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Sundog Books: The Best Winter Reads

Michelle Hayes Uhlfelder

Posted on Dec 18, 2022 in Sundog Books

The Seaside experience and books go hand in hand. Beaches and Books is a phrase I mutter countless times a day. This pairing might be the secret sauce to the 34 years of success for Seaside’s family-owned indie bookstore. Because at its core, this charming community was founded on growth, fresh ideas, taking risks and new possibilities — much like literature.

Despite the illusion that these colorful buildings are stuck in time, I’ve witnessed first-hand how Seaside is continually evolving. Once you experience Seaside year after year, you see the brilliance of the culture of excellence at the heart of it.

And aren’t superb stories much the same? We start a book thinking it’s one thing, and yet, after flipping the last page, we walk away with a new perspective, often refreshed and energized intellectually. We have a clearer focus for the subjects, people and ideas that once seemed foreign, now enriching our lives in ways we can’t quite articulate. We better ourselves by reaching for the latest body of work by thought leaders and talented storytellers.

I strive to treat every interaction at Sundog Books much like what an enlightening story provides — an awakening of growth. Each customer who crosses the bookstore’s threshold to chat — from the one who wants to spill the beans on the latest can’t-put-down thriller to the dad who sips a cup of coffee while picking my brain for a recommendation that will help his teen fall back in love with reading, it’s these conversations that fuel a bookseller’s passion for literature.

It’s absolutely a pleasure to connect you to your next read — truly, it means the world to those of us behind the counter who share our knowledge and literally countless hours of reading with visitors to our little coastal community. What book will you put in your satchel?

Sundog Books: The Best Winter Reads

“Now Is Not the Time to Panic” by Kevin Wilson

If you haven’t read Kevin Wilson’s prior work, “Nothing to See Here,” about fire combusting children — do yourself a favor and grab it soon. It’s wickedly funny in all the right ways and incredibly well-written. I’m pleased to report that his just-released third novel, “Now Is Not the Time to Panic,” is also a stand-out with Wilson’s signature whip-smart wit. This coming-of-age tale about two teenagers who create art together explores young love and nails that awkward teenage period we’ve all conveniently repressed. I have yet to find a customer who hasn’t thoroughly enjoyed his novels.

“No Accident” by Laura Bates

If you follow my book Instagram account (@thebookdarlingblog), then you are clued in that I have a teen and consequently, read quite a bit of young adult books. I just couldn’t resist throwing in a recommendation for the 13+ age group that’s sure to delight. Centered around a plane crash that leaves seven teenagers alone on a deserted island, “No Accident” will keep your beach bum flipping the pages faster than they can say Frost Bites three times fast. Bring this home and you’re sure to get a (mumbled) thank you. Better yet, grab two copies and read it alongside them and gasp loudly for them to hear for maximum eyerolls.

“Phaedra” by Laura Shepperson

“Circe” by Madeline Miller, the 2018 fiction novel about the Greek half-god, half-enchantress from Odysseus’ travels, is quite possibly in my top three books of all time. So when I came across this similar debut novel by Laura Shepperson, my heart quite literally went pitter-patter. A powerful feminist retelling of Greek mythology’s Cretan princess Phaedra and her unyielding quest for justice, it’s perfect for those who enjoy a modern retelling of old-world women’s bravery.

“The Bandit Queen” by Parini Shroff

While working on my master’s degree, I traveled to India for nearly a month. Since then, I enjoy taking in stories about Indian culture. But caution, I am a shrewd judge and it truly has to be very good to move the needle. Ding, ding, ding! I found it. A young Indian woman finds the false rumors that she killed her husband surprisingly useful — until other women in the village start asking for her help getting rid of their own husbands. In this razor-sharp debut, you needn’t look any further for the perfect crime novel.

“How to Sell a Haunted House” by Grady Hendrix

Dubbed the new “horror master,” Grady Hendrix has this way of crafting a thriller that is true bliss. And Hollywood has taken note with many of his works hitting the screen, including his latest book being adapted by Amazon Studios, “The Southern Book Clubs Guide to Slaying Vampires,” a mash of “Steel Magnolias” meets “Fried Green Tomatoes” with major “Dracula” vibes. His newest release, “How to Sell a Haunted House,” promises to deliver all the hilarious and heart-pounding storylines Hendrix is famous for. And true to the title, he takes a common(ish) theme — haunted houses — and spins an extraordinary tale, that every childhood home is haunted, and each of us are possessed by our parents. Gulp. I promise, even if this is not your normal genre read, Hendrix is a Southern treasure and it would be worth the stretch.