A Blog of Seattle Arts & Lectures

2020 Summer Book Bingo: Debut Book by Author Over 50

Summer Book Bingo is our free summer reading program with The Seattle Public Library! Download your card here. Engage with other bingo players and find out their own reading adventures by using the hashtag #BookBingoNW2020 on social media.

Need some great reads for the “Debut Book by Author Over 50” square? Ruth Dickey, SAL’s Executive Director, shares with us why she loves this particular category, and what book started it all. Read on to discover Ruth’s favorite debut books by authors over 50. 

By Ruth Dickey, SAL’s Executive Director

While it may be connected to turning 49 this summer, I have a deep and abiding love for debut books by authors over 50. I first fell deeply in love with a debut by an author over 50 over twenty years ago, when the slim and poetic Stones for Ibarra changed my world. Harriet Doerr published this gorgeous book, her first, at 74, and it won the National Book Award for a First Book of Fiction that year. Doerr’s book gives me hope that all of us who have a rich story within us have plenty of time for it to come into the world.

Other debuts by authors over 50 that I have loved include:

  • The Salt Path was published when Raynor Winn was 55 and tells the riveting story of Winn and her husband becoming homeless and deciding to walk the 630-mile South West Coast Path.
  • George and Lizzie is Seattle’s beloved librarian Nancy Pearl’s debut novel, published when she was 75.
  • Desiree Cooper’s luminous collection of short stories exploring all the facets of motherhood, Know the Mother, was published when she was 56.

Adding to this list, the fact that Annie Proulx, Charles Bukowski, Sue Monk Kidd, Raymond Chandler, Frank McCourt, and Alexander McCall Smith all published their debuts after 50 gives me tons of hope that we all have lots of time for the stories yet to come.

Want more recommendations for debut books by authors over 50? Check out The Seattle Public Library’s suggestions for this category here.

Posted in SAL Staff/BoardSummer Book Bingo