Sunday, February 23, 2020

Sunday Sentence: So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.


Reminded him of that morning after church when her hair was baptism-wet. How she sat at the kitchen table, born again, drowning in the sunlight.

"Knock Out the Heart Lights So We Can Glow" from
So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith


Friday, February 21, 2020

Friday Freebie: Cancer, I’ll Give You One Year by Jennifer Spiegel


Congratulations to Sylvia Danforth, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: The Bramble and the Rose by Tom Bouman.

This week’s contest is for a book I am especially pleased to be giving away to one lucky reader: Cancer, I’ll Give You One Year by Jennifer Spiegel (Love Slave). I had the privilege of reading an early copy of Jennifer’s witty (and sobering) account of surviving cancer, told in a “real-time” journal format. Here’s what I said by way of a blurb for the cover of the book:
On the first page of her no-holds-barred memoir, Cancer, I’ll Give You One Year, Jennifer Spiegel tells us I’m just another writer trapped inside my truth. The truth is, this book that reads like a diary about her “cancer-tainted marriage” comes loaded with knockout punches that will leave readers reeling with awe for her bravery in the face of breast cancer (though Spiegel would probably make gagging sounds over me saying that). The truth of the matter is also that this is a gut-honest book that will make you laugh and squirm and get nose-prickly with tears and want to run every pink-ribboned marathon in support of cancer research. I can think of few other books in which the author has bared her heart as wholly and generously as Spiegel has in these pages.
Keep scrolling for more information on the novel and how to enter the contest...


Cancer, I’ll Give You One Year: A Non-Informative Guide To Breast Cancer, A Writer’s Memoir In Almost Real Time is not about eating kale. The book is 100 percent narrative nonfiction and 0 percent self-help. It was actually written for the author’s children in case she died. This sounds morbid, but maybe “pointed” and “candid” are better words. Embracing candor as an aesthetic, this real-time story hits upon the sacred, the profane, a trip to Epcot, a colonoscopy, her kids’ responses to everything, and O. J. Simpson’s parole hearing. Writing-centric, voice-driven, and conscious of a death sentence―no diets or exercises are offered, but the author may give horrible parenting advice. It’s undoubtedly funny, but also a meditation on meaning.

If you’d like a chance at winning Cancer, I’ll Give You One Year, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail.

The Fine Print
One entry per person, please (or, two if you share the post—see below). Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on Feb. 27 at which time I’ll draw the winning names. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Feb. 28.

The Finer Print
If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email. Your e-mail address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

The Finest Print
Want to double your odds of winning? Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter. Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.


Thursday, February 20, 2020

Fresh Ink: February 2020 edition


Fresh Ink is a monthly tally of new and forthcoming booksmainly advance review copies (aka “uncorrected proofs” and “galleys”)—I’ve received from publishers. Cover art and opening lines may change before the book is finally released. I should also mention that, in nearly every case, I haven’t had a chance to read these books, but they’re definitely going in the to-be-read pile.



Where You’re All Going
by Joan Frank
(Sarabande Books)

Jacket Copy:  In her quartet of novellas, Joan Frank invites readers into the inner lives of characters bewildered by love, grief, and inexplicable affinities. A young couple navigates a strange friendship and unexpected pregnancy; a woman recalls the bizarre fallout of her former lover’s fame; a lonely widow is drawn to an arrogant young man; a wealthy spiritual seeker grapples with what wealth cannot affect. Witty and humane, Frank taps the riches of the novella form as she writes of loneliness, friendship, loss, and the filaments of intimacy that connect us through time.

Opening Lines:  They’re not true, you know. The platitudes.
       God, the itching. Tops of my hands. Base of my skull. Possible symptom of hyperstrong coffee―guilt to match.
       Platitudes, Pleiades.
       He’s in a better place. Who says? Who knows?

Blurbworthiness:  “Each of these novellas is as satisfying as a whole book, but what I really love is the way, together, they tell a much bigger story―about love and loyalty and family and fear and joy. Where You’re All Going is full beauty and bounty.”  (Ramona Ausubel, author of Sons and Daughters of Ease and Plenty)

Why It’s In My Stack:  Several years ago, I read the first of the novellas, “Biting the Moon,” bound in this collection. I was blown away by the story of a woman remembering her lover, a film-music composer, after his death. On that day, I became a lifelong fan of Joan Frank’s writing.



This Little Family
by Ines Bayard (translated by Adriana Hunter)
(Other Press)

Jacket Copy:  This astonishing debut inhabits the mind of a young married woman driven to extremes by disgust and dread in the aftermath of a rape. Marie and Laurent, a young, affluent couple, have settled into their large Paris apartment and decide to start trying for a baby. This picture-perfect existence is shattered when Marie is assaulted by her new boss. Deeply shaken by the attack, she discovers she is pregnant, and is convinced her rapist is the father. Marie closes herself off in a destructive silence, ultimately leading her to commit an irreparable act. In a first novel of extraordinary power and depth, Inès Bayard exposes disturbing truths about how society sees women and how women see themselves in turn.

Opening Lines:  Little Thomas didn’t have time to finish his stewed apple. His mother hadn’t given him the slightest chance. The speed with which the poison circulated through his blood simply meant he didn’t suffer when he died.

Blurbworthiness:  “Remarkable...Bayard’s writing is sharp, cold, precise, and sends chills down your spine. You read this novel with bated breath.”  (La Presse)

Why It’s In My Stack:  That first, short chapter is a startle of shock and heartbreak. It’s so good and hard to read that it ensures I simply cannot look away from what follows.



The Guest List
by Lucy Foley
(William Morrow)

Jacket Copy:  A wedding celebration turns dark and deadly in this deliciously wicked and atmospheric thriller reminiscent of Agatha Christie from the author of The Hunting Party. On an island off the coast of Ireland, guests gather to celebrate two people joining their lives together as one. The groom: handsome and charming, a rising television star. The bride: smart and ambitious, a magazine publisher. It’s a wedding for a magazine, or for a celebrity: the designer dress, the remote location, the luxe party favors, the boutique whiskey. The cell phone service may be spotty and the waves may be rough, but every detail has been expertly planned and will be expertly executed. But perfection is for plans, and people are all too human. As the champagne is popped and the festivities begin, resentments and petty jealousies begin to mingle with the reminiscences and well wishes. The groomsmen begin the drinking game from their school days. The bridesmaid not-so-accidentally ruins her dress. The bride’s oldest (male) friend gives an uncomfortably caring toast. And then someone turns up dead. Who didn’t wish the happy couple well? And perhaps more important, why?

Opening Lines:  The lights go out.
       In an instant, everything is in darkness. The band stop their playing. Inside the tent the wedding guests squeal and clutch at one another. The light from the candles on the tables only adds to the confusion, sends shadows racing up the canvas walls. It’s impossible to see where anyone is or hear what anyone is saying: above the guests’ voices the wind rises in a frenzy.

Blurbworthiness:  “I didn’t think Lucy Foley could top The Hunting Party, but she did! I loved this book. It gave me the same waves of happiness I get from curling up with a classic Christie. A remote, atmospheric island, a wedding no one is particularly happy to be at, old secrets—and a murder. The alternating points of view keep you guessing, and guessing wrong. I can’t wait for her next book.” (Alex Michaelides, author of The Silent Patient)

Why It’s In My Stack:  They had me at Agatha Christie—plus that wind-battered, darkness-plunged opening paragraph which sets the scene for a deadly wedding night.



The Mountains Sing
by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai
(Algonquin Books)

Jacket Copy:  With the epic sweep of Min Jin Lee’s Pachinko or Yaa Gyasi’s Homegoing and the lyrical beauty of Vaddey Ratner’s In the Shadow of the Banyan, The Mountains Sing tells an enveloping, multigenerational tale of the Trần family, set against the backdrop of the Việt Nam War. Trần Diệu Lan, who was born in 1920, was forced to flee her family farm with her six children during the Land Reform as the Communist government rose in the North. Years later in Hà Nội, her young granddaughter, Hương, comes of age as her parents and uncles head off down the Hồ Chí Minh Trail to fight in a conflict that tore not just her beloved country, but her family apart. Vivid, gripping, and steeped in the language and traditions of Việt Nam, The Mountains Sing brings to life the human costs of this conflict from the point of view of the Vietnamese people themselves, while showing us the true power of kindness and hope. The Mountains Sing is celebrated Vietnamese poet Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s first novel in English.

Opening Lines:  My grandmother used to tell me that when our ancestors die, they don’t just disappear, they continue to watch over us. And now, I feel her watching me as I light a match, setting fire to three sticks of incense. On the ancestral altar, behind the wooden bell and plates of steaming food, my grandma’s eyes glow as an orange-blue flame springs up, consuming the incense. I shake the incense to put out the fire. As it smolders, curtains of smoke and fragrance spiral toward Heaven, calling spirits of the dead to return.

Blurbworthiness:  “The Mountains Sing is an epic account of Việt Nam’s painful 20th century history, both vast in scope and intimate in its telling. Through the travails of one family, Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai brings us close to the horrors of famine, war, and class struggle. But in this moving and riveting novel, she also shows us a postwar Việt Nam, a country of hope and renewal, home to a people who have never given up.”  (Viet Thanh Nguyen, author of The Sympathizer)

Why It’s In My Stack:  Because I want to learn more about a country whose very name stirs strong emotion in many Americans even today. Because I like discovering new voices. Because, as Karl Marlantes (Matterhorn) says, “Good literature frees us from being trapped in our own skins by allowing us to identify with characters and see the world through their eyes. Reading this novel, I was moved by Nguyễn Phan Quế Mai’s beautiful, even poetic, depictions of enduring courage. I came away with a deeper understanding of the war in which I fought.” Because there are always two sides to every story.



Burn
by Patrick Ness
(Harper Collins)

Jacket Copy: Sarah Dewhurst and her father, outcasts in their little town of Frome, Washington, are forced to hire a dragon to work their farm, something only the poorest of the poor ever have to resort to. The dragon, Kazimir, has more to him than meets the eye, though. Sarah can’t help but be curious about him, an animal who supposedly doesn’t have a soul but who is seemingly intent on keeping her safe. Because the dragon knows something she doesn’t. He has arrived at the farm with a prophecy on his mind. A prophecy that involves a deadly assassin, a cult of dragon worshippers, two FBI agents in hot pursuit—and somehow, Sarah Dewhurst herself.

Opening Lines: On a cold Sunday evening in early 1957—the very day, in fact, that Dwight David Eisenhower took the oath of office for the second time as President of the United States of America—Sarah Dewhurst waited with her father in the parking lot of the Chevron gas station for the dragon he’d hired to help on the farm.

Why It’s In My Stack: Every now and then, I fancy reading a book whose pages have been singed by dragon-fire.



Greenwood
by Michael Christie
(Hogarth)

Jacket Copy:  It’s 2038 and Jacinda (Jake) Greenwood is a storyteller and a liar, an overqualified tour guide babysitting ultra-rich vacationers in one of the world’s last remaining forests. It’s 2008 and Liam Greenwood is a carpenter, sprawled on his back after a workplace fall, calling out from the concrete floor of an empty mansion. It’s 1974 and Willow Greenwood is out of jail, free after being locked up for one of her endless series of environmental protests: attempts at atonement for the sins of her father’s once vast and violent timber empire. It’s 1934 and Everett Greenwood is alone, as usual, in his maple-syrup camp squat, when he hears the cries of an abandoned infant and gets tangled up in the web of a crime, secrets, and betrayal that will cling to his family for decades. And throughout, there are trees: a steady, silent pulse thrumming beneath Christie’s effortless sentences, working as a guiding metaphor for withering, weathering, and survival. A shining, intricate clockwork of a novel, Greenwood is a rain-soaked and sun-dappled story of the bonds and breaking points of money and love, wood, and blood—and the hopeful, impossible task of growing toward the light.

Opening Lines:  They come for the trees.
       To smell their needles. To caress their bark. To be regenerated in the humbling loom of their shadows. To stand mutely in their leafy churches and pray to their thousand-year-old souls.
       From the world’s dust-choked cities they venture to this exclusive arboreal resort—a remote forested island off the Pacific Rim of British Columbia—to be transformed, renewed, and reconnected. To be reminded that the Earth’s once-thundering green heart has not flatlined, that the soul of all living things has not come to dust and that it isn’t too late and that all is not lost. They come here to the Greenwood Arboreal Cathedral to ingest this outrageous lie, and it’s Jake Greenwood’s job as Forest Guide to spoon-feed it to them.

Blurbworthiness:  “Ingeniously structured and with prose as smooth as beech bark, Michael Christie’s Greenwood is as compulsive as it is profound. A sweeping intergenerational saga that explores trees and their roots—from the precious evergreens that become commodities in the entertainment business of the future to the intricately tangled trees of family—all of it is dazzlingly delivered in a framework inspired by the actual growth rings of a tree. Every one of Greenwood’s characters burrowed their way into my heart. Beguilingly brilliant, timely, and utterly engrossing, Greenwood is one of my favorite reads in recent memory.”  (Kira Jane Buxton, author of Hollow Kingdom)

Why It’s In My Stack:  This will be the second book on my forestry must-read list for 2020; the top position is (still) held by The Overstory by Richard Powers, which has been there in the upper branches for two years. If everyone would just leaf me alone, I’d have time to read all of these novels.



The Women I Think About at Night
by Mia Kankimäki (translated by Douglas Robinson)
(Simon and Schuster)

Jacket Copy:  In The Women I Think About at Night, Mia Kankimäki blends travelogue, memoir, and biography as she recounts her enchanting travels in Japan, Kenya, and Italy while retracing the steps of ten remarkable female pioneers from history. What can a forty-something childless woman do? Bored with her life and feeling stuck, Mia Kankimäki leaves her job, sells her apartment, and decides to travel the world, following the paths of the female explorers and artists from history who have long inspired her. She flies to Tanzania and then to Kenya to see where Karen Blixen of Out of Africa fame lived in the 1920s. In Japan, Mia attempts to cure her depression while researching Yayoi Kusama, the contemporary artist who has voluntarily lived in a psychiatric hospital for decades. In Italy, Mia spends her days looking for the works of forgotten Renaissance women painters of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence, and finally finds her heroines in the portraits of Sofonisba Anguissola, Lavinia Fontana, and Artemisia Gentileschi. If these women could make it in the world hundreds of years ago, why can’t Mia? The Women I Think About at Night is part travelogue and part thrilling exploration of the lost women adventurers of history who defied expectations in order to see—and change—the world.

Opening Lines:  I’m M. I’m forty-three years old. On countless nights over the years I’ve thought about women—and it has nothing at all to do with sex.
       I’ve thought about women on those sleepless nights when my life, my love, or my attitude is skewed, and it seems there is no end to the dark night of my soul. On those nights I have gathered an invisible honor guard of historical women, guardian angels to lead the way.

Why It’s In My Stack:  I’m intrigued by the interesting set-up of this travelogue-memoir-history lesson. The variety of places and eras is just enough to spark my interest and encourage me to book a trip through these pages.


Sunday, February 16, 2020

Sunday Sentence: So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.


Leigh closed her eyes and pictured every flower every bush every vine every tree every root every green or brown or white or yellow or red or pink or purple or orange thing snapping and whipping loose and wrapping itself around her, around both of them, suffocating them as they gave their ghosts to the petal-scents and thorns.

"A Tennis Court" from So We Can Glow by Leesa Cross-Smith


Friday, February 14, 2020

Friday Freebie: The Bramble and the Rose by Tom Bouman


Congratulations to Carl Scott, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: Little Constructions by Anna Burns.

This week’s contest is for The Bramble and the Rose by Tom Bouman. This is Book Number 3 in the Henry Farrell series, of which Craig Johnson (Longmire) advises: “You would be hard-pressed to find a finer new series than Tom Bouman’s Henry Farrell novels because of the complexity of the plots or the richness of the characters, but what it really comes down to is just damn good writing.” I have a hardcover copy of the new book to put in the hands of one lucky reader. Will it be you? Keep scrolling for more information on the novel and how to enter the contest...


A headless stranger is found in the woods of Wild Thyme, a small town in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania. All signs point to a man-killing bear, and Officer Henry Farrell would just as soon leave this hunt to the Game Commission. But doubts arise when he discovers the victim was a retired investigator. What drew the investigator to sleepy Wild Thyme? Before Henry can find answers, his own nephew disappears into the hills. Then an old flame dies under suspicious circumstances, leaving Henry as the prime suspect. Torn between protecting his family and clearing his name, Henry fights to protect the most he’s ever had to lose.

If you’d like a chance at winning The Bramble and the Rose, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail.

The Fine Print
One entry per person, please (or, two if you share the post—see below). Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on Feb. 20 at which time I’ll draw the winning names. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Feb. 21.

The Finer Print
If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email. Your e-mail address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book).

The Finest Print
Want to double your odds of winning? Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter. Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.


Sunday, February 9, 2020

Sunday Sentence: Edison by Edmund Morris


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.


I wasn’t interested in making money so much as in being the first to invent something society needed.

Thomas A. Edison, as quoted in Edison by Edmund Morris


Friday, February 7, 2020

Friday Freebie: Little Constructions by Anna Burns


Congratulations to Susan LaBelle, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: Pax Americana by Kurt Baumeister.

This week’s contest is for Little Constructions by Anna Burns. I have a trade paperback copy of the book to put in the hands of one lucky reader. Here are a few words of praise for the novel: “Burns’ raucous, exacting modernist crime novel . . . skewers men’s incomprehension of women.” (Publishers Weekly)

Keep scrolling for more information on the book and how to enter the contest...


Little Constructions is the darkly comic second novel from the author of the Man Booker Prize winner Milkman, now available in the United States. Here’s what you’ll find inside: In the small town of Tiptoe Floorboard, the Doe clan, a close-knit family of criminals and victims, has the run of the place. Yet there are signs that patriarch John Doe’s reign may be coming to an end. When Jetty Doe breaks into a gun store and makes off with a Kalashnikov, the stage is set for a violent confrontation. But while Jetty is making her way across town in a taxi, an elusive, chatty narrator takes us on a wild journey, zooming in and out on various members of the Doe clan with long, digressive riffs that chase down the causes and repercussions of Jetty’s act. Before Milkman took the world by storm after winning the Man Booker Prize, Anna Burns had already honed her distinctive voice. In her second novel, Little Constructions, she exhibits the same linguistic brio, coruscating wit, and scintillating insight into men, women, and the roots of violence. A wickedly funny novel that swoops and spirals as it examines the long shadow of abuse and violent crime, Little Constructions explores what transpires when unspeakable realities, long hidden from view, can no longer be denied.

If you’d like a chance at winning Little Constructions, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please (or, two if you share the post—see below). Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on Feb. 13 at which time I’ll draw the winning names. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Feb. 14. If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email. Your e-mail address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book). P.S. Since I’m downsizing my own book collection, I’ll occasionally toss an extra book into package. If you aren’t interested in reading the extra “Freebie,” please consider donating it to your local little free library.

Want to double your odds of winning? Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter. Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.


Sunday, February 2, 2020

Sunday Sentence: The War Makes Everyone Lonely by Graham Barnhart


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.


There was gunfire, and it painted the wind red.

“Goat in the Cleared Village” from The War Makes Everyone Lonely by Graham Barnhart


Friday, January 31, 2020

Friday Freebie: Pax Americana by Kurt Baumeister


Congratulations to Cheryl Riniker, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison.

This week’s contest is for Pax Americana by Kurt Baumeister. I have a trade paperback copy of the book to put in the hands of one lucky reader. Caroline Leavitt, author of Cruel Beautiful World, says of the book: “The thriller’s been reinvented, smartened up, and rendered blazingly funny in Kurt Baumeister’s wild, raucous ride of a novel.” Keep scrolling for more information on the book and how to enter the contest...


2034: Evangelical secret agents, fast food moguls, the voice of God in computer software, violence in the Bermuda Triangle! George W. Bush’s foreign policy vindicated by a quick victory in Iraq, lucrative invasions of Egypt and Syria followed, bringing unparalleled prosperity to America and setting off thirty years of right-wing rule. But when a war in Iran goes bad—and the resulting cover-up goes worse—the Democrats reclaim the presidency. This is the time of Pax Americana and its zealous anti-hero, government agent Tuck Squires. Reading the ironic silences between the lines of the thriller, and roaring like a jet engine, Pax Americana is a sacrilegious, conspiratorial monster; like a literary dogfight between Ian Fleming and Robert Anton Wilson, loaded with prophecy, Baumeister’s debut is an exorcism and an antidote for our era.

For even more on the book, including its opening lines, check out the Fresh Ink column for this month.

If you’d like a chance at winning Pax Americana, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please (or, two if you share the post—see below). Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on Feb. 6 at which time I’ll draw the winning names. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Feb. 7. If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email. Your e-mail address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book). P.S. Since I’m downsizing my own book collection, I’ll occasionally toss an extra book into package. If you aren’t interested in reading the extra “Freebie,” please consider donating it to your local little free library.

Want to double your odds of winning? Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter. Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.


Sunday, January 26, 2020

Sunday Sentence: Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall


Simply put, the best sentence(s) I’ve read this past week, presented out of context and without commentary.


Poems are image-bursts from brain-depths, words flavored by buttery long vowels.

Essays After Eighty by Donald Hall


Friday, January 24, 2020

Friday Freebie: The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison


Congratulations to Julie Geisler, winner of last week’s Friday Freebie contest: Everywhere You Don’t Belong by Gabriel Bump.

This week’s contest is for The Source of Self-Regard by Toni Morrison. I have one trade paperback copy of the book to put in the hands of one lucky reader. It’s impossible to argue with the New York Times when it writes: “Morrison is more than the standard bearer of American literature. She is our greatest singer. And this book is perhaps her most important song.” Keep scrolling for more information on the book and how to enter the contest...


Here is Toni Morrison in her own words: a rich gathering of her most important essays and speeches, spanning four decades. These pages give us her searing prayer for the dead of 9/11, her Nobel lecture on the power of language, her searching meditation on Martin Luther King Jr., her heart-wrenching eulogy for James Baldwin. She looks deeply into the fault lines of culture and freedom: the foreigner, female empowerment, the press, money, “black matter(s),” human rights, the artist in society, the Afro-American presence in American literature. And she turns her incisive critical eye to her own work (The Bluest Eye, Sula, Tar Baby, Jazz, Beloved, Paradise) and that of others. An essential collection from an essential writer, The Source of Self-Regard shines with the literary elegance, intellectual prowess, spiritual depth, and moral compass that have made Toni Morrison our most cherished and enduring voice.

If you’d like a chance at winning The Source of Self-Regard, simply e-mail your name and mailing address to


Put FRIDAY FREEBIE in the e-mail subject line. Please include your mailing address in the body of the e-mail. One entry per person, please (or, two if you share the post—see below). Despite its name, the Friday Freebie remains open to entries until midnight on Jan. 30 at which time I’ll draw the winning names. I’ll announce the lucky reader on Jan. 31. If you’d like to join the mailing list for the once-a-week newsletter, simply add the words “Sign me up for the newsletter” in the body of your email. Your e-mail address and other personal information will never be sold or given to a third party (except in those instances where the publisher requires a mailing address for sending Friday Freebie winners copies of the book). P.S. Since I’m downsizing my own book collection, I’ll occasionally toss an extra book into package. If you aren’t interested in reading the extra “Freebie,” please consider donating it to your local little free library.

Want to double your odds of winning? Get an extra entry in the contest by posting a link to this webpage on your blog, your Facebook wall or by tweeting it on Twitter. Once you’ve done any of those things, send me an additional e-mail saying “I’ve shared” and I’ll put your name in the hat twice.