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The Year in Review: 10 Most Notable Books of 2017

Of the books reviewed in 2017, HottyToddy.com Book Editor Allen Boyer has selected 10 that are of note at year-end. All are available at Square Books and other independent bookstores around Mississippi, as well as from Barnes & Noble and Amazon.

Fiction

“Perennials” by Julie Cantrell (Thomas Nelson, $15.99). A romance novel, set in Oxford and Jackson, that surprises by packing in more than readers may expect. Reliably romantic and wickedly over-the-top.

 

“Camino Island” by John Grisham (Doubleday, $28.95). Grisham’s first novel of the calendar year wraps two books together: a fast-paced legal thriller and a funny and enthralling book when its author turns to the life of the small-town bookseller.

“A Legacy of Spies” by John Le Carré (Viking, $28). Bringing back George Smiley and Alec Leamas, Le Carré has written his best book in years—a suspenseful rethinking of “The Spy Who Came in from the Cold.”

“Sing, Unburied, Sing” by Jesmyn Ward (Scribner, $26). Ward won her second National Book Award for this novel of the modern South, a road trip across a fever-dream landscape where folk traditions are failing while mankind’s darker traits persist. (A more detailed review is forthcoming.)

 

Non-Fiction

“Grant” by Richard Chernow (Penguin, $40). A masterful, lucidly written biography of an amiable family man, a hopeless alcoholic and a great American general who reached his greatest strategic insight at his wartime headquarters in Oxford.

“Oxford, Mississippi: The Cofield Collection by John Cofield” (Cofield Press, $44.95). Oxford’s most prominent local historian and son and grandson of Oxford’s most noted photographers, Cofield presents a remarkable vision of the town before the boutiques and bistros and modern offices, when William Faulkner haunted its streets.

 

“An Unforeseen Life” by Mary Ann Connell (Nautilus Publishing, $24.95). Chi Omega pledge, Jake Gibbs’ bowling partner, Miss Ole Miss, lawyer, college administrator—Mary Ann Connell’s memoir is packed with scenes from Mississippi life and the shattering of glass ceilings.

“Mississippi Governors: Soldiers, Statesmen, Scholars, Scoundrels” by David Sansing (Nautilus Publishing, $38). A fascinating group biography—fairly well summed up by its title, with fifty-three character sketches. The details are either intriguing or outrageous.

 

“‘We Believed We Were Immortal’: Twelve Reporters Who Covered the 1962 Integration Crisis at Ole Miss” by Kathleen W. Wickham (Yoknapatawpha Press, $29.95). In this intense, riveting reconstruction, an Ole Miss journalism professor retells the worst night in the University’s history: the riot over James Meredith’s admission.

 

 

“The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South” by John T. Edge ($28, Penguin Press). A free-wheeling overview of Southern food, cooking and culture—lively, broad, knowledgeable, and readable.

 
 


Allen Boyer is Book Editor for HottyToddy.com. He is the author of “Rocky Boyer’s War,” a World War II history, published by the Naval Institute Press.

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