You Are Your Book’s Best Seller

by Kathy Izard

Many aspiring authors claim to despise marketing. They just want to work on their craft and write a great book, and hope that will be enough to make it hit the bestseller list. They spend years taking writing classes, searching for an agent, and working on a book contract thinking that someday, someone else will do all that social media and marketing stuff.

The truth is, even if you get a contract with one of the Big Five publishers, there will not be a team of magic marketing fairies selling your book. Publishers still expect YOU, the author, to be engaging with potential readers through social media (Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter) and speaking engagements. Unless you are already John Grisham or Michelle Obama you are not likely to go on a nationwide book tour or get booked on the morning TV shows.

I say this not to depress you but to empower you. If you have a story that you want to tell, it is your job to both write it and sell it. Hopefully, you have already spent years drafting a polished story and understand who your audience might be. But even if you have only written the first draft and have no idea who might read it, now is time to begin crafting your business plan. As the author, you are the best person to understand who will be looking to read your romance novel or who needs the advice in your nonfiction book.

Begin to understand how your book matches your readers’ needs by asking yourself these three questions:

  1. Why did you write the book? Take time to write about this and be honest with yourself. Maybe it is just pure entertainment for you and your reader or maybe there is a felt need you think your book meets for potential readers. Understand why you wrote the book and what your expectations might be for sales.
  2. Who is your ideal reader? Get specific. What are the demographics of this group, where do they shop for books, and what format do they read (e-books, audiobooks, paperbacks or hardbacks)? You wan to make sure what you publish is what they buy.
  3. Where can you begin connecting with your type of ideal reader—either virtually or in person? Is it Instagram or LinkedIn? Are there Facebook groups you can join to begin meeting readers before your book launches? Are there in-person groups in your city—book clubs, service clubs, faith groups—that match your book’s theme that you can connect with?

Make these basic questions the starting point for writing the business plan for selling your book. Whether you have a traditional publisher or you independently publish, you will need a good outline of who are trying to sell to and how you will reach them.

You have worked hard to write a manuscript you care about. Now give an equal amount of effort understanding how to get that book to readers who will love it as much as you do.


Kathy Izard is the author of three books, The Hundred Story Home, The Last Ordinary Hour, and A Good Night for Mr. Coleman. She connects with her readers on Instagram (@kathyizardclt) and loves helping writers get their words in the world.


Learn from Kathy

Paths to Publishing: Self-Publishing Start to Finish. Thursday, October 6, 2022, 6:00-8:00 pm. So, you’ve finished a manuscript and have made the decision to self-publish. Where do you start? Join us as Kathy Izard walks you through 10 steps to putting your words in the world. From purchasing your own ISBN number to ordering author copies, Kathy can answer all your questions about becoming a published author of adult or children’s books. Register here.

How to Write About Sex

by Sarah Creech

Good sex in fiction relies on powerful description skills, but what makes it “good” has much more to do with character and conflict than the sensory experience of sex on the page as mere titillation. Sex is always a power dynamic in story with various parties claiming power by different methods and for different reasons. Good sex functions as character development and deepens a character’s psychological richness on the page. Good sex creates subtext and interiority in a story.

Bad sex in fiction ignores all of these important elements of craft and instead focuses on description for description’s sake. Often that description is overwrought or straining for the visual as a stand-in for real yearning and complex desire. Each year, the Literary Review announces its Bad Sex in Fiction award to draw attention to the cliché ways sex is sometimes presented in story. More specifically, “The purpose of the prize is to draw attention to poorly written, perfunctory or redundant passages of sexual description in modern fiction.” (Check out some recent award winners and see if you can spot any reasons for why those particular works were chosen for so dubious an honor.)

But all jokes aside: sex in fiction is a very serious craft concern for storytellers. When and how to invite the reader’s mind onto the page to participate in the imaginary work of scene building is critical. Not all sex is romantic or erotic. Some sex is taboo, violent, without consent. A writer handles difficult material through skillful craft choices.


Sarah Creech is the author of two novels, Season of the Dragonflies and The Whole Way Home. Her short fiction and essays have appeared in various publications, including The Cortland Review, Writer’sDigest. com, StorySouth, and Literary Mama. She lives in North Carolina with her husband and children and teaches at Queens University of Charlotte.


Learn From Sarah: Want to write great sex scenes that don’t just titillate the reader but also reveal character and complicate the plot? Join us for “Sex (How to Write About it Well)” at Charlotte Lit, Thursday, September 29, from 6:00 to 8:00 pm. In this course we will study the best strategies to create good tension in a sex scene and learn to avoid the techniques that might get you nominated for the infamous Bad Sex in Fiction award.  Learn more and register here.

Why “The Iliad” Still Matters

by Jeffrey Thomson

The Iliad is a book of transitions; it is a fundamentally a book of liminal moments. This is a story from the basement of history—from the moment when we began the movement from an oral storytelling culture to a culture of written literature. It establishes many of the characters and tropes of the modern literary world, while living up to almost none of the norms. It is a challenging, sprawling, and difficult text that is likewise small and intimate in its essential movement. Its characters and heroes interact with gods and Fate but play out an ultimately human story.

The Iliad takes place during the Trojan War, but it is not about the Trojan war. Rather it is about the making of a person—Achilles. We watch as he moves from rage to pity. From unyielding to anything but the direct commands of the gods to yielding to the will of another human being. Achilles is “divinely” selfish in the beginning of book one, but by the end Achilles has learned to feel pity for another mortal. His final acts of grace and generosity show that he has abandoned his selfish anger and found a connection to another human being.

For writers, The Iliad is an unending fountain of characters and moments that can be plumbed and investigated, written and rewritten. It is the text that gave us the world’s first fan fiction—The Aeneid—and continues to provide grist for that mill (Madeline Miller’s The Song of Achilles, the film Troy, etc.). In a moment of—again—invasion and war, reading and talking about Homer’s classic war story will let us—once again, as well—think about what it ultimately means to be a human being.


Jeffrey Thomson is a poet, memoirist, translator, and editor, and the author of 10 books including Half/Life: New and Selected Poems from Alice James Books, the memoir fragile, The Belfast Notebooks, The Complete Poems of Catullus, and the edited collection From the Fishouse. His newest book is Museum of Objects Burned by the Souls in Purgatory. He has been a National Endowment for the Arts Fellow, the Fulbright Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Poetry Centre at Queen’s University Belfast, and the Hodson Trust–John Carter Brown Fellow at Brown University. He is currently professor of creative writing at the University of Maine Farmington.


Read The Iliad with Charlotte Lit: Join us for “Reading The Iliad in Wartime” with Jeffrey Thomson. Over six sessions beginning September 20, we will read and discuss Homer’s original classic and think about the way it speaks to our time and the way other writers have used this story to illuminate theirs. This is a “Zoom Plus One” event — when you register you can bring a friend for free! More information and registration here.

Our Favorite Reads of 2021

From Charlotte Lit’s faculty and staff, here’s a list of our favorite reads this year — most new, but some older favorites, too. Enjoy!

Poetry

Bright Dead Things, by Ada Limón — Paul Reali

Come Hither Honeycomb, by Erin Belieu — Lisa Zerkle

Facts about the Moon, by Dorianne Laux — Kathie Collins

Indigo, by Ellen Bass — Jessica Jacobs

What Pecan Light, by Hannah Vanderhart — Dannye Romine Powell

Essay Collections

Let Me Tell You What I Mean, by Joan Didion — Elizabeth West

One Long River of Song, by Brian Doyle — Irene Honeycutt

Southbound: Essays on Identity, Inheritance, and Social Change, by Anjali Enjeti — Patrice Gopo 

Symbol, Myth, and Culture: Essays and Lectures of Ernst Cassirer, 1935-1945, by Ernst Cassirer — David Radavich

Fiction

A Piece of the Moon, by Chris Fabry — Landis Wade

Annie John, by Jamaica Kincaid — Caroline Langerman

Autumn, by Ali Smith — Jessica Jacobs

Hamnet, by Maggie O’Farrell — Kristin Sherman 

Harrow, by Joy Williams — Jeff Jackson

I Wished, by Dennis Cooper — Jeff Jackson 

Manhattan Beach, by Jennifer Egan — Paul Reali

Martita, I Remember You, by Sandra Cisneros — Judy Goldman 

Miss Benson’s Beetle, by Rachel Joyce — Betsy Thorpe 

One Kind Favor, by Kevin McIlvoy — Kathryn Schwille 

Plainsong, by Kent Haruf — Bryn Chancellor 

Severance, by Ling Ma — Megan Rich 

Song of Achilles, by Madeleine Miller — Kathie Collins

The Black Kids, by Christina Hammonds Reed — Patrice Gopo 

The Henna Artist, by Alka Joshi — Surabhi Kaushik

The Outline Trilogy, by Rachel Cusk — John Amen

The Overstory, by Richard Powers — Martin Settle

The Postscript Murders, by Elly Griffiths — Cathy Pickens 

The Sweetness of Water, by Nathan Harris — Kristin Sherman 

There There, by Tommy Orange — David Poston

Under the Mercy Trees, by Heather Newton — Kim Wright 

Tender Is the Night, by F. Scott Fitzgerald — Sarah VanderWood

Memoir

A Rip in Heaven, by Jeanine Cummins — Amy Paturel

Blow Your House Down: Family, Feminism, and Treason, by Gina Frangello — Ashley Memory

Carry: A Memoir of Survival on …, by Toni Jensen — Bryn Chancellor 

Greenlights, by Matthew McConaughey — Jennifer Halls

Stray: A Memoir, by Stephanie Danler — Caroline Langerman

Nonfiction

Chasing the Thrill, by Daniel Barbarisi — Cathy Pickens 

How the Word Is Passed…, by Clint Smith — Paula Martinac 

The Peregrine, by J.A. Baker — Charles Israel, Jr.

Zero Fail: The Rise and Fall…, by Carol Leonnig — Jennifer Halls

Short Stories

If I Had Two Wings, by Randall Kenan — George Hovis

Palm of the Hand Stories, by Yasunari Kawavata — Lola Haskins

The Office of Historical Corrections, by Danielle Evans — Kathryn Schwille

The Souvenir Museum, by Elizabeth McCracken — Lisa Zerkle

Celebrate the Twelve Days of Editing

Ashley MemoryFirst Day: Alone in your cozy writing nook, a partridge in a pear tree, you love every word of your new essay. It’s just perfect. Then you realize you’re 500 words over the limit for the contest you want to enter. Yikes!

Second Day: Like those two turtle doves, your initial love for your essay has migrated to sub-Saharan Africa for the winter, maybe forever. You hate your essay now. As you read over it, you realize it’s not very good at all. Is there anything worth keeping?

Third Day: Absolument! Your three French hens remind you of the virtues of faith, hope, and charity. Give yourself a break. Besides, there’s no time to start anything new.

Fourth Day: Or is there? The four “calling birds” in your backyard clamor for a new tune. Start over, the blackbirds sing. Start over! Start over! START OVER!

Fifth Day: You have no energy to begin something new. Your five golden rings may be just brass, but your essay is the best you’ve got, so you decide to polish it up the best you can.

Sixth Day: Okay, so you won’t actually cut anything. You’ll just trim the hedge a teeny bit, taking care not to disturb the six Canada Geese-a-laying. You gently prune a few words here and a few words there. But is it enough?

Seventh Day: It is not. However, you refuse to cut the most precious part of your essay. Even if they say that all writers eventually “murder their swans.” Well, that’s for other people to do. Their swans are not as precious as your swans.

Eighth Day: Your cereal milk has soured, and doubt sets in. Wallow in your pity for a while and then get back to the barn with the other maids. You’ve got serious work to do.

Ninth Day: Cutting is actually easier than you thought. The delete key clicks like Ginger Rogers’ heels, and your heart dances with delight. You don’t miss those swans at all.

Tenth Day: Your essay isn’t the same. Now you fear it’s terrible. Ten lords leap in and take it away. You’re happy to see it go.

Eleventh Day: The pipers bring your essay back, and they’re not playing a dirge. When you read your essay again with fresh eyes, you realize it may actually may be better. Leaner, more concise, and more compelling. Hurray!

Twelfth Day: Take a deep breath and submit your revised essay. The world may not love it, but who cares? You do. In your mind, it’s just perfect. And in the end, that’s all that matters. After all, new ideas drum on and on….


ABOUT ASHLEY: Ashley Memory lives in the wilds of the southwestern Randolph County where the pileated woodpecker, chickadees and titmice serve as her “calling birds.” She has written for Poets & Writers, The Independent, and Wired. She serves as a critique editor and judge for the Women on Writing quarterly fiction and nonfiction contests, and writes a blog at ashley-memory.com.


GET OUT OF THE SLUSH WITH ASHLEY: Join Ashley for The Art of Submission: From the “Slush” Pile to the “Rush” Pile on January 11, 2022, 6-8 p.m. online via Zoom. Technology makes submitting for publication easier than ever. Though as more writers offer their work, competition for space becomes fiercer. But take heart. In this class, we’ll cover the art behind successful submissions and how to move from the “slush” pile to the pile editors rush to accept. More information is here.

Why Keep a Personal Journal?

Melinda FergusonHave you ever wanted to keep a journal but didn’t know how to begin? Perhaps you’ve asked yourself, “Why should I believe for a minute I have anything at all interesting to say?” Have you ever abandoned a journal out of boredom or dismissed personal writing as a waste of time?

More than sixteen million blank journals are sold annually in stores and on the internet.* As technology threatens to replace traditional forms of communication, there appears to be an opposite impulse to slow down and talk to ourselves. Here’s the catch: While vast numbers of blank books are purchased, few are ever fully used. Would-be journal writers often give up before realizing journaling’s many benefits.

There’s good science from psychologists and medical clinicians claiming personal writing improves your health. Physically, the act of simply sitting down in comfortable surroundings, picking up a pen, and writing your thoughts and feelings almost immediately lowers your blood pressure, reduces your heart rate, and increases the production of T-cells that pump up your body’s immunity system.Writing helps keep your mind sharp by expanding your observational skills and memory. As a spiritual practice, writing strengthens your faith. Professional writers and artists have long used journals to develop ideas, break through writer’s block, and practice their craft. In your journal, you are likely to discover a never-before recognized source of creativity within yourself.

How Journal Writing has Helped Me: A Short List

  1. Increased my reverence and gratitude for my life and Life
  2. Helped me identify what I need to be happy
  3. Provided a safe place to unlock and understand my feelings, explore my emotional life, and recognize my moods and what caused them
  4. Helped me appreciate my childhood
  5. Led me to realize that I am a creative and imaginative person
  6. Boosted my critical thinking and writing skills
  7. Enhanced my self-confidence and given me a greater sense of peace
  8. Brought me to a place closer to self-acceptance and serenity

Journal writing is a path to inner peace. As a consequence, I believe I have brought a little peace into the lives of my family, friends, and colleagues.  Perhaps this is too much of a stretch, but imagine: If, as the title of physicist Conrad Lorenz’s paper on chaos theory suggests, the flap of a butterfly’s wings in Brazil might set off a tornado in Texas, isn’t it possible that one person’s journal writing might contribute to world peace? Isn’t it a joy to think so?

 

*Estimates compiled from Leaving a Trace, The Art of transforming a Life into Stories by Alexandra Johnson. Little, Brown and Company, 2001.           


ABOUT MELINDA: Melinda L. Ferguson grew up in Lima, Ohio, graduated from Miami University, and moved to New York City to earn and MA from Columbia University before embarking on a career in Manhattan as an editor for major book companies. After her family moved to Long Island, Ferguson taught English classes at Suffolk County Community College, English as a Second Language at the Smithtown Adult Education Program and facilitated memoir writing workshops at community libraries. In 2016, Melinda received an MA degree in Creative Writing & Literature from Stony Brook/Southampton University. Melinda moved to Charlotte in 2016 to be near family.

Historical Fiction

Paula Martinac

Paula Martinac is the author of the forthcoming historical novel Dear Miss Cushman.

The Past Comes Alive on the Page

The task facing the historical fiction writer is to bring research to life. In a journal article or history book, you might read that 19th-century American theaters were rowdy places in which audiences frequently booed actors off the stage. In contrast, a historical novel would take you into the boxes and “parquet,” or orchestra seating, and show the repercussions of a poor performance. This excerpt from my forthcoming novel, Dear Miss Cushman, set in the New York City theater world in 1852, demonstrates this idea.

 

When the audience began hissing, I knew Othello wasn’t going to end well. The response jolted me. We weren’t at the Bowery Theatre, where the audience in the pit tossed apples and vegetables onto the stage if a performance didn’t please them. The Prince Theatre was one of New York City’s finest establishments, catering to the upper ten.

Worse, the actor they hissed at was my father.

I was attending my first theatrical performance. Incredible, given that my father was a renowned leading actor, but Mama maintained that theater wasn’t a place for young ladies. For my eighteenth birthday, she gave in to my pleading and permitted Uncle James to accompany me to my father’s performance of the Moor, one of his most acclaimed roles. Mama insisted I have a new dress, and my sister Maude oohed and aahed over the sky blue taffeta until I wanted to take it off and give it to her. I myself put little stock in puffy lady things, especially in pastel hues. Plus, the heavy horsehair crinoline the skirt required for shape made beads of sweat trickle down my stomach.

Still, I could abide these discomforts if it meant I got to sit beside my dapper uncle in his lushly adorned box, draped with red and gold silk, and marvel at the glistening gas-jet chandelier that lit the space. Best of all, I got to watch my father tread the boards as I’d imagined him doing, in full costume and makeup for the Moor and sporting his prize sword.

We were barely one act in when Pa dropped a few lines. Then more—even the ones I ran with him that morning “for good measure,” as he’d urged. He’d appeared in Othello dozens of times, but now the role appeared to baffle him. Although the movement made my stays pinch, I leaned forward, mouthing the words, willing them into his memory.

Taunts rose slowly through the cavernous parquet. Pa squinted toward the footlights in bewilderment….

The audience response crescendoed into boos. Uncle James colored crimson. “We’re leaving,” he announced, spittle collecting at the corners of his lips. He tugged me to my feet. “Now, Georgiana.”


Paula Martinac is the author of the forthcoming historical novel Dear Miss Cushman (Bywater Books, December 2021), and six others, including Testimony; Clio Rising, Gold Medalist, Northeast Region, 2020 Independent Publisher Book Awards; and The Ada Decades, a finalist for the 2018 Ferro-Grumley Award in LGBTQ Fiction. Out of Time, her debut novel, won a Lambda Literary Award. She has received fellowships from North Carolina Arts Council and the Arts and Science Council and teaches in the creative writing program at UNC Charlotte.


EXPLORE HISTORICAL FICTION WITH PAULA: Join Paula for Writing Historical Fiction online. Historical fiction has the power to bring people and places from the past to life. If you’re drawn to this genre (or one of its sub-genres, like historical mystery or romance), this class will provide you with motivation and skills to start writing. By the end of the class, you will have a scene or chapter for a work-in-progress or an outline and character biographies that give you a solid path forward. This class meets on three Tuesdays, November 30, December 7 and 14, 6:00-8:00 p.m. More information here.

Book Recommendations from Our Members

At our 2020 holiday party, we asked our members what books they’d recommend as gifts or for next year’s book clubs. Here’s the list, with purchase links to our friends Park Road Books. Enjoy!

Future Home of the Living God, Louise Erdrich | Hardcover | Paperback

The Ten Thousand Doors of January, Alix E. Harrow | Hardcover | Paperback

Nothing to See Here, Kevin Wilson | Hardcover | Paperback

Book of Delights, Ross Gay | Hardcover

The Splendid and the Vile, Erik Larson | Hardcover

Hillbilly Elegy, J.D. Vance | Hardcover | Paperback

CREATE! Developing Your Own Creative Process, Cathy Pickens | Paperback

The Cost of These Dreams: Sports Stories and Other Serious Business, Wright Thompson | Paperback

Little Bee, Chris Cleave | Paperback

The Henna Artist, Alka Joshi | Hardcover | Paperback

Excerpt from “The Skin Artist” by George Hovis

George Hovis

George Hovis

The needles burned worse than last time. But today he was sober. Bill watched the artist’s eyes. The eyes alone seemed to will the tattoo gun’s movement as it trenched the skin of Bill’s forearm, burying its seed of ink. Maybe it was better not to try to make conversation. Just get this over with. But he needed to talk, needed to hear Niall talk, to establish something human between them.

“I never knew tattooing went so far back.” Bill raised his voice over the metallic buzz of the tattoo gun, wanting to distract the artist, but afraid to distract him.

“At one point in history,” Niall said, his gaze still focused on Bill’s tender skin, “tattooing was taken very seriously, as well it should be. It’s strong magic and not simply about marketing oneself at the club.”

Bill looked away from the pain, closed his eyes, and focused on slowing his breath.  Though he hadn’t known at the time, the first tattoo had been for Maddie, a drunkard’s selfish gambit. He had hoped to conjure new life into their marriage by shocking her into acknowledging him, his body, if only to laugh.

“There are very few artists left,” Niall went on, “few human beings, who practice magic,” “as long as you don’t count crap like Wicca, which isn’t magic. It’s just mass-produced garbage designed to elevate somebody to the top of a social circle.”

Bill forced a laugh. “Wicca sounds a lot like corporate America.” His cushy corporate job had gone the way of his wife and the gated community, leaving Bill here half dressed, huffing air thick with solvent, at the mercy of this con artist and his interminable recitations, which Bill was starting to crave as much as he craved this cutting of his skin.

“Thousands of years ago in early mystical cultures,” Niall continued to drone, “they all believed the same things: there are certain marks you don’t make unless you are ready to move mountains. The skin is a protective barrier in every way. When you start opening the skin, you can do ten times the magic work.”

Bill looked again at the spreading blood. “So, what if the tattooist is just some grease ball named Pork Chop—”

“—who specializes in rebel flags and Harley Davidson emblems?” Niall smirked.

“It still has an effect?”

“Of course it does. Even if the artist isn’t actively engaging in a ritual at the time, a tattoo can still act on a metaphysical plane and alter someone’s reality for good or bad.”

“But with less predictability?”

“Usually the result is utter chaos.” Niall switched off the power supply and lay the gun on the counter. Bill noticed again the delicate hands. Their precision reminded him of Maddie’s hands, how he still craved their touch.

“I’m very careful in my work,” the artist said, “and even I have accidentally ruined lives. And sometimes not accidentally.”


LEARN WITH GEORGE HOVIS: George leads a new Charlotte Lit class, Making it Strange, Making it Real: Writing Literary Fantasy, Thursday, October 1, 6-7:30 p.m. More info

ABOUT GEORGE: George Hovis grew up in rural Gaston County, North Carolina. His debut novel, The Skin Artist — nominated for the 2019 Sir Walter Raleigh Award and a Finalist for the Eric Hoffer Award — tells the story of Charlotte’s emergence in the 90s as a “world-class city,” one with deep and often tortured connections to the surrounding hinterlands. George’s stories and essays have appeared widely in anthologies and journals, including The Carolina Quarterly, Southern Cultures, New Madrid, and The North Carolina Literary Review. He is a professor of English at SUNY Oneonta, where he was awarded the 2017 SUNY Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Teaching. georgehovis.net

What I’m Reading This Summer

Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment of summer reading picks from Charlotte Lit staff. Here, Charlotte Lit col-founder Paul Reali shares what he’ll be reading this summer.


Each time I pick up my iPad with the Kindle app, or pick through the stack on my nightstand, my different selves do battle. Which Paul is doing the reading tonight?

This summer, my selves will be battling over these titles. This is not be a traditional summer reading list, because nothing here has anything to do with summer, most are not new, and there are no beach reads here (well, maybe one). Summer for me is the time to trim my stack, not add to it.

For the Writer: The Anatomy of Story, by John Truby. One of the bibles of writing. Authors Lab coach Kim Wright uses the author as a verb, as in: “Did you Truby the manuscript?”

For the Reader (and Writer) of Mysteries: When Will There Be Good News, by Kate Atkinson, the third Jackson Brodie mystery. Atkinson writes mysteries that read like literature.

For the Reader of Literature: Ghost Wall, by Sarah Moss. I’m one day into this and I think it wins the daily battle until I get to the end. Charlotte Lit co-founder Kathie Collins called this the book she’d wished she’d written.

For the Reader of Local Writers: Clio Rising, by Paula Martinac. Charlotte Lit teacher and Authors Lab coach has written another winner with distinct voices and memorable characters. I defy you to ever forget Livvie Bliss or Clio Hartt.

For the Editor: I’ll be reading my own mystery novel in progress, which is going through one (I swear just one) last (absolutely last) final (absolutely dead final) revision to get that word count down to 80K.

For the Parent of Teenagers: Untangled: Guiding Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood, by Lisa Damour Ph.D. The subtitle says it all. A fascinating and sometimes frightening read.

For the Runner: Run Less, Run Faster, by Bill Pierce, Scott Murr, and Ray Ross. The perfect book for running like a 40-year old on 50-something legs.

For the Fun-Lover: Good Omens, by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman. A 30-year old one-off collaboration by two fantastic writers, and that has had an active fandom ever since. Read this beforeyou watch the new Amazon mini-series and you’ll appreciate it all the more.