Radio Bristol Book Club: The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

Welcome to Radio Bristol Book Club! Readers from BCM and the Bristol Public Library are coming together each month to celebrate and explore one book inspired by our region’s rich Appalachian cultural and musical heritage. We invite you to read along and then listen to Radio Bristol on the fourth Thursday of each month at 11:00am when we will dig deep into the feelings and questions raised by the books, learn more about the authors, and celebrate the joys of being a bookworm!

Three covers for The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, two focused on a woman or girl holding a book and the other showing a pile of books tied with a string or piece of twine.
A variety of covers for The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek – all of these make us want to crack open the book and start reading!

This month’s Radio Bristol Book Club pick is Kim Michele Richardson’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek. Cussy Mary Carter is a young woman growing up in the 1930s in the hollers of Troublesome Creek, Kentucky. Cussy is one of the legendary Kentucky Blue People, who share a genetic disorder causing the color of their skin to appear bluish. Books are a joy passed down from her mother, and consequently, she becomes one of the new Pack Horse Librarians, an initiative from Eleanor Roosevelt to increase literacy and get books in the hands of those who would otherwise have none. The days are long and hard, and the dark mountains can be extremely dangerous for a young woman alone, but Cussy is a strong, determined woman dedicated to her mission and her patrons. She forms lasting relationships with those she serves and becomes a valuable part of their everyday lives.

This book is an authentic representation of both the Pack Horse Librarians and the Blue People of Kentucky. The language and heritage of Appalachia is well-represented, and the story is told with heartfelt realism.

A WPA archive image showing a female librarian on a pack horse or mule surrounded by a cluster of children, waiting for her to give out books. They are in front of a small stone schoolhouse.
Works Progress Administration Pack Horse Librarians made regular calls at mountain schools where children were furnished with books for themselves and books to read to their parents and elders, who were often illiterate. The school shown here is a WPA-built school in Kentucky. Public domain image

Kim Michele Richardson was born in Kentucky. She notes: “I love exploring my birthplace in my writings; the beautiful, brutal and mysterious Kentucky land and its people…. I impart my novels with my fierce love for the land, showcase its intriguing people, history, and forgotten songs of the region, exploring historical injustices and the unusual and cherished traditions, myths, and legends of Kentucky.” She is also the author of the novels Liar’s Bench, GodPretty in the Tobacco Field, and The Sisters of Glass Ferry, as well as the autobiographical memoir The Unbreakable Child.

Make plans to join us on Thursday, February 27 at 11:00am! You can find us on the dial at 100.1 FM, streaming live on Radio Bristol, or via the Radio Bristol app. The book is available at the Bristol Public Library so be sure to pick up a copy and read it ahead of listening in. The librarians will be happy to help you find the book. We look forward to sharing our thoughts on-air on this deep and engaging novel!

Our Radio Bristol Book Club pick for March is Lord of the Mountain by Ronald Kidd.

Laura and Kristin work at the Bristol Public Library. They are both avid readers!

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