What better way to connect with people – and characters – than through books?
Literary festivals and book conferences are coming back to life after two years of hibernation due to Covid. But sometimes it’s better – and easier – to look for books in your own backyard. With spring in full swing (and summer knocking at the door), we’re all looking for something good to read. A book club is a great way to do it. Weeks after my husband and I moved into our new Florida home last summer, I joined one of the two book clubs in our neighborhood, and have discovered lots of good books through it. Each month, one of the members delivers a verbal synopsis of the story, and a lively discussion (often with a glass of wine) follows. Books that we’ve read in recent months include:
– Malibu Rising by Taylor Jenkins Reid
– The Murder on the Links by Agatha Christie
– A Land Remembered by Patrick D. Smith
– The Mystery of Mrs. Christie by Marie Benedict
A few months ago, a friend invited me to join another group of readers who meet at the library or at a bookstore. “Read and Share” members gather once a month to talk about books they have read and liked or have found intriguing in some way. Kind of like a Goodreads community that meets in person rather than online, it’s all about word-of-mouth, one of the best ways to find your next read. And rather than focusing on one book and discussing that book alone (à la book clubs), it’s a way to learn about lots of books in many genres, whether recently published or not. Over the last few months, I’ve read and enjoyed several, including The Dutch House by Ann Patchett and Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout.
A few others that I’ve discovered through this group and have added to my list of books to read include:
– The Death of Mrs. Westaway by Ruth Ware
– The Therapist by B.A. Paris
– The Circle by Dave Eggers
– Campfire Confessions by Kristine Ochu
– The Maid by Nita Prose
– All Her Little Secrets by Wanda Morris
– Swamplandia! By Karen Russell
– The Paris Seamstress by Natasha Lester
– The Woman in the Green Dress by Tea Cooper
And my neighborhood book club selections for the next few months are:
– The Christie Affair by Nina de Gramont (notice the Agatha Christie trend)
– The Five Presidents by Clinton Hill
– The Killing Kind by Jane Casey
– Daddy’s Girl by yours truly! (Julia McDermott)
Speaking of books I’ve written, after a recent Read and Share meeting, one member listened to the audio version of my suspense novel, Underwater, the companion book (but not a sequel nor a prequel) to Daddy’s Girl. She promptly posted a 5 Star review of it online!
I pay close attention whenever readers talk about books that they love and recommend, because my goal is for them to feel the same way about each of my books. Many authors, though (myself included) don’t like to talk much about our works in progress until they’re finished (then, we want to talk of nothing else). However, a work of creative nonfiction that I’ve been co-writing with another writer is nearing completion, with two to three chapters each left to add before we can type THE END. The novel that I’m working on, a thriller set in Kansas in the 1990s, is drawn (just a little) from my own experience living there then, and the story involves a well-kept secret. It’s not as close to the finish line but is gathering steam as things go from bad to worse and the characters march toward the inevitable conclusion.