This book explores the flatness or connectedness of the global economy. Mr. Hutchison says he believes in the supremacy of the local economy but needed to better understand the global economy and has read Mr. Friedman's previous work.
- "The Violent Bear It Away," by Flannery O'Connor. "No year is complete for me without something from a southern Gothic writer," Mr. Hutchison writes. He has read all of her short stories, but not her final novel about tension between secularism and religion, which he finds a good companion to Greene's "The Power and the Glory."
- "An American Primer," by Daniel Boorstin. A collection of primary sources in American history with commentary by renowned historians.
- "Man's Search for Meaning," by Viktor Frankl. After reading Michael Ryan's "The Last Freedom," Mr. Hutchison wants to read it again. Frankl is founder of the logotherapy school of psychology, which focuses on the need for meaning in life.
- "The Invention of Hugo Cabret," by Brian Selzer. Mr. Hutchison grew up with comics so the idea of graphic novels such as "Persepolis" and "Watchmen" intrigues him, but he claims Selzer's is substantially better than a graphic novel. Though a text-based story, a portion is told only through imagery.
- "The People of the Book," by Geraldine Brooks. "A novel about a book. I guess for a bookseller it doesn't get any better than this," Mr. Hutchison writes. Her new novel follows the journey of the Sarajevo Haggadah and those who kept it safe between it's disappearance and rediscovery.
Starkey Flythe Jr.
For Starkey Flythe Jr., a North Augusta poet and author, an entertaining anthology of Horace Rumpole stories tops his list. Rumpole, he says, "defends the worst kind of people" in court, sees the law in an abstract and calls his wife "She Who Must Be Obeyed."
Mr. Flythe, who keeps Thomas Hardy or Henry James by his bedside at all times in case of bad-book emergency, calls his taste a little old school.
The former managing editor of "The Saturday Evening Post" says people who search thrift stores for old books would like his list.
Mr. Flythe has been published in the "O. Henry" and "Best American Story" annuals.
His top 10:
- Rumpole of the Bailey series, by John Mortimer. These entertaining stories, collected in multiple anthologies, follow Horace Rumpole in court.
- "The Beak of the Finch, by Jonathan Weiner. An interesting interpretation of evolution.
- "Norman Rockwell: My Life as an Illustrator, by Norman Rockwell and Thomas Rockwell. An autobiography that speaks to how America has changed.
- "Jack: Straight From the Gut, by Jack Welch. An autobiography about the president of General Electric which is more interesting in today's economy, Mr. Flythe said.
- "Speaking for Myself," by Cherie Blair. An autobiography by British former prime minister Tony Blair's wife is on Mr. Flythe's to-read list. "She's infuriating everybody and they've infuriated her, so I can't wait to read it."
- "The Dark Side, by Jane Mayer. An assessment of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan by an author who saw it firsthand.
- "Carolina Clay, by Leonard Todd. A book by an Edgefield resident who wrote about the history of Dave the Potter. Mr. Flythe likes the way Mr. Todd compares the pottery to our lives.
- "Nothing to be Frightened of," by Julian Barnes. A book about death and examined beliefs.
- "Manwatching, by Desmond Morris. A picture guide of human gestures and behaviors.
- "The Fragile Species, by Lewis Thomas. Written about biology, it's "crammed full of things we ought to know," Mr. Flythe said.
Tina Marshall-Bradley And George Bradley
Avid readers Tina Marshall-Bradley and George Bradley, the president of Paine College, share a love of literature.
Their top 5:
- "Team of Rivals," By Doris Kearns Goodwin. Dr. Bradley is a big Abraham Lincoln fan, and the Bradleys have been trying to read it all year while on road trips -- whoever is not driving reads out loud.
- "The Audacity of Hope," by Barack Obama. This was the required reading for incoming Paine College freshmen, so the Bradleys read it also. "We enjoyed it and have enjoyed talking to freshmen informally about the book," Dr. Marshall-Bradley writes in an e-mail.
- "The Tipping Point," by Malcolm Gladwell. Dr. Marshall-Bradley says she read "The Tipping Point" last year. "My children ragged me about not being able to engage in a conversation without referring to 'The Tipping Point.' I really found it to be fascinating!," she wrote.
- "The Last Lecture," by Randy Pausch. The Bradleys have given the book as a gift and purchased a copy for themselves. "We read it on a recent trip to Atlanta. I cried, of course. But George and I also had amazing conversations about our lives together, how blessed we feel, how important our families are to us, how fortunate we feel to be educators, and similarities and differences that we felt with the author," Dr. Marshall Bradley wrote.
- "A Mercy," by Toni Morrison. This book is the first that Dr. Marshall-Bradley plans on reading in 2009. She hasn't read it yet, but she's a huge Toni Morrison fan.