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Biography & Autobiography

Spotlight On: So Long As It’s Wild by Barbara Jenkins


Barbara Jenkins, photo by author

I remembered my granny who traveled to Arkansas as a child in a covered wagon, and then spent her whole life scratching a living out of the rocky hills of the Ozarks. She didn’t have more than a cotton dress and a tattered apron, but I never heard her whine about being poor, cooking on a hot wood stove or making 100 biscuits each morning for her large family. Between my new husband insisting I shape up and memories of her endurance, I walked on and kept my mouth shut.
― Barbara Jenkins Interview, Huff Post

So Long As It's Wild by Barbara Jenkins

What booksellers are saying about So Long As It’s Wild

  • So Long As It’s Wild is a book about walking the same way The Odyssey is a book about sailing. Barbara’s story is incredible, and one that many women can relate to – that of being overlooked and sidelined in favor of her male partner. Her voice rings loud and clear in this memoir, telling not only her side of the story but her story alone. The writing is graceful, at times reading like an adventure novel, at times like poetry. I loved this one.
      ― Ellen Woodall, Blacksburg Books in Blacksburg, VA | Buy from Blacksburg Books

  • A fascinating story of the trials and tribulations of not only a walk across the country, but a young marriage finding its way.
      ― Kelley Dykes, Main Street Reads in Summerville, SC | Buy from Main Street Reads

About Barbara Jenkins

Barbara Jenkins grew up in the wild beauty of the Ozarks with no running water and homemade clothes. The first in her family to go beyond an 8th grade education, she received her Master’s from New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. She shot to fame in 1976 with her then-husband for their ambitious walk across America. That journey became the inspiration for their New York Times bestseller The Walk West, selling over 12 million copies. She has since published a number of other books, including The Road Unseen, a Gold Medallion Book Award winner. Her writing and entrepreneurship has been featured on Good Morning America, Reader’s Digest and more. Jenkins now travels the country, speaking at universities, conventions, and other events about her story. When she is not writing, speaking, or traveling, Jenkins loves spending time with her granddaughters, Josephine and Lyla. She lives in Nashville, Tennessee.


Being Henry by Henry Winkler

I wanted to reach through the pages and hug this little boy who wasn’t loved by his family. Henry was born to Jewish refugees from Nazi Germany. The trauma must have been horrible for them, but a child is innocent. Henry was a funny kid who got away with so much outside his home and was grounded for life always inside it His parents called him dumb dog in German. He had no idea he had dyslexia until his early 30’s but was able to complete college and ended up gettin into Yale Theater Group for his masters. He is not to be kept down. They took a chance on him with Happy Days but what happened on that show and after leaves you cheering him on. I can’t wait to meet him again. Last time he stole my wine and I want it back.

Being Henry by Henry Winkler, (List Price: $30, Celadon Books, 9781250888099, October 2023)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

The Farmer’s Wife by Helen Rebanks

Jointly, The Farmer’s Wife and The Shepherd’s Life (written by Helen’s husband James), provide a unique look at both the travails of small farm life and married life. On its own, The Farmer’s Wife reminded me of Laurie Colwin with deep insights into daily life and the joys of cooking good food. Thoughtful, challenging with delicious recipes and beautifully illustrated, this will be a go-to gift book for me.

The Farmer’s Wife by Helen Rebanks, (List Price: $29.99, Harper Horizon, 9780785290483, September 2023)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Class by Stephanie Land

Land once again takes readers into the lived experience of poverty and class divides. She calls out the emotional and physical cost of being a single parent and a student and the bizarre barriers courts and agencies throw up. An education in inequality and perseverance, you will never think of resilience in the same way again.

Class by Stephanie Land, (List Price: $28, Atria/One Signal Publishers, 9781982151393, November 2023)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

We Are Too Many by Hannah Pittard

We Are Too Many is a memoir of the end (and beginning) of a marriage. Told hilariously over three parts, Hannah Pittard invites readers to follow her through ten years of time-jumped remembered conversations. Her story is written with a refreshing amount of honesty as she leads the reader through her discovery that her husband and best friend have had sex, along with what came before and after. Unfinchingly honest and hilarious, Pittard seamlessly blends fact with fiction to make an unforgettable memoir. I finished this in one afternoon. I could not put it down — nor did I want to. A gem for anyone who loves memoir, language play, a book that reads like a documentary, or a delightful and entertaining read.

We Are Too Many by Hannah Pittard, (List Price: 26.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250869043, May 2023)

Reviewed by Deva, The Snail On the Wall in Huntsville, Alabama

The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl

An October Read This Next! Book!

Margaret Renkl’s writing is the literary equivalent to being wrapped in a soft blanket in your favorite chair with a cup of tea on a crisp day. The Comfort of Crows continues her beautiful way with words (after her stellar Late Migrations) with 52 essays of her observations that take the reader through the seasons of the year…from the beauty of nature and all it encompasses to the varying human emotions and stages of life. You will want to plant something, feed something, preserve something, and protect something all at the same time. You don’t have to be a nature lover to read this book, but you will be by the time you finish it.

The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl, (List Price: 32, Spiegel & Grau, 9781954118461, October 2023)

Reviewed by Mary Patterson, The Little Bookshop in Midlothian, Virginia

This Isn’t Going to End Well by Daniel Wallace

Daniel Wallace’s newest work is a combination memoir and biography, telling his own story alongside that of friend and brother-in-law, William Nealy. This Isn’t Going To End Well begins in 1970s Alabama capturing llaissez-faire parenting, and the idleness and creativity of childhood at the time. Fast forward to our beloved Chapel Hill, the book moves from adolescence to adulthood, asking the question: How well do we ever really know someone? Wallace makes you feel like you are sitting with an old friend, reminiscing. The people rattle around in your head, and the writing is clean and clever. An especially great read for outdoor enthusiasts and artists, writers and lovers. Wallace has written a story of family, adventure, following your dreams, and sadly, tragedy. This Isn’t Going To End Well is gentle and kind, even when life is not.

This Isn’t Going to End Well by Daniel Wallace, (List Price: $28, Algonquin Books, 9781643752105, April 2023)

Reviewed by Peggy Mulqueen, Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh, North Carolina

Good Books for Bad Children by Beth Kephart

Most of our beloved classic children’s authors (think Maurice Sendak, Margaret Wise Brown, Shel Silverstein, E. B. White, John Steptoe, and so many more!) have books in the world thanks to efforts of one formidable woman—Ursula Nordstrom. This brilliant biography displays her awesomely unorthodox approach to children’s literature and her wily sense of humor, all while celebrating the unique books she ushered into the world.

Good Books for Bad Children by Beth Kephart, (List Price: $18.99, Anne Schwartz Books, 9780593379578, September 2023)

Reviewed by Hannah DeCamp, Bookseller, Avid Bookshop in Athens, Georgia

Omega Farm by Martha McPhee

When you return home, everything looks smaller. When you go home after a messed up childhood, you go back to an almost fetal position. You feel like the child you were-not the adult who has been successful. This memoir by Martha McPhee will lead you down her rabbit hole grieving for what she lived through while taking care of her mother during the pandemic. It is not all sad though, there are so many layers of hope, love and forgiveness.

Omega Farm by Martha McPhee, (List Price: 28, Scribner, 9781982197995, September 2023)

Reviewed by Suzanne Lucey, Page 158 Books in Wake Forest, North Carolina

How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair

    This is the best book I’ve read this year, certainly one of the best books I’ve ever read. Sinclair is a poet’s writer who also delivers a thriller, a fascinating history of her religion and country and a call to social justice all at the same time. Vivid imagery, elegance and brilliance are on every page. Please don’t miss this!

    How to Say Babylon by Safiya Sinclair, (List Price: 28.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982132330, October 2023)

    Lisa Uotinen from Book No Further in Roanoke, Virginia

The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl

An October Read This Next! Book!

In Comfort of Crows, Margaret Renkl has given us a remarkable gift. With keen observations of nature in her backyard, she helps us become better observers in our world. With wise commentary, she gently challenges us to become more caring of the wildlife around us. With beautiful writing, she engages us in an important conversation about conservation. And with stunning illustrations, the book becomes the perfect gift for nature lovers and environmentalists in our lives. It will be one of our top handbells for the holiday season and I can’t wait to put this book in the hands of our customers as a gift for themselves or for the people they love.

The Comfort of Crows by Margaret Renkl, (List Price: 32, Spiegel & Grau, 9781954118461, October 2023)

Reviewed by Lia Lent, Wordsworth Books in Little Rock,, Arkansas

While You Were Out by Meg Kissinger

Meg Kissinger begins with an intimate portrayal of a family silently battling mental illness and ends with an exploration of the mental health system that failed them. Her writing is both compassionate and thought provoking. She evokes sympathy for the plight of those with mental illness and anger at the failings of our mental health system.

While You Were Out by Meg Kissinger, (List Price: $30, Celadon Books, 9781250793775, September 2023)

Reviewed by Horton’s Books in Carrollton, Georgia

Move Like Water by Hannah Stowe

Beautifully evocative, Stowe’s memoir captures the emotional and physical pull of open waters in a visceral and compelling way. A book that can be read on many levels– memoir, a natural history guide, a call to care–with it’s strength in the intersection of all. If you love oceans, women explorers and artists, or just a book to challenge your mind and soul, this one is for you.

Move Like Water by Hannah Stowe, (List Price: 24.95, Tin House Books, 9781959030102, September 2023)

Reviewed by Jan Blodgett, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

Strip Tees by Kate Flannery

This was a nostalgic punch to the gut for me as a former American Apparel gal, reminding me of when I wore Lycra and bodysuits to work, had my picture taken every day, then finally snapped, saying I was not a model and quitting, taking the last vestiges of my dignity along with me. I feel seen. More seen than when I was wearing spandex and lamé. This was a validating read for me, but will also be interesting to those who came of age in the 2000s, for every Millennial who cut their teeth on celebrity culture and came away wanting more.

Strip Tees by Kate Flannery, (List Price: 27.99, Henry Holt and Co., 9781250827289, July 2023)

Reviewed by Aimee Keeble, Main Street Books in Davidson, North Carolina

The Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin

An August 2023 Read This Next! Book

This is the most "un-put-downable" piece of non-fiction I’ve ever read. A brash and well-written account that -without being trivial- allows hope and redemption to spring from addiction, incarceration and shame, liberally sprinkled with the power of the written word to empower and invoke change. Looking forward to discussing this work as it also shines a harsh light on the injustice system and one can hope, bring more of us to seek improvement. Truly an important and unique book, much applause!

The Many Lives of Mama Love by Lara Love Hardin, (List Price: 28.99, Simon & Schuster, 9781982197667, August 2023)

Reviewed by Shari Stauch, Main Street Reads in Summerville, South Carolina

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