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I've been a bookseller at City Lights since graduating from WCU in 2006. While I did not grow up here, I consider Jackson County my home. I am responsible for events coordination and publicity for the store and feel pretty lucky to have that as my job. I generally like to read novels, short stories, poetry and military history.
Here are some books I've enjoyed:
In Fallen Land, Taylor Brown has recreated the apocalyptic landscape of the South during the final year of the Civil War. He balances desperation and cruelty with love and loyalty. Brown is a promising new voice in fiction. -- Eon
An act of perceived revenge challenges a retiring sheriff in his last few days in office. Rash’s poetic new novel shows how a connection with the natural world can soothe the pains and mask the flaws of existing in the human world. --Eon Alden
An environmental scientist, Jay believes he can revolutionize sustainable farming. What starts out as a dedicated but light-hearted obsession with composting leads him to moving his wife and son to a rural riverside farmstead in the Mississippi delta. It is not long though before it all begins to unravel for Jay. Soil is a great read, set at a furious pace that does not end until the final page. Forget the great plot and pace, Kornegay’s writing style makes this book hard to put down. --Eon Alden
Expertly balancing beauty and brutality, David has written a novel that stays with the reader long after the final page has been read. Where All Light Tends to Go, though very much an Appalachian tale, is the story common to many young men who are trying to escape their desperate circumstances. -- Eon Alden
Not all fantasy leagues are created equal and expert Matthew Berry knows this better than most. Readers do not need to play fantasy sports or even be a sports fan to enjoy the highs and lows of human nature revealed in Berry’s engaging and humorous book. Fantasy Life may not be a manifesto on winning a fantasy league, but one does get an entertaining glimpse at the culture of fantasy sports. --Eon Alden
When two correspondents for the New York Tribune embark on a journey to cover the Civil War in the heart of Confederate controlled territories, they are thrilled at the prospect of adventure, glory and of getting a good story. Soon, though they find out the true nature of war after witnessing battle and getting captured, they end up in the prisoner of war camp in Salisbury, NC. This book, though a history, reads like a novel. It is thoroughly engaging while offering unique insights on the function and the perception of the media of that time. -- Eon Alden
When commanders in Washington D.C. decide to build an outpost in the valley of one of the most remote regions in Afghanistan, many of the soldiers tasked with operating from it have their doubts about the outpost’s placement. The terrain makes it too difficult to supply the outpost from the air so the only way to get supplies is from a treacherously narrow and deteriorating road. Each trip is met with increasingly effective ambushes. The enemy has the high ground and it seems that everyone, including the local villagers knows a large attack is impending.On October 3rd 2009 that attack happened. An estimated 400 insurgents attacked the 53 soldiers living at outpost. This book is a terrific look in the realities of the war in Afghanistan, told with the perspectives of the soldiers whose lives are impacted by the misguided decisions of far-off commanders. --Eon Alden
Jack Cavanaugh’s Season of ‘42 is perfect blend of history, biography and baseball. Some of the game’s biggest names shed their home white uniforms for OD greens or khakis and went to war. It was decided that the 1942 season would go on despite the thinned lineups and those who questioned whether healthy young men should be paid to play a game when so many others were fighting and sacrificing their lives. Featuring legends like Bob Feller, Ted Williams and Joe DiMaggio, this book shows just how much baseball means to Americans and how the game is connected to our history. --Eon Alden
Set in Madison County, North Carolina, A Land More Kind Than Home by Wiley Cash, tells the story of a young mute boy mysteriously killed during a sermon at a notoriously controversial church. In the wake of the killing a divided community is revealed and a corrupt pastor is exposed. Told from the perspectives of several well crafted characters, Cash’s beautifully written debut novel shows the dangers blind faith can have on not only a family but an entire community. - Eon Alden
A great look into the lives of the soldiers of that time period. --Eon Alden
Laurel Shelton and her brother live in a cove considered by many to be cursed. Crops fail, untimely deaths occur and little light ever trickles down into their plot of land. Their lives are largely isolated until Laurel discovers a mysterious and mute stranger playing the flute in the nearby woods. Set during the final months of WWI in the Appalachians of North Carolina, The Cove is a book that reveals the nature of humans to quickly ostracize those not like themselves and how easily people will demonize a group of people amid the fever of war. --Eon Alden
Following up his highly acclaimed novel, Matterhorn, Karl Marlantes offers up an undisguised and erudite memoir about his experiences in the Vietnam War. In What it is Like to Go to War, Marlantes blends his personal story with his views on the responsibility of sending young people off to war and the responsibility of the military to properly prepare these warriors mentally and spiritually for battle. He calls for our society to rethink its view on violence and aggression-- to not suppress what comes naturally by shaming and isolating but to instead guide it in a positive form. I feel everyone should read this thought-provoking book but I really recommend it to anyone interested not only in military issues but to any who question some of the social values with which we live – Eon Alden
Set during the siege of Leningrad during WWII, two young Russian men set out to locate a specific item in order to spare their lives from the repressive Soviet government. Revealed is the full capacity of human nature during desperate times. This book hooked me at once and never let me go. -- Eon Alden
Set in the misty, mountainous jungles of Vietnam, near the Laotian border, a company of Marines faces unnerving circumstances. Each Marine struggles with individual fears and must find alliances within the company in order to survive the grueling thirteen-month tour. This book has been compared to The Thin Red Line or The Naked and the Dead and I can truly see why. The story haunts you long after you have flipped the final page.
-- Eon Alden
When searching for the best possible human, a dog must choose carefully. This book will certainly help in that quest. Written as a guide for dogs, Training People is also helpful for the prospective person to know just what a dog is looking for in a good human. Reading it let me know, to my relief, that I have indeed been successfully trained. -- Eon Alden
I love reading history books but even I will admit that some can be a bit of a slog to get through. American Rifle, however, is not one of these books. Starting from the American Revolution and continuing on to the present, Rose paints a colorful portrait of a device that has shaped our nation. You will meet some interesting characters along the way and learn about the politics, industry and culture of the rifle in our country all while getting an enjoyable glimpse of American history. There is something here for everyone, no matter the opinion on arms control. -- Eon Alden
David Bellavia has provided an epic and often brutal account of the battle for Fallujah. His memoir, House to House reveals what it is truly like to be an infantry soldier in Iraq and sheds light on how this war has provided training and battle experience to those willing to fight the United States. This book stands out as one of the best military history/military biography books I have ever read. - Eon Alden
Find yourself secretly fascinated by the undead but not interested in a gooey, somewhat smelly love story? Well, with a Faustian foundation, mixed with a touch of Roald Dahl for humor, this novel is a wonderful alternative. Johannes Cabal, a brilliant and determined scientist, has exchanged his soul with Satan for a… well… particular skill. Cabal finds he needs his soul back, however, to continue his pursuit of science. Can he deceive the Deceiver? I found myself rereading certain lines just to have an extra chuckle and before long I was sympathizing with some very questionable characters. -- Eon Alden
Set during the French and Indian War, this book offers a detailed glimpse of a unique man redefining the nature of combat in a conflict often overshadowed by the American Revolution and the Civil War. If you are looking for pioneering spirit and brutal high adventure this book will keep you up at night or like me, late returning from lunch breaks. -- Eon Alden
As a kid, bats and baseball were both of great fascination to me, making Bats at the Ballgame the perfect kid’s book in my mind. Author, Brian Lies does a terrific job in relating the bonding qualities of the game among generations of family members. He captures the drama a great baseball game has with rich illustrations and wonderful text. As a baseball fan, I enjoyed the portion of the grandfather-bat relating the history of past great players to his young grandson-bat, something that is unique to the game. – Eon Alden