I’ve written think pieces, essays, book reviews, blog posts, etc., etc., etc. on the amazing power of romance novels - how they make us feel better, uplift us, create community for many women (and some men), help us feel secure in a sometimes hostile world, and on and on and on.

I know not everyone agrees with me on this, but suddenly the world I live in feels slightly more hostile. And so I am more and more grateful for my online friends and real-life friends with whom I can vent my fears and frustration, but also with whom I can share in the power of romance, and the power of books.

If you’ve followed me for a while, you may have heard me mention my real-life book club before. My book club, in general, does not like romance. While they have enjoyed a few titles I’ve recommended from the more women’s fiction-y side of the genre (Kristan Higgins, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Sarah Addison Allen, and the like) there have been times in the past that I’ve felt that I should leave the group out of a sort of professional duty. 

And yet…

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Last night was Book Club.

readersofbrokenwheel These ladies are great readers and great women. It was so wonderful to talk books and politics and life. The book we read and “discussed” - though we rarely talk more than 10 or 15 minutes about the month’s book - was The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend by Katarina Bivald. I’ve written about this book before, and I’m happy to say that while my book club thought it was a little light, they generally enjoyed it. (It seems they’re in the mood for light reading these days. Amen!)

What I especially love about the novel is that it’s about creating community around books, which is what is so special about so many of my friendships. I treasure the fact that so many of my closest (adult, post-college) friendships are with writers and readers.

What a gift!

Thanks to my book club - hey Laughter Chapter! {waves} - the world seemed a little lighter and easier to bear last night.

(And I won’t even go into the whole grown up flat Stanley pop-up bookmark story, but if you have even slightly naughty minds, you can probably get an inkling. And these aren’t even romance readers! Romance and erotic romance writer friends, I’ve been challenged to come up with some racy bookmarks for our Christmas bookmark exchange - any of you have some good contenders lying around?!)

A couple of other rec’s from my book club:

Small Great Things by Jodi Picoult

SmallGreatThingsDid You Ever Have A Family? by Bill Clegg (warning: “heart-breaking but so well-written”)

Speaking of the power of friendships—if you haven’t read Lilac Girls by Martha Hall Kelly, I highly recommend it. The main story is about Polish women who survived Nazi medical experiments at the infamous Ravensbrück concentration camp; the secondary storyline is about Caroline, a former actress and New York debutante who pours herself into helping French war orphans and then the Polish victims, known as the rabbits. A third chilling perspective is that of a female Nazi doctor in the camp.

Much of the book is based on true characters and events, and despite the horrifying subject matter, the book manages to maintain an underlying hopeful, uplifting message. Perhaps it’s because the women actually survived, or because we’re reminded that real people tried to help and fought for justice both during and after the war and actually made a difference. 

I’m incredibly impressed by Kelly’s handling of complicated and difficult subject matter, as well as the sophisticated writing, especially considering it’s a debut novel.

Lilac Girls has received a great deal of praise in the book world, especially the women’s fiction conversation, so let me add my voice to those encouraging you to read it.

And since we’re talking about books, romance, and community, I’d like to again thank my expert romance friends, P.J. from The Romance Dish, Kim from SOS Aloha, Scandie from Scandalicious, and Lovely Librarian Lynn (my new name for her) who generously shared their own gratitude and some of their favorite titles in November. 

To celebrate the lead-in to the holidays and some of my and their favorite titles from 2016, I’ll be giving away a book a day in December at the Read-A-Romance Facebook page. I hope to see you there over the course of the month.

Thanks friends. Truly. I am so #grateful.

#HappyReading  #LoveRomance