Top 5 Books You Should Read by Authors Who Attended Pulpwood Queen’s Girlfriends Weekend 2014
This is probably the most arbitrary list I’ve created in a long time… Well, I guess that could be debatable, because all of my lists are pretty arbitrary… Of course, I haven’t read ALL the books by ALL the great authors who attended Pulpwood Queen’s Girlfriends Weekend (PWQ GFWE) 2014. But I shipped home pounds and pounds of them, so that will be rectified at some point. (Notice I couldn’t write “soon” since I’m the slowest reader on the planet…) But I am still looking forward to seeing my UPS person visit me in the near future…
5) Shannon McKenna Schmidt’s Writers Between the Covers: The Scandalous Romantic Lives of Legendary Literary Casanovas, Coquettes, and Cads. (Nonfiction; co-authored by Joni Rendon) I listened to this book on CD in my car and it was so captivating that I was almost arrested for loitering in the parking lot at Nugget Markets as I lingered and loitered, listening to the end of an anecdote. I later picked up a hard copy as well so that I could reread parts of this fascinating book, again! Some of the chapters are short, concise snippets of information, while others tell longer tales. All are interesting and entertaining—and a bit voyeuristic… And if you think Oscar Wilde, Ernest Hemmingway, and Lord Byron are the only authors who had complicated love lives, wait ‘til you hear about Anais Nin, Simone de Beauvoir, and Colette. Apparently, ‘what’s good for the goose is good for the gander…’
I also must recommend the co-author’s previous book, Novel Destinations: Literary Landmarks From Jane Austen’s Bath to Ernest Hemingway’s Key West, which I read several years ago. For both actual travelers and armchair ‘staycationers’ alike, this book takes you on a great journey of literary “stuff to see” when you’re in (fill in the blank.) For example, if you’re in Alabama (as I was last year) take a detour over to Monroeville, home of Harper Lee (and Truman Capote), to see the courthouse where Atticus Finch made his compelling speech in defense of Tom Robinson in To Kill a Mockingbird.
4) Karen Harrington’s Sure Signs of Crazy. (Contemporary Young Adult Fiction) Although this is a sequel to her adult novel, Janeology, as she’s switched genres, Sure Signs of Crazy is actually her first Young Adult book. But don’t let that fool you—adults will want to read it too. It’s the coming of age story of Sarah Nelson, the surviving twin of Janeology fame. Touching, poignant, and quite funny at times, you’ll root for Sarah as she discovers who she is—and isn’t. Brava, Karen, on your creative genre shift!
3) Julie Kibler’s Calling Me Home. (Historical Fiction) This was one of the last books I read in 2013, and since I’d already written my Top 10 list, I wasn’t able to include this gem. (But since it came out in paperback this month, watch for it on this year’s list…) This work of historical fiction is woven with a contemporary storyline. And while I usually find the latter to be much weaker than the historical tale in novels where this literary device is used, in this case, I loved both threads of the novel. A photo of Julie’s grandmother served as the inspiration for this Romeo and Juliet story of a young white woman who falls in love with a black man in 1930’s Jim Crow south. The current storyline involves a young African-American woman and an elderly white woman who forge a meaningful friendship. Her characters are full of emotion, conflict, and torn loyalties, and even if you think you know how things will conclude, you have a surprise twist in store at the end. It’s a wonderful, heartfelt novel that everyone should read!
2) Melanie Benjamin’s The Aviator’s Wife. (Historical Fiction) Melanie’s books just keep getting better and better! The Aviator’s Wife not only made my Top 10 list for 2013, but at PWQ GFWE, it walked away with the award for the PWQ Book of the Year for 2013 as well! Well deserved! If you haven’t read this fictional account of one of the most famous couples in American history, Anne Morrow and Charles Lindbergh, you’re in for a treat. Many of us know Lucky Lindy for his historic transatlantic flight of 1927. Or perhaps you’re familiar with the couple due to the tragic kidnapping and death of the Lindbergh baby—the “crime of the century”—in 1932. Instead, this novel focuses on Anne Morrow Lindberg, aviator in her own right, and a fabulous writer. (Gift from the Sea is one of the most cherished books in my library…) The story of this strong and accomplished woman is fascinating. (Check out this link to a previous blog on this book…)
1) Jamie Ford’s Songs of Willow Frost. (Historical Fiction) All of you know what a huge Jamie Ford fan I am. His first novel, Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet was a major hit with book clubs, and Songs of Willow Frost is destined to follow in its footsteps. Again, we follow a young Chinese boy in Seattle—this time in the 1930’s—who is searching for love, family and identity. Wise beyond his years, we root for him as he struggles to find “home.” (See a more in-depth review from last fall…) and you’ll understand why “Songs” was also included on my Top 10 list for 2013.
Let me know what books you’re recommending to friends. My TBR list always has more room!