The holidays are a good reminder that a new year is quickly approaching and provide the opportunity for self-reflection and thought about the year ahead. For 2018, I challenge you to create some goals for yourself. Write them down, occasionally check your progress and take pride in your accomplishments throughout the year. If you plan to make reading more books one of your 2018 goals (raises hand), let this list of (mostly) local authors serve as your guide. Buy two copies of each so you can give the love of reading to someone else.
The Declaration of Independence and Other Great Documents of American History, Edited by John Grafton: I bought this for my boss years ago as a Secret Santa gift, and she is still talking about it. While this is the only non-local book on this list, it may be the most important. In today’s contentious political climate, it may be a good idea to read about the foundation upon which this country was built. Maybe it will help all the animosity, even if just a little.
The Loved Dead and Other Tales by C.M. Eddy, Jr: These 13 tales of the macabre and strange were written between 1915 and 1922 and were published in the years after that. The author, a Providence resident, was good friends with HP Lovecraft and Harry Houdini, and their influence is apparent in his writing. The stories are relatively short, minus the novella “Sign of the Dragon,” his first published work. My favorite story is “An Arbiter of Destiny,” about a hypnotist who runs into an old acquaintance.
The Stocking Dead by Dean Calusdian: Santa’s winter wonderland becomes an undead wasteland in this graphic novel that definitely shouldn’t find its way into your kid’s stocking.
One American Robin by E.A. Mann: This could be considered historical fiction, as it takes place in 2009 when an I-95 underpass was famous for being “Tent City,” a community of homeless people. It was a giant story at the time. While Tent City plays a role in the story, it is a small one. The focus instead is on Robin, whose life becomes an uncomfortable balancing act as she tries to juggle work, a relationship and her family, which includes a father suffering from Alzheimer’s and living in a nursing home. The realism of this story is fascinating, as these moments could happen to anyone. It’s a well-told glimpse into everyday struggles.
I Got a Song by Rick Massimo: Massimo writes an in-depth history that shows the ups and downs George Wein and company went through, and how Newport Folk Festival became one of the most important and iconic festivals this country has seen. There are plenty of stories about all the main players (including many of the current day contemporaries that arguably helped revive the festival) and an entire chapter dedicated to Bob Dylan going electric (see review at motifri.com/i-got-a-song).
Morning Glory Blues by Christopher Roe: Roe puts forth an 80-poem effort, full of simple, easy-to-read and enjoyable poems that mostly seem to be stream of consciousness writing. Thirteen of these poems make up “The Water View Series,” which were written at the rehabilitation center he was living in while recovering from a horrific fall. The struggle and frustration are evident in these works, serving as a reminder of how frail our bodies can be and how the mind must stay strong, regardless of the circumstances (see review at motifri.com/morning-glory-blues).