By Joel Furches
Summer is vacation and beach season, and everyone knows that this means relaxing with a good book and enjoying some downtime to catch up on your reading. Charm City is bursting with talented authors, and always has been. You can enjoy some quality novels purely for the thrill of the book, even if you don’t do it out of loyalty to the great city of Baltimore. Check out this list of authors, and see if you don’t find a genre of literature that appeals to your specific tastes. Short story: you will find something you like.
Madison Smartt Bell
Madison Smartt Bell is an American novelist who was born in Tennessee, then lived in New York and London before finding his home in Baltimore, where he has resided ever since. Bell currently works as a professor of English at Goucher College in Towson, just north of Baltimore City. Bell has written around twenty books in addition to poetry, music and short fiction. Some of these books were text books, but the rest are fiction that engages readers from beginning to end.
Bell is best known for his series of historical fiction stories related to Toussaint Louverture – a leader in the Haitian Revolution. But perhaps for an engaging beach read, you might consider Bell’s novel, “Behind the Moon” which follows a fantastical dream experience of a young woman who falls asleep in a mystical cave in the desert, and experiences her life in fractured time during her dream state.
Another seminal Goucher College professor of writing, Jessica Anya Blau is know for her comic humor which binds together gripping narratives of emotional depth. For your summer reading list, be sure and grab Blau’s novel, “The Trouble With Lexie.” This novel is about a girl who frees herself from a dysfunctional and sometimes abusive home, and goes on to become educated and land a prestigious job as a counselor at an upscale academy. Thereafter, she ends up sabotaging herself and all of the accomplishments she’d made. While the book is certainly tense and dramatic, Blau’s subversive humor makes the entire novel a worthwhile and hilarious experience.
A true Baltimorian, Laura Lippman spent 20 years as a Baltimore journalist, writing for publications like “The Baltimore Sun.” But her career as a journalist took a turn when she began writing novels full-time. Now Lippman is an acclaimed crime novelist, not an unusual turn for a Baltimore reporter to take.
Lippman’s crime novels are highly acclaimed – sometimes having a noire flare that is true to the classics. In addition to being thrilling crime novels, novelist Tess Gerritsen describes them as deep explorations of the human heart.
So if you are into crime novels, let Laura Lippman be your guilty pleasure this summer.
Another writer for “The Baltimore Sun,” Mary K. Tilghman has worked in journalism for over 35 years. But her love of telling stories drew her into writing historical fiction which has a heavy focus on romance. So skilled is Tilghman at her writing of romance, that she has received high acclaim from Romance Novel Addicts Anonymous.
For your summer reading, try Tilghman’s “Divided Loyalties,”a story placed in the Civil War era, and featuring a narrative of a battlefield nurse and the soldier who loves her as she struggles to reconcile working for the North as a girl from the South.
A busy woman indeed, “Dee” Lawrence works as an attorney, blogger and romance workshop facilitator; but her heart is in the suspense novels she writes. Albeit suspenseful, her novels have a flair for the romantic which makes them a good read in more than one way.
If you’re looking for a good combination of romance and suspense, check out Lawrence’s debut novel, about a woman who has to wade into the crime-ridden underbelly of Baltimore searching for the man who killed her best friend and divorce attorney. Whether you are a fan of crime novels, mystery novels or romance novels, this one hits all the marks with aplomb.