by Lauren Baratz-Logsted
I know there are book clubs out there made up of kids or teens. And I’m sure that, somewhere, there are groups of men discussing the latest Jonathan Franzen novel. Still, the evidence suggests that the overwhelming majority of book discussion groups are composed of 10-12 women – I know I read that statistic somewhere at some point – who meet monthly to discuss the kinds of books women love most over wine and cheese or coffee and brownies.
I’ve had 23 books published since 2003, the first of which was The Thin Pink Line, a dark comedy for adults about a woman who fakes an entire pregnancy. Several more adult novels followed, both comedic and serious, but in recent years most of my energy has gone into young adult fiction and children’s books. Now, for the first time in over three years, I have something – two somethings, actually – that I hope your books clubs will consider when looking for something lighter and quirkier but still discussable to take you through the aftermath of holiday craziness.
The first is THE BRO-MAGNET, available in ebook only at this point but perfect for the six million people who received e-readers for the holidays. Here’s the description: Women have been known to lament, “Always a bridesmaid, never a bride.” For Johnny Smith, the problem is, “Always a Best Man, never a groom.” At age 33, housepainter Johnny has been Best Man eight times. The ultimate man’s man, Johnny loves the Mets, the Jets, his weekly poker game, and the hula girl lamp that hangs over his basement pool table. Johnny has the instant affection of nearly every man he meets, but one thing he doesn’t have is a woman to share his life with, and he wants that desperately. When Johnny meets District Attorney Helen Troy, he decides to renounce his bro-magnet ways in order to impress her. With the aid and advice of his friends and family, soon he’s transforming his wardrobe, buying throw pillows, ditching the hula girl lamp, getting a cat and even changing his name to the more mature-sounding John. And through it all, he’s pretending to have no interest in sports, which Helen claims to abhor. As things heat up with Helen, the questions arise: Will Johnny finally get the girl? And, if he’s successful in that pursuit, who will he be now that he’s no longer really himself?
The second, LITTLE WOMEN AND ME, is for all those fans of the Louisa May Alcott story of the March sisters, in both book and film, who, like me, think one or two things could be changed to make it even better. And here’s the description for that one: Emily is sick and tired of being a middle sister. So when she gets an assignment to describe what she’d change about a classic novel, Emily pounces on Little Women. After all, if she can’t change things in her own family, maybe she can bring a little justice to the March sisters. (Kill off Beth? Have cute Laurie wind up with Amy instead of Jo? What was Louisa May Alcott thinking?!) But when Emily gets mysteriously transported into the 1860s world of the book, she discovers that righting fictional wrongs won’t be easy. And after being immersed in a time and place so different from her own, it may be Emily-not the four March sisters-who undergoes the most surprising change of all.
Thanks for your consideration! If you do read one or both books, and enjoy them, please tell the world! And if you don’t, maybe tell a few less people. Oh, and you can always write me, since you’ll know exactly who to blame.
Cheers, and Happy New Year!