Reading helps us to examine our world in new ways. It provides us with opportunities to become more educated on an infinite number of topics and allows us to look at issues ways we may never have before. Reading gives us insight into relationships and helps us understand people, teaches us empathy, and presents opportunities to ask questions.
Here are 4 benefits of reading, and 30 book suggestions for you to enjoy!
1. LEARN ABOUT INTERESTING TOPICS
Exploring places around the world and going back in time through reading gives us access to infinite knowledge.
Littleby Edward Carey is a story based on the imagined life of Madame Tussaud, Eleanor Roosevelt and her unconventional relationship is depicted in White Housesby Amy Bloom, and the life of the strong female poet, Forugh Farrokhzad is revealed in Song of a Captive Birdby Jasmin Darznik.
Strong Women That Were Wronged
These are devastating stories of women in the past who were not protected by the government, like the rabbits in The Lilac Girlsby Martha Hall Kelly, and the factory workers in The Radium Girlsby Kate Moore.
Grand Central Terminal History
Fictitious stories about the actual art school located above Grand Central Terminal are depicted in The Masterpieceby Fiona Davis.
2. EXAMINE COMPLEX RELATIONSHIPS
Reading can provide different prospectives, helping us see a story from all sides.
Loosely based on the author and Philip Roth, we read about a young girl in a relationship with an older male in Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday.
A look back on the memories of the narrator’s first love, there is a young male in a relationship with an older female in The Only Storyby Julian Barnes.
People are always saying reading encourages empathy and it is really true…When you are reading you are made more aware of other people’s feelings and given the opportunity to understand people that are different.
In anticipation of the Broadway production of Burn This starring Adam Driver and Keri Russell, I chose to familiarize myself with this emotional story of loss and love, and I am so glad I did! In the late 1980s, in NYC, a female dancer, Anna, along with her gay roommate, Larry and her rich screenwriter boyfriend, Burton, are together mourning the loss of a friend, Robbie.The deceased’s brother, Pale, shows up and looks to Anna to learn more about his younger sibling’s recent past, and amidst overwhelming emotions of grief, a physical relationship develops. Anna ad Pale’s chemistry is undeniable and their relationship grows. The connection is evident, but timing is not right and she denies them both the opportunity to continue by shutting him out. To combat the pain of loss, Anna devotes herself to her work as a choreographer, developing a dance that represents this relationship she has turned her back on.
Thank you to Lanford Wilson, the playwright, for giving Anna’s roommate, Larry, the understanding of the depth of her feelings for Pale…Larry sets them up to be alone in the apartment together without either of them knowing… and it was just what they both needed. I expect this play to be powerful and steamy. The original cast in 1987 included Joan Allen and John Malkovich, and I think the current cast with Keri Russell and Adam Driver will have equal success. I cannot wait to see the limited engagement, Broadway production at the Hudson Theatre in May!
Lanford Wilson was born in Lebanon, Missouri on April 13, 1937 and died March 24, 2011. He was an American playwright, considered one of the founders of the Off-Off-Broadway theater movement. He received the Pulitzer Prize for Drama in 1980, was elected in 2001 to the Theater Hall of Fame, and in 2004 was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters.
You will surely be hooked from the get go when you dive in to Emily Liebert’s upcoming emotional thriller, Pretty Revenge! Eighteen years ago, Kerrie’s life was turned upside down. Hurt by the betrayal and disappointment she once felt, and having never fully recovered, she is stuck in a bad relationship with no job and feeling disappointed. After coming across the person she blames for her sad life on tv, old memories rise to the surface and retaliation becomes her goal. She takes a job and reestablishes her life in the city with the sole purpose of revenge.
Jordana is a sophisticated New Yorker who seems to have it all. She is a sought after wedding expert with a handsome, wealthy, successful husband and a beautiful apartment in the best part of town. With dark secrets, she is running from her past while keeping herself busy with wedding plans for her wealthy clients. When the job demands become overwhelming, she hires a much needed assistant who is agreeable to everything she is asked to do and seems to be extremely competent. Focused on the details of expensive weddings and client management, the two women seem to develop a solid working relationship; but are they truly who they say they are, and how well do they really know each other?
With women and secrets, lies and deceit, friendships and forgiveness, Pretty Revenge delivers a suspenseful dose of crazy you won’t want to miss! From her bestselling women’s novels focused on complex female relationships to this psychologically thrilling suspense, where we see a slightly darker side of those relationships…Liebert’s new spin is a huge success! Easy to read with humorous, witty language, the novel’s impending dread constantly builds as it brings us to the truth, and appealing to my pollyanna side, we are lead to believe everything will tie up in a bow after the last page – perfect for a weekend away! A most enjoyable read – available July 2019 – preorder a copyso you can have your own Pretty Revengethis summer!
Q and A with Emily Liebert
You have been greatly successful with your women’s fiction novels, what made you decide to try psychological suspense this time?
EL: Writing women’s fiction novels was fun and fulfilling, but—ultimately—I wanted something edgier to sink my teeth into. I started reading a lot of psychological suspense and became motivated to challenge myself to try something new and bigger. With that said, I think both PRETTY REVENGE and the novel I’m writing now still have a women’s fiction element to them. I’m not going too far to the dark side, at least not yet! I also moved publishing houses to Simon & Schuster for these next two books, which I hope will be a major relaunch for me.
Are your characters in Pretty Revenge based on anyone you know? Do you think people you know have recreated themselves and are hiding big secrets?
EL: I rarely base my characters directly on people I know, but there are always circumstances and stories from my life or from my friends’ lives that meander their way in. I don’t believe I know anyone who’s hidden his/her past life and is pretending to be someone else. I do, however, believe that everyone has at least one secret, some bigger than others.
The cheating husband of the woman who appears to have it all is not a new idea…why do you think we love to read about those types?
EL: Stereotypes are stereotypes for a reason, and I think people relate to them. They see their own lives reflected in the characters and plot. I always say, even if it’s not a revolutionary idea, there’s a fresh spin on it.
I was a fan of Kerrie’s from the get go but I felt compassion toward Jordana as her real life was revealed. Who did you root for in Pretty Revenge, Jordana or Kerrie?
EL: As the author of the book and the creator of the characters, I have to say I was rooting for both of them in different ways. You think Kerrie is the underdog at first and you understand why she wants revenge. But then, my hope, is that people will realize how broken and vulnerable Jordana is too.
Your writing is very witty and fun to read. Do you add descriptive phrases and detail afterward or does it just come out on the page as we see it?
EL: I love this question, and I get asked often about the humor in my writing. That is me! I’m funny (if I do say so myself). Also, I think you have to be able to laugh in life, even when it may not seem like the right moment. A big bucket list item for me would be to do standup comedy just once. I imagine it would be the hardest thing I’ve ever done, and I’m not sure I’d be able to go through with it, but stay tuned!
When you are starting a new book, do you develop your characters first, assigning them a past, present and future, or do you write the storyline and their details develop along with the plot?
EL: There’s always a nugget of an idea to begin with and maybe one character who I assign to that. Then, as I start fleshing out the idea, I’ll establish who the 2-3 main characters are and begin defining their personalities. After that, I’d say the storyline and the characters’ pasts/presents/futures unravel together.
What 3 books have you read lately that you recommend and what is on your nightstand right now?
EL: Three books I’ve loved recently are advanced copies of The Last Time I Saw You by Liv Constantine and The Night Before by Wendy Walker (both pub in May), and Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell. On my nightstand are an advanced copy of Jane Green’s The Friends We Keep and Nine Perfect Strangers by Liane Moriarty.
Her first book Facebook Fairytales is available across the globe.
In 2012, Emily wrote her debut novel, You Knew Me When (Penguin), which published on September 3, 2013. Her second novel, When We Fall, published on September 2, 2014. Those Secrets We Keep, her third novel, released on June 2, 2015, and her fourth novel, Some Women, came out on April 5, 2016, all with Penguin Random House.
Emily is featured often in the press, by outlets such as: Today Show, The Rachael Ray Show, Anderson Cooper, FOX News, Good Day New York, The Couch, Oprah Radio, Martha Stewart Radio, The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, InStyle, OK!, Nylon, Ladies’ Home Journal, Woman’s World, WWD, Woman’s Day, The New York Post, The Washington Post, The New York Daily News, The Chicago Tribune, Boston Herald, and The Huffington Post.
She has also served as a spokesperson for Microsoft, appearing on TV and radio stations nationwide.
The Lost Family is a beautifully written novel by Jenna Blum, author of the bestseller, Those Who Save Us. The story begins in 1965 Manhattan. World War II is over but the haunting memories are omnipresent for Peter Rashkin. He survived Auschwitz but tragically lost his beloved wife and twin daughters, and Peter is trying to start a new life for himself. His extended family, the few that are still alive, have encouraged him to meet a nice Jewish girl and get on with life. He owns and runs a restaurant called Masha, his lost wife’s namesake, and with a hole in his heart, emotional damage beyond repair, and physical scars on his body to prove it, Peter presses on. He develops a relationship with June, a beautiful model twenty years younger, and although he cannot escape his torturous past, he hides his emotional and physical scars and gives what he can toward this new and exciting relationship.
Two decades later, Peter, his wife June and their daughter Elsbeth continue to struggle with Peter’s ghosts, the scars of war, and the legacy of the Holocaust and all the victims. This emotional story touches upon many things, including the difficult restaurant business, high fashion modeling, the excitement and pitfalls of infidelity and the disturbing effects of eating disorders, but the basis of the emotional grief and ongoing challenges that engulfs the Rashkin family stems from personal loss, suffering and the terrors of World War II. Such a compassionate and engaging novel, don’t miss this great read.
Additional note: Our past becomes part of who we are and we cannot separate out parts of ourselves. Close family and younger generations may inherit the pain and suffering of oppressed and tortured relatives and Peter Rashkin’s family is no exception. Here is an article that talks more about this…CNN report discusses the possibility
New York Times and internationally bestselling author of novels THOSE WHO SAVE US (Harcourt, 2004) and THE STORMCHASERS (Dutton, May 2010) and the novella “The Lucky One” in GRAND CENTRAL (Berkeley/Penguin, July 2014). One of Oprah’s Top 30 Women Writers. Novel THE LOST FAMILY was released from Harper Collins JUNE 5, 2018!
AVAILABLE IN JUNE! PRE-ORDER NOW! Author Nancy Balbirer takes us with her on the rocky journey of life as we see her joy filled marriage filled with hopes and dreams blossom then fizzle, at the same time her beloved, terminally ill beagle, Ira struggles to defy the odds and live another day. From LA to NYC, single to married with a child, from puppy to old dog, and dreams of second chances, so much of life’s ups and downs happen and Nancy keeps you laughing through your tears.
A Marriage in Dog Years is a touching true story is told with honesty and humor, stirring up so many different feelings including love, anger, forgiveness and hope, well written in the author’s unique voice. Balbirer’s story is reminiscent to Sarah Jessica Parker’s hit show, Divorce on HBO – the good, the bad and the ugly truth about the slow death of a marriage, a complex relationship crumbling with regrets and infused with hope for peace and a bright future, with the added bonus of actual puppy love – unconditional and unwavering mutual support and devotion in man’s/woman’s best friend. If you love love, and if you love your pet, this emotional ride is for you!
Amazon Prime members can download A Marriage in Dog Years for FREE on May 1st and Book Nation by Jen will be hosting a GIVEAWAY for a copy hot off the press COMING SOON!
As Seen on Goodreads:
When Nancy Balbirer learns her beloved eleven-year-old beagle has kidney failure, she’s devastated. She and her husband had gotten Ira as a puppy—a wedding gift to each other, and their first foray into “parenthood.” Now, her dog is terminal, her marriage is on life support, and Nancy is desperate to save them both (whether they want it or not). In a single year, she loses her two best friends, but Nancy’s life is about to take yet another unexpected turn.
With humor and heart, Nancy Balbirer shares her story of relationships, loss, and canine friendship in this illuminating memoir about the lengths people will go to keep love alive…and the power of finally letting go.
About the Author:
Nancy Balbirer is a writer and performer of stage and screen. She is the author of “Take Your Shirt Off and Cry.” She lives in Los Angeles with her family.
Four children from a Jewish family on the lower east side of Manhattan visit a psychic in the summer of 1969 and are told the date they will die. Does this information, this prediction, change the way they choose to live? That question is left unanswered in The Immortalists, as we follow each of the siblings’ lives. Author Chloe Benjamin provides us with a mesmerizing story of these rich characters, and their choices about how to live. Simon, the youngest brother, moves to California to live his truth and gets caught up in the reckless ’80s sexual revolution. His journey out west begins with his sister Klara, who is irresponsible in many ways and chooses to become a magician. Daniel, the oldest brother is conflicted at work; he is a doctor in the army and must give clearance to young men, less fortunate than he. to serve in the military. And Vanya is involved in anti-aging research, as she reduces caloric intake of primates to extend their lives. We witness the strengthening and deterioration of relationships and we hope things will turn out ok, but do they? Throughout the book I couldn’t help but question if the characters’ choices were made because of the knowledge they received regarding their death.
Another question to think about is: quality or quantity…do you want to live a long time or live well during the time you have? Would you want to know the date of your own death?
Some of what Chloe Benjamin writes about is based on her own knowledge and experiences; she grew up in California in the 80s, with a gay parent, a Jewish parent, and immigrant grandparents. She was a ballet dancer and her mother was an actor…all of which influenced the setting and characters. She also did massive research to learn about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the military, primate research, magicians and magic. The narrative was rich with information and I really enjoyed the format, each section written about a different character.
The Immortalists, for me, was a lesson about embracing life and trying not to worry about the unknown. It is a balance, like science and religion, to navigate our lives by making choices based on what we know to be true and what we believe is true. I highly recommend this book!
As seen on Goodreads:
If you were told the date of your death, how would it shape your present?
It’s 1969 in New York City’s Lower East Side, and word has spread of the arrival of a mystical woman, a traveling psychic who claims to be able to tell anyone the day they will die. The Gold children—four adolescents on the cusp of self-awareness—sneak out to hear their fortunes.
Their prophecies inform their next five decades. Golden-boy Simon escapes to the West Coast, searching for love in ’80s San Francisco; dreamy Klara becomes a Las Vegas magician, obsessed with blurring reality and fantasy; eldest son Daniel seeks security as an army doctor post-9/11, hoping to control fate; and bookish Varya throws herself into longevity research, where she tests the boundary between science and immortality.
About the Author:
Chloe Benjamin is the author of THE IMMORTALISTS, a New York Times Bestseller, #1 Indie Next Pick for January 2018, Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection, #1 Library Reads pick, and Amazon Best Book of the Month.
Her first novel, THE ANATOMY OF DREAMS (Atria, 2014), received the Edna Ferber Fiction Book Award and was longlisted for the 2014 Flaherty-Dunnan First Novel Prize.
Her novels have been translated into over twenty-three languages. A graduate of Vassar College and the M.F.A. in fiction at the University of Wisconsin, Chloe lives with her husband in Madison, WI.
Reading this book I was pleasantly surprised…it was not what I expected, knowing the author, Olaf Olafsson, a successful businessman, is the Executive Vice President of Time Warner and was responsible for introducing Sony PlayStation.
One Station Away is a thoughtful story about Magnus, a Yale neurologist, and three important women in his life; his patient, his fiancé and his mother. He conducts research on head trauma patients who appear to have no mental capabilities but in fact may be conscious and communicative. He spends many evenings holding his patient’s hand and feeling powerless to help as he thinks of ways to try and connect with her. Magnus struggles with the recent loss of his Continue reading →
The more I think about this novel, the more I love White Fur. It’s the 1980s and Elise, a school dropout and recently homeless young girl is living in New Haven with a friend she met on the street. Jamey is one of the white, privileged and wealthy guys in the apartment next door; the longtime buddies are students at Yale and everything material has been given to them on a silver platter. The unlikely attraction between Elise and Jamey is powerful, lustful and trepidatious on Jamey’s part, as Elise is from low-class, poor, unsophisticated stock, and although she has big love for her family and knows what she wants out of life, his fancy and pretentious family and trust fund friends would not be receptive. Their quirky relationship starts out behind closed doors, mostly confidential and strictly sexual in nature, and as their mysterious attraction builds they slowly become a couple.
Elise, always clad in her white fur coat, something she acquired in a trade on the streets, loves Jamey for who he is and not for the money. Jamey becomes whole as he blossoms under the devotion of Elise and her unconditional love for him; his upscale life has proven money can’t buy you love, and he gives up his fortune to be with his girl. They spend the summer together; the bright lights and the dark alleys, the lust and grime of 1980s NYC come alive when they move there for Jamey’s summer internship and between sexual escapades, experiences with new friends, evidence of white privilege and being on the receiving end of relentless judgement, they stick together and in the process he saves her from a life of being alone and she saves him from a meaningless existence of wealth with shallow relationships.
Beautifully written with some shock value and sprinkled with description that triggered memories of my own time in NYC (not the raunchy parts, more like the mention of Dorrian’s on the upper east side!), Jardaine Libaire tells the story of a girl who is neither white nor black who does not identify with any group and a boy who challenges the expectations of his family all in the name of love. One the outside, Elise appears to be a lost soul, but she is solid and in touch with her wants and needs while Jamey looks the part of a successful, young, wealthy well-adjusted guy yet he is broken and unsure of who he is. Author Jardine Libaire’s story causes you tho think about what is truly important in life and relationships and the meaning and importance of family. As much as Elise and Jamey were addicted to each other, I was addicted to White Fur! A wonderful and unique story of love with a crazy and unexpected ending!
As seen on Goodreads:
When Elise Perez meets Jamey Hyde on a desolate winter afternoon, fate implodes, and neither of their lives will ever be the same. Although they are next-door neighbors in New Haven, they come from different worlds. Elise grew up in a housing project without a father and didn’t graduate from high school. Jamey is a junior at Yale, heir to a private investment bank fortune and beholden to high family expectations. The attraction is instant, and what starts out as sexual obsession turns into something greater, stranger, and impossible to ignore.
The unlikely couple moves to Manhattan in hopes of forging an adult life together, but Jamey’s family intervenes in desperation, and the consequences of staying together are suddenly severe. And when a night out with old friends takes a shocking turn, Jamey and Elise find themselves fighting not just for their love but also for their lives.
About the Author, Jardine Libaire:
I’m a fiend for books, bookstores, lit journals, found poetry, libraries, graffiti, artist books, diaries, screenplays—anything that tells a story. My MFA is from Michigan, which is a dearly beloved program. For the last ten years, I’ve been living in Austin, TX, a city that is very sweet + kind to artists 😉 Over the decades, I’ve worked as a motel chambermaid, real estate agent, dishwasher, bartender, assistant to a perfume designer, art model, copywriter, grantwriter, and restaurant manager. I worship at the feet of Willa Cather. Every Thursday evening, I facilitate a storytelling class at the Lockhart Women’s Prison here in Texas, and I’ve learned more about life from the women in the class than I have taught them, I’m quite sure. Right now I’m working on a new book about a cheetah and a deaf teenager.
William S. Burroughs said: ‘Hustlers of the world, there is one mark you cannot beat: the mark inside.’ And Dolly Parton said: ‘I would never stoop so low as to be fashionable.’ And Oscar Wilde said: ‘It is what you read when you don’t have to that determines what you will be when you can’t help it.’ I love them all! xo
So many classic novels take place in NY, The Catcher in the Rye, The Great Gatsby, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn… and great stories of old New York conjure up warm feelings rich in history and nostalgia. A few of my recent favorite fictional reads, all by fabulous debut authors showcase New York and the people that lived there. These are their stories…
￼The Two Family House by Lynda Cohen Loigman takes place in 1947 where two Jewish brothers and their families live together in a brownstone in Brooklyn, NY. The wives are deeply bonded friends, and both give birth the same night during a blizzard. This rich family drama is laced with tradition, love, heartbreak, tragedy and choices. Forbidden secrets and multidimensional characters make The Two Family House a compelling page turner!
￼ The Dollhouse by Fiona Davis alternates between 1952 and today. The story takes place at The Barbizon Hotel located on the upper East side of Manhattan on 63rd and Lexington. It takes us to cafes and Jazz clubs, Brooklyn and Harlem, explores a scandal, a love story and a mystery. This book was a treat for me because my mother actually lived at the Barbizon Hotel and worked at Saks 5th Avenue while her roommate attended secretarial school…very similar to the characters in the book. The Dollhouse is about strong women, past and present New York, and is a fast paced, fun read!
Modern Girls by Jennifer S. Brown is set in 1935 NYC, the lower east side Jewish immigrant community. The story is about a nice jewish girl who lives at home with her family and works as a bookkeeper in midtown Manhattan. Her Yiddish speaking mother, after having five children, is ready to get back to her old self and to her social activism, and as unlikely as it seems, both women find themselves pregnant. They are faced with some critical decisions and are forced to confront their feelings and beliefs. The mother daughter relationship, their individual perspectives and struggle for independence makes Modern Girls an emotional read!
And if you are forced to take a short break from fantastic, captivating novels by talented, exciting and fresh new authors (not that there’s anything wrong with that) and are looking to laugh, go behind the scenes, relive some memories, yada yada yada…
Check out Seinfeldia: How a Show About Nothing Changed Everything by Jennifer Keishin Armstrong. If you enjoy this, read Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted: And All the Brilliant Minds Who Made The May Tyler Moore Show a Classic, another great one from this TV historian and entertainment writer.