More Than They Seem: 3 Books That Explore Backstory

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We love to imagine backstories for our favorite fictitious characters as we wonder, what from their past made them the way they are?  Parnassus Books in Nashville, Tennessee recommended three books that explore “Backstory: We Are More Than We Seem.” This week’s selections were chose by Parnassus’ Social Media Director Mary Laura Philpott, whose work has appeared in The New York Times, USA Today and the Huffington Post and is the founder of the online magazine MUSING.

Parnassus opened in 2011 when author Ann Patchett and publishing veteran Karen Hayes realized that bookstores were disappearing from Nashville, a city with a rich cultural tradition. “I have no interest in retail…but I also have no interest in living in a city without a bookstore,” Patchett told the New York Times. Parnassus has been a book-lover’s destination ever since.

Philpott recommends:

The Luckiest Girl Alive by Jessica Knoll (Simon & Schuster, 2015)

Luckiest Girl cover“Ani FaNelli’s cutting remarks about her fiancé, her family and her colleagues at a glamorous New York fashion magazine may make you laugh, but they’ll also make you uncomfortable. She’s flippant, even cruel, to others—a real grownup mean girl. The more we learn about the years she spent at an elite prep school, the more we come to understand how she got that way and the truth about the events that permanently altered her perception of the world.”



Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff (Riverhead Books, September 15, 2015)

Fates & Furies cover“Every relationship can be told in (at least) two different stories, which is just what this book does with the marriage of Mathilde and Lotto. Weaving in bits and pieces of classic drama and mythology, Groff demonstrates how keen we are to assign roles to one another: the innocent; the siren; the villain. When she shines a light on each character from multiple angles, it’s clear that no one’s motivations are as pure or as wicked as they appear.”



Fishbowl by Bradley Somer (St. Martin’s Press, 2015)

Fishbowl cover“The initial glimpse we get of each character in this ensemble story is fleeting: just a flash of clothing or a snippet of conversation. All these people live in the same apartment building, but beyond that we know very little at first—perhaps one or two facts about their age or occupation, that’s about it. As Somer builds their storylines and begins weaving them together, we begin to understand their hopes, their fears, their secrets and what they mean to each other. The revelations are by turns funny, poignant and surprising.”



figured it all out too late. He got his degree in Psychology and realized years later that he wanted to write for a living. He now has 16+ years of digital and print journalism experience and currently entertains an ongoing love affair with the greatest literary classics (he savored every page of "War and Peace" and thought it could've been longer, and he will finish Proust's "In Search of Lost Time"). He also loves crossword puzzles, tennis, the outdoors, and working on numerous novels. One of these days, one will get picked up...and when it does, the world will make a little more sense.

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