Book Talk: Keeping It in the City

by Michelle Brown

Our end of summer roundup of multi-genre refreshing reads authored by Washingtonian friends and neighbors.

Feel the local love with these seven picks by resident authors, running the gamut from a septuagenarian’s harrowing Midwest adventure to a book of inspirational mantras that encourages a positive outlook during uncertain times.

Love & Peace: 37 Eternal Reflections
By Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave
Alexandra Villard de Borchgrave, who has several books of poetry to her name, has produced a collection of inspirational reflections from luminaries across the ages, ranging from Plato to Winston Churchill, and Thomas Aquinas to J.R.R. Tolkein. Messages of love, grief, and peace, are paired with gorgeously framed borders from illuminated manuscripts at the Freer/Sackler Museum, with a mesmerizing background of photos of water from the National Geographic Image Collection. Give it a look when you need a soothing pick-me-up on your 300th day-or-so working from home. (Light of Healing Hope Foundation)


The World Doesn’t Require You
By Rion Amilcar Scott
Hear from a struggling musician, a ruthless Ph.D. candidate, a robot servant and two unhinged professors in Rion Amilcar Scott’s collection of short stories taking place in the fictional city of Cross River, Md. The alternate reality world he crafts is both disturbing and surreal. (Liveright)


More News Tomorrow
By Susan Richards Shreve
A gothic adventure is ignited by a grandmother’s 70th birthday and an ensuing family trip from Washington, D.C. to the Midwest campsite of her childhood. Protagonist grandma Georgianna “Georgie” Groves’ past turns out to be far more grim than her family, and readers, might expect. (W. W. Norton & Company)


A Hundred Suns
By Karin Tanabe
Experience 1920s Paris and 1930s French Indochina through the eyes of Jessie Lesange, a young American woman who grapples with disillusionment after a desperate move to Saigon. Readers will soon discern the tragic consequences of colonialism. (St. Martin’s Press)


What You Have Heard Is True: A Memoir of Witness and Resistance
By Carolyn Forché
The Carolyn Forché of today is a poet and human rights advocate who works as a professor at Georgetown University. But at the age of 27, her life looked much different after a mysterious stranger showed up on her doorstep and changed her path forever. Forché’s memoir accounts for her unlikely involvement in El Salvador’s civil war. (Penguin Books)


Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents
By Isabel Wilkerson
There’s a hidden caste system of human rankings in America, according to Wilkerson, who shows readers how the divisions between groups with and without power have destructive costs on our culture, politics and even our health. (Random House)


Be With Me Always
By Randon Billings Noble
“Hauntedness” is the theme of Randon Billings Noble’s essay collection. She unpacks her personal ghosts, including a few non-traditional ones: a near-death experience, a book she can’t stop reading, a former lover and, for some reason or another, the death of Anne Boleyn. (University of Nebraska Press)


This article appeared on the September 2020 issue of Washington Life Magazine.

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