2015 gift guide for the locally bookish

Local books from a local bookstore for your local bookworm!

We asked Ward Tefft, the charming and warm owner of Chop Suey Books in Carytown, to give us his recommendations for readers. Every single one of these has a connection to Richmond, and every single one can be found at Chop Suey, of course!

1. Something Must Be Done About Prince Edwards County, Kristen Green

This essential read is part memoir, part history. Weaving her childhood in Farmville, Virginia, her White family’s past, and her adult life married to a man of color with a history of the five years that Prince Edward County closed their public schools rather than integrate, Green offers a powerful narrative that illustrates the injustices perpetrated against African Americans and the fact that these travesties must be reckoned with today. Again, an essential read for all Virginians.

2. Dark Days, D. Randall Blythe

Another amazing local memoir, this one by Lamb of God singer Randy Blythe. The book chronicles Randy’s 2012 arrest and subsequent trial for murder in Prague, but goes so far beyond that scintillating event. Exploring his conflicted roll as a “rock star,” his turbulent past, and his relationship with drugs and alcohol and journey into sobriety, Randy uses the awful experience of being held in a foreign country for a murder he didn’t commit as a launching point for raw self revelation.

3. The Half-Way House For Writers, Valley Haggard

Valley, founder of Richmond Young Writers, is an amazing teacher and guide for writers, and this book is the perfect at-home inspiration for anyone who wants to write.

4. Dreams of the Red Phoenix, Virginia Pye

Drawing on her own grandmother’s life as a missionary in China, Virginia has crafted a gripping tale of an American missionary family in China during the Japanese occupation.

5. The Bottom, Howard Owen

Set in Richmond, this mystery follows Willie Black, a hardscrabble reporter, as he delves into the serial killing of young women by someone who leaves his victims with a Tweety Bird tattoo. Howard won the prestigious Hammett Award for Oregon Hill with the first of the Willie Black novels, and this fourth installment in the series is equally as gripping and dark.

6. Writing Our Way Out, David Coogan, editor

Detailing the formative and transformative memories of ten men, Writing Our Way Out is the creative culmination of a writing class that began in the Richmond City Jail and grew into a journey of reentry.

7. Skull-A-Day, Noah Scalin

This artist’s monologue, published by Chop Suey Books Books, is the culmination of Noah’s determined project of making a skull every day for an entire year. Using wire, bed sheets, DVD cases, coconuts, and whatever else he had at his disposal each day, Noah created a project which has inspired thousands of people to explore their own creativity.

8. The Works of John Waters

We were lucky enough to hold an event with John Waters this October at The Byrd, and we have plenty of signed copies of his books Shock Value, Crackpot, Role Models, and Carsick. All are amazing books and offer the perfect irreverence for the holiday season.

9. 804ork 2: Back For Seconds

Following the success of last year’s 804ork, a beautifully produced book profiling 24 Richmond restaurants and offering a selection of recipes from each, this “second helpings” edition offers 56 new recipes from fantastic local restaurants not in the first edition.

10. The Little Lion, Nancy Wright Beasley

Set in 1941 in the city of Kaunas, Lithuania, this novelization of actual events is a celebration of Laibale Gillman, a young Jewish boy forced into Kovno Ghetto with his family. Later dubbed “The Little Lion” for his heroism, Laibale devised a plan that helped several people escape Nazi persecution. This book was just released, and we will be celebrating its launch at Hardywood Park Craft Brewery from 3:00 – 6:00 PM on Sunday, December 13th as part of our Brew-Ho-Ho (our second annual year-end celebration of local authors).

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Find all these and so, so much more at Chop Suey Books, 2913 W. Cary Street, featuring books that are new, used, and looking for homes.

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