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Discover books by BSR writers

12 minute read
Six diverse and colorful books laid in a row, partially overlapping.
A few picks from the editor's own shelf. (Photo by Alaina Johns.)

Novels. Poetry. Nonfiction. Memoir. Short stories. Science fiction. History. Humor. Plays. Psychology. Cultural criticism. You name it and a BSR writer has probably written it. We hope you enjoy this list of books by our intrepid writers (with links to order, of course) and, as a bonus, four additional highly recommended books by writers near and dear to the BSR community.

The Recital
Fiction; Seven in the Afternoon, 2016

Hiller is the associate editor of BSR and this is his first novel. Everything changed after the first day of seventh grade. For Edith Solstice, it wasn't her height. It wasn't getting her first kiss. It wasn't harder classes either, except for pre-algebra. The change was a magical one. Unfortunately, Edith didn't know magic was possible, and that's what nearly ended Julie Cherry's life. She didn't mean to. Edith shouldn't have thrown that first punch. Now, Julie isn't okay. In fact, she may never be the same. And Edith's chance at contrition comes at a price she might not be able to pay. The Recital enchants with elements of whimsical fantasy and young romance while coping with divorce, bullying, and the awkward, inevitable dawn of adolescence.

The Little Gate Crasher: The Life and Photos of Mace Bugen
Nonfiction; Sager Group, 2016

Kaplan-Mayer (who is also BSR’s social-media manager) remembers her great-uncle Mace Bugen through his journey as a first-generation Jewish American kid in working-class Philipsburg, New Jersey, to become the first celebrity selfie artist—way ahead of his time. Featuring vintage photos of Bugen, The Little Gate Crasher captures three decades of American pop culture. We meet a complex man who continually defies others’ expectations and meets life on his own terms. Bugen becomes a successful businessman and devoted son to his aging parents, all while using his guile to engineer photos of himself with some of the biggest celebrities of his day, including Babe Ruth, Hank Aaron, Muhammed Ali, Richard Nixon, Jane Russel, and Joe DiMaggio.

Anatomies: A Novella and Stories
Fiction; Picador USA, 2000

Hochman’s debut collection of stories examines faith, loss, love, and the complex anatomies of human relationships. Hochman's characters—including a teenage girl who can't stop weeping, a performance artist who paints his body silver, and a single mom struggling with self-forgiveness—are on the verge of discovering their roles in the world.

Everyday Acts & Small Subversions: Women Reinventing Family, Community and Home
Essays and interviews; Eighth Mountain Press, 1993

This collection of personal essays and interviews explores an exuberant range of family configurations: people who remain connected to ex-lovers; single moms by choice; folks who are deliberately, joyfully single; those who find chosen family at work. Throughout, Hochman wrestles with her own questions about kinship, ritual, and connections to both family of origin and those we find along the way.

The New Red Book
Nonfiction; Printing Museum, 2022

The New Red Book by Gary (with a foreword by Mayor Sylvester Turner) highlights the history of Houston through the perspective of place: 50 cultural organizations and sites created and sustained by African Americans. It documents little-known histories of the Almeda Post Office, the site of the first nonviolent civil rights demonstration in the city, as well as pop-culture destinations such as Frenchy’s Creole Kitchen and Screwed Up Records and Tapes. The title pays tribute to the original 1915 publication The Red Book of Houston: A Compendium of Social, Professional, Religious, Education and Industrial Interests of Houston’s Colored Population, recognized by researchers as one-of-a-kind for its detailed description of African American success in the South during a time of social and political upheaval. Gary’s devotion to her hometown and commitment to community shines through her accessible writing. She takes readers on a rich and compelling journey through the histories of Houston, the region, and African American culture.

Our Bodies, Our Shelves: A Collection of Library Humor
Humor; HumorOutcasts Press, 2015

There are eight million stories at your local public library—and not all of them are in the books! What really goes on behind the circulation desk? And in the stacks? Warren, who writes for everyone from the New York Times to the Funny Times, tells all! What’s the single most stolen item in any public library? What’s the strangest bookmark ever left in a library book? What’s the lamest excuse ever given for not returning a DVD on time? And what does your favorite librarian REALLY think of you? In 20 entertaining essays, you’ll meet librarians fighting crime, partying with pornstars, coping with impossible patrons, locating hard-to-find books, and saving the world. You‘ll never look at your local public library the same way again!

Just Another Day at Your Local Public Library: An Insider's Tales of Library Life
Humor; HumorOutcasts Press, 2017

In this one, Warren is back with a new book about the joys and challenges of library life.

BSR founding editor Rottenberg has written 12 books! We’ll spotlight his latest here, which includes the genesis of BSR.

The Education of a Journalist: My Seventy Years on the Frontiers of Free Speech
Memoir; Redmount Press, 2022

Rottenberg recounts his career as editor of seven groundbreaking publications, author of 12 books, press critic, business writer, film critic, arts critic, and dining critic. As a champion of free speech, he successfully defended seven libel suits, protest demonstrations, and death threats. Along the way, he helped launch the alternative media movement, the modern Jewish genealogy movement, and the Forbes 400 list of wealthiest Americans. (Here’s the BSR review.)

Lovers & Fighters, Starships & Dragons
Science fiction; Fantastic Books, 2014

Life spans that encompass centuries. Biohacking. Personality modification technology. Interstellar contact. For BSR readers, Purdom is primarily known as a music critic. But he’s also a veteran science fiction writer noted for novelettes and short stories that combine interesting pictures of the future with characters faced with emotional and moral conflicts. This collection binds 12 of his best stories into a book reviewers have called “a fun, cosmic look into human emotion” and “a perfect blend of really cool ideas and believable, sympathetic characters.”

American Lit Remixed: Music in Twenty-First-Century American Literature
Cultural criticism; Rowman & Littlefield, 2021

A work of criticism for fans of music and literary fiction, American Lit Remixed will appeal to a general audience as well as scholars in various disciplines. It reads digital-age texts and performances through the lens of remix theory, the term Eduardo Navas of Penn State coined to describe the remix as a form of artistic and cultural discourse. Many focus on technology’s negative impact on music and publishing, but American Lit Remixed emphasizes music as a source of creative potential in 21st-century literature, including new ways of storytelling and new modes of connecting to self, others, and place. (Here’s the BSR review by Gabrielle Kaplan-Mayer.)

DR. LINDA HOLT (writing as L.L. Holt)
Historical fiction; Harvard Square Editions, 2019

One of two Holt novels that trace the roots of Ludwig van Beethoven’s creativity and struggles, Invictus also explores the traumas fought and victories won by people of color and women in Western Europe in the late 18th and early 19th centuries (including Chevalier de Saint-Georges, Angelo Soliman, and the blind woman composer Maria Theresia von Paradis). It follows Beethoven from his childhood to age 16.

The Black Spaniard
Historical fiction; Unsolicited Press, 2016

This fact-based fiction follows Beethoven’s first years in Vienna through the composition of the revolutionary Eroica Symphony when he was 32. Readers may be surprised to learn the shocking details about the prejudice, illness, and abuse endured by this brave artist, who lost his hearing at the peak of his career and was a champion of liberty and religious tolerance.

Letting Go
Fiction; Amazon/Createspace, 2016

This loosely autobiographical novel follows Langston, an aspiring chef, and Cecile, a Julliard-trained pianist. Even though the two live hundreds of miles apart, Langston is sure that his history of being a sidekick, instead of a love interest, is finally over. Their connection is real, but the obstacles between them turn out to be greater than distance. Told in a witty combination of standard prose, letters, emails, and diary entries, Letting Go, in the tradition of Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie's Americanah, is a long-distance love story that also examines race, religion, and the difficult choices we make following our passions.

Burnout and Self-Care for Social Work: A Guide for Students and Those in Mental Health and Related Professions
Nonfiction; NASW Press, 2021 (second edition)

In Burnout and Self-Care for Social Work, Smullens describes the differences between burnout and depression, for audiences both in and out of academia, making this book a bestseller at its small academic press. Burnout is a complex syndrome, not a psychiatric illness, and it takes root in five arenas (introducing "societal burnout” due to looming societal divisions, exacerbated by dysfunctional leadership). Smullens offers evidence-based care strategies to address each arena. She also explains why most depressive reactions are not illnesses but appropriate reactions to painful life events. In this updated edition, she addresses how and why children grow into leadership positions with no regard for others, and why they attract and maintain followers.

For the Future of Girls
Poetry; Kelsay Press, coming July 2023

American poet, scholar, and artist Maya Pyndick (director of writing and a professor at Moore College of Art and Design) calls Grunberger’s forthcoming poetry collection “at once family album, inventory of memories, a reckoning with time, and a plea for love to last.” She continues, “Grunberger’s vibrant and meticulously detailed poems lay bare Jewish histories where trauma, loss, and misogyny take both intimate and collective shape. These poems refuse to forget, and their refusal offers a light for our daughters.”

Grunberger is also a playwright, and her play, Almost Pregnant, which appeared in the 2018 Fringe (here's the BSR review), was published earlier this year by Next Stage Press.

Devil’s Music, Holy Rollers and Hillbillies: How America Gave Birth to Rock and Roll
Nonfiction; McFarland & Company, 2016

Taking a fresh look at events long overlooked or misunderstood, this book tells how some of the most disenfranchised people in a free and prosperous nation strove to make themselves heard—and changed the world. Describing the genesis of rock and roll, the author covers everything from its deep roots in the Mississippi Delta, from slavery to key early figures, like DJ "Daddy-O" Dewey Phillips and gospel star Sister Rosetta Tharpe, and the influence of so-called "holy rollers" of the Pentecostal church who became crucial performers: Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Little Richard. (Here’s the BSR review.)

The Man with the Red Right Hand
Fiction; Threat Quality Press, 2013

A novella; the first in a series in an alternate, imaginary 17th-century Spain, where a young girl embarks on a dangerous quest to get revenge for her murdered mother.

Second Errata
Fiction; Threat Quality Press, 2011

A collection of short stories. One is about a ghost. Everything in them is haunted in one way or another.

Recommended authors from the BSR community:

Walk Me Through Your Resume
Humor; Self-published, coming August 4, 2023

Cooney has spent her life trying to make ends meet in the gig economy, but each job seems to end in calamity. The used napkin she steals from an NFL player during a waitress shift comes back to haunt her. Her rundown sedan is overtaken by phone books when—surprise—nobody wants them in the 21st century. And when Irish immigration catches her trying to skirt their labor laws, her outfit is all wrong. A pawn shop experience goes south, a date turns into a knife fight, and a pet duck’s virginity hangs in the balance. How wild is her resume going to get? This collection of laugh-out-loud true stories follows Cooney as she battles nanny cams, Ivy Leaguers, and the IRS, while holding up a mirror to everyone dreaming of bigger things while on the daily grind. From Philadelphia to New York to Los Angeles, and back again, will the search for answers lead to success—or into a dead end in IKEA?

Lilli de Jong: A Novel
Fiction; Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2017

Our friend Benton is a Philly-area writer and writing teacher, and her debut novel is gripping. It’s set in Philadelphia in 1883, where young Lilli de Jong is pregnant and alone—abandoned by her lover and banished from her Quaker home. She gives birth at a charity for wronged women, planning to give up the baby. But the power of their bond sets her on an unexpected path. “So little is permissible for a woman,” Lilli writes in her diary, “yet on her back every human climbs to adulthood.” (Here’s the BSR review by Maria Thompson Corley.)

Congratulations, The Best Is Over
Essays; Penguin Random House, coming August 2023

Thomas is a longtime friend of BSR: guest on our pod, featured author at one of our events, and an important member of the Philly theater community (with local premieres like Backing Track and The Ever Present). Kyle V. Hiller reviewed his previous books, Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America and Kings of B’More. We’re looking forward to Thomas’s new essay collection, which “provides the nitty, and sometimes the gritty, details of wrestling with the life he thought he’d left behind while trying to establish a new one.”

With or Without You
YA Fiction; InkYard Press, coming November 2023

Smith (Philly-based writer and literary agent, and all-around industry community-builder) is the author of several books, including an adaptation of Jagged Little Pill: The Musical, written alongside Alanis Morissette, Diablo Cody, and Glen Ballard. We’re excited for his latest YA release, and we want you to know about his latest project, the inaugural Philly Bookstore Crawl, happening Saturday, August 26, 2023.

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