August is a reading month. Summer reading is for everyone, though it’s essential for developmental editors, agents, and acquisition editors. Some take their books to the beach. Editors to the porch. I have a handful of new client projects to read this month.
So what am I reading?
Sherman Alexie, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me: A Memoir, Little, Brown & Company, 2017.
Having read his poetry, essays, and novels, I’m eager to read Alexie’s memoir. At Untitled Town Literary Festival this past April, I heard Sherman Alexie read an excerpt from this tribute to his mother. Recently Alexie pulled back from his book tour schedule to deal with his grief. If you haven’t read his Facebook post explaining why, you can read more here.
Thi Bui, The Best We Could Do, Abrams, 2017.
I have a weakness for graphic memoirs and this one is an incredible work of art. The story of a family’s immigration during the Vietnam War.
Global warming. Automation/AI. Eating disorders. Business Strategy. Rock & Roll history. I’m reading about a lot of interesting topics these days. And I confess to reading the Washington Post and New York Times religiously.
What have I read that I recommend for your August reading pleasure?
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give, Balzer & Bray, 2017.
Not since Jessamyn Ward’s Salvage the Bones have I read such a compelling account of the real world through the eyes of a black teen-age girl protagonist. Starr Carter attends a suburban white school, dates a white guy, and lives in a poor black neighborhood. She witnessed the death of her best friend as a middle-schooler and then during a police stop of her childhood neighbor who was giving her a ride home, an officer shoots Khalif.
Jerome Buting, Illusion of Justice: Inside Making a Murderer and America’s Broken System, Harper Collins, 2017.
True crime buff, I’ve watched the Netflix series, Making a Murderer, more than once. When Jerome Buting came to Oshkosh this May for the Lakefly Writers Conference, I had the pleasure of having dinner with Buting, his wife, Nickolas Butler, and other Wisconsin writers. This work of nonfiction lays bare an uncomfortable truth about the lack of justice in our justice system. The way in which economic and racial disparities in our culture are magnified by our courts and lawyers is heartbreaking.
Nickolas Butler, The Hearts of Men: A Novel, Harper Collins, 2017.
This is the perfect summer book because it’s ostensibly about summer camp. From boys to men, Butler explores the inner landscape of the male psyche through compelling characters tied together by their experiences at a Wisconsin summer boys’ camp. His previous novel, Gunshot Lovesongs, impressed me immensely and I recommend it, too.
Christina Baker Kline, A Piece of the World, William Morrow, 2017.
If you liked Orphan Train, then you know historical fiction in the hands of Christina Baker Kline is well-crafted. Andrew Wyeth’s painting Christina’s World inspired her to write Christina’s story. She vividly imagines the life of a woman with a complicated relationship to her family and her past and a special bond to Andrew Wyeth.
Holocaust-era art, true-crime story, confidence and leadership, metereology, and more memoirs are on my to-be-read list for September and October.
What am I waiting for?
Louise Erdrich, Future Home of the Living God: A Novel, Harper, November 14, 2017.
Erdrich paints a startling portrait of a young woman fighting for her life and her unborn child against oppressive forces that manifest in the wake of a cataclysmic event. Though she wants to tell the adoptive parents who raised her from infancy, Cedar first feels compelled to find her birth mother, Mary Potts, an Ojibwe living on the reservation, to understand both her and her baby’s origins. As Cedar goes back to her own biological beginnings, society around her begins to disintegrate, fueled by a swelling panic about the end of humanity.
What books would I like to be pitched? Here’s my manuscript wishlist.
- A book for mothers and 8-11 year old girls filled with myths and legends from folklore and literature on what it means to be a woman. A collection of readings and images.
- Father memoirs. Immigrant memoirs.
- Edible flowers in the Midwest. Recipes, wildflower identification, photography.
- Field guide to weed identification.
- Narrative nonfiction on intergenerational effects of war trauma.
- Economic explanation of impending carbon bubble bursting
- Edna Ferber biography
- The story of Standing Rock
- Graphic memoir by adult male on father’s death and grief
- Guide to Chaga Mushrooms (history, science, medicinal properties, indigenous botanical wisdom)
What are you reading?
What books would you recommend for pleasure reading?
Six or seven years ago my advice to aspiring authors of nonfiction books was to build an audience platform by blogging. An example of how critical blogging could be to securing a publishing contract can be found in the case of Ann Marie Ackermann, author of Death of an Assassin: The True Story of the German Murderer Who Died Defending Robert E. Lee. After an initial assessment of her manuscript, I had recommended she start a historical true-crime blog, and she did. In fact, the editor of the ideal book series at Kent State University Press became a fan ofRead more…