New + noteworthy books by Charlotte authors


May 1, 2024

by J.J. Holshouser

Legendary Charlotte writer Tommy Tomlinson was watching the Westminster Dog Show on television a few years ago when he had a sudden thought: Are those dogs happy? The question sparked a three-year adventure inside the dog-show world in search of a deeper understanding of the relationship between dogs and humans. He describes the experience in his delightful new book, Dogland.

“I didn’t really know anybody in that world when I started,” says Tomlinson, who visited more than 100 dog competitions across the country. “I find that wandering around and looking puzzled is a great tool. People want to explain the world they love.”

Tomlinson’s backstage tour of the dog-show circuit ultimately led him to a Westminster hopeful named Striker, a Samoyed who travels with his handler and entourage in a custom-built RV. Tomlinson chronicles Striker’s journey as he competes for the top prize at the 2022 Westminster Dog Show.

Moving beyond the dog-show world, Dogland also examines new insights into the bond between dogs and humans, and how that bond has changed over the centuries. Tomlinson admits he formed his own bond with Striker. “He’s full of charisma, even though he’s often very still. I understood why so many were drawn to him.”

“I didn’t expect how chaotic it is in the early rounds of a show,” Tomlinson says. “There’s a separate round for every breed, and those breeds are often subdivided by age and sex, and so dogs are getting hustled in and out of the ring and there’s no PA announcer to explain it all.”

Dogland is one of several new or recent releases from Queen City authors. Here are a few others.

Fans of fiction will want to check out bestselling author Joy Callaway’s latest novel, What the Mountains Remember. Set in 1913 against the backdrop of the construction of Asheville’s Grove Park Inn, the novel features Belle Newbold, a young woman forced to leave her mountain home after her father’s death. Seven years later, she returns to reunite with her fiancé, a man she doesn’t love but who can provide the financial security she craves. Belle is unexpectedly thrust into a role researching and writing about the building of the Grove Park Inn, a construction the locals are calling “The Eighth Wonder of the World.” As Belle peels back the façade of the inn, of her fiancé, of the society she’s come to claim as her own, and the truth of her own heart, she begins to see that perhaps her part in Grove Park’s story isn’t a coincidence after all.

Late Fragment: Notes on the Later Stages of Life by Dr. Charles H. Edwards II offers a poignant look at finding meaning and purpose in the last stages of human life.  Edwards is a dementia expert and founder of Memory & Movement Charlotte. His new book is a follow-up to Much Abides: A Survival Guide for Aging Lives, Edwards’ first book examining the factors that enhance or undermine successful aging. Late Fragment, based on two years of forming deep connections with people in their twilight years, closely examines the thoughts, fears and hopes of those living in this stage and serves as a guide to maintaining relevance and joy.

In Uptime: A Practical Guide to Personal Productivity and Wellbeing, Laura Mae Martin, Google’s executive productivity adviser who happens to be a Charlotte mother of three, outlines the need for a more holistic approach to productivity. From understanding one’s own work patterns to beating procrastination to setting boundaries, the book offers a blueprint to maximize productivity in ways that are energizing instead of exhausting. Drawing from her coaching journey with thousands of Google employees, Martin’s book is designed for business executives, parents, teachers or anyone looking to feel “more on top of it” while getting things done.

Writer Stephen Copeland’s chance visit to the Double Door Inn, Charlotte’s historic music venue, sparked a spiritual journey he recounts in his book In the House of Rising Sounds. When Copeland first visited the blues venue, which closed in 2017, he experienced something like what the ancient Celts call “thin places,” where heaven and Earth come strangely close to touching. When he learned that the Double Door Inn was scheduled to close, he made it his home away from home during its final year. Copeland’s soul-searching journey — with the Double Door as his guide — will inspire readers to become more aware of sacred spaces in everyday places.

Meagan Church’s The Girls We Sent Away is another historical-fiction novel set in North Carolina, this time in the 1960s. It tells the story of Lorraine Delford, a young woman from an upstanding family who dreams of going into space. When Lorraine finds herself pregnant, her parents send her to a maternity home for wayward girls, a place full of secrets and suffocating rules. As Lorraine begins to piece together a new vision for her life, she must decide if she has the power to fight for the future she wants or if she must submit to the rules of a society she once admired.  SP


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