Great Minds

May 13, 2021

I’ve had a few “wait a minute!” moments of confusion at the bookshelves in recent times. On more than one occasion I’ve encountered an unfamiliar title or a new release and thought, “I’ve read about this one already” but alas, no. (And no, not middle age brain to blame for a change!)  It seems that sometimes great minds of writers simply think alike. Here are a few newish books that look great to me and happen to have been inspired by a shared theme. 

The 1906 San Francisco Earthquake

 

Vera by Carol Edgarian

“Set in San Francisco during the great quake and fire of 1906, this wonderfully compelling novel takes us deeply into the heart and mind of an unforgettable fifteen year old girl, one who must find her way alone through a mother’s neglect, through bordellos and corrupt politicians, through the debris and ashes of what was once “The Paris of the West.” Vera is that rare novel that you’ll want to buy for loved ones just as soon as you reach its shimmeringly beautiful ending. And its street-wise, resilient protagonist will stay with you for a very long time indeed.”

— Andre Dubus III

The Nature of Fragile Things by Susan Meissner

“In 1906, Irish immigrant Sophie marries a stranger and moves to San Francisco. There, she discovers a hidden connection to two other women — and when a devastating earthquake strikes, they must fight to survive. “Exceptional… Ingeniously plotted and perfectly structured, this captivates from beginning to end” (Publishers Weekly).”

– BookBub

 

Kentucky Packhorse Library Service

 

Giver of Stars by JoJo Moyes

“Based on the true story of the Pack Horse Library initiative — a Works Progress Administration project that ran from 1935 to 1943 and turned women and their steeds into bookmobiles — Moyes’s characters travel into the remote Eastern Kentucky mountains to deliver learning to the most isolated residents….’Giver of Stars’ is a celebration of love, but also of reading, of knowledge, of female friendship, of the beauty of our most rural corners and our enduring American grit: the kind of true grit that can be found in the hills of Kentucky and on the pages of this inspiring book.

– Washington Post

Book Woman of Troublesome Creek by Kim Michele Richardson

“Kim Michele Richardson has written a fascinating novel about people almost forgotten by history: Kentucky’s pack-horse librarians and “blue people.” The factual information alone would make this book a treasure, but with her impressive storytelling and empathy, Richardson gives us so much more.”

– Ron Rash, New York Times bestselling author of One Foot in Eden and Serena

 

The Barbizon Hotel for Women

 

The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis

“Multigenerational and steeped in history, The Dollhouse is a story about women—from the clicking anxiety of Katie Gibbs’s secretaries to the willowy cool of Eileen Ford’s models, to honey-voiced hatcheck girls and glamorous eccentrics with lapdogs named Bird. Davis celebrates the women of New York’s present and past—the ones who live boldly, independently, carving out lives on their own terms.”

—Elizabeth Winder, author of Pain, Parties, Work: Sylvia Plath in New York, Summer 1953

Barbizon: the Hotel that Set Women Free by Paulina Bren

“With enough smoldering glamour to make Mad Men look dreary…Bren’s captivating book tells the story of this women’s residential hotel, from its construction in 1927 on Manhattan’s 140 East 63rd Street, to its eventual conversion into multimillion-dollar condominiums in 2007. But it is also a brilliant many-layered social history of women’s ambition and a rapidly changing New York throughout the 20th century.”

– The Guardian
 

Celebrity Book Clubs

August 19, 2020

Hiking 2015, by Darren Thompson

Hope you’ve all been enjoying a good summer with books galore. I’ve had some hits and misses but overall there are some good pages in the bank. You’ll hear about the best ones soon.  Feel free to share your own hits!

I have an arm’s-length list of topics to share with you but it was a message in my in-box this morning that put me back in the chair to write. From whence the message? A shoe company I once patronized. The content? An invite to join their new Book Club! Not the first place I think of when I think of book clubs.

I’d already begun piecing together notes about the recent surge of celebrity book clubs so it seemed a sign. It seems everyone from the iconic, (Oprah and Reese and former NFL-er Andrew Luck), to all the TV hosts (Jenna and GMA), to every bookseller (Chapter’s, Parnassus, Powell’s) and yes, even to the shoe store, has formed a virtual book club. I haven’t actually joined in with any of the groups but I do give the books and their reviews a second look. Oprah’s picks have sometimes been a bit dark for my liking, Reese’s are quite consistently choices I’ve enjoyed though sometimes a little on the “lite” side and I’ve said before that Heather’s selections are dependably good ones for me too. What’s your experience been? Do you follow any celebrity book clubs you’d recommend?

Here are some of the latest picks that have caught my eye in a few of the most popular “Celebrity” Book Clubs:

Heather’s Book Club (Heather Reisman of Indigo-Chapters)

The Education of an Idealist by Samantha Power, A Long Petal of the Sea by Isabelle Allende, The Skin We’re In by Desmond Cole, Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

 

Hello Sunshine Book Club (Reese Witherspoon’s picks)

The Henna Artist by Akra Joshi, The Guest List by Lucy Foley, Everything Inside by Edwidge Danticat, Untamed by Glennon Doyle

 

Andrew Luck’s Book Club

The Overstory by Richard Powers, Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life by William Finnegan, Preaching to the Chickens: The story of a young John Lewis by Jabari Asim, The Hare with the Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal

 

Good Morning America (GMA) Book Club 

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett, The Lions of Fifth Avenue by Fiona Davis, In Five Years by Rebecca Serle, Long Bright River by Liz Moore

 

Read with Jenna (Today Show)

A Burning by Megha Majumbdar, Valentine by Elizabeth Wetmore, The Girl with the Louding Voice by Abi Dare, All Adults Here by Emma Straub

 

Oprah’s Book Club

Deacon King Kong by James McBride, Caste by Isabel Wilkerson, The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates, Behold the Dreamers by Imbolo Mbue

 

And the shoe company, Margaux’s, inaugural selection for their new book club called (wait for it) Footnotes!

Love After Love by Ingrid Persaud

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