2018 Decatur Book Festival Gift Book Buying Guide

Award-Winning Nonfiction

If you liked Beth Macy’s Dopesick, you might like:

Heartland: A Memoir of Working Hard and Being Broke in the Richest Country on Earth, by Sarah Smarsh
A beautifully written memoir about America’s heartland that examines the myths about people thought to be less because they earn less.
Locking Up Our Own: Crime and Punishment in Black America, by James Forman Jr.
A Pulitzer-prize winning examination of the war on crime that began in the 1970s and was supported by many African American leaders in the nation’s urban centers.
The Evangelicals: The Struggle to Shape America, by Frances Fitzgerald
A thorough history of the Evangelical movement in America from a Pulitzer-Prize-winning historian.

Books Set in Atlanta

Tayari Jones’ most recent novel, An American Marriage, is one of our 2018 favorites for many reasons, including its Atlanta setting. If you’re looking for other books set in our terrific city, you might try:

Atlanta Noir, edited by Tayari Jones
This is a recent collection of Atlanta stories, each set in a distinct neighborhood or location within the city.

The Temple Bombing, by Melissa Faye Green
A finalist for the 1996 National Book Award, this work of nonfiction is about the startling 1958 bombing of Atlanta’s oldest synagogue and its aftermath.

Darktown, by Thomas Mullen
Written by an award-winning local author, a page-turning crime novel that explores race, law enforcement, and justice within a fictionalized 1940 Atlanta Police Department.

Novels set in the 1980s

If you liked the National Book Award finalist, The Great Believers, by Rebecca Makkai, you might like:

Silver Sparrow, by Tayari Jones
The absorbing story of two African American teenage girls growing up in 1980s Georgia.

Where the Dead Sit Talking, by Brandon Hobson
A lyrical Native American Coming-of-Age story that was a finalist for the 2018 National Book Award.

Sag Harbor, by Colson Whitehead
An absorbing and lyrical coming-of-age novel of two African American teenagers set in Sag Harbor, New York, 1985.

Historical Fiction

If you were a fan of Circe, by Madeline Miller, you might like two of Miller’s own favorite titles (yes, we asked):

Pachinko, by Min Jin Lee
Winner of the 2017 National Book Award, an epic, multi-generational tale of a poor Korean immigrant family as they fight to control their destiny in 20th-century Japan.

March, by Geraldine Brooks
Winner of the 2006 Pulitzer Prize for fiction, a historical novel that reimagines Louisa May Alcott’s beloved story, Little Women, from the point of view of the father.

Young Adult Novels

Girls of Paper and Fire, by Natasha Ngan and James Patterson
If you liked Furyborn (The Empirium Trilogy, Book 1), by Claire Legrand, you might like Girls of Paper and Fire, by Natasha Ngan and James Patterson. This is a rich fantasy set in a caste-based society in which seventeen-year-old Lei is chosen as a concubine to serve in the ruler’s Hidden Palace.

What if It’s Us?, by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera
If you liked Leah on the Offbeat, by Becky Albertalli, you might like What if It’s Us? by Becky Albertalli and Adam Silvera. This swoon-worthy love story is about a theater-loving boy from Georgia, Arthur, who’s in New York City for the summer, and another boy, Ben, who’s trying to move on from a recent breakup.

Middle Grade Novels

If you liked Peasprout Chen, Future Legend of Skate and Sword, by Harry Lein, you might like Dactyl Hill Squad, by Daniel Jose Older.

Dactyl Hill Squad, by Daniel Jose Older
This historical fantasy is set in Civil War-era Brooklyn where a young girl and her friends join in the resistance against racism and oppression–propelled around the city on real dinosaurs, no less.

Picture Books

Merci Suarez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina
If you liked Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish, by Pablo Cartaya, you might like Merci Suarez Changes Gears, by Meg Medina. Merci and her brother are scholarship students at a Florida private school, where sixth grade is turning out to be more confusing than expected –except for the steadfast connection of family and home.

Full of Wishes, by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson
If you liked Dreamers, by Yuyi Morales, you might like Full of Wishes, by Matt de la Pena and Christian Robinson, a lyrical and moving picture book about family, dreamers, and finding hope in unexpected places.


If you enjoy the DBF’s lively culinary village, you might try recipes from one of these cookbooks to jazz up your holiday table.

Pecans, by Kathleen Purvis
A Savor of the South cookbook by food journalist, Kathleen Purvis.

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.

American Cookie, by Anne Byrn
A delicious tour of America’s favorite treats, cookies, and candies by Nashville-based author, Anne Byrn.

Marginalized Voices

If you liked the 2018 National Book Award winning novel-in-verse, The Poet X, by Elizabeth Acevedo (one of DBF’s presenting authors), you might also enjoy:

Heavy: An American Memoir, by Kiese Laymon
A defiant yet vulnerable exploration of weight, identity, art, friendship, and family.

CareWork: Dreaming Disability Justice, by Leah Lakshmi Piepzna-Samarsinha
A collection of essays celebrating the work that sick and disabled queer/people of color are doing to find each other and to build power and community.

One Person, No Vote, by Carol Anderson
Long listed for the 2018 National Book Award, a book that chronicles the rollbacks to African American voting participation since the 2013 Supreme Court decision that eviscerated the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Unapologetic: A Black, Queer, and Feminist Mandate for Radical Movements, by Charlene Carruthers
A manifesto that challenges all of us engaged in the social justice struggle to make the movement for Black liberation more radical, more queer, and more feminist.