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

Categories: Literary

Instead of reading Fifty Shades of Grey, read Nightingale Wood by Stella Gibbons.
Finally re-published after 70 years, this hilarious romance by the author of Cold Comfort Farm won't make you blush, but it will make you laugh. Brimming with unlikely romances between the rich and the servants, the rich and their pets, and a pretty widow and a rich, slightly slimy heir to a fortune, the book has everything to offer in the romance department except episodes of heaving and throbbing which it doesn't need.

There's also a bi-polar fiancé, a drunk, homeless hermit who lives in the woods, blackmail and common acts of bastadry.

To find: Hopefully any bookstore, but definitely by special order or online.

Instead of Casual Vacancy, read Miss Buncle's Book by D.E. Stevenson.
In what may be one of the first examples of meta storylines (take that, Japer Fforde), Miss Buncle's Book is a book within a book within a book. A huge blockbuster in 1934, the story centers around the hapless Barbara Buncle and the politics of the tiny English village she lives in--and how she completely upends it. When her dividends begin to dwindle, Miss Buncle finds herself without income and few choices. So she writes a book. About her neighbors. Under a pseudonym.

It becomes a massive best seller, causing the village to erupt in panic, suspicions and allegations. Again, no filth! But there is romance, kidnapping, and scandal as the real life characters begin to take on the lives of their fictional versions.

To find: Again, special order, or online; was recently republished by Persephone Books and Sourcebooks Landmark, so it is definitely in print.

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