Mississippians carry on state’s tradition of reading and writing


Published: January 15,2012

Before we get too deep into the year 2012, let’s look at a few picks and pans of the year just finished, which was the first year for Book Biz. Many independent bookstore owners and employees contributed comments about books they were reading, selling and enjoying. It is encouraging that Mississippians are still buying and reading books.

A whole bunch of them are writing books too as evidenced by the number of books reviewed in this column that were written by residents and former residents. The booksellers are loyal to Mississippians and very often recommended their works. One of the most notable was “Salvage the Bones” by Kiln native Jesmyn Ward, an endeavor that earned her the National Book Award.

“Pain Unforgiven” by State Supreme Court Justice Randy Pierce was also highly touted along with a bevy of non fiction, including photography collections and books about football. There was even a cookbook in the mix. We were definitely carrying on the tradition of reading and writing in the Magnolia State.

Although I wanted to read most all the books recommended for Book Biz, I couldn’t possibly get around to all of them in addition to my own reading list. I did read “Cutting for Stone” after it was recommended by Kay Gough, who at the time owned Bay Books in Bay St. Louis. “It’s an amazing story based on a number of things this author, who’s a physician and grew up in Ethiopia, experienced,” Gough said. “It’s a great story. I found it remarkable.”

I agree with her and choose it as the best book I read in 2011. It is a compelling story and covers topics unfamiliar to me (it never hurts to learn something while reading for pleasure). The multi-generational story moves from India to Ethiopia to New York and back to Ethiopia.

The book that most disappointed me last year was “The Paris Wife” by Paula McLain. It’s a fictional account of the time spent in Paris by Ernest Hemingway and his first wife, Hadley Richardson. I didn’t like knowing the ending would be sad in that they would divorce and he would later kill himself. Also, I didn’t think the writing was all that polished, but maybe because it’s about Hemingway I expected the writing to be up to Hemingway standards – an unfair assumption of course.

Next week we begin new reviews and recommendations for 2012. In addition to bookstore owners and employees, we will interview business and professional people from all over Mississippi about some of their favorite reads.

>> Cutting for Stone
By Abraham Verghese
Published by Vintage Press
$15.95 paperback

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