Reading While Writing

Although I read every day, regardless of the weather, there is little I enjoy more than reading while rain beats against my windows and drums on my roof. It hasn’t rained much in Maine since I arrived early July, so I’ve mostly read at night.

Here are the three books that top my July’s reading list:


Glory O’Brien’s History of the Future by A.S. King

A.S. King is the queen of YA literature. Not pun intended. I love her work since I read Please Ignore Vera Dietz. Ask the Passengers is a terrific novel too and I highly recommend Reality Boy for teen boys.

King’s writing and themes are inimitable. They are fresh and honest. As a writer I find her work intimidating because it’s brilliant, but stimulating too, because she sets the bar very high.


Wildlife by Fiona Wood

Australian writers are amazingly good. Markus Zusak remains my favorite, but last year I read Stolen by Lucy Christopher who, although born in Wales, grew up in Australia. Set in the Australian Outback, the geography of the area plays an essential role in this exceptional novel.

In Wildlife, a class of sixteen-year-old students from Melbourne is spending a semester at their school’s outdoor education center. While the story is about first love, loss, and real friendship, nature plays an important role throughout the entire novel.

Told alternatively from the perspectives of two girls who try to figure out who they are, it is a novel that is both funny and moving.

As a writer I especially admired the realistic dialogues and the vivid setting descriptions.


This Means War by Ellen Wittlinger

Ellen Wittlinger is one of the most prolific and recognized authors of children and young adults’ literature. One of my daughters loved her novels Razor and Zigzag best. I loved Hard Love very much too.

This Means War is a Middle Grade novel set in 1962 in a small Illinois town, also home to a military base. While the Russian threat and the Cuba Missile Crisis are on every TV screen and in every conversation, another war is fought closer to home.

Fifth grader Juliet is losing her long friendship with Lowel who prefers playing with boys now that he is older. Juliet hopes for a new best friend when Patsy moves in town. Patsy is fearless and unlike most girls Juliet knows. She is a lot of fun to be with, until she decides to prove that girls are as good as boys. A succession of dares will escalade until a serious incident happens.

Deceinvingly simple, this is a remarkable well-crafted novel, set against the backdrop of the cold war. Filled with details about life in America in the early 1960s when supermarkets killed small grocery shops, when women were divided between stay-at-home mothers and working mothers, when girls realized that there were still so many things they couldn’t do in comparison to boys, when bomb shelters were built in many backyards, it’s an easy read and yet an important book for kids who don’t necessary know much about the cold war and its direct implications in daily American life. As a writer I very much liked how the author used the background of politics and war to write about ordinary childhood dilemmas.


While I was finishing this blog post, clouds gathered above the lake, foreshadowing rain. In fact we got a mega storm and lost power until midnight.





Very early morning, however, I wondered if I had dreamed the whole thing.


But my pile of books was where I remembered leaving it. And the burnt candles in the kitchen, proof of evidence.


P.S. While I’m prepping several stories and picture book manuscripts for fall submissions, it’s hard to be a faithful reader of the blogs I like to visit. I want to thank you for still stopping by, hoping you will forgive me for my less regular visits.




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