Every year, the Romance Writers of America (RWA) nominates the best in romance for the coveted RITA award, named after their first president, Rita Clay Estrada. This year, RITA nominees did something that hasn’t been done before— the authors and their books were trending topics on Twitter yesterday and today as the nominees were announced.
Categories, this year, include Best First Book, Erotic Romance, Young Adult Romance, Romantic Suspense, and Paranormal Romance. You can view the full list of 2018 RITA nominees and finalists on the Romance Writers of America website. Winners will be announced later in the year and awarded at a black-tie ceremony during the 2018 RWA Conference in Denver, Colorado.
I’ve long been a fan of Karen Karbo, the award-winning author of the Kick-Ass Womenseries and more. This past fall, I holed up with Karen and about 20 other writer friends at a weekend long conference of our fellow Tall Poppy Writers at an Airbnb in Chicago. We shared a bathroom and brainstormed about the writing biz and our respective places in it. If you’d asked me then, I would have told you Karen Karbo isn’t the least bit “difficult.” But now I’ve read her latest book, In Praise of Difficult Women, (Foreword by the fabulous Cheryl Strayed) and I’ve changed my mind.
Karbo has written a collection of essays about what it is to be a “difficult” woman – a word she admits from the start is not defined by any one trait. (“As I read and wrote, I was a little delirious to discover the many ways in which women can be difficult.”)
A review of the Table of Contents of Karbo’s collection reveals few surprises. What is surprising, however, is how Karbo writes about these women – a word she admits from the start is not defined by any one trait. (“As I read and wrote, I was a little delirious to discover the many ways in which women can be difficult.”) The portrayals of the women in Karbo’s collection are not sanitized or fictionalized to create modern day superheroes. Instead, there’s a reminder in her writing about the deeply human nature of those we love to admire.
Journalist Martha Gellhorn is described as “cantankerous.” Creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Shonda Rhimes, wrote an ABC pilot before Grey’s, that tanked. Helen Gurley Brown was a feminist who “displayed her ignorance about HIV and AIDS” in the 80’s. Billie Jean King declined Bobby Riggs’ first challenge out of fear.
The truth is, with the insight and wisdom of her newest collection of essays, Karen Karbo shows us that for many of us, being difficult is simply to embrace our most authentic selves.
Being difficult, it turns out, just might be easier than we think.
Karen Karbo is the author of fourteen award-winning novels, memoirs and works of non-fiction including the best-selling “Kick Ass Women” series. Her 2004 memoir, THE STUFF OF LIFE, was a New York Times Notable Book, a Books for a Better Life Award finalist, and winner of the Oregon Book Award for Creative Non-fiction. A recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship in Fiction, Karen’s three adults novels have also been named New York Times Notable Books. Her short stories, essays, articles and reviews have appeared in Elle, Vogue, O, Esquire, Outside, The New York Times, Salon, and other magazines. Recently, she was one of the 24 writers selected for the inaugural Amtrak Residency. Most recently, she is the author of In Praise of Difficult Women: Life Lessons from 29 Heroines Who Dared to Break the Rules (National Geographic 2018).
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It’s Women’s History Month and we are looking forward to all the events and books that celebrate the impact that women have on the world. In addition to bringing you the latest pop culture news and reviews where women are the focus, this month, we are also going to share with you some of the best BookTrib articles of the past that celebrate women and diversity. Today, we feature this piece from September 11th, 2015 about a young boy who believes his Nigerian birth mother loves him more than anything in all of time, and that he is a wizard.
From the award-winning author of Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away, the story of a young boy who believes two things: that his Nigerian birth mother loves him like the world has never known love, and that he is a wizard
Elijah, seven years old, is covered in scars and has a history of disruptive behavior. Taken away from his birth mother, a Nigerian immigrant in England, Elijah is moved from one foster parent to the next before finding a home with Nikki and her husband, Obi.
Nikki believes that she and Obi are strong enough to accept Elijah’s difficulties—and that being white will not affect her ability to raise a black son. They care deeply for Elijah and, in spite of his demons, he begins to settle into this loving family. But as Nikki and Obi learn more about their child’s tragic past, they face challenges that threaten to rock the fragile peace they’ve established, challenges that could prove disastrous.
CHRISTIE WATSON is a British novelist and pediatric nurse. She holds an MA in Creative Writing from the University of East Anglia, where she won the Malcolm Bradbury Memorial Bursary, and has since published short fiction and other writings in numerous publications including Wasafiri,Mslexia,Index on Censorship, The Guardian,and The Telegraph.Watson teaches creative writing at various institutions including Birkbeck University, the Groucho Club, and Cambridge University. She has won the Costa First Novel Award and Waverton Good Read Award for her first novel, Tiny Sunbirds, Far Away, and was named one of Red’s Hot Women of the Year in 2012. She lives in London.
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BookTrib is partnering with Bookish to bring you more great content. Ava Dellaira’s sophomore novel, In Search of Us, explores the importance of personal and family history through the lives of two young women. The narrative jumps between the past and the present to weave together the stories of Marilyn, a white teen who struggles to be what her mom wants her to be, and Angie, Marilyn’s biracial 17-year-old daughter who is searching for her father. We had the opportunity to talk with Dellaira about the importance of shared history, her relationship with her mom, and how pregnancy changed how she viewed her own novel.
Bookish: Through Angie and Marilyn, you explore the idea that to know ourselves we must know our history (the history of our own lived experiences, of our family’s experiences, and of our country’s). What first inspired you to write their stories? And what drew you to these themes?
Ava Dellaira: That’s perfectly stated, and is the central theme that emerged while I was writing the book. I believe that in order to create the present and the future that we want for ourselves, we must know where we’re coming from. I often thought of this William Faulkner quote while writing: “The past is never dead. It’s not even past.” We all grow up with this invisible inheritance—from our families, our cultures, our country—and in order to decide what to do with that inheritance, how we might embrace or escape different aspects of it, we must first be able to see it clearly, which is no small task. Whether or not we think about it in those terms, I believe that’s a big part of coming of age. Both Marilyn and Angie are grappling with this in different ways.
My original idea for the book, which was to write about a mom and daughter each on the brink of adulthood at 17, came out of an interest in personal and family history. When I was an older teenager, I began to incorporate my sense of my parents’ history into my emerging sense of self and the story that I told myself about who I was. But after I lost my mom at 22, there was still so much about her feelings and experiences as a young person that I wished I could talk to her about that I would now never be able to ask. And yet, I had a sense that I was influenced by it nonetheless.
As I started to work on the book, to get to know the characters and to explore issues of race, I considered its impact on personal and family history, but it also became a bigger topic, relating to our collective history and to the devastating effects of being unable to face that history. Shortly after I started working on this book, I read “The Case For Reparations,” (an essay by Ta-Nehisi Coates in The Atlantic) and it had a huge impact on me and on my understanding of the very specific ways in which past injustices that have gone unaddressed create present ones. I could go on and on about this essay, but I encourage anyone who hasn’t to read it. It is heartbreaking, but provides a road map for hope, for the possibility of a different future. In Coates’ words, “We must imagine a new country. Reparations—by which I mean the full acceptance of our collective biography and its consequences—is the price we must pay to see ourselves squarely.”
Bookish: You’ve lived in both Los Angeles and New Mexico, like your characters. Were there any experiences of your time in those cities that influenced this book? What made you want to write about your homes in this way?
AD: I think a big part of who we are is influenced by where we come from—literally. So in In Search Of Us, which is about discovering one’s identity, bringing the locations of the characters’ homes to life was important to the story. I tend to use places in my writing that I know intimately so that I can capture their details and texture. I was excited to write about Los Angeles—a city of myth, of dreams and broken dreams, a city that has had so much grafted onto it, including some of my own history. I first moved there just after college and just after my mom’s sudden death. Although I was born in the city, we’d left when I was three and I didn’t have any of my own memories of it. Arriving in LA as young adult, I felt as if there were a city beneath the city: the city of my parents’ invisible past. There was some part of my mother—who had lived there before I was ever alive—that I hoped to discover on the street of her old apartment building, on the beaches where she and my father would spend afternoons fishing, in the restaurants where she once sat, ate, laughed, dreamed. That sensation stayed with me when I began imagining Angie in LA, looking for clues to uncover her past.
Bookish: There’s a sense of longing that permeates this book. Teenagers are often longing for so much (freedom, adventure, a life of their own), but we see the adults in this book share that feeling too. Do you think longing is simply part of the human condition?
AD: I do! I think longing is one of the most poignant (and often painful) human emotions—a kind of desire rooted deep in the soul. It’s true that it’s definitely a feeling I first experienced in all of its intensity during my teenage years. I think adolescence is a time in life when we are becoming well acquainted with our souls in all of their complicated dimensions, when we are often most unfiltered in our feelings, when our deepest desires are closest to the surface. But I don’t think that adults are by any means immune to longing—the feeling will revisit most of us, as we all continue to have dreams and desires throughout our lifetimes. If certain needs have gone unanswered, I think they may manifest as distorted kinds of longing—like in Marilyn’s mom’s case, for stardom and wealth. But underneath, these are usually rooted in a more pure kind of want—for love, for belonging, for recognition.
Bookish: Both of your books (Love Letters to the Dead and In Search of Us) feature characters who turn to music in times of trouble. How does music’s importance in your own life help to inspire its presence in your writing?
AD: Music is one of the first ways that I get inside of a book—when I’m starting on a story and getting to know my characters, I spend a lot of time making playlists, letting myself sink into the feeling of certain songs. It’s almost like a shortcut to getting into the right emotional space for writing, and it can also help to build the texture of a world.
I have found that often, music can touch upon a feeling or set of feelings that would otherwise seem inexpressible—from the time when I first started to listen to Nirvana at the beginning of middle school, music has been able to not only evoke emotion in me, but also to give voice to raw feelings that I may otherwise not have had words for, and this is something that it has does for both Angie and Laurel in each of the books. Another thing I’ve found wonderful about music, and which is important for both of the characters, is that it’s an experience that’s both personal and collective. Listening to a favorite song can feel private and intimate, and yet, you know that so many others are listening to that same song, maybe even at the same time.
Speaking of LA, one of the things that I love about the city is the way that when a new album comes out, you hear it everywhere—through the top of a convertible while waiting at a stoplight, blasting in the parking lot of the grocery store before someone shuts the ignition, from a passing car window while walking down the street. It makes the music feel like this collective experience in a great way. When I started writing In Search Of Us, that album was Kanye West’s The Life Of Pablo, and by the time I was finishing it, it was Damn by Kendrick Lamar, both of which show up in the book.
Bookish: You recently announced on Instagram that you’re expecting a little girl of your own. Congratulations! Has the knowledge that you’re going to be having a daughter given you any new insight into the mother-daughter relationships in this book?
AD: Thank you! I’m so excited. I found out I was pregnant only a couple of months after finishing the book. At the time I was writing it, my now-husband and I were thinking seriously about having a child, and starting to plan for that possibility. There were aspects of the mother-daughter relationship in the book that reflected my own relationship with my mom, and aspects that reflected the ways in which I was imagining my future role as a mother, both consciously and unconsciously.
Being pregnant has already begun to change me in all kinds of ways, and certainly I think it has started to give me insight into the perspective of a mother, but because I’m right in the middle of the experience, it’s hard to reflect on. I am full of love and hope and longing and protectiveness for my unborn daughter, but right now, many of my feelings for her exist on this raw and primal level.
Bookish: The story explores how Angie’s biracial identity impacts her life on a daily basis—from racist encounters with potential employers to the assumption that she isn’t related to her own mother. What was your research and writing process like when trying to describe her experiences?
AD: I chose to write the book in third person in part because I didn’t feel like it was right for me to write in the voice of a biracial character. As much as I feel close to Angie, there are aspects of her experience that are not my own, that I know I cannot fully understand on a personal level. As I was writing, I drew first from the awareness that I’ve gathered from hearing about and empathizing with the experiences of my husband, sister-in-law, and people close to me.
During the writing process I continued listening, watching, and reading as widely as I could as I thought about the role of race in both Angie’s story and in her parents’ stories. For example, Citizen by Claudia Rankine and The Fire This Time, a collection of essays edited by Jesmyn Ward, both had a big impact on me. I also had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Beiging of America, a collection of personal essays about biracial identity, which included a lot of interesting perspectives. The remarkable doc series OJ: Made In America, painted a visceral picture of racial tensions in Los Angeles in the 90s, and the devastating practices of the Los Angeles Police Department. In addition to reading his written work, I loved listening to Ta-Nehisi Coates on various podcasts, like the Longform podcast and the New York Public Library podcast. These and other sources helped me to deepen my understanding of racism and racial identity, to further imagine Angie’s experiences, and also to consider my own blind spots and assumptions.
My editor, Joy, and I also did get the perspective of several African American readers prior to publication, including my editor’s assistant (who was involved in the editorial process), a couple of girls I know who were Angie’s age, and my husband, who is also a writer—we’ve been each others’ readers for years and years and of course I trust his perspective.
Bookish: Angie and Marilyn both experience the effects of racism, but in very different ways. They also try to protect each other from its existence by not sharing these experiences. What were the challenges of exploring racism’s effect on two characters who struggle to openly discuss it with each other?
AD: I think it is Marilyn’s job, as the white mom of a biracial girl, to open a dialogue about race with Angie. But despite her love for and commitment to her daughter, Marilyn allows her pain and deep feelings of guilt to get in the way of having an open conversation with Angie about the devastating effects of racism. Because of this, Angie learns to hide her own experiences of racism from her mom, believing that Marilyn is too fragile to handle Angie’s feelings. Over the course of the book, Marilyn comes to understand that she was wrong to think that she could protect Angie by hiding the truth from her, and that by trying to do so, she has hindered Angie’s ability to share and process her experiences as a biracial girl living in America.
One of the themes of the book is the importance of facing our traumas and acknowledging the truth in order to heal, which is what Marilyn and Angie are finally able to do by the end of the story. This is relevant both on a personal level and a collective level, and relevant to the traumas of racism and injustice. I certainly had my own fears and anxieties in writing about issues of race—making missteps, offending or hurting someone, exposing my own blind spots—but ultimately, I think that the risks of talking about the realities of racism are much less dire than the risk of avoiding it, ignoring it, or turning away. I think we all have the responsibility to face it in our own ways, and to open dialogues where we can.
Ava Dellaira is a graduate of the Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where she was a Truman Capote Fellow. She grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and received her undergraduate degree from the University of Chicago. Love Letters to the Dead is her debut novel. She currently lives in Santa Monica.
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All The Women In My Family is an anthology of narratives by women of color, detailing their experiences in a world that is often cruel to them, their bodies and their cultures. Each selection communicates strength and triumph through hardship, as well as redemption through leadership and a resilience that is often ignored.
I talked with Santana about this edited collection that features pieces by actress America Fererra (“Ugly Betty”) and others from all walks of life and fields of expertise. At the time, I didn’t know she was the “Black Magic Woman,” her husband speaks of on my mother’s favorite album; instead, it was just a regular conversation with an author about a book all women (and men) should read. Now that I know, I will forever hear those songs differently but in the same spirit conveyed in this book.
Deborah Santana is an author, documentary film producer and activist for peace and social justice. She holds a Master of Arts in Philosophy and Religion with a Concentration in Women’s Spirituality. Her memoir, Space Between the Stars, was published in 2005. Her essays have been anthologized in Life Moments for Women, Nothing But the Truth So Help Me God, Chokecherries Anthology, and Tutu As I Know Him. Her book of poetry is titled Silence Always Answers.
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World Poetry Day comes just in time as much of the country braces for another major winter storm. It may be cold outside, but this article from on October 2017, shares some of the best st poetry collections to make you feel all warm and fuzzy inside.
If you read Milk and Honey and thought you’d never get to enjoy another collection of poetry quite like it, well…in a way, that’s true. Divided into four sections—the hurting, the loving, the breaking, and the healing—Rupi Kaur’s Milk and Honey chronicles her heartbreak, recovery, and self-discovery. Despite the bitterness, anger, and vulnerability crafted through the lines, Kaur speaks to the sweetness lingering between. These eight titles mirror Milk and Honey’s content or structure, and ultimately make for a similar reading experience.
Bringing together the finest of Willard’s work, this collection draws from 10 previous collections and adds 30 new poems. Willard examines everyday human existence to reveal something extraordinary in the most fundamental characteristics of our very nature.
Racy and clever, these poems reimagine 17 of Grimms’ fairy tales ranging from “Red Riding Hood” to “The Frog Prince.” Sexton changes the lighting of the poems to darken their meaning and peels back the original narrative to place the stories in a modern context. She works through a shared cultural framework that allows her to portray her personal suffering as universal, but not overbearing to the reader.
Subtle and intelligent, Muske-Dukes’ collection is nearly incomparable in its breadth and originality. According to the author, this collection is about “joy and dread, the conditions of spirit with which I am most familiar.” She avoids ambiguity with her sharp and poignant language, and inspires a thoughtful and provocative response from her readers.
Memoirist, poet, and gay rights activist, Monette’s collection, Love Alone, speaks to his longtime partner Roger Horwitz. He writes with urgency, using punctuation sparingly and long sentences demanding the reader’s attention—yet they are equally exhausting to read. Like Milk and Honey, the language is simple enough, but it’s the construction of the sentences that strike readers hardest.
Shaughnessy’s early work earned her a comparison to Sylvia Plath for her sexual frankness and powerful wit. In Human Dark With Sugar she refers back to her brash wisecrack humor, but this time plunges deeper into turbulent emotional states when confronting heartbreak and the self. She strikes the most vulnerable of the human condition with an honest tone, both erupting and comforting.
Nelson begins by telling readers she has fallen in love with a color. It’s through the refraction of this light that Nelson explores her personal suffering and limitations of love, making her experiences universal. Riddled with dark humor and raw bitterness, Nelson’s deeply-felt collection with resonate with readers from varying backgrounds.
Aligning with the purely feminist tones of Milk and Honey, Lovelace’s collection looks at loss, grief, hope, and recovery by dividing the book into four sections: the princess, the damsel, the queen, and you. Each part examines a different part of her life with raw and detailed honesty.
Selected as the 2004 winner of the Yale Younger Poets Prize, Siken’s collection examines love and obsession through the lens of panic, which is demonstrated in the pacing of his lines and sharpness of his language. His poetry is violent and savage, but most importantly, pure in its raw approach to the humanity of love and affection.
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In this exclusive interview with author and former attorney Steve Berry, we discuss his new book, The Bishop’s Pawn.
In this latest Cotton Malone novel, we learn that what we think we know about the assassination of civil rights icon, Martin Luther King, Jr. on April 4, 1968 may not be what actually happened. Could it be we’ve been wrong about James Earl Ray being the lone shooter? Berry takes readers on an exploration of this theory, based on his own research and interviews where we find Malone stumbling upon the very possibility that the assassination was part of a twisted and nefarious plot on behalf of the federal government under the direction of former FBI Director, J. Edgar Hoover.
Watch as, Steve Berry he talks with BookTrib about his research, the Martin Luther King, Jr., investigation, what history may have gotten wrong and state of the FBI and modern American politics.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
STEVE BERRY is the New York Times and #1 internationally bestselling author of a dozen Cotton Malone novels, and several standalones. He has 20 million books in print, translated into 40 languages. With his wife, Elizabeth, he is the founder of History Matters, which is dedicated to historical preservation. He serves as a member of the Smithsonian Libraries Advisory Board and was a founding member of International Thriller Writers, formerly serving as its co-president.
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If you’re missing the March sisters, these books are for you.
In 1868, author Louisa May Alcott gave us one of the most beloved novels of all time: Little Women. The book tells the story of the four March sisters: Beautiful and responsible Meg, headstrong and intelligent Jo, sweet Beth, and Amy—the baby. Set during the Civil War, the four teenage girls live with their mother Marmee, as their father is serving as a pastor in the war.
Alcott loosely based Little Women on her own life, and went on to write two sequels: Little Menand Jo’s Boys. Throughout her life, the author wrote several other novels, but none were ever as popular as the family saga she wrote towards the beginning of her career. If you’re a fan of Little Women, and are looking for something new to read, these books will satisfy your appetite for stories about sisters, family, and love.
The Fountain Overflows
By Rebecca West
The Fountain Overflows centers to the Aubrey family—a creatively-inclined family that includes a mother, father, twin piano prodigy daughters—Mary and Rose, son Richard Quin, and eldest daughter with musical aspirations of her own—Cordelia. Though talented, the family seems to have trouble finding harmony with each other—constantly teetering on the verge of poverty due to their father’s reckless spending habits. Like Little Women, this semiautobiographical novel deals with the complexities of family relationships.
By Sheila Bosworth
With New Orleans providing the backdrop for this Southern family saga, author Shelia Bosworth tells the story of the Cades. After receiving word that a family member is ill, Rory Cade flies from New York to her hometown with her former lover/brother-in-law, Johnny Killelea, in tow. During their bumpy flight, the two delve into the events of the 1960s—involving Rory’s two sisters, alcoholic father, and now-deceased mother and stepmother—that have shaped the rest of their lives.
By Marilyn French
Author of The Women’s Room, Marilyn French’s Our Father deals with a family connected by one thing. Born to different mothers, half sisters Elizabeth, Mary, Alex, and Ronnie have come to a Massachusetts hospital where their father lies on his deathbed. As they reminisce in their different childhoods—full of both joy and pain, they begin to realize a terrible secret holds them together…
By Norma Fox Mazer
Karen, the youngest sister of the Freed family, feels left out now that her two older, remarkable sisters—Liz and Tobi—have moved into the real world. As Karen struggles to find her place, she also has to deal with her feelings (or lack thereof) for Davey—who she’s pretty confident will always just be her best friend. Worrying that she’ll never know the feeling of love, she soon falls head over heels for someone completely off-limits: Liz’s boyfriend, Scott.
Charming Novels of Classic Heroines
By Louisa May Alcott, Frances Hodgson Burnett, L. M. Montgomery, Kate Douglas Wiggin and Eleanor H. Porter
Though this collection contains Little Women, it also features four other inspiring stories about young ladies. From headstrong fiery Anne in Anne of Green Gablesto inquisitive Mary who discovers a world of wonders in The Secret Garden, these classic stories will inspire you.
Little House in the Big Woods
By Laura Ingalls Wilder
Before there was Little House on the Prairie, there was Little House in the Big Woods. Laura Ingalls Wilder tells the story of her family’s life in a log cabin near the Big Woods of Wisconsin in 1871. Though their life isn’t easy, there’s much love shared between Laura, her Ma, her Ma, and sisters Marry and Carrie. For those who love the close-knit family aspect of Little Women, this book is sure to delight.
By Geraldine Brooks
There’s one member of the March family we don’t see much of in Little Women, and that’s Mr. March. Geraldine Brook’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is told from Mr. March’s point of view when he leaves his family during the Civil War. Mr. March writes letters to his family, but he withholds the true horrors he witnesses both on and off the battlefields. Though not Alcott’s words, it’s an interesting perspective we don’t get to see in the original tale.
By Liane Moriarty
Before Big Little Lies, Liane Moriarty penned Three Wishes: A novel about 33-year-old triplets who are each dealing with their own share of joys and sorrows. Lyn thinks she’s got it all figured out—creating one big life check list; a startling secret regarding Cat’s marriage has just been revealed; and Gemma is desperate for love even though she’s ends every relationship before it’s really begun. Together, these triplets must navigate their fantastically frustrating 33rd year.
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All authors are protective of their work, and we can’t imagine what it’s like to go head-to-head with another author who doesn’t like your work and has no problem telling you so. But not only has this happened, there have been feuds between some pretty famous authors, including literary greats Ernest Hemingway and William Faulkner.
Take a look at the top five author feuds in recent history: they might just surprise you!
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When I was younger, I used to think that spring cleaning was a myth my mom invented to force me to do a lot of housework every year. I still kind of think that, but the myth has stuck: every April I feel this weird itch to clean my house from top to bottom.
The cleaning part is easy, I just bust out the vacuum and go to town. The harder part is decluttering, specifically when it comes to my book collection. Because while I don’t really have an emotional attachment to all of those old dresses I toss out each year, books are another story.
Voracious readers will understand my pain. Despite my best efforts to not buy any more physical books, by the end of the year I usually have stacks of them piled up around my already-overcrowded bookshelves. But I’m once again cleaning house and that includes my book collection. Based on some hard-earned experience, here are a few tips for how to keep those bookshelves under control:
Be Honest With Yourself
Are you really going to read that book your uncle gave you 10 years ago that you spilled coffee on once and is now all brown and sticky and kind of smells weird? Probably not. And do you really need that novel you read when you were fifteen that was maybe about witches and wasn’t very good but there’s a chance you might like it again in another 20 years? No. Look at your bookshelf and have a truly honest conversation with yourself about what should stay and what should go.
Libraries are the Best Places on Earth
I do not understand why people aren’t just bursting into song about the joys of libraries as they walk down the streets. FREE. BOOKS. All you do is show up and you get rooms upon rooms of free books at your fingertips! Sure, you have to remember to return them, but my library lets you renew your haul digitally with a click of the mouse. And when I’m too lazy to walk the three blocks to the actual building (this happens more than I’d like to admit), I still have access to digital files that I can upload to my iPad. Libraries have saved me millions of dollars over the years, not to mention all the extra free space in my apartment.
Toss Those Mass-Market Paperbacks
Any lover of genre fiction has stacks upon stacks of mass-market paperbacks lying around their house. It’s just so easy to pick up a title or two while in line at the grocery store or stuck at the airport. And while I always enjoy a quick romantic read, these easily-frayed paperbacks are not in it for the long haul. Plus, they’re an odd shape, and they don’t look so great stacked next to your hardcovers. Mass-market books are like the candy of literature: sweet and perfect in the moment, but it’s just not worth holding onto the wrapper. Keep the ones you cherish (I’m looking at you Bet Me), give the rest away to friends or even leave them in a box on the sidewalk. Let other people worry about where to store all those chunky little novels.
Invest in e-books
I get it: some people love the smell and feel of a new book. But when you’re a serious reader, it just isn’t practical to only have physical books. I freaked out when I got my first Kindle, and bought about $400 worth of e-books in two days. That’s a whole other problem, but you get my point. E-books are a great way to hold onto titles for years and years without worrying about clutter or whether or not you’re going to have to carve a path to the bathroom made entirely of hardcovers.
Turn Books into Decorations
I am not a big proponent of destroying books, even for art. But there’s no reason you can’t turn that stack of hardcovers into a makeshift side table, or stack some on your dresser and put a decorative candle holder on top. I have books tucked all over my house, arranged by colors or bookended by pretty glass bottles. Books can be the best way to decorate, in part because they always make me happy when I look at them. When I finally inherit those millions of dollars, I’m definitely buying this chair:
Don’t Feel Too Guilty About that To-Be-Read Pile
There’s one pile I don’t touch that often and it’s my to-be-read pile. And sure, it’s probably the biggest pile in the room. But only really special books end up in that stack; those titles I’m dying to read that I just don’t have time for yet (because of all the other books I’m dying to read). I’ll decide whether or not to keep them after I give each book a shot, but for now, this pile stays.
Here are two on it right now that I swear I’m getting to soon:
I’ve read every Mercy Thompson book and I love, love, love them all. This is the latest of the nine novels, following the adventures of coyote shapeshifter Mercy and her soulmate Adam, the werewolf Alpha. The book came out last month and it’s been sitting on top of my bookshelf ever since. But this is one I will absolutely read (and probably keep!).
I’m a sucker for young adult fantasy retellings and for well-crafted love stories. I’ve only heard great things about Higgins’ latest, which is based on the Grimm Brothers’ Tale, “The Singing Bone.” This book promises brooding hunters, terrifying beasts and a deep romance that will have readers swooning. As soon as I finish my current read, I’m diving headfirst into The Great Hunt.
The Recipe Box is inspired by my grandmothers’ beloved recipe boxes and filled with treasured family desserts like cherry chip cake and peach-blueberry slab pie. We all have old, flour-flecked, handwritten recipe cards with treasured recipes, ones we ask our moms, grandmas and sisters to make because they capture beautiful memories. Like a favorite family dessert, The Recipe Box is filled with love and sweetness, things we could use more of these days. Richard Paul Evans calls the novel “a touching tribute to the women and food that unite us and connect our past to the present.” A perfect book for readers and foodies of every age!
I’m giving away five books, but ANYONE who enters will receive a beloved family recipe! Email firstname.lastname@example.org to win!
Gods of Howl Mountain transports you into a world of folk healers, moonshine runners, and serpent-handlers in the high country of 1950s North Carolina. Upon returning home from the Korean War, whiskey bootlegger Rory Docherty and his legendary healer grandmother Granny May must pit themselves against dangerous mountain clans, revenue agents, and the secrets of their own dark past.
Says Jeff Zentner (THE SERPENT KING): “If you loved…anything by Ron Rash, you’ll love this book. Appalachian Gothic at its absolute finest.”
I’m giving away five copies–– email me at email@example.com.
Sometimes, fate is just another well-executed mission… The Coincidence Makers is the story of Guy, Emily & Eric, whose job is creating coincidences – happenings that look like random events but that will cause people to change their own lives.
I invite to join me in a journey about fate, free-will and above all, about love, in a book Kirkus magazine called “unpredictable and heartfelt” and that is now being translated into over a dozen languages.
Combine late hours working at the hospital with an irresistible, handsome, charming and persistent doctor, friendships and disasters and you end up with the stunning debut, The Queen of Hearts, by Kimmery Martin.
Zadie and Emma are best friends, from medical school to the present, currently living in North Carolina and both practicing doctors. But as close as they were and are, there are still deep secrets they haven’t shared with each other, and when an old colleague moves to town, it conjures up the past memories, and they are forced to reveal some painful truths from their youth.
Kimmery Martin shows us how relationships evolve and grow overtime, so much so that when lives become intertwined, lifelong friendship can prevail and even the worst betrayal can be forgiven.
For those who love a good triangle in a medical setting, and for those who enjoy television shows like ER, Grey’s Anatomy or Chicago Med, The Queen of Hearts: A Novel is a wonderful story you will definitely love.
Kimmery Martin is an emergency medicine doctor, born and raised in the mountains of Eastern Kentucky. A lifelong literary nerd, she reviews books, interviews authors, and works extensively with the library foundation in Charlotte, North Carolina, where she resides with her husband and three young children. The Queen of Hearts is her first novel.
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