The holiday shopping season quickly accelerates into high gear, and with Black Friday and Cyber Monday fast fading in the rearview mirror, we suggest it’s time to refocus your attention, if you have any attention left to refocus, on buying books for your loved ones. The following books were published in the past year, written by writers who took part in The MV Times–sponsored writer’s festival, Islanders Write, last summer. This Islanders Write list is a sampling of the many wonderful new books written by Vineyard and Vineyard-connected writers.
“On the Same Page”
William Morrow Paperbacks
This book is the ideal gift for any friend who has ever asked you, “What’s the Vineyard like in the winter?” Author N.G. Galland (yes, that’s Nicole) was raised in West Tisbury, and has captured the nuanced wranglings and workings of the Vineyard in the off-season with the skill of a seasoned novelist with her ear to the ground. Galland, who pens the M.V. Ps and Qs column for this publication and — as far as we know — isn’t writing for the Gazette using a different name, has written a romantic comedy featuring a journalist who is covering a story for both Island papers, surreptitiously under different names, about a wealthy seasonal resident suing for the right to land his private helicopter on his property.
“There You Are”
Mathea Morais’ debut novel has landed on numerous top 10 lists, received a star from Kirkus Review, and praise from luminaries like Harry Belafonte. The Kirkus reviewer wrote, “There You Are” is “a novel that effectively intertwines ruminations on race, music, romance, and history.” Bellafonte described Morais as “a really gifted writer.” And if that’s not enough to get you into the bookstore, Morais’ novel has also been described, “Insightful and nostalgic, ‘There You Are’ is a wise novel of love, loss, and the power of community, backed by a phenomenal soundtrack of hip-hop, soul, and jazz.”
“A Vineyard Summer”
Yes, it’s time to start dreaming about Vineyard summers, and Jean Stone’s novel will surely help you get through winter weather challenges. Stone’s book is a clever mystery with Vineyard themes we all live — housing crises included — running through the novel. Booklist recommends “A Vineyard Summer” for fans of Debbie Macomber or Elin Hilderbrand.
“The Dog I Loved: A Novel”
St. Martin’s Press
It’s not surprising that New York Times bestselling novelist Susan Wilson’s newest novel has a dog on the cover. Wilson often turns to dogs in her writing. In a 2016 essay for Stay Thirsty magazine, Wilson wrote, “You see, in my work, the focus is on the relationship between humans and dogs; the bond, the affection, the need, the service, the companionship.” “The Dog I Loved” is the story of two women, one recently released from prison for a crime she didn’t intend to commit, and the other a wheelchair-bound war veteran. “The Dog I Loved” has been called a heartwarming novel, “one that begs the question: Can a dog lead the way to finding one’s humanity?” (Susan Wilson will be talking at the Oak Bluffs library on Dec. 18 at 3:30 pm.)
“True Roots: What Quitting Hair Dye Taught Me About Health and Beauty”
We are in a time we would be well advised to examine the consequences of our actions, even if those actions might seem rather inconsequential, like dying your hair. “True Roots” is a work of personal journalism. Like 75 percent of American women, environmental journalist Ronnie Citron-Fink dyed her hair until she started examining the health and environmental risks of the hair dye industry. “True Roots” is the illuminating, shocking, and relatable story of Citron-Fink’s personal journey and journalistic revelations. (Ronnie Citron-Fink will be talking at the West Tisbury library on Dec. 17 at 4:30 pm.)
“Spying on the South: An Odyssey Across the American Divide”
“Spying on the South” is Tony Horwitz’s final work, and like his other books, made it onto the New York Times bestseller list. If you knew Horwitz, you will hear his curiosity, his humor, his intellect, his storytelling chops, and his compassion in his writing. In a review of “Spying on the South” in the Washington Post, fellow historian and Pulitzer prizewinner, David Blight wrote, “In Horwitz’s writing, past and present collide and march together on almost every page, prying our minds open with the absurdity, hilarity, and humanity we encounter. Olmsted spent nine months traveling 4,000 miles, and then wrote hundreds of pages about it; Horwitz spent two years revisiting his paths, his ideas, and his psyche, capturing the story in 414 pages of sparkling prose.” Tony’s son, Nathaniel, joined us at Islanders Write last summer to talk about his late father’s writing and process.
Simon & Schuster
How many millions of Americans have a better understanding of this country thanks to David McCullough? McCullough is a two-time Pulitzer prizewinner and bestselling author of more than 10 books. His latest, “The Pioneers,” may be shorter than many of his other works, but is as engaging as any. A New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, “The Pioneers” is “a tale of uplift, with the antislavery settlers embodying a vision of all that was best about American values and American ideals.”
“Fay Wray and Robert Riskin: A Hollywood Memoir”
Victoria Riskin was born to a Hollywood power couple. Her mother was the actress Fay Wray, who starred in over a hundred films, but was best known for being the subject of King Kong’s obsession, and her father was the screenwriter Robert Riskin, whose movies include “It Happened One Night” and “Mr. Deeds Goes to Town.” Riskin’s book has been aptly described as “a Hollywood love story, a Hollywood memoir, a (dual) Hollywood biography.” This book will be the gift that will keep on giving, as readers can treat themselves to Fay Wray and Robert Riskin’s movies while enjoying this absorbing read.
“Inconspicuous Consumption: The Environmental Impact You Don’t Know You Have”
Grand Central Publishing
Tatiana Schlossberg’s debut book comes out during this period when many of us are trying to understand how our lifestyle choices impact the environment. A former science reporter for the New York Times, Schlossberg writes, “The story of climate change — and all of our stuff — is actually a story about everything: science, health, injustice, inequality, national and international politics, the natural world, business, normal life.” Schlossberg is an engaging and informed writer who dug deep into her complicated subject. “If fighting climate change can be engaging, fun, and fulfilling, this is the road map,” wrote one reviewer.
“A Machine for Remembering”
“This collection of poems and photographs began as a way to make sense of the refugee crises in Europe that began in 2015,” writes Justen Ahren. A component to an interactive experience, “A Machine for Remembering” has been called a document and a witnessing.