Celebrate Books & Authors in April



Classic books, the ones you read for school or because they are on some list. Are they any good? Find out for yourself. Here are some classics that have publication anniversary dates in April. Have you read these classics?

April 10, 1925 – The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald was the third and most known book he published. It has been adapted into several films, as has much of Fitzgerald’s work. The story takes place in New York during prohibition and the Jazz Age. Jay Gatsby is in love with Daisy Buchanan, but she’s married to Tom. Tom has a mistress, who’s married also. The narrator Nick, a WWI veteran from the mid-West, is dragged into a world of bootlegging, wealth, speakeasies, cheating, and murder.

April 14, 1939 – The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck won a National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize. In 1940, it was made into a film starring Henry Fonda. The story takes place during the Great Depression. It follows the Joad family as it leaves Oklahoma for work in California. When they arrive, California is oversaturated with workers and the Joad family barely makes enough money to keep them fed. Labor union strikes turn violent, but the Joad family perseveres.

April 14, 1952 – Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison is a complex story describing issues facing Black persons, including nationalism, identity, politics, racial discrimination, and individuality. Ellison earned a National Book Award, the first ever received by an African American. The novel has an unnamed narrator living in an underground room that tells his story of a Southern upbringing, attending a Black college, and becoming a spokesperson for a group called “The Brotherhood” from which he eventually disassociates himself amid violence and conflicting ideals.


These authors are celebrating birthdays in April. Have you ever read their books? If not, give one a try. If you have, make sure you've read their most popular book or series. Have you read all their books? Make sure you've read their latest.


cover of "Demon Copperhead" by Barbara Kingsolver
photo of author Barbara Kingsolver by Steven L. Hopp

Barbara Kingsolver was born in Annapolis, Md., on April 8, 1955. Her father was a doctor and her mother was a homemaker. She graduated from DePauw University magna cum laude and then went to the University of Arizona for her graduate studies. While getting her master’s degree, Kingsolver was a research assistant and technical writer. She married a chemist, Joseph Hoffman in 1985 and started doing freelance journalism. They had one daughter named Camille and divorced in 1992. In 1987, she became a full-time writer and had her first novel published, The Bean Trees, which critics applauded. Her second novel Animal Dreams won her a PEN fiction prize. Kingsolver married her second husband, Steven Hopp a biologist, in 1992 and they had one daughter named Lily. Kingsolver’s fourth novel, The Poisonwood Bible, is the book that made her a literary figure on the world stage. Her nonfiction title, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year of Food Life describes the year her family lived on her husband Steven’s farm in Appalachia. They wanted to experience a more natural and sustainable lifestyle. They grew most of their food and purchased the rest from local sources. The book is a how-to guide and is part cookbook and part memoir for which she received a James Beard Foundation Award. Over the years, Kingsolver has penned more novels, but she’s also been published in many periodicals and anthologies. She has been a reviewer for the NYT Book Review and the LA Times Book Review and started and funded the Bellwether Prize, for fiction about culture and social justice. Kingsolver’s newest nonfiction work is a book of poetry, How to Fly (in Ten Thousand Easy Lessons). Her newest novel is Demon Copperhead for which she won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction. (Kingsolver photo by Steven L. Hopp from author's website)


Jericho Brown by Larry D. Moore
book cover of "How We Do It: Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill" edited by Jericho Brown

The poet Jericho Brown, originally named Nelson Demery III, was born in Shreveport, La. on April 14, 1976. He earned his bachelor's degree at Dillard University, his master's degree at the University of New Orleans, and his doctorate at the University of Houston. During this time, Brown changed his name because he wanted his poems published under a name that was his alone. After finishing his education, Brown became a speechwriter for the mayor of New Orleans. He published his first book of poetry in 2008 and won an American Book Award. His second collection, The New Testament, was published in 2014 to critical acclaim. Two years later he won a Guggenheim Fellowship, also known as a genius grant. Brown’s poetry and prose can be found in numerous publications, such as The New Yorker, The New Republic, and Time Magazine. Brown has become known as the creator of a new poetic form called ‘duplex’. It takes elements of the sonnet and ghazal poetry forms and fuses them with the melodic lyricism of blues music. Brown’s poems explore race, sexuality, and spirituality. He uses his personal history as a gay, Black man from a religious family to inform much of his work. He has won many awards and fellowships. Brown is the director of the creative writing program and a professor at Emory University in Atlanta. His most recent book of poetry is The Tradition for which he won the Pulitzer Prize in 2020. In 2021, Brown wrote the poem, “Inaugural” in recognition of the newly elected president and vice-president which was published in The New York Times. In 2023, Brown was a contributor and the editor of How We Do It: Black Writers on Craft, Practice, and Skill. (author image by Larry D. Moore from Wikimedia Commons)


book cover of "The New Couple in 5B" by Lisa Unger
photo of author Lisa Unger by Brian James

Lisa Unger was born Lisa Miscione on April 26, 1970, in New Haven, Conn. She grew up in Holland, England, and New Jersey. Since her family moved frequently, she relied on her imagination to entertain herself and began writing stories at a young age. Unger feels writers are firstly observers and it is easiest to observe if you’re an outsider as she was during her youth. After high school, Unger moved to New York City and graduated from Eugene Lang College. Unger then got a job in publishing and wrote in her spare time. On a vacation to Florida, she met Jeffrey Unger. After 10 years working in publishing, Unger married, quit her job, and moved to Florida to write. She gave herself one year to try and get published. She got a four-book deal and Angel Fire was published in 2002. It is the first in the Lydia Strong series and was published under her maiden name. Unger became a mother in 2006, with the birth of her daughter, Ocean Rae. Also in 2006, she published Beautiful Lies. It became a New York Times Bestseller and was included in several best book lists that year. Unger’s husband soon quit his job to work from home handling the business side of her writing career, making co-parenting easier. Since then, Unger has continued to write a book each year, both series and standalones. She has books published in 33 languages and sold millions of copies worldwide. Over the years she has been nominated or won several writing awards, including two Edgar Award nominations in 2019. Unger lives in Tampa, Fla. with her family and enjoys boating, swimming, sea kayaking, and scuba diving. Unger’s newest novel is The New Couple in 5B. (Unger photo by Brian James from author’s website)


Factual information from Gale: Biography in Context, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, and the author websites of Barbara Kingsolver, Jericho Brown, and Lisa Unger.  

By BethN on April 8, 2024