Suzanne Perez

Volunteer Book Reviewer

Suzanne Perez writes editorials and opinion columns for The Wichita Eagle, where she has worked as a journalist for nearly 30 years. She also oversees the Eagle’s books coverage and coordinates the #ReadICT Challenge, an annual effort to encourage Wichitans to explore new authors and genres and just to have more fun reading.

Suzanne grew up in North Carolina and attended North Carolina State University, where she earned a bachelor’s in English and an unofficial minor in Waffle House hashbrowns (“scattered, smothered and covered”). She moved to Wichita in 1990 and has two children.

When she’s not reading or listening to an audio book, Suzanne loves to shop for books and talk about books, and she’s an enthusiastic member of way too many book clubs. She has a hard time picking favorites, but some books that have shaped her life include Charlotte’s Web, The Outsiders, Bird by Bird, The Handmaid’s Tale, Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life and A Prayer for Owen Meany.

Ways to Connect

For a writer like me to review a writer like Joan Didion seems downright ridiculous. Didion is an icon, a legend—a writer of novels, memoir and nonfiction that will be studied by journalists and writing students long into the future.

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It’s a new year—thank goodness—and a great time to take stock of your reading habits and set new goals for what and how you’d like to read in 2021. One great way to do that is to join a reading challenge.

I’m not a regular reader of “Southern Living” magazine—save the occasional recipe for shrimp and grits if I’m feeling homesick—and I don’t believe I’ve ever picked up an issue of “Garden & Gun.” But the magazine pieces that make up Rick Bragg’s latest book make me want to buy a subscription.

Several years ago, when I read the 2012 novel Beautiful Ruins, I recall setting the book down and promising myself that I would read anything and everything Jess Walter ever wrote. The man can spin a tale better than almost any novelist alive today—and his newest work, The Cold Millions, does not disappoint.

There’s a lot of talk these days about “Own Voices” novels. It’s a term that refers to an author from a marginalized or under-represented group writing about his or her own experiences, from an authentic, lived perspective.

Earlier this year, as the coronavirus began to spread across the globe, Alice Quinn reached out to American poets to see what they were writing under quarantine. The result is Together in a Sudden Strangeness, an anthology that reflects the fear and isolation the pandemic wrought, as well as the deep reflection and creativity that has come from it.

Irish author Maggie O’Farrell won this year’s Women’s Prize for Fiction for Hamnet, a novel inspired by and named after William Shakespeare’s only son—and the possible inspiration for his tragedy “Hamlet.”

Don and Mimi Galvin had a dozen children—10 boys and two girls—born between 1945 and 1965, perfectly spanning the baby boom. 

In Yaa Gyasi’s new novel, Transcendent Kingdom, a Stanford Ph.D. candidate named Gifty studies reward-seeking behavior in mice and the mysterious synapses that can lead to addiction or depression. She does it because her brother, Nana, was a gifted basketball player before an injury led to an OxyContin addiction and eventually to a deadly heroin overdose. And she does it because her mother, a Ghanaian immigrant, is depressed and living in her bed.

In her debut novel, The Bright Side Sanctuary for Animals, Kansas native Becky Mandelbaum tells the story of a mother-daughter pair and also of the prairie, a landscape she reflects with detail in this passage about the melodramatic Kansas sky:

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