Laurie Notaro: Toss the Book You Have in Your Purse and Read These Instead

Categories: Literary

Laurie Notaro is an author, crafter, and expert at finding a good cocktail. She grew up in Phoenix, but is currently based in Eugene, Oregon. Each week, she'll be joining us to share a crafting adventure, draw a flowchart, or remember a few of her favorite things about Phoenix. Today, she shares a few of her favorite old books that could easily (and should be) substituted for your book club book.

Laurie Notaro
I was recently privy to some first hand information about a woman who was seemingly happily married to a nice fellow until she read "Fifty Shades of Grey." She became so engrossed in the story that when she finished the book, she promptly asked for a divorce and was determined to buy some fancy panties at JC Penneys and then find a young, sadomasochistic gazillionaire of her own.

I choked on a home fry when I heard this, and turned around to see the woman in question, a plump, rosy-cheeked woman with long, stringy hair and bangs wearing a stretched out-sweater woven with clumps of cat hair.

See also:
- Six Words Laurie Notaro Demands People Stop Using Right Now
- Laurie Notaro Writes a Handy Manual for Her Husband ... In Case She Dies Before He Does
- If More Kiddie Authors Had Written Books For Adults

While I am not a fan of this "adult" genre, I am always happy when people are reading a book, although I do wish it wasn't simply the script of a bad porn movie set to somewhat complete sentences.

Reading is becoming a lost art, and the book industry is suffering awfully. So if a truly terrible book, or, as it seems to happen, a series of them, is able to stop the crumbling of the institution with gigantic sales, so be it. Let the trash reign. But in the meantime, before more portly women leave their bewildered husbands and lace themselves into Lane Bryant corsets, shall we stop the madness for a moment? Let's remember propriety, ladies. A little bit of modesty, I promise, goes a long way.

Fifty Shades of whatever are the hottest books on the bestseller lists right now, so hot that they've become the norm. Which is bland. And bland is boring. Who is more interesting, the person at the coffee shop reading the same book as everyone else at the coffee shop, or the person who pulls a beaten, weathered hardback out of their satchel and reads something that you've never heard of?

History, used bookstores, and of course, the Internet are teeming with incredible old books begging to be read again. Below is a list of current book club favorites and top sellers that everyone is reading, and their aged counterparts, which are not only better written, more interesting reads, but will let you actually answer--with dignity--the next time someone asks you what you are reading.

Instead of reading The Help, read Maud Martha by Gwendolyn Brooks.
Brooks was the first African-American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for Annie Allen, a book of poetry, in 1949. Brooks used the basis of her Annie Allen poems to write Maud Martha, a semi-autobiographical novel about the hopes, dreams and ultimate reality of the life a black woman in that time frame. Brooks saw Maud Martha as her "Old Man and the Sea," and hoped to duplicate Hemingway's success, if not just to earn enough money to buy a house. While her hopes were not realized at the time, Maud Martha lives on, still a strikingly written testament to all women of color in during the mid-century and pre-Civil Rights era. One of the best books you'll ever read, I promise.

To find: You probably won't find this in a bookstore, since the publishing house Brooks left her rights to is a very small one. Best bets would be to get it on special order at Changing Hands, on,, or

Sponsor Content

My Voice Nation Help

And the very best western fiction being put out today is by an 80's-something cowboy named J.P.S.  Brown, who lives on a ranch between Patagonia and the ghost town of Harshaw. Brown's "Forests of the Night" is considered by critics to be one of the best books ever written about the Sierra Madre Occidental. His semi-fictional series about his own family in southeast Arizona during the late 1880s is great reading and "Jim Kane" and "The Outfit" are masterpieces. His recent works - "The Spirit of Dogie Brown" and "Serpentine" are just as good as his earlier works. Several pieces of his writing appeared in recent editions of Arizona Highways. Joe Brown is a great writer who will put you in the saddle and on the trail.


wreeding is losht art dat industry, how it suffers so, hand dey

bank on it take fer instents R.K.Raulings -hoo wuld uv thot she'd

meyk morr money then yuv butt peeple jiz lyk it dare don't khar it

sucks butt sheez bedder then juz buk stuff in magz


Thanks, Laurie! (Although I did enjoy the Hunger Games Trilogy), now I have more books to add to my "To Read" list. 


Think kids fighting kids in a dystopian society gets your mouth water?

What? I reread that numerous times and still am stuck on stupid.


Correction - "The Spirit of Dogie Long," not Dogie Brown is one of Joe brown's latest works.


@kec1952 Don't fret!  I'll explain: there's an obviously unintentional error in that sentence.  "Gets" should be "makes."  There, does that help unstick you?  Sometimes we all need a little help.  :)

Now Trending

Phoenix Concert Tickets

From the Vault