Our 2011 gift guide for the southern reader

Still looking for the perfect gift for someone on your list? Here are a few of our favorite titles of 2011; we think they’d make stellar gifts for your family and friends!

For the music or mystery lover

In Murder on Music Row, by Stuart Dill, Judd Nix, a 23-year-old unpaid intern at Elite Management, welcomes the chance to become the paid assistant of Simon Stills, one of country’s biggest managers, but he soon finds himself a witness to an assassination attempt. When a gunman takes aim at megastar Ripley Graham, Stills’s most important client and the last hope for the troubled recording industry, on stage at the Grand Ole Opry, the shooter misses and seriously wounds Stills instead. Nix and his co-worker, Megan Olsen, decide to investigate on their own, but with music executives plotting a major merger, they can’t be sure whom to trust.

“Remember your first John Grisham? Country music veteran Dill (he served as a personal manager for Minnie Pearl, Dwight Yoakam, and other greats) doesn’t miss a beat in this debut high-adrenaline thriller full of twists and turns.”
Library Journal, starred review

Murder on Music Row: A Music Industry Thriller has more twists and turns than a spring tornado in Tennessee. This book will have you diving under the covers — with a flashlight, of course. A terrific read.”
Marshall Chapman, critically acclaimed musician and author

Read a book club guide, watch interviews with the author, and more >>

For the memory lane walker

Tales from a Free-Range Childhood, a memoir by storyteller Donald Davis, will have you hootin’ and hollerin’ at his youthful misadventures in rural North Carolina in the 1950s. Among this collection of 18 stories, Davis explains why 28 second-graders petitioned the school board to reestablish paddling as their preferred form of punishment, instead of the new policy of “suspension.” He also spins family tales about how his mother was finally convinced to give his brother Joe’s naturally curly, “wasted-on-a-boy” hair its first cut; and how he and his cousin Andy got fired from their job of “watching the baby.” Through his tender, often humorous stories about his life experiences, Davis captures the hearts and minds of readers while simultaneously evoking their own childhood memories.

“From the photo on the cover…to the strings of hilarious and touching stories, Donald Davis takes us on a journey. This is not just his story, however, as a master storyteller, he not only tells you about himself, but also strikes familiar notes that reach into each listener’s memory bank.”
New York Journal of Books

“…a well-told true story is comfort food for the soul, and Davis’s book is nourishing.”
Foreword Reviews

Read an excerpt, visit the author’s website, and more >>

For the soul food aficionado

Well, Shut My Mouth! The Sweet Potatoes Restaurant Cookbook is recipes – recipes from the restaurant, recipes from the families of Chef Stephanie Tyson and co-owner Vivian Joiner, recipes that are Southern, plain and simple. The cookbook is also the history of the two women who started a locally and nationally acclaimed restaurant (Our State, Southern Living, New York Times). As Tyson says in her introduction, “Every part of me is a part of Sweet Potatoes.” In Well, Shut My Mouth! she shares a culinary experience that has been a favorite of Winston-Salem natives and visitors for years. Now, patrons have the tools to re-create the Sweet Potatoes dining experience in their own homes.

“Everything about this book is correct except the title. Anyone with a taste bud in their mouth should follow these recipes and open their mouth.”
Maya Angelou

Watch cooking demos with the author, and more >>  

For the adventurer

The 21 tours in Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads, by Carolyn Sakowski, cover the entire mountain region of western North Carolina and provide numerous opportunities for seeing unspoiled landscapes and pastoral scenes. But scenery is not the only focus. Once you’re on the backroads, you might speculate about the history behind the old white clapboard farmhouse that dominates the valley ahead, or you might wonder about the rest of the story behind the two sentences on the historical marker at the side of the road. Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads fills in those details. Drawing from local histories and early travel writings, each tour is designed to be a journey through the history of the area. Tales of eccentric characters, folklore that has been passed down through the ages, and stories about early settlers combine to present a perspective that makes the scenery come alive.

“Touring the Western North Carolina Backroads by Carolyn Sakowski is the book to consult for Thanksgiving. No, it doesn’t have recipes but it has more important help. It will help you entertain your out-of-town guests.”
— Danny Bernstein, Hiker to Hiker

“Sakowski doesn’t choose routes simply for the scenery; almost any mountain road presents visual delights. She finds stories about people and places, then connects them, guiding readers along a narrative path as well.”
— Doug Clark, Greensboro News & Record

Find tours at the author’s website, learn “best-of” sites chosen by the author, and more >>

For animal lovers of all ages

In Animal Adventures in North Carolina, Jennifer Bean Bower shares 70 animal attractions that she has personally discovered throughout her travels of the entire state. Each entry provides contact information, driving directions, possible fees, hours of operation, and useful travel tips, accompanied by photographs and detailed descriptions of the attraction’s offerings. An extensive appendix lists additional opportunities for viewing and interacting with animals in North Carolina, including wildlife refuges, farm tours, nature preserves, and working farm vacations.

 Discover the 10 best N.C. animal adventures you didn’t know >>