Annie's Nightstand: April 2014.


As a bookseller, I’m finding I don’t have as much time to read as I used to, and when I do read, there’s this unspoken pressure for me to run the gamut, to tackle a wide variety of titles so I can wax eloquent about each one to the diverse group of readers that enters our store each day. But here’s the thing: I don’t want my day job to ruin my favorite pastime. I never want reading to feel like a chore. So I try to read what I can, but I don’t force things. Last month, five different titles graced my nightstand; some of them were books I would have read even without The Bookshelf’s influence; others I began reading out of necessity, but finished them out of love. The dream job and the lifelong hobby still peacefully cohabitate. (Hallelujah.)

The Circle by Dave Eggers. I think Eggers is a genius, but – full disclosure – I’d only read one of his books (and that one had “genius” in the title). The Circle follows 20-something Mae Holland as she begins her new job at a Facebook-type tech company and discovers the ins and outs of living a life online. Despite being entirely fictional, the novel soon reveals all kinds of truths about the world we’re living in and the one we’re creating for our future – just like good fiction should. I finished this one and immediately wanted to discuss it with someone; highly recommend, especially for book clubs and discussion groups.

A Circle of Wives by Alice LaPlante. I’m a member of a “Sisterhood of the Traveling Book Club,” and A Circle of Wives was this month’s selection, mailed to me by a friend. The book is a suspenseful tale told from the perspectives of a murdered man’s three wives, unknown to one another before the murder. We’re starting to enter beach season, and this one deserves to be read in a couple of sittings, down by the waves. It’s quick, easy, and fun; not exactly literary, but who needs literary 100 percent of the time anyway?

Hope Is a Ferris Wheel by Robin Herrera. Lately, I’ve had fantastic luck with middle reader selections; it’s a genre that holds a special place in my heart, since middle reader books are really the ones that helped me fall in love with reading in the first place. Hope Is a Ferris Wheel is a new release featuring 10-year-old Star McKenzie, a girl who moves to a trailer park with her mom and sister, starts at a new school, and searches for kindred spirits at newly-launched (by her) poetry club. Star is full of spirit and spunk, and the book is a great introduction to the world of poetry – the author even sneaks in some vocabulary lessons that mange not to detract from the story’s plot. I love this one for 10 to 12 year old girls.

Far Outside the Ordinary by Prissy Elrod. Customers were raving about this one before I could even get my hands on a copy! Elrod is a Tallahassee writer, and her new memoir released last month. She stopped by the store during Rose Show to sign a few copies, and although I hadn’t read it before, I found Elrod to be charming and perfectly Southern – and her book was beautifully designed. (I’m an unabashed judger of covers.) I went home that night and read the entire thing cover to cover; Elrod depicts her life after her husband was diagnosed with brain cancer – all the ups and downs, the joys and the pains, and how she experienced life through the eyes of her in-home caregivers. Far Outside the Ordinary was one of my favorite books this month.

Thrive by Arianna Huffington. Fans of Lean In, this one’s for you. Think of Thrive as the sister to Lean In – it’s a book that cooks the other side of Sheryl Sandberg’s egg. Thrive focuses on success and personal well-being; how things like meditation and setting smart phone boundaries can protect us from “time famine” and burnout. Huffington – the founding editor of The Huffington Post – approaches each topic with intense detail, but never fear: the chapters are divided into multiple sections, and Huffington offers three practical tips at the end of each section.Thrive showed me ways I need to improve my own boundary setting and gave me resolutions to make as the year moves on. I know I’m a bookseller, but I think this book is well worth owning; if you’re like me, you’ll want to read it with a pen in hand.