One on One: Books for New Year’s reading

By. D.G. Martin

D.G. MartinChapel Hill, NC – So, have you got something about reading more books on your list of New Year’s resolutions?

If so, I have some help.

Four different books, at least one of which will be right for you. A best-selling inspirational cookbook-memoir by North Carolina’s most celebrated woman these days. A novel set in contemporary times about a half-human, half-bull creature who tries to make his way as a blue-collar worker. A look back at the racial turmoil of the 1960s through the poignant experience of one of North Carolina’s greatest basketball stars, and a literary novel about a troubled marriage that becomes a murder mystery.

These books will be featured in January on the new season of UNC-TV’s North Carolina Bookwatch.

Public television’s popular program, “A Chef’s Life,” has made North Carolinian Vivian Howard a national figure. Now, her photograph on the lovely cover of her book, “Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South,” is on prominent display in bookstores everywhere.

Howard organized her book in a new way. Not by collections of similar dishes like salads, appetizers, main dishes and desserts, but by foods, the raw ingredients. She gives chapters to sweet potatoes, corn, eggs, watermelon, oysters, pecans, beans and peas, blueberries, sweet corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, rice, summer squash, sausage, peanuts, okra, collards, peaches, rutabagas, apples, beets, muscadine grapes and others that are seasonally available in Deep Run, her home community, which is near Kinston, site of Howard’s Chef and the Farmer restaurant.

North Carolina native Steven Sherrill’s “The Minotaur Takes His Own Sweet Time” tells how a fictional Greek legendary half-bull, half-man called the Minotaur adapts to life in a modern white working-class community. Somehow Sherrill makes the reader set aside disbelief, overlook the Minotaur’s bullhorns, funny looking face, and tortured way of speaking. Once that is done, Sherrill’s story of the Minotaur’s struggles to find a place in the human world is moving and compelling.

Game Changers: Dean Smith, Charlie Scott, and the Era That Transformed a Southern College TownIn his new book, veteran sports journalist Art Chansky uses the experiences of UNC-Chapel Hill legendary basketball hero Charlie Scott to view the racial revolution of the 1960s.  “Game Changers: Dean Smith, Charlie Scott, and the Era That Transformed a Southern College Town” explains how Scott, the Tar Heels’ first African-American scholarship basketball player, could be a hero on the court and a lonely outsider on the Carolina campus. Although the racial climate in Chapel Hill was gradually improving, Scott never felt comfortably at home off the court. Still, his great playing ability earned him thousands of fans. Their admiration of Scott’s basketball talents helped many of them put aside their strict segregationist views.

UNC-Wilmington writing teacher Nina de Gramont is an admired writer of literary fiction. Her fans may be surprised that she begins her latest book, “The Last September,” with a murder. A young wife, Brett, finds the body of her blood-drenched husband, Charlie, with his head bashed in and his throat slit. Brett becomes a suspect. A more likely murderer is her husband’s seriously mentally ill brother. Along the way to solving the murder the author takes readers back in time to show how Brett’s high hopes for a marriage to Charlie, a man she had adored, were crumbling at the time of the murder. The book becomes a complicated and engaging character study that leads the reader to ponder Brett’s ultimate fate and put aside any quest to solve the murder mystery. But, in the end, although the murderer is brought to justice, the mystery of who Brett really is remains unsolved.

If you would like to get to know these authors before you buy their books, watch them in January on Bookwatch on UNC-TV’s main channel, Sunday at noon and Thursday at 5 p.m. and also on the North Carolina channel, Friday at 8 p.m. and Sunday at 10 a.m.