Blog Book Marks

June 2020 Book Marks

Maybe this is the moment true change in our society can happen. That’s only possible if each of us acts and listens.

A vibrant and healthy society is one that includes all voices with equality, acceptance and dignity. Books take us to new worlds, they allow us inside people’s heads and permit us to stand in different kinds of shoes. They let us see experiences that are “other” than ours. There is no better time to get reading and understanding than now.

Here’s a link to “43 of the Best Books by Black Authors You Should Read in Your Lifetime” curated by Oprah, the book recommendation queen.

The following is a list of black-owned bookstores where you can buy your next book and support a business. Go directly to their website or use the link here to support an independent bookstore.

Small things add up to big things that can create change.


Brave and Kind Books (Decatur, GA)

Semicolon (Chicago, IL)

Brain Lair Books (South Bend, IN)

Afriware Books (Maywood, IL)

Detroit Book City (Detroit, MI)

Mahogany Books (Washington, DC)

Hakim’s Bookstore (Philadelphia, PA)

Harriott’s Bookshop (Philadelphia, PA)

Ashay By the Bay (Vallejo, CA )

Eso Won Books (Los Angeles, CA)

The Lit Bar (Bronx, NY)

Cafe con libros (Brooklyn, NY)

Frugal Bookstore (Roxbury, MA)


Friends and Strangers by J. Courtney Sullivan

Elisabeth and Andrew have moved to a small college town in upstate New York where he can incubate his invention and she can focus on her next book.  Enter Sam, the college senior Elizabeth hires so that she can return to work after giving birth.  Except that Elisabeth seems incapable of starting her next book project, wasting hours on her Brooklyn Mom’s Facebook page and hiding a giant secret from her husband.  The cracks begin to show in marriage, finances, and in the differences between both women’s lives, especially when Sam introduces her older British boyfriend around.  Sullivan is an accomplished writer who knows how to weave a tale, and parts of this novel are based on her own life.  There are so many aspects of relationship in this story; family, betrayal, siblings, class and economic divisions and the ways in which we both imprint and erase ourselves in people’s lives.  If you loved “Maine” and “Saints for All Occasions,” make this your next read.


Rodham by Curtis Sittenfeld

What If Hillary Clinton never married Bill?  What if she’d said no to his last proposal and turned tail to blaze her own trail, occasionally intersecting with her former boyfriend from Arkansas?  Sittenfeld has an uncanny ability to crawl inside another’s skin and inhabit an alternate universe.  “Rodham” imagines a world that sticks close enough to the facts to let us feel the destiny of the HRC that we know, set against the one imagined on the page.  Laced with emotion, insight, introspection and a healthy dose of “what ifs,” this novel forces the reader to think about how much our destiny is formed by who we are and how much comes from our association with others. 


The Swap by Robyn Harding

If I’d ever considered wife swapping, this book is a good reason not to do it.  Set on an island off Vancouver known for a polyamorous cult, young Low is awkward and shunned by her classmates.  When Max and Freya move to the island, an ex-professional hockey player with a violent past and his sexy blonde wife, the tale takes a sharp turn.  Everyone, it seems, is in love with Freya, including her new friend Jamie who has also moved to the island with her husband, bereft at her infertility and heartbroken by being scammed in a fake adoption.  All hell breaks loose after a night of mushrooms, sex, lust and girl crushes.  Secrets fester and ultimate discoveries lead to a violent end.  This story races to its final finish leaving every character scarred in a fundamental way, even those who get what they wanted.


The Chicken Sisters by KJ Dell ‘Antonia

For more than 100 years in Merinac, Kansas, two sisters have been locked in a bitter restaurant rivalry, vying to serve the best chicken in the state.  Reality TV’s “Food Wars” announces a competition for $100,000 and Amanda, tired of the family feud, decides to enter their family story to win the prize.  In doing so, she sets events in motion, completely unaware just how much this will put both families into the line of fire.  When Amanda’s sister returns home after a disappointment, she views the restaurant competition as a chance to return to the limelight.  But the rivalry quickly threatens to spill secrets that have long been hidden.  Now the present generation of sisters have a choice, fight to win or stick together?   


The Stone Girl by Dirk Wittenborn

A thriller from start to finish, this book ranges from the hard-scrabble heart of the Adirondacks to Paris and New York.  Eve is a world-reknown art restorer who fixes broken things.  She was born with a facial port wine stain and abandoned as a baby.  Adopted by a poor couple and raised in the wild, her life intersects with the privileged members of the Mohawk Club, a private retreat for the wealthy near her town, who call themselves “The Lost Boys.”  One of those men turns her life into a nightmare, from which she must disappear completely.

Now successful and living in Paris with her 14-year old daughter, the past comes back to haunt her when her daughter is diagnosed with leukemia and she must return to the past to find a bone marrow match that could save her life.  From male violence and hubris to the bravery of strong women, the book’s plot twists and turns, use third person narrative and first-hand accounts that staple you to the page.


Safe by S.K. Barnett

If you like your thrillers full of twists and turns, you’ll love “Safe.” The story begins when six-year old Jenny walks down the street to play with her friend and never arrives.  Twelve years later, Jenny Kristal returns home, after breaking away from an unimaginable period of captivity ala Elizabeth Smart.  Now that she’s back, something is off.  Her parents and brother Ben have different and complex reactions to her homecoming.  Secrets and lies fold in on themselves and begin to peel away.  But nothing is as it seems and clues to the truth begin to pile up, from black ashes in the basement to a mysterious stranger’s Facebook warnings.  One fun fact:  The author, reportedly a NYT best-seller with a major motion picture under his or her belt, wrote this under a pseudonym.  Hmmm.


Three Perfect Liars by Heidi Perks

A new and highly controversial building in town has burned to the ground and someone is dead.  That’s where this story opens and then it works backward to three pivotal female characters, each of whom is hiding something.  Laura has just returned from maternity leave to find that the temp she’d hired has taken over her main account.  But that temp has a nasty secret.  The boss’s wife, Janie, has given up an exciting legal career to raise her children away from London.  The truth about her former life collides with the other festering secrets and, like a match to tinder, the fire burns everything down to reveal the truth.  It’s a fast-paced story by a best-selling writer who knows how to keep things moving with dialogue, just the right about of telling and a great deal of connecting the dots. 


Stranger in the Lake by Kimberly Belle

Charlotte leads a charmed life as Paul’s second wife.  Although she grew up in a trailer park on Lake Crosby, North Carolina, not far from her new glass lakeside home, she’s becoming accustomed to this luxe life and marriage to a successful man.  Her world is rocked when a dead woman washes up under their dock in the exact same spot where Paul’s first wife drowned.  Moreover, the woman is someone she saw talking to her husband in town.  New clues begin to help Charlotte piece together the secrets that have long been buried in the lake, but they threaten to rip her marriage apart.  Rich characters and a fast-moving story make this a book to take you away during this crazy time or just plain good summer reading.




Lee Woodruff     Speaker-Author-Executive Media Trainer 

  1. Phoebe

    June 14, 2020 at 7:04 pm

    You led this post to talk about how true change can happen, linked us to Oprah’s book list, and kindly listed some black owned bookshops. But there aren’t any black authors on your own June list. Did you consider searching out what black authors have books coming out this month, and highlight them, with their covers and your description as prominently as you have the rest of the authors on your list? If you aren’t aware, here’s just one list of a few books coming out in June and July by black authors:

  2. Linda Gordon

    July 22, 2020 at 12:14 pm

    I would recommend Such a Fun Age, an excellent debut novel by Kiley Reid.

    1. Lee Woodruff

      July 23, 2020 at 5:35 pm

      Phoebe I know I replied to you privately as the comments were not connected for a while and i wanted to thank you for this. I will seek to do a better job to include ever more voices and stories in my blog. And thank you for this list! Sharing about books is one of the joys of life. thanks for reading.

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