The best character journeys (mainly of women) involving the many nooks, crannies, hills and valleys of life

Who am I?

While The Woman in the Sun Hat is my debut novel, as a seasoned playwright, I have often gravitated to character studies in a variety of genres, usually blending comedy with pathos. What was exciting for me in writing a novel was that I could really explore an even more nuanced arc of the central character. I am a Brooklyn, NY-based Playwright, Novelist, Screenwriter, Actor, and Poet. Recent publications include my play Day of the Dog (Broadway Play Publishing) and my debut poetry collection 104 Days of the Pandemic (fandango 4 Art House). My latest novel is Graphic Nature, due out later in 2022.


I wrote...

The Woman in the Sun Hat

By Daniel Damiano,

Book cover of The Woman in the Sun Hat

What is my book about?

Peggy Bubone is the envy of the Cold River, Long Island social scene: wife to a respected dermatologist, mother to two handsome children, and newly hired Literature teacher at a prestigious local high school...before a knock on her classroom door turns her world upside down with the shocking news of her husband's arrest. With her and her children soon ostracized and homeless, she embarks on a humorous yet harrowing journey, which ultimately leads her back to her undesirable roots and, eventually, a deep dive into her own psyche.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of The Bell Jar

Daniel Damiano Why did I love this book?

This is an honest, eloquently told tale of a young woman's struggle with depression in a time (the 1950s) when few seemed to understand the illness, much less comprehend how to treat it. Of course, knowing enough of Plath’s life, it is challenging to separate the source from Esther Greenwood, the novel’s protagonist, since there are said to be close parallels with Plath's own experiences, but ultimately the quality of the writing transcends the morbidity and makes the journey of Esther quite rewarding.

By Sylvia Plath,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Bell Jar as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

I was supposed to be having the time of my life.

When Esther Greenwood wins an internship on a New York fashion magazine in 1953, she is elated, believing she will finally realise her dream to become a writer. But in between the cocktail parties and piles of manuscripts, Esther's life begins to slide out of control. She finds herself spiralling into depression and eventually a suicide attempt, as she grapples with difficult relationships and a society which refuses to take women's aspirations seriously.

The Bell Jar, Sylvia Plath's only novel, was originally published in 1963 under the pseudonym Victoria…


Book cover of Ham on Rye

Daniel Damiano Why did I love this book?

Bukowski's coming-of-age novel depicts his fictional amalgam Henry Chinaski’s upbringing and various assorted traumas, some humorous, some very moving. Of Bukowski's novels that I've read, Ham on Rye is indeed the most focused and nuanced. What is probably its greatest feat is how Bukowski has no trepidation about painting himself (or more accurately, Henry) in a less than flattering light. By contrast, Bukowski does not deviate from his struggles, his apathy, his bitterness, his aimlessness. It's an honest, raw, funny, and very human journey definitely worth taking – especially for Bukowski admirers.

By Charles Bukowski,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Ham on Rye as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

INTRODUCTION BY RODDY DOYLE

'He brought everyone down to earth, even the angels' LEONARD COHEN

Charles Bukowski is one of the greatest authors of the twentieth century. The autobiographical Ham on Rye is widely considered his finest novel. A classic of American literature, it offers powerful insight into his youth through the prism of his alter-ego Henry Chinaski, who grew up to be the legendary Hank Chinaski of Post Office and Factotum.


Book cover of White Oleander

Daniel Damiano Why did I love this book?

The dark and complex relationship between a daughter (Astrid) and her poet mother (Ingrid) is the thrust of this engaging work. The story is seen through the eyes of Astrid as she struggles to find a sense of herself as she moves through an array of foster homes, while the aura of her mother and the crime that has led to her incarceration looms over Astrid’s life.

By Janet Fitch,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked White Oleander as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

White Oleander is a painfully beautiful first novel about a young girl growing up the hard way. It is a powerful story of mothers and daughters, their ambiguous alliances, their selfish love and cruel behaviour, and the search for love and identity.Astrid has been raised by her mother, a beautiful, headstrong poet. Astrid forgives her everything as her world revolves around this beautiful creature until Ingrid murders a former lover and is imprisoned for life. Astrid's fierce determination to survive and be loved makes her an unforgettable figure. 'Liquid poetry' - Oprah Winfrey 'Tangled, complex and extraordinarily moving' - Observer


Book cover of The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton

Daniel Damiano Why did I love this book?

While, yes, this is not a novel, there is a true character journey in reading the complete works of Ms. Sexton in sequence; a sort of poetic analysis the likes of which I have not read to such a soul-baring degree, as she depicts her thoughts and struggles with marriage, relationships, motherhood, her own parents and various other facets of her life. To me, Ms. Sexton is very much the symbol of what became the confessional poetry movement. The eloquence and depth of her writing, especially in poems like " The Double Image", "Flee on Your Donkey" and " For My Lover Returning to His Wife", are remarkable.

By Anne Sexton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Complete Poems as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Complete Poems: Anne Sexton comprises the poet's ten volumes of verse, including the Pulitzer Prize-winner Live or Die, as well as seven poems from her last years.

From the joy and anguish of her own experience, Sexton fashioned poems that told truths about the inner lives of men and women.

"Women poets in particular owe a debt to Anne Sexton, who broke new ground, shattered taboos, and endured a barrage of attacks along the way because of the flamboyance of her subject matter...Sexton has earned her place in the canon."—from the Foreword by Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Maxine Kumin


Book cover of Anna Karenina

Daniel Damiano Why did I love this book?

While this mammoth work by Tolstoy has various plot threads, the one involving the title character is perhaps its most thorough and tragic, as Anna (a wife and mother) struggles in her marriage and embarks on an affair, only to find it no more gratifying and ultimately only serves to question her very purpose. The book is a thoughtful meditation on what so many of us live for and what recourse there is when our aspirations are shattered.

By Leo Tolstoy,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Anna Karenina as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1872 the mistress of a neighbouring landowner threw herself under a train at a station near Tolstoy's home. This gave Tolstoy the starting point he needed for composing what many believe to be the greatest novel ever written.

In writing Anna Karenina he moved away from the vast historical sweep of War and Peace to tell, with extraordinary understanding, the story of an aristocratic woman who brings ruin on herself. Anna's tragedy is interwoven with not only the courtship and marriage of Kitty and Levin but also the lives of many other characters. Rich in incident, powerful in characterization,…


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The Romantics

By Isabel Jolie,

Book cover of The Romantics

Isabel Jolie Author Of Cloak of Red

New book alert!

Who am I?

Author Nature lover Rower Reader Ad guru Dreamer

Isabel's 3 favorite reads in 2023

What is my book about?

Some endings deserve a second chance.

In The Romantics, Dr. Harrison Ramsey's meticulously planned life collides with the ex he swore to forget. A prosperous plastic surgeon, Harrison is a member of an elite, exclusive Houston club, while Zuri faces professional ruin after a messy breakup. When circumstances force them back into each other's lives, old emotions resurface, and they find themselves retracing past steps in the plastic surgery practice where they both work. The two explore the complexities of letting go and evaluating life’s choices and expectations.

The Romantics is a grumpy billionaire, sizzling second chance romance between two doctors who once upon a time loved each other. Some things belong in the past, but maybe not everything.

The Romantics

By Isabel Jolie,

What is this book about?

Some endings deserve a second chance.


Dr. Harrison Ramsey has it all.

A flourishing plastic surgery practice, close friends, and a coveted membership to one of Houston's most elite and secretive clubs.

His life has followed the plan.


Dr. Zuri Lennox's life is a literal dumpster fire.

Thanks to a cheating ex whose Ferrari ran into her baseball bat, she's unemployed, at risk of losing her medical license, and maxed out on medical school loans and legal fees.

Nothing in her life has gone as planned.


When she left a decade ago, he had one request. A simple thing. For…


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