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Summer reading list + a giveaway bonanza
If you don't have a Mother's Day present yet, I've got a last minute fix for you
One of the champagne problems that authors have is not being able to read for pleasure because we read so much for work. My last two reading seasons have been entirely devoted to books I’ve been asked to blurb—and while I want to support these authors and I’m excited for their forthcoming releases, I am also desperate to return to reading books for me.
I have a meaty list of books I want to read this summer and I’m dividing them into heart books and head books: the heart books are the juicy big novels I want to disappear inside of (hopefully while on a hammock) and the “head” books are cerebral jewels that will remind me why I write and why I must always keep challenging myself to write better, to write new.
Before I share those titles with you, I wanted to do some giveaways in honor of two things: firstly, it’s THE YEAR OF THE HORSES birthday (my memoir is one year-old this week!) and also, it’s nearly Mother’s Day, and I’d like to celebrate the mother writers among us with some bookish gifts.
Mother’s Day giveaways a go-go!
A discounted memoir class for all of my subscribers: I’ve created a 10% discount code just for Before and After the Book Deal subscribers to my online memoir-writing class. (The class is all online and self paced— you can watch the whole class in a little over an hour and there are homework assignments you can do at your own rhythm to help you structure, plot, and market your memoir.) Simply go here to register for the class and then enter code CMAUM-MAY at checkout to take advantage of this offer.
A signed YEAR OF THE HORSES hardcover plus a handwritten note for a mother in your life: I’d like to send a signed copy and a card to a special mama in your life. In the comments, let me know who that special mother is and why you think they would appreciate THE YEAR OF THE HORSES. I’ll pick three people to send books and cards to. (This offer is for paid subscribers.) Books will arrive after Mother’s Day but Mother’s Day is everyday on this Substack!
A free subscription to BEFORE AND AFTER THE BOOK DEAL for a writer/mother you love: I’d like to give a mother friend of yours a free year-long subscription to Before and After the Book Deal. Same thing: let me know in the comments which mother/writer friend of yours would appreciate a subscription, and why. I’ll also pick three winners for this offer, which is available to paid subscribers.
I’ll read entries until 4pm EST this Sunday, May 14th.
To take advantage of giveaways and participate in subscriber feedback Fridays, consider becoming a paid subscriber.
Now let’s talk books!
Right now, I’m reading the memoir-in-essays “The Leaving Season” by Kelly McMasters which I’m really enjoying. It just came out this week! And I’m preparing my summer reading plans. They’re ambitious! This is what they’re going to look like.
The big, juicy, lemonade + hammock novels I want to read this summer:
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler I've had this book about a child raised with a chimpanzee as a sibling on my TBR list for some time. I have a soft spot for books that involve human and animal friendship and this book (by the author of "The Jane Austen Book Club") looks entertaining and heartwarming and funny—in short, it looks like the perfect summer read.
House of Cotton by Monica Brashears I will read anything with the word “gothic” in the description. This recently released novel, described as “a contemporary Black southern gothic” examines what it means to be a poor woman in the God-fearing south. There is so much God-fearing in America right now, I want to go deeper into that world to try and understand the religious fanaticism we currently have going on.
Our Share of Night by Mariana Enriquez For this one, all I can say is it’s popped up on the Instagram feeds of the cool kids I admire, plus, I need the cover in my life, and finally, the New York Times called it “An enchanting, shattering, once-in-a-lifetime reading experience." Sold!
The Hacienda by Isabel Canas Listen, I have a friend who lives in a hacienda in western Mexico and I am obsessed with these structures. I’m obsessed with their history, I’m obsessed with the overlap they offer between humans and nature. I want to live in one. I want to be a hacienda. I’m also very big on homes-as-character (see Mexican Gothic or Flowers in the Attic) so this story of a second wife who chooses to live at her new husband’s hacienda in rural San Isidro after the overthrow of the Mexican government is right up my alley (right up my alley and into the courtyard of my dream hacienda).
Visit the full list of novels I want to read this summer (and beyond) on my Bookshop.org wishlist page
The Long Form by Kate Briggs I just realized this book doesn’t come out until October so I guess I can’t read it this summer unless someone in publishing wants to send it to me? It’s from the incredible press The Dorothy Project, and it is a book that apparently goes in and out of being a novel to meditate on current social issues. I just know I’m going to love it. I can feel it, it’s a vibe.
Ordinary Notes by Christina Sharpe I listened to an interview with the author on one of my favorite book podcasts, “Between the Covers,” and the structure of this book sounds so compelling: “In a series of 248 notes that gather meaning as we read them, Christina Sharpe skillfully weaves artifacts from the past--public ones alongside others that are poignantly personal--with present realities and possible futures, intricately constructing an immersive portrait of everyday Black existence.” Can not wait to read this, plus it’s out from FSG and I’ve yet to read an FSG book that I didn’t love.
A Ghost in the Throat by Doireann Ni Griofa David Naimon’s podcast “Between the Covers” gets double billing today because I also heard an interview with Doireann on this same podcast that made me want to read everything she has ever written and also live inside her head. It won a gazillion prizes, and this is the book’s premise: “In the eighteenth century, on discovering her husband has been murdered, an Irish noblewoman drinks handfuls of his blood and composes an extraordinary lament that reaches across centuries to the young Doireann Ní Ghríofa, whose fascination with it is later rekindled when she narrowly avoids fatal tragedy in her own life and becomes obsessed with learning everything she can about the poem Peter Levi has famously called ‘the greatest poem written in either Ireland or Britain’ during its era.” I’m all in!
Monsters: A Fan’s Dilemma by Claire Dederer Do I want to better understand the link between “genius and monstrosity”? Yes, I absolutely do. Plus, this book has maybe the best cover of all time?
Thanks as always for being here (and Happy Friday Reads!). Next Wednesday look out for a post on the top five things you need to build (and maintain) an author platform. And before I leave you…
…There is about a month left to apply to my writing retreat, Turning Points, taking place in central New Mexico at the end of October, a retreat that is based on teaching and coaching methods I’ve developed that will help you get to the next stage of your writing with little pain and no BS. Applications close June 15th for the October program and are open to writers of both nonfiction and fiction for people at any stage of their careers (even the beginning). I will be building more retreats and classes under the Turning Points umbrella, so if you can’t join us in October, we’ll see you down the road at something else!
Until we meet again next week, have a great weekend!
With the exception of my own book titles, hyperlinked blue book links are affiliate links. If you purchase the book from the independent bookstore-supporting Bookshop.org, I get a small commission that I use towards buying books for myself on Bookshop.org as well.