Editor’s Note: Nancy Pearl is known as “America’s Librarian.” She speaks about the pleasures of reading throughout the world and comments on books regularly on NPR and hosts a monthly television show, Book Lust with Nancy Pearl. She has received the 2011 Librarian of the Year Award from Library Journal. She is so beloved that there is actually a Nancy Pearl Librarian Action Figure. And, she has just published her first novel, GEORGE & LIZZIE.
There’s a paradox at the heart of my personality. I am not an extrovert—I don’t love parties and other large get-togethers. But I do have a limitless curiosity about the lives of other people. (I’m afraid the word “voyeur” might be applicable here.) One of my favorite activities is to meet someone for the first time and hear the story of her life. Perhaps that’s why I am particularly fond of character-driven fiction. Over the years I’ve gotten to spend time with some of the most interesting people in the world—Anne Shirley, Thursday Next, Sam Vimes, Harriet Vane, Kate Vaiden, Mayer Landsman, Jo March, Miles Vorkosigan (just saying their names makes me smile). In these six novels, you will meet some of the most interesting and memorable characters that you’d ever want to spend 350 pages with.
Hank Devereaux’s having a very bad, no good, simply awful week as chair of his college’s English Department. Not only is he faced with budget cutbacks and a recalcitrant faculty, but, on the personal side, he’s trying to understand his wife (who he doubts loves him anymore) and a father (who he believes never really did).
A satire that focuses on the bureaucratic and behind-the-scenes side of academia, this uproarious novel is set at the fictional West Central Pennsylvania University. William Devereaux, chair of the English department, is nearing fifty and stuck in a creative rut. When layoff season comes, the whole place goes crazy with budget concerns and tenure arguments, resulting in a laugh-out-loud read.
In this funny, wry, and wistful tale of friendship and family, each of the four major characters—21-year-old Fern, her lesbian mother Nora, Nora’s cross-dressing brother Harold (and his alter-ego Dolores) and Tracy, Fern’s best friend—wrestles with accepting themselves for who they are, flaws and all. And there is Lucky—of the book title—Fern and Nora’s beloved dog.
Pat O’Neill, the grumpy narrator of this charming novel, is pretty fed up with everything about his life: his family, his job at Only Connect, the travel agency where he (halfheartedly) works, and especially his boyfriend, Arthur, who now wants them to buy a house together. What’s a guy to do?
When wealthy and seemingly successful writer Archer Bondarenko announces his engagement to Gemma, the loose and ever expanding circle of family and friends around him are thrown into a tizzy. With its witty and fluid prose, this millennial comedy of manners is a total treat to read.
It’s been 16 years since Louis was so badly burned that he never wants to venture outside his mother’s house, but when he’s rushed to the hospital after an accident, he meets Iris Shula, a nurse who’s also resigned to being unloved. The story of their developing relationship is sweet without being a bit saccharine.
Amy, suffering from writer’s block and a disinclination to engage with anyone, finds her life turned upside down when—just before she’s scheduled to be interviewed for an article on has-been artists—she trips over her dog, knocking herself out on the birdbath in her garden, which leads to an interview she has no memory of doing.