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  • Peyton Place - Peyton Place surprised me. What is now called an iconic novel of the mid-fifties, for me Peyton Place represented the first book I thought of as “dirty.” Like Valley of the Dolls, Peyton Place, by Grace Metalious, was one of those books that the moms in my neighborhood whispered about but seemed to all be reading. This must have been... Read more »
  • The Land of Mango Sunsets - I had the pleasure of reading The Land of Mango Sunsets, by Dorothea Benton Frank on the beach in Hawaii – a perfect backdrop for it. The novel begins with a Prologue explaining why the narrator calls the low country of South Carolina “the land of mango sunsets.” It’s a lovely romantic story involving a honeymoon in the South Pacific... Read more »
  • The Prince of Tides - The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy is an unforgettable book. I read it for the first time in the nineties, just before the movie came out. And the movie definitely left a lasting impression too —all that gorgeous South Carolina salt marsh country, all watery tall grass and shrimp boats moving through it. So when I got to South... Read more »
  • Fiction Addiction in South Carolina - I’m delighted to take my literary road trip back down south right now — smack dab in the middle of the darkest, coldest and wettest season in the Pacific Northwest. I could use a sun break. I’ll admit that it didn’t take too much online research to find the South Carolina bookstore that sounds just right to me. With a... Read more »
  • Existential Humor? John Barth’s The Floating Opera - I know John Barth is a well-regarded American writer. Somehow I’d missed reading Barth as an English major back in college. To be fair, I’d focused on nineteenth century English literature so there were many American writers that I missed during those brief four years. So I was excited to be reading Barth for the first time as part of... Read more »
  • The Ivy Bookshop - On to Maryland! My initial internet search for bookstores in Maryland worried me: are all Maryland bookstores in shopping centers? Is all of Maryland merely a suburb of Washington, D.C.? Wait, wait! That can’t be true. There’s Annapolis, which I’ve visited. I found a lovely bookstore there, but it specializes in maritime books, not for me. Their page featured a... Read more »
  • I Thought You Were Dead! - I’m a dog lover. That’s probably why I chose to read Pete Nelson’s book, I Thought You Were Dead as my second Massachusetts book. I loved The Art of Racing in the Rain by Seattle’s own rock star author Garth Stein, but had to wait a couple of years to read it since its publication date followed too closely after... Read more »
  • The Celestials - The Celestials by Karen Shepard takes place in the town of North Adams, Massachusetts, in 1870.  It’s the story of Julia and Calvin Sampson —she, a childless woman in her early forties grieving the recent loss of her thirteenth pregnancy, he the wealthy owner of the town’s shoe factory responsible for bringing seventy-five Chinese young men “the Celestials” to town... Read more »
  • Massachusetts! - My Google search for best bookstores in Massachusetts sends me first to an article in Yankee magazine by Suzanne Strempek Shea—yet another author I have never heard of—who has written five novels and three memoirs.  One of those books, called Shelf Life, is about the year she spent working at a local independent bookstore in Western Massachusetts.  The article lists... Read more »

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