2018 Decatur Book Festival Adult Reading List
Spread the holiday cheer by giving books as gifts. To help, the DBF team put together a selection of titles similar to a few of our favorites from the 2018 lineup.
Voices that are familiar to us, whether by notoriety, proximity to Decatur, or previous appearances at the festival.
- Pieces of Her by Karin Slaughter
- Considered one of the most electrifying and suspenseful novels she’s ever written.
- The Best Cook in the World: Tales from My Momma’s Table by Rick Bragg
- A loving tribute to a region, a vanishing history, a family, and, especially, to his mother.
- Otherworld, Underworld, Prayer Porch by David Bottoms
- This new work explores otherness, the death of parents, and private spirituality.
- Whirlwind: The American Revolution and the War That Won It by John Ferling
- Acclaimed historian, Ferling returns with a sweeping narrative that captures the turbulent spirit of the times and the personal dangers experienced by Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and James Monroe during the American Revolution.
- Oceanic by Aimee Nezhukumatathil
- Her fourth collection of poetry, Nezhukumatathil creates a thorough registry of the earth’s wonderful and terrible magic.
- Paris in the Dark by Robert Olen Butler
- The new Christopher Marlowe Cobb thriller, where the intrepid newspaperman-turned-spy tracks a German saboteur through the streets of the City of Lights.
- Heating and Cooling: 52 Micro-Memoirs by Beth Ann Fennelly
- These 52 micro-memoirs provide a glimpse into a richly lived life.
- Turnip Greens & Tortillas: A Mexican Chef Spices Up the Southern Kitchen by Eddie Hernandez
- The fast-casual food of Eddie Hernandez lands on the commonalities of Southern and Mexican cuisine.
- An American Marriage by Tayari Jones
- A stirring love story and profoundly insightful look into the hearts and minds of three people who are at once bound and separated by forces beyond their control.
- Take You Wherever You Go by Kenny Leon
- A poignant, ruminative, and inspirational memoir by the award-winning director that empowers you to be true to yourself as you navigate your own path.
- Varnia by Charles Frazier
- An intimate story of one woman’s tragic life in the midst of an American war and its aftermath.
It’s always exciting to discover debut authors and this year we’re thrilled to introduce these wonderful new voices to Decatur’s rich readership through the New Voices reading list.
- Brass by Xhenet Aliu
- A “fierce, big-hearted” story about mothers and daughters and the stark realities of the American dream.
- Half Gods by Akil Kumarasamy
- Explores how the mystical or divine brush up against the ordinary and reveals with sharp clarity the ways that parents, children, and friends act as unknowing mirrors to one another.
- What We Were Promised by Lucy Tan
- Explores the question of what we owe our country, our family, and ourselves.
- Whiskey & Ribbons by Leesa Cross-Smith
- A debut novel that explores the life that continues beyond loss and asks what it means—and whether it’s possible—to heal.
Voices that Educate and Inform
These books and stories teach us new things, whether about the world around us, beliefs within us, or things outside our grasp.
- Aroused by Randi Hutter Epstein
- This book provides a guided tour through the strange science of hormones and the age-old efforts to control them.
- Frankenstein: How a Monster Became an Icon by Eddy von Mueller and Sydney Perkowitz
- Film expert Eddy von Mueller and co-author Sydney Perkowitz celebrate and examine Mary Shelley’s marvelous creation in this novel.
- Project Fire by Steven Raichlen
- A modern approach to grilling from Steven Raichlen, America’s “master griller,” this book shows how to put the latest grilling methods to work using favorite ingredients and adding a dash of daring in flavors, technique, and presentation.
- Our Native Bees: North America’s Endangered Pollinators and the Fight to Save Them by Paige Embry
- Through interviews with farmers, gardeners, scientists, and bee experts, Our Native Bees explores the importance of native bees and focuses on why they play a key role in gardening and agriculture.
- The Great Alignment: Race, Party Transformation, and the Rise of Donald Trump by Alan Abramowitz
- Abramowitz argues that our current political divide is not confined to a small group of elites and activists but is a key feature of the American social and cultural landscape.
- My Brother Moochie: Regaining Dignity in the Face of Crime, Poverty, and Racism in the American South by Issac Bailey
- A wide-ranging yet intensely intimate view of crime and incarceration in the United States, and the devastating effects on the incarcerated, their loved ones, their victims, and society as a whole.
- An American Odyssey: The Life and Work of Romare Bearden by Mary Schmidt-Campbell
- Spelman College president Mary Schmidt-Campbell examines the career and legacy of the Harlem Renaissance muralist.
Stories and Voices from the Past
Voices are critical to shed light on our culture, on our relationships, and how we’ve navigated our past.
Lighting the Fires of Freedom by Janet Dewart Bell
A groundbreaking collection of narratives about the leadership of African American women in the twentieth-century fight for civil rights.
Empress: The Astonishing Reign of Nur Jahan by Ruby Lal
Acclaimed historian Ruby Lal uncovers the rich life and world of Nur Jahan.
Quackery: A Brief History of the Worst Ways to Cure Everything by Lydia Kang
Kang offers a smart, morbidly humorous look at medicine’s greatest misfires through history.
The Secret Token: Myth, Obsession, and Search for the Lost Country of Roanoke by Andrew Lawler
Provides a sweeping account of America’s oldest unsolved mystery.
Visible Empire by Hannah Pittard
This novel uses the Orly Air Crash of 1962 as the starting point of this story about a single sweltering Atlanta summer.
Tasting the Past: The Science of Flavor and the Search for the Origins of Wine by Kevin Begos
A chance encounter with an obscure vintage leads journalist Kevin Begos to seek the origins of wine.
Signs of Resistance: A Visual History of Protest in America by Bonnie Siegler
In hundreds of iconic, unforgettable images, Siegler chronicles what truly makes America great: citizens unafraid of speaking truth to power.
The New Inheritors by Kent Wascom
In his nove, Wascom provides a dramatic portrait of young love and a family driven apart by greed, anger, and matters of the heart.
Still Life with Two Dead Peacocks and a Girl by Diane Seuss
This new collection of poems takes its title from Rembrandt’s painting and shatters the notion of the placid still life as the painting is presented across the book in pieces.
The Exodus by Richard Elliott Freidman
Based on literary and historical detective work, renowned Bible scholar Richard Elliott Freidman discovers the historical roots of the Bible’s Exodus story.
King Zeno by Nathaniel Rich
From one of the most inventive writers of his generation, a historical crime novel and a searching inquiry into man’s dreams of immortality.
The Great Believers by Rebecca Makkai
A dazzling novel of friendship and redemption in the face of tragedy and loss set during the 1980s AIDS crisis in Chicago and in contemporary Paris.
Circe by Madeline Miller
An intoxicating retelling of the goddess’s story that recasts the most infamous female figure from the Odyssey as a hero in her own right.
Logical Family: A Memoir by Armistead Maupin
A long-awaited memoir that chronicles the author’s odyssey from the old South to freewheeling San Francisco, and his evolution from curious youth to ground-breaking writer and gay rights pioneer.
Voices of Change
This year the festival has an amazing collection of voices that share stories of change, or dive into topics that need to see change.
In a Day’s Work by Bernice Yeung
In her book, acclaimed journalist Bernice Yeung investigates sexual assault against the invisible workers who are an essential part of the #metoo and #timesup movements.
The Black and the Blue: A Cop Reveals the Crimes, Racism, and Injustice in America’s Law Enforcement by Matthew Horace
CNN law enforcement contributor Matthew Horace offers an unforgettable account of the racism, crimes, and color lines that permeate America’s law enforcement, and lays out a means for change.
SOUL: A Chef’s Culinary Evolution in 150 Recipes by Todd Richards
James Beard Award-nominated Chef Todd Richards shares his personal culinary exploration of soul food.
Dopesick: Dealers, Doctors, and the Drug Company that Addicted America by Beth Macy
Journalist Beth Macy charts the devastating opioid crisis in America.
Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South by Virginia Willis
Award-winning chef and cookbook author Virginia Willis takes you on a tour of a region rich in history and cultural diversity.
She Caused a Riot: 100 Unknown Women Who Built Cities, Sparked Revolutions, and Massively Crushed It by Hannah Jewel
An empowering, no-holds-barred look into the epic adventures and dangerous exploits of 100 inspiring women who were too brave, too brilliant, too unconventional, too political, too poor, not ladylike enough, and not white enough to be recognized by their contemporaries.
A Bigger Table: Building Messy, Authentic, and Hopeful Spiritual Community by John Pavlovitz
Pavlovitz asks whether Christianity can find a new way of faithfully continuing the work Jesus began two thousand years ago; invites readers to practice radical hospitality, total authenticity, messy diversity; and encourages us to build a metaphorical table in which everyone has a place.
Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children in Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey
A book for families, churches, educators, and communities who want to equip their children to be active and able participants in a society that is becoming one of the most racially diverse in the world while remaining full of racial tensions.
Consent on Campus: A Manifesto by Donna Freitas
Freitas advocates for teaching not just how to consent, but why it’s important to care about consent and to treat one’s sexual partners with dignity and respect.
Voices of a New Generation brought by Mailchimp
Since 2014, the DBF, with support from MailChimp, has offered a unique author-curated track, working with a notable author to personally select a group of authors to present at the festival. This year former teacher, journalist, and writer Shea Serrano has gathered a diverse group of young voices for this year’s festival.
Basketball (and Other Things) by Shea Serrano
New York Times bestseller and listed as one of former president Barack Obama’s favorite books of 2017, this book presents readers with a set of pivotal and ridiculous questions from basketball history, providing arguments and answers, explained with the wit and wisdom that is unique to Shea Serrano.
So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
Oluo explores the complex reality of today’s racial landscape, offering straightforward clarity that readers need in order to contribute to the dismantling of the racial divide.
All the Pieces Matter: The Inside Story of The Wire by Jonathan Abrams
Award-winning journalist Jonathan Abrams provides the definitive oral history of the iconic TV show The Wire.
The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo
Slam poet Acevedo offers a novel-in-verse about an Afro-Latina heroine who tells her story with blazing words and powerful truth.
Everyone’s a aliebn when ur a aliebn too by Jomny Sun
Based on his enormously popular Twitter account, Jomny Sun brings the illustrated story of a lonely alien sent to observe Earth.
Electric Arches by Eve Ewing
Through poetry, visual art, and narrative prose, Ewing provides an imaginative exploration of black girlhood and womanhood.
Beasts Made of Night by Tochi Onyebuchi
A haunting and powerful story of loyalty, survival, and heart-pounding adventure.
They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us by Hanif Abdurraqib
A book of essays at the intersection of music, sports, race, popular culture, and american politics.
Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi
A compulsively readable novel that shows young love in all its awkward glory—perfect for fans of Eleanor & Park and To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before.
The Education of Margot Sanchez by Lilliam Rivera
Pretty in Pink comes to the South Bronx in this bold and romantic coming-of-age novel about dysfunctional families, good and bad choices, and finding the courage to question everything you ever thought you wanted.
Sophia of Silicon Valley by Anna Yen
During the heady years of the tech boom, incorrigibly frank Sophia Young lucks into a job that puts her directly in the path of Scott Kraft, the eccentric CEO of Treehouse, a studio whose animated films are transforming movies forever