Summer Reading Picks by Tamela Rich

Editor’s Note: Charlotte Lit’s staff is using the summer months to catch up on our reading and we thought we’d share our lists with you. First up—program coordinator and all-around, can-do woman, Tamela Rich’s selections for both pleasure reads and writing research.

If I had a nickel for every book I own and have started but not finished…I’d buy more books!

I picked up two new titles at Park Road Books and laughed with the bookseller about my habit of buying new books when I haven’t finished others. He said, “When you buy a book, you’re buying the promise of time to read it.” That resonates. Buying a book does feel like I’m buying the time to read it. Buying time…what a concept.

I bought:

Prairie Fever, by Michael Parker

I studied with Michael last year at the The Appalachian Writers’ Workshop at Hindman Settlement School, where he told us about this, his sixth novel, based in family lore.

Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee, by Casey Cep

I read the New York Times Book Review each week. That’s where I learned about the mystery surrounding Harper Lee’s first and only work of nonfiction, and the shocking true crimes at the center of it.

I’m reading:

Clio Rising, by Paula Martinac

A book set in the literary world of New York in the 1980s is doubly fun for this reader-writer. The protagonist hails from western North Carolina, and tells her story in witty first person. Paula is my Authors Lab mentor, which is why I bought Clio, but the fabulous writing is why I’m enthusiastically reading it!

Together: A Memoir of a Marriage and a Medical Mishap, by Judy Goldman

Judy is a masterful memoirist who teaches the craft at Charlotte Lit. My husband and I are reading Together together.

Research Reads:

My novel-in-progress follows a teenage girl from a Kentucky coal camp up the “Hillbilly Highway” to Detroit in 1943 where she hopes to make enough money to support her family back home. She encounters a world far beyond her understanding, including the country’s sexist and racist public health response to the syphilis epidemic that raged in the final years before antibiotics. These are terrific books that have helped me flesh out mine (working title, The Varney Girls).

The World According to Fannie Davis: My Mother’s Life in the Detroit Numbers, by Bridgett M. Davis

Arc of Justice: A Saga of Race, Civil Rights, and Murder in the Jazz Age, by Kevin Boyle

Black Detroit: A People’s History of Self-Determination, by Herb Boyd

The Trials of Nina McCall: Sex, Surveillance, and the Decades-Long Government Plan to Imprison ‘Promiscuous’ Women,’ by Scott. W. Stern