Riveting Reads

Posted On September 7, 2022

These are books to savor, even as they make us ponder and teach us a thing or two.


Deacon King Kong by James McBride

Deacon King Kong is set in the fictionalized projects called the Cause Houses. While the story is ultimately about Sportcoat, the man who shoots Deems – a violent drug dealer – in a drunken stupor, it’s about everyone in the Cause as well. His friends and found family all have their part to play in the story that unfolds. McBride unveils the reasons for every action slowly and methodically. You’ll find yourself surprised that questions you hadn’t even realized you were holding onto are answered while characters interact. This title will make you laugh out loud while reading but will also injure you deeply because life is not always easy and McBride doesn’t sugarcoat the hardships that everyone faces in the Cause. What happens by the end of the tale is so satisfying and complete and will stay with you long after the last word.

Mahogany Skillings, Research & Readers’ Advisory, Richland Library Main


Marvin Kalb.  Assignment Russia: Becoming a Foreign Correspondent in the Crucible of the Cold War.  

Readers of a certain age will recall the sense of fear and uncertainty that pervaded the Cold War era.  Veteran journalist Marvin Kalb captures this mood perfectly in his new memoir, Assignment Russia, in which he charts the beginning of his career with CBS in the late 1950s.  Recruited to the network by the legendary Edward R. Murrow for his academic background in Russian studies (and fluency in the language), Kalb soon found himself named CBS’s new Moscow bureau chief and moved there with his wife, Mady.  Kalb was on hand for the uproar following the downing of the US’s U-2 spy plane over Soviet territory and the funeral of famed writer Boris Pasternak, among other key events.  A fascinating first-hand account of a tumultuous time.  (There is also an SC tie-in: Kalb mentions in the Acknowledgments section that his daughter is a professor at the University of South Carolina.)

Bland Lawson, Business & Careers, Richland Library Main

Nightcrawling by Leila Mottley

2018 Oakland Youth Poet Laureate Leila Mottley’s debut novel tells the story of 17-year old Kiara, a young woman barely making ends meet in a rundown East Oakland apartment whose rent has recently doubled. Confronted with the overwhelming responsibility of keeping her and her older brother Marcus afloat as well as caring for her basically abandoned 9-year old neighbor Trevor, she becomes desperate for work and turns to nightcrawling. What begins as a seemingly simple way to make money quickly takes a turn for the worse when she gets caught up in a scandalous police investigation. Sobering yet lyrical, Mottley explores the pressures put upon Black women, exploitation of sex workers, and the intersectionality of race and wealth inequalities in our society all while finding fleeting moments of joy. This unforgettable novel gives you much to unpack during your next book group.

Morgan Ryan, Richland Library Sandhills


Mary: An Awakening of Terror by Nat Cassidy

Nat Cassidy’s wickedly hilarious horror debut serves up terror with a side of surprisingly insightful commentary on women and aging.

Mary is a quiet, middle-aged woman accustomed to being invisible. She has noticed some changes lately – hot flashes, moodiness, horrific visions of her face decaying when she looks in a mirror, and a sinister new tone from the voices in her head. When a plea for help from her ailing aunt draws her back to her tiny hometown in the Arizona desert, she hopes a change of scene will improve her state of mind. Instead, the visions step up into full-fledged apparitions and she seems to be channeling the voice of a long-dead serial killer. How much worse can her situation get?

A caveat: this wild ride of a book is incredibly brutal and gory in places. Cassidy thoughtfully provides a thorough content warning before the story begins.

Sarah Cameron, Research & Readers’ Advisory, Richland Library Main