Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Discoveries/A Stack of Books

One of the perks of teaching a workshop at a writers' conference is that I come home with a totebag full of unexpected treasures. At every meal one finds a book on one's chair, courtesy of the speaker of the hour; giveaways abound as raffle prizes--bags and baskets filled with chocolates, writing implements and lots of books; and the book signing that closes the conference provides lots of opportunities to scoop up a stack of books by one's favorite authors.

I came away from the New England Chapter-Romance Writers of America Conference with an eclectic collection. Some were by authors I know and love--Brenda Novak's The Perfect Couple, a chilling and emotionally gripping story that kept me up at night turning pages; Judith Arnold's Looking for Laura, whose unconventional heroine made me ache with recognition and cheer for her determination and grit. Other books were complete strangers to me, but having roared with laughter at 7:30 in the morning listening to MaryJanice Davidson, I couldn't resist reading her Undead and Unemployed, a most unlikely book for me but which entertained in surprising ways. I'm now in the midst of Night Swimming by Laura Moore, who happened to sit next to me at the book signing. It's a complex story, rich with political and ecological conflict as a backdrop to the relationship between two childhood friends reunited after many years.

I'm always struck by the range of stories that fall under the definition of "romance." It's an extraordinary collection with such different perspectives--and every one of them a good read.

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