In a column in the Saturday Gazette-Mail, I wrote about participating in the West Virginia Reads 150 project in honor of West Virginia’s sesquicentennial. At the end of the column, I asked for some book suggestions.
Luckily for me, several people were kind enough to weigh in with some reading ideas.
My uncle Mike Kiger showed up at a family event last weekend with a big pile of reading for me, including “All Quiet on the Western Front,” a classic that I’ve never read. His pile also featured two more World War I books — “The Greatest Day In History” and “To the Last Man.” Plus he offered up “May flower” by Nathaniel Philbrick. And “The Thread that Runs so True,” a personal account of teaching in Kentucky by Jesse Stuart. Thanks Uncle Mike!
My cousin Rebecca (Mike’s daughter) left a comment under the online version of my column: “We enjoy Marc Harshman‘s children’s books. He is WV’s Poet Laureate, and he happens to live in Wheeling.” Hey, children’s books count just as much as books aimed at adults!
Another online comment came from Elizabeth Fraser. She wrote, “For WV I recommend ‘Old Land, Dark Land, Strange Land : Stories by John F. Suter.’ He was a Charleston native and nationally award winning mystery writer. He has a rabid following in the UK. The Strand Bookstore has a good summary. The library owns copies.”
Jim Hatfield sent me an email and said, “I’m enjoying your column. Hey, have you read Craig Johnson’s ‘Walt Longmire‘ series? The first volume is titled “‘The Cold Dish.’ Now there’s a little raciness and language involved here and there, but his writing is absolutely top notch. I hope you haven’t read the series yet, because it’s such a treat. Besides, it will count as NINE books!”
Mary Browning also sent me an email: “I am sure that you will receive a lot of recommendations about some books by West Virginia authors. I have 3 that you may consider reading. ‘The Dirty Secret‘ by Brent Wolfingbarger, former WV Prosecutor. ‘Dead Ringers – Why Miners March,’ compiled and edited by Wess Harris, Gay, WV. ‘Coal River Rising‘ by Bill Currey, co-founder of the Coal River Group.”
Liz Gay of Edray, Pocahontas County, had a few suggestions. One was John Billheimer, a West Virginia native living in Calif. His books include ‘Highway Robbery’ and ‘Dismal Mountain:’ “His mysteries tend to be commentaries on big/small government, mountaintop removal etc… Wry humor… fun to read … a quick enjoyable read.”
She also suggested “In Country” by Bobbie Ann Mason, a Kentucky writer who visits Appalachian themes.
As Liz concluded, “So many books, so little time…”
It’s been fun to get the suggestions from people. Got any more? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.