Spine is growing! Specifically, we are expanding our "Authors" section, talking to more authors about their creative processes on more books. To tackle more, we're bringing on more Contributing Writers, who will "own" an area or two of the reading/writing universe. As promised, we're back with more books that the new crew at Spine is excited to read in 2019, plus introductions. If you missed Part One, you can find it here.
MEGAN DEMINT, Contributing Writer, Historical Fiction
Megan DeMint is a freelance writer and editor with a love of reading historical fiction, creative nonfiction, and memoirs. She loves books that teach her about different worlds and life experiences. Check out more about her work at www.megandemint.com.
To Keep the Sun Alive, Rabeah Ghaffari, January 15
This novel follows its characters as the Iranian Revolution is on the horizon. This is a topic I am excited to read about, and learn more about, through the perspective of characters who exist in a world with ever-changing parameters.
The Age of Light, Whitney Scharer, February 5
Based on the life of 20th century model-turned-photographer Lee Miller, this novel follows the journey of a woman who shifts from object of the lens to artist with her own agency. With 1930s Paris as a backdrop, I’m anticipating some beautiful descriptions, as well.
The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang, February 5
In this book, Wang writes about being diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. Her experience combined with her science background allows her to provide a deeper look at the multiplicity of schizophrenia. I’m eager to read this, and to understand more about diverse experiences with mental health.
MEGHAN IRELAND, Contributing Writer, Contemporary Adult Fiction
Ireland hates to be pigeonholed, but "writer" and "interval yoga devotee" come to the forefront when she is prompted for descriptives. She has published blog posts for a luxury realtor in the Boston area, Amazon reviews requested by authors, and posts to her own personal blog. Her YA novel is currently blossoming under a perspective switch from third person to first.
Ireland lives on Massachusetts' South Shore, but her heart and soul belong in Salem, Mass., where she will return as soon as her son (14) and daughter (8) have transitioned to “old enough to live on their own." Until she can earn an income with her witty repartee, Ireland works assuaging the concerns and grumblings of attendees and exhibitors for an event services company on Cape Cod. Namaste!
The Collected Schizophrenias, Esmé Weijun Wang, February 5
I’m trying to broaden my horizons by reading more nonfiction. I have a couple of good books under my belt already this year, but they are historical in nature. I’ve always been fascinated by the mind, especially by how it can trick us. A first-person account of schizophrenia by a writer Vulture calls "brilliant … with tons of medical knowledge," this book is certain to captivate and educate me!
Normal People, Sally Rooney, April 16
This title caught my eye, as I am one to let my freak flag fly and the word “normal” always give me pause. Like Rooney's first novel, Normal People takes place at Trinity College. US publisher Random House describes the book as "a story that explores the subtleties of class, the electricity of first love, and the complex entanglements of family and friendship." Since I never had a full-on college experience, I’m excited to go to campus in April! I may have to snag Rooney's first novel, Conversations with Friends, in the meantime.
Inland, Téa Obreht, August 13
2011. The Tiger’s Wife immediately went on my must-read list. It wasn’t until a year ago I finally was able to cross it off. Reading it was a truly magical experience. I’m glad it took me as long as it did to get to it, as my wait for Obreht's next novel hasn’t been as long as it could have been. The Tiger’s Wife takes place in the modern-day Balkans, and this new novel is set in the 1890s Arizona desert. Settings further apart I cannot imagine, and am excited for Obreht to transport me there!
T. PAGAN, Contributing Writer, Speculative, LGBT
T. Pagan is currently navigating the workforce as a legal secretary in northern New Jersey. When she isn’t digging herself out of mountains of attorney correspondences, she can be found crocheting, doing tarot readings, or creating various Pinterest boards. Find Pagan online at astrocraftpadawan.blog
Immoral Code, Lillian Clark, February 19
You can always rope me in with a good heist plot. The Italian Job and the Ocean’s Eleven franchise are among some of my favorite films. Clark’s take on the classic heist scenario includes Nari, a college-bound teen, who plans a group heist in order to get her friend the funds she needs to attend MIT. I would love to see how these teens deal with the moral ambiguity of their plans. The acknowledgement of the character Reese’s asexuality (specifically, aroace) is a pleasant addition in a continuing rise of representation in fiction.
The Fever King, Victoria Lee, March 1
This book, the first in Lee's Feverwake series, piqued my interest as soon as I read the word “technopath.” My X-Men-loving heart is now eagerly awaiting this novel. The protagonist Noam’s desire to use said powers to fight an unjust government has me fascinated. I think the potential love interest in the novel’s plot summary is likely to add to Noam’s story of exploration and growth: magical and otherwise.
Belly Up, Eva Darrows, April 30
This book explores the life of Serendipity “Sara” Rodriguez, a biracial teen who now has to navigate pregnancy. Oh, and she’s questioning her sexuality. This is a novel that doesn’t shy away from the complicated journeys of the teen years. I am interested to see how these complex themes are fleshed out. I’m especially curious to know how the humor of the novel — pitched as “Juno meets Gilmore Girls” — adds to the story. Darrows is one of the several pen names of bestselling adult horror author Hillary Monahan, who also writes romance under the name Thea de Salle.
CAROLINE KURDEJ, Contributing Writer, Memoir, Biography
Caroline Kurdej is a senior at DePaul University, double majoring in Business Administration and English, with a concentration in Creative Writing and a minor in Professional Writing. Last spring, Kurdej worked as an intern for Dzanc Books, and currently provides writing services to iMiller Public Relations. You can find her work online at carolinekurdej.journoportfolio.com.
The Moment of Lift: How Empowering Women Changes the World, Melinda Gates, April 23
The Moment of Lift will not only serve as a chance for Melinda Gates to share her story, but more importantly, to share stories of the women she's met around the world. "They're the reason why I believe so strongly that a better future begins with lifting up women and girls." In the book, Gates addresses how women can create moments of lift for one another, and empower each other to become not only stronger women, but also a stronger society. Until the book comes out in April, I'm keeping my eyes on www.momentoflift.com, which explains Gates' mission for the book.
Riding the Elephant, Craig Ferguson, May 7
Ferguson, Scottish-American actor, comedian and former host of The Late Late Show, has crafted what promises to be an irreverent, lyrical memoir-in-essays, full of stories of defying odds and embracing failures, told with his signature wit.
Baghdaddy, Bill Riley, May 7
Riley's memoir recounts surviving child abuse to become an accomplished member of the Air Force, working in intelligence analysis and special operations in Iraq, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. I've always wanted to be a badass. Perhaps by delving into Riley's memoir, I'll learn how.
TRACIE MOONEYHAM, Contributing Writer, Religion & Spirituality
Tracie Mooneyham works as Program and Grants Manager for the Robins Foundation, a private foundation working to strengthen the community of Richmond, Virginia. She also serves as Content Editor for Initiatives of Change International, working with a network of teams and individuals whose goal is to build trust through honest dialogue.
What If It's True?: A Storyteller’s Journey with Jesus, Charles Martin, January 29
I picked up a copy of When Crickets Cry many moons ago and subsequently fell in love with Charles Martin as a writer. The combination of his gift for storytelling and my fascination with religion and its influence on humanity makes me nerdy excited over this book, coming out at the end of the month. I'm sure this will inspire many conversations on the topics of trust and interpretation!
Girl, Stop Apologizing: A Shame-Free Plan for Embracing and Achieving Your Goals, Rachel Hollis, March 12
So much of our self-worth and confidence is connected to our spiritual and/or religious upbringing — and sometimes we don't realize that this can be a burden as well as a blessing! Rachel Hollis is a peppy, down-to-earth writer and motivation coach, which makes this book a good introduction to introspection. I really enjoyed her previous book, Girl, Wash Your Face for the simple reason that she normalizes the struggles that we all go through in life.
Wild Mercy: Living the Fierce and Tender Wisdom of the Women Mystics, Mirabai Starr, April 2
Okay, I admit it was the cover that drew me in at first. However, the concept of wild mercy intrigues me, as women have been characterized throughout history as the "gentler sex." Diving into the spiritual wisdom of women across history and learning how one can be fierce and grounded at the same time? Definitely needed in the current political and social climate of today.
SAGE KALMUS, Contributing Writer, Magical Realism
Writer Sage Kalmus's fiction has appeared in numerous publications, and his piece The First Lo'ihian was recently nominated for a Pushcart Prize. He and his husband run Qommunity Media, an LGBTQ+ media company, and its imprint, Qommunicate Publishing, which has published five themed LGBTQ anthologies. Kalmus also teaches writing at Lesley University.
In the Midst of Winter, Isabel Allende, 2017
Isabel Allende is one of the Godmothers of magical realism, using magic to help bring to light the deep and complex humanity informing history and society. Since her groundbreaking debut novel, The House of the Spirits, she has been a prolific contributor to our greater understanding of ourselves. This new novel promises to continue that tradition, providing her trademark insight into the very present realities of immigrants, refugees and human rights.
The Immortalists, Chloe Benjamin, 2018, paperback February 5
This premise is right up my alley: How would you live if you knew when you would die? The novel follows four siblings through the latter-20th and early-21st centuries after they learn, as adolescents, the answer to this very question. I eagerly await the chance to learn how each one responds differently to the awareness, each finding their own way through fundamental universal paradoxes of illusion and reality, choice and destiny, our world and the hereafter.
The Shape of Water, Guillermo del Toro and Daniel Kraus, 2018
The movie of the same name, about the unlikely 1962 romance between a mute woman and a strange aquatic man-creature, took Hollywood — and my heart — by storm. This novel promises to present a new interpretation of the same story, written concomitantly with the production of the film. I can’t wait to discover the differences between them and gain new insights into sequences that stole my heart on the screen in the ways that only prose can deliver.