The International Women’s Writing Guild Picks
The International Women Writing Guild’s Spring Big Apple Conference is taking place in New York City April 13th--14th. As their members flock to the Big Apple, we asked several of them what books they’ll be reading during their travels and breaks from the fun workshops on offer.
Author Barbara Barnum:
“When I travel I want books that keep me spellbound—and able to ignore my seatmate if flying. These two come easily to mind:
Lee Child’s Die Trying. Child’s Reacher series of mysteries never fail to keep one spellbound. This one is no exception when Jack Reacher (as usual) finds himself in an interesting pickle.
Deborah Harkness’s Shadow of Night is about witches for those readers with a more whimsical nature. But the book is enfolded in historical knowledge, drama, and intrigue. And how can you beat a book about a witch married to a vampire?! Most of us who are hooked on this series can’t wait for Harkness’s next book to come out.”
Barbara Stevens Barnum, RN, PhD, spent much of her career at Columbia University, including holding the Directorship, Division of Health Services, Sciences and Education at Teachers College, Columbia. Earlier, she was a professor at the University of Illinois in Chicago. For most of her career, Dr. Barnum has been an administrator or professor of nursing or an editor of journals: Nursing Leadership Forum and Nursing & Health Care. Her books include: Nursing Theory: Analysis, Application, Evaluation; Spirituality in Nursing: From traditional to New Age; The New Healers: Minds and Hands in Complementary Medicine; and The Nurse as Executive. And yes, one book of fiction: The Haunting of Lila Tilden. The present book concerns a new topic: Mystic Encounters: The Door Ajar.
Author Suzi Banks Baum:
“The books I will be reading on my way to IWWG Big Apple include: Dancing at the Shame Prom by Amy Ferris and World Enough & Time by Christian McEwen. In these books I find authentic voices of women who care deeply about our world and the welfare of all. Both authors write with an authority and joy of expression that is exciting to experience. Amy is one of the presenters at Big Apple and I am intrigued to know her more. Christian’s book gives me a poetic perspective on writing and daily life. I love slowing down and paying attention to life the way she describes it.”
Author, artist and full time mom, Suzi Banks Baum creates community wherever she goes. Having just published her first book, An Anthology of Babes: 36 Women Give Motherhood a Voice, Suzi is ready to complete her second book Laundry Line Divine: A Wild Soul Book for Mothers. Find her writing and art at www.laundrylinedivine.com and order the anthology at www.anthologyofbabes.com.
Author Susan Cummings:
“I am currently half-way through Cutting For Stone by Abraham Verghese, and I don’t want to read it too fast because then it will end! Verghese is an MD and also a beautiful writer. His paragraphs are to be savored. Cutting For Stone is a family saga of twin brothers born in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, orphaned at birth, who are adopted immediately by two Indian doctors. It includes some amazingly beautiful descriptions of life in Addis Ababa and also of the workings of the human body and of operations. It is continuously surprising, yet believable, and also very perceptive and moving about the triumphs and failures of the human heart.”
Susan Cummings, a performer and writer, is the author of the new memoir Adventures of a One-Breasted Woman: Reclaiming My Moxie After Cancer.
Author Mona Rodriguez:
“I am presently reading The Shoemaker’s Wife by Adriani Trigiani which I selected because it is set in the same time period as my novel, Forty Years in a Day. Trigiani takes her characters from the Italian Alps into New York City with grace and tradition, defining the immigration experience.
I recently attended a book signing for Harlan Coben (one of my husband’s favorite authors) for his new novel, Six Years, and he brought along an extra treat in fellow writer Gwendolen Gross. Her fifth novel, When She Was Gone, was also recently released. Both authors were very approachable and forthcoming with their wit and wisdom. Autographed copies of their novels are sitting on my nightstand and are next on my reading list.”
Forty Years in a Day is Mona Rodriguez’s debut novel which she coauthored with her cousin, Dianne Vigorito. Throughout their lives, they had heard many stories from family members that were fascinating, sometimes even unbelievable, and decided to piece together the puzzle of tales. Through research and interviews, their goal was to create a fictional story that follows a family through several decades, providing the reader an opportunity to stand in the shoes of a past generation and walk in search of their hopes and dreams. What they realize in the process is that human emotions have been the same throughout generations – the difference is how people are molded and maneuvered by the times and their situations. Their story begins in 1900 and follows the incredible journey of a mother and her four small children as they escape from Italy into the streets of Hell’s Kitchen, New York.
Mona Rodriguez grew up in New Jersey and has her MS in environmental management from Montclair University. She is presently a trustee on the board of directors of a nonprofit foundation created to benefit a local public library and community. She still lives in New Jersey with her husband and has two grown sons.
Author Deborah Taranto:
“Every once in a while I come across a book I can really lose myself in and Through A Glass Darkly by Karleen Koen is one of those unbelievable stories that lets your emotions soar. I found with this book I had no bedtime, always needed tissues and couldn’t wait to get to the next page. This story takes place in the 18th century in and amongst the British court and French King Louis XV. Love and lust, treachery and deceit build this novel into a romance that transcends across continents and royal courts. Barbara Alderly loved her husband Roger Montgeoffry, the handsome Earl of Devane, since childhood and married him at the young age of 16 more than 20 years his junior. She learns the raw truth of what it means to be married to the most sought after bachelor in London and the life of debauchery that goes hand in hand. This was the first book I read on my iPad and at first didn’t know if I would like not being able to turn the pages, but I quickly gave up the notion once I became immersed in the plot and enamored of Roger. Through A Glass Darkly is 674 pages short, too short for me and that is why I had to buy the sequel Face to Face which continues Barbara’s journey from Europe to the Americas.
I like big books because I never want the story to end and two more of my all-time favorites which I have read twice is The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follet and Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. All of these books have strong female characters whose stories are rich in character development and plot. I can read them all over again because their tales are of courage, perseverance and love.
My own book, The Land of Crystals is set in the 11th century amidst fantasy, folklore, knights, love and of course deceit. The story is told through the eyes of the King who sees what might be the end of his kingdom approaching and wants to record the history of his land before it is too late. My next two books, which I hope to have published shortly, are completely different. One is a bittersweet memoir of caregiving for my mom who is living through Parkinson’s Dementia, and the other is a fictional tale of libel and abuse called, Why Me?”
When Deborah is not writing or editing or revising her own works, she teaches writing and literature at St. John’s University on the Staten Island and Queens campus, as well as communications at St. Paul’s School of Nursing, Staten Island.
You can learn more about the conference (and the Guild) here.
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