On the shelf

Books published by Islanders Write authors in the past year.


Islanders Write brings together writers and publishing professionals with ties to the Vineyard to speak about various genres and aspects of writing and the writing life. Since the first Islanders Write in 2014, the Bunch of Grapes Bookstore has been at the event, selling books and hosting author signings. While all the speakers at the event who have written books will be available to sign them during Islanders Write, we are highlighting here books which have been published in the past year.

“Believe in Yourself: What We Learned From Arthur” by Marc Brown (Little Brown for Young Readers) 

People in politics often talk about the importance of a candidate’s name recognition, but what about name recognition for literary characters? Arthur, D.W., Buster, and the gang are surely up there with Harry Potter and Madeline. Due to the talents of author and illustrator Marc Brown, the Arthur books and PBS show have entertained and educated generations of children. Brown’s most recent book takes readers down memory lane with the characters they’ve come to know so well.

Marc Brown and children’s book author Richard Michelson will be speaking about writing for children at Islanders Write on Sunday, July 31, at 10 am.

“Family of Liars” by E. Lockart (Delacorte Press)

The bestselling prequel to the 2014 sensation “We Were Liars” takes place on Beechwood Island and Martha’s Vineyard. It is a psychological drama filled with twists and turns, rambles and revelations. A great read for teenagers and adults alike. 

Reviewers have called it “beautiful and devastating,” and a “layered, atmospherically tense exploration of jealousy, love, and family loyalty.”

Lockhart will be speaking on a panel about writing prequels and sequels at Islanders Write on Sunday, July 31, at 11 am.

“Atlantis: The Brink of War” by Gregory Mone (Harry N. Abrams)

“The Brink of War” is the sequel to the “Atlantis: Accidental Invasion.” This series, written by bestselling children’s book author, science writer, and year-round West Tisbury resident Mone, brings readers into unknown watery worlds of giant tsunamis, secret lairs, unusual dances, and so much more. Mone is a master at packing adventure and science into fast-paced storytelling for young readers. 

Gregory Mone will be speaking on a panel about writing prequels and sequels at Islanders Write on Sunday, July 31, at 11 am.

“Memoir as Medicine: The Healing Power of Writing Your Messy, Imperfect, Unruly (but Gorgeously Yours) Life Story” by Nancy Slonim Aronie (New World Library) 

Anyone who has taken Nancy Aronie’s workshop at the Chilmark Writing Workshop already knows that this book will inspire, motivate, and transform you. Whether you are working on a memoir or not, this book is a guide to writing personal stories that will heal and entertain both writer and reader. You will laugh, you might cry, and thanks to Arnoie’s writing prompts, you will write. 

Nancy Slomin Aronie will be speaking on a panel about writing about grief on Sunday, July 31, at 1:30 pm.

“Forget Prayers, Bring Cake: A Single Woman’s Guide to Grieving” by Merissa Nathan Gerson (Mandala Publishing)

After the death of her father, Gerson looks to her own experience to help others through the grieving process. Gerson, who has been called a “practical grief doula,” reveals her personal story, and offers tips to help those who are grieving and those who are trying to help the grief-stricken. 

Merissa Nathan Gerson will be speaking on a panel about writing about grief on Sunday, July 31, at 1:30 pm.

“Soul-Error” by Philip Weinstein (The Humble Essayist Press)

Weinstein says of his book, “I explore how we go through our lives incorrigibly reading — and misreading — both ourselves and others.” So true! In this collection of personal essays, Weinstein, a retired English professor at Swarthmore College and now a year-round Vineyard resident, reflects on his life, and by doing so, encourages us to reflect on ours. Perhaps it was growing up as an outsider — Jewish in the South with an identical twin — that helped him see his way in. 

Philip Weinstein will be speaking on a panel about writing the nontraditional memoir on Monday, August 1, at 9 am.

“The Southernization of America: A Story of Democracy in the Balance” by Fyre Gaillard and Cynthia Tucker (NewSouth Books)

Named as one of NPR’s Best Books of 2022, Alabama journalists Tucker (who is Black) and Gaillard (who is white) explore in a series of essays the role of the South in shaping America’s current political and cultural landscape. As Whit Griswold wrote in his review of the book in this paper, this book is “a vital tool for those of us still scratching our heads over the evaporation of the cultural progress we thought we had made in the last part of the 20th century.”

Frye Gaillard will be speaking on a panel focused on writing about race and politics on Monday, August 1, at 12:15 pm.

“Putting It Together: How Stephen Sondheim and I Created ‘Sunday in the Park with George’” by James Lapine (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)

What happens when a young playwright with an unusual idea has an opportunity to collaborate with a Broadway legend? In the case of James Lapine and Stephen Sondheim, a Pulitzer Prize and Tony awardwinning musical is created. Lapine’s bestselling book is a fascinating peek into the process of how a musical inspired by a painting (Georges Seurat’s “A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte”) came to be. A New York Times reviewer described “Putting It Together” as “a forensic investigation into what surely must be one of the most unlikely and chaotic journeys to a Pulitzer Prize and a place in the highest echelons of the American musical theater canon.”

James Lapine will be speaking with his wife, screenwriter Sarah Kernochan, on Monday, August 1, at 1:15 pm.

“Horse” by Geraldine Brooks (Viking)

Pulitzer prizewinning novelist Brooks’ newest release was inspired by a painting of a recordbreaking racehorse, and delves deep into issues of race as well as horseracing. Brooks is a master storyteller and a meticulous researcher, and in “Horse,” which is already a bestseller, she seamlessly weaves together a contemporary story with one from the past. As a reviewer in the Washington Post wrote, “‘Horse’ is a reminder of the simple, primal power an author can summon by creating characters readers care about, and telling a story about them.” 

Geraldine Brooks will be speaking on a panel about exploring contemporary issues through historical fiction on Monday, August 1, at 2:15 pm. 

“The Italian Prisoner” by Elisa Speranza (Burgundy Bend Press)

Speranza’s stunning debut novel is the story of a young Sicilian-American woman finding her way and forbidden love in New Orleans during World War II, when women were called into the workforce — and at war’s end expected to return to homemaking — and traditional manners and mores were being tested. 

Elise Speranza will be speaking on a panel about exploring contemporary issues through historical fiction on Monday, August 1, at 2:15 pm.

Additionally new in paperback: “Master of the Revels” by Nicole Galland, “Something Wild” by Hannah Halperin, “The Sweetest Days” by John Hough, Jr., and (in August) “What a Dog Knows” by Susan Wilson.

Islanders Write takes place at Featherstone Center for the Arts from July 30 to August 1. For more information, visit islanderswrite.com.