Talking to Strangers: What We Should Know about the People We Don’t Know — Malcolm Gladwell
This was my fifth Malcolm Gladwell book. I’m pretty much convinced he’s the smartest person in the world, and everything he writes will interest me. Gladwell isn’t shy about broaching difficult topics. Throughout Talking with Strangers, he returns to the story of Sandra Bland and all that went wrong when she was pulled over on a Texas highway in 2015. The book touches upon everything from the Jerry Sandusky case to campus sexual assault to the suicide of Sylvia Plath. Be sure to listen to the audiobook version, which includes interviews and a haunting song about racial injustice.
The Seventh Book of Wonders — Juliana Baggott
I’m a long-time reader of the author-led blog, Writer Unboxed. Several times posts by Julianna Baggott have intrigued me enough that I’ve gone to her website to learn more.
This book — told in four voices over three generations — is strangely wonderful and wonderfully strange. It centers on the wildly successful, reclusive novelist, Harriet Wolf, who never finished her seven-book series, a love story that follows two characters over decades. Mysterious as Harriet is to her fans, her past is just as unknown to her family. Interspersed with present-day narratives, readers learn of Harriet’s childhood at the Maryland School for Feeble Minded Children and her one true love, Eppitt Clapp. Julianna Baggott worked on this rich, detailed, and layered book for eighteen years — a testament to the creative process and a commitment to the characters she loved. I adored this book.
The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
I’ve been intrigued by the Pack Horse Librarian Project since reading The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek last year. Alice has left England with her new American husband to settle in the small town of Baileyville, Kentucky. She doesn’t fit in — not in her community or with her new family. It’s becoming a Book Woman that opens to her the beauty of Appalachia and its strong mountain people, a true circle of friends, and a second chance at love.
It’s a Pumpkin! by Wendy McClure, illustrated by Kate Kronreif
My editor Wendy is also an author. Her latest picture book, It’s a Pumpkin!, is a delight. When woodland creates (in jaunty cardigans and scarves) find a pumpkin, they’re not sure what it is or what do do with it. The pumpkin becomes a chair, a table, a lamp with a smiling face, and ultimately, a pie. When a new pumpkin grows from discarded seeds, they know exactly what it is — a time to celebrate. A sweet addition to any fall picture book collection.
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise by Dan Gemeinhart
I started this audiobook months ago but set it aside when other long-awaited books became available. I’m so glad I returned to it! Coyote Sunrise and her dad, Rodeo, have lived on the road in a converted bus for five years. They’ve left their past behind, even giving themselves new names for their fresh start. In time, readers learn of their painful past and Coyote’s time-sensitive need: to retrieve a box filled with memories — one that is 3,000 miles — away before it’s too late. The characterization is wonderful, and the story is tenderly beautiful. There’s a fun cast of characters and really thoughtful interiority. Coyote has received a lot of well-deserved praise (Katherine Applegate calls it a “joyful miracle of a book”). To prepare for your read (and a virtual ride on the bus) be ready for the three questions that get you on board: What’s your favorite book? What’s your favorite place? What’s your favorite sandwich?
True Grit by Charles Portis
I joined a book club a few months ago that only reads classics (defined by the group as a book written by a dead author!). This summer I’d read about someone who’d re-read every book Charles Portis had written. That had to make the books good, right? When I realized Portis had written True Grit, which I’d always meant to read, and when I learned he’d recently ridden off into the sunset (so to speak), I offered the book up as my book club consideration.
Fourteen-year-old Mattie Ross of Yell County Arkansas is determined to avenge her father’s death. She hires the best US Marshall she can find, the one-eyed, shoot-first-ask-questions-later Rooster Cogburn, and convinces him to let her follow him as he tracks her man. Truly gritty and truly good.
What have you been reading of late?
This post contains affiliate links. More details here.