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Back To Literature, Past
A Literary & Poetry Column
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

It’s Noble (Not Nobel!) time again.

It’s not that they don’t choose exquisite writing that elucidates the essential, immutable quality of the spirit. It’s that they choose only one, that they are rarely women and, although, the United States of America certainly should not have a stranglehold on the prize, they frequently bypass Americans. That means that they miss many authors that are pertinent to American readers and, to top it off, they certainly never consider really new voices.

Time magazine once reported that Sara Nelson ran a reader marathon. She read nearly “around the clock for almost a year” and came up with enough (52) to write So Many Books, So Little time: A Year of Passionate Reading. I love that. Trouble is, if I tried to do that I wouldn’t have time to write my SharingwithWriters newsletter much less work on both my next and book of poetry!

So, this year my search for fine literary voices that sing a song with their stories and their words, authors who make the world a better place by examining the human condition. I still will not ignore older books or even well-known works but I want to include—always—authors that the laureates and major editors of the world know nothing or very little about.

So with a nod to the Author Sara Nelson’s determination, here is my list—nowhere near 52. Still each of them is Noble—if not Nobel material.

Carolyn’s Noble List of 2013 Winners for 2014 Reading:
These are numbered for ease of reading but are in no particular order.


1. Dan Hurwitz, for Homage to Luxemben: Adventures on a Utopian Planet who shows us how well sci-fi can lend itself to exploring the human condition and deeper meaning and lessons in life.ISBN 9780615595177

2. The Other Side of the Ice by Sprague available as a book or documentary. See the video at The power of writing and retribution explored in memoir—both written and film.


3. Rochelle Jewel Shapiro for Kaylee's Ghost, a novel based on a true life relationship—grandmother and granddaughter


4. Chris Meeks for Blood Drama; A literary author's foray into genre fiction turns into a cross genre that will impress.


5. Walter Brasch for Fracking Pennsylvania: Flirting with Disaster. Ignoring the similar-sounding word to "fracking," which at first appears to disdain much that it "literary," this—a nonfiction book—still qualifies for the Noble because politics can sometimes be what life is made of.


6. To Bob Rich for Ascending Spiral: Humanity’s Last Chance ISBN 781615991860 Published by MarvelousSpirit Press. Dr. Pip Lipkin has lived for 12,000 years, incarnated many times, but he’s here for a reason: To pay restitution by saving humanity from certain destruction. An example of how fine genre fiction can transcend to philosophy and literary.


7. To Jewel Michelle Kats for her DitzAbled Princess: A Comical Diary Inspired by Real Life. Reinventing her life as a comic strip, a writer and self-confessed fashionista, fearlessly exposes how people with disabilities love and live their lives. Persepolis may have been the first graphic novel to transcend the barrier into meaningful, adult reading but DitzAble proves it will not be the last.


8. To Wally Lamb for We Are Water for sympathetic drawing of imperfect characters including a child abuser and a pedophile. ISBN: 9780061941023


9. To Joyce Faulkner for Windshift. The introduction made my cry—for the fight women had, for the fight women still face. The prologue to this novel was so charged with memories of the struggle we women have had, I cried.

Winners feel free to capture a banner for your website!

Tips and Tidbits

(Each month in this box, Carolyn lists a Tidbit that will help authors write or promote better. She will also include a Tip to help readers find a treasure among long-neglected books or a sapphire among the newly-published.)

A Tip for Writers:


Look for Carolyn's Writers Tips next month

A Tip for Readers' Tip:


Look or Carolyn's Readers' Tips next month

2011 Noble list Please nominate a book that fits within the parameters listed in this year's Noble Back to Literature column. Explain in 25 word or less why your nomination is a work of literary merit and sent directly to me. Nominations must be signed with your real name, e-mail address and a URL if you have one. Email


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