From Kate’s Writing Crate…
As a reader, I always love finding books that appeal to me. As a writer, I am twice as pleased when the authors also provide masterclasses within their books.
Masterclasses take place when performance artists and musicians work one-on-one with students. Writers don’t generally have this option, but I have found some books to be masterclasses for characters, backstories, plots, settings, voice and/or creativity.
The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald is a book about books. Two avid readers, Amy Harris from Broken Wheel, Iowa, and Sara Lindqvist from Sweden, become pen pals and trade novels.
In one letter, Amy writes: “Books or people, you ask…I’ve loved maybe a handful of people in my entire life, compared with tens or maybe even hundreds of books (and here I’m counting only those books I’ve really loved, the kind that make you happy just to look at them, that make you smile regardless of what else is happening in your life, that you always turn back to like an old friend and can remember exactly where you first “met” them—I’m sure you know just what I’m talking about). But that handful of people you love…they’re surely worth just as much as all those books.” (page 145) [A kindred spirit!]
Amy, a retired teacher who never left her home town, invites Sara to visit her when the bookstore she worked at for a decade, her first real job, goes out of business. Sara, who hasn’t much of a life outside of books, decides to travel to Iowa despite her parents’ misgivings. She lands in a small town much different than she imagined waiting over two hours for Amy to pick her up where the bus dropped her off. Luckily, she has a book to bury her nose in while time passes.
Sadly, her vacation adventure begins on the day of Amy’s funeral. However, friends and family described in her pen pals’ letters rally around Sara, a tourist in their midst, making her feel welcome. So welcome, she isn’t allowed to pay for anything.
Troubled by this, Sara looks around for a way to pay the town back. She decides to open a book shop filled with Amy’s collection and the ripples of transformation begin as books new to you are “…Unread adventures. Friends you haven’t met yet, hours of magical escapism awaiting you.” (page 303)
While I enjoyed the story, I loved Sara recommending 56 real books to her customers as I’m always looking for recommendations. I loved her shelf titles like For Friday Nights and Lazy Sundays, Reliable Authors Guaranteed, and Happy Endings When You Need Them. With sections like those, I’d love to visit the Oak Tree Bookstore, too.
I also loved Katarina Bivald’s outlook and the answers she gave in “A Conversation with the Author” section on pages 391-394 about her first novel. Helpful for future authors.