Open book with Courtney Maum

Author Courtney Maum is known for her mixture of wit and sincerity. Her debut novel, "I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You," was called "a book for everyone" by The Washington Post. In her newest book, "Touch," which hits bookshelves on Tuesday, the former Sandisfield resident (she moved about a year ago to Connecticut, but wrote most of the book while in the Berkshires) writes a timely and satirical, but also moving, story about a leading trend forecaster who suddenly finds herself in the position of wanting to overturn her own predictions.

Maum, who was once a trend forecaster herself, recently shared with us a few of her favorite books, which writers inspired her and which ones she'd rather not read.

Your last book, "I Am Having So Much Fun Here Without You,'" was picked as one of the best summer reads in 2014. What is your all-time favorite "summer read"?

For me, the perfect summer read is absorbing not so much because of plot, but because of voice and tone. I love books with an offbeat sense of humor: "Paulina and Fran," (Rachel B. Glaser), "Slaves of New York" (Tama Janowitz), "Barbara the Slut" (Lauren Holmes), anything by Miranda July or Lauren Groff. Recently, I loved "Hausfrau" by Jill Alexander Essbaum, which I absolutely couldn't put down, and of course, anything by Tara French makes a flawless summer read. With her books, I feel like you're getting the thrills and chill of a mystery novel, but with a layer of intelligence you don't get from some of her contemporaries in the genre.

What books are currently on your nightstand?

Too many! A galley of "The Gypsy Moth Summer" by my friend and fellow author Julia Fierro, "Insight" by Tasha Eurich, "Abandon Me" by Melissa Febos, "Exes" by Max Winter, and "Lincoln in the Bardo" by George Saunders, which is currently giving me nightmares. Nightmares of the good kind?

Which of your favorite books would people who know you be surprised by?

I have something of an eclectic style, I can go very high- or low-brow with the books I like. For example, I loved the "Twilight" series. So I think people who know me would probably be more surprised by what I don't like. For example: This is sacrilege to admit, but Joan Didion doesn't do it for me. Her writing is beautiful, yes, but I find it incredibly depressing. I feel depressed for days after reading her.

What was your favorite book as a child?

"The Bridge to Terabithia" by Katherine Paterson and the "Anne of Green Gables" series. And "Flutterby," which gave me a life-long love of winged horses, a book I read to my own daughter, today.

What book or author most influenced your style of writing?

The first book that really woke me up to what you could do with literary humor was "The Information," by Martin Amis. The second was "The Confederacy of Dunces" by John Kennedy Toole.

Where's your favorite place to get lost in a book in the Berkshires?

Boardman Street in Sheffield. This road takes you through the most beautiful views in the Berkshires. Mind you — it isn't my street, but if any resident's lucky enough to live there want to lend me their home one afternoon, that would be my ideal place to curl up with a book.


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