Here I am, with the books piling up in the office of Linda C. Brinson Writing and Editing at my home in the woods of Stokes County, N.C.

This blog was started as the latter-day version of a newspaper book-review page, now that such pages are vanishing. I was the book-review editor of the Winston-Salem Journal for 25 years.  Since August 2010, that book-review page is history, and so is my editorship. However, I’ve still been reading. And publishers have kindly been sending me review copies. A number of my friends who used to write reviews for the Journal have agreed to contribute to the blog, and I’m hoping that some additional reader-writer friends will also be joining us.

The blog is dedicated to all of us who love reading and discussing books, and to the authors and publishers who keep producing them for us. Long may they flourish!

I am calling the blog Briar Patch Books for three reasons. First, although we will review a broad range of books, I am partial to Southern literature, and particularly literature from North Carolina. Second, I live in a rural area of Stokes County, N.C., out where the blackberries grow wild. And third, one of the reasons I’ve always loved literature is because as a young child, I listened to my father, J.P Carter, as he masterfully told (and acted out) the stories of Joel Chandler Harris. When The Sentinel newspaper was folded in 1985, and the editors at the city’s surviving newspaper, the Winston-Salem Journal, asked if I’d be interested in editing the book-review page, my response was, in essence, like Br’er Rabbit’s “Please don’t throw me in the briar patch!”

So, if you love books, let us hear from you.

Linda C. Brinson is available for writing and editing projects. You can reach her at lindacbrinson@gmail.com

21 responses to “About”

  1. I am so glad that you are producing the book review page. I’m a friend of Bob Moyers and love reading the reviews and contemplating the books I want to read next. I find it quite sad that book review pages in newspapers are vanishing…. Thanks for continuing the process.

  2. Hi Linda,

    It is great to see that you are soldiering on with the book reviewing business — especially with local talent — even though the (so-called) local papers are shirking their duties. This is a great site that I look forward to watching grow.

    J. Keith Jones

  3. We have a lot in common.
    You recently wrote a most enjoyable story about the Wake Forest Birthplace Museum. I have contributed many relics and artifacts and some money to the Museum. Ed Morris sells one of my books there.
    You graduated from Wake Forest University Magna Cum Laude (’69). I graduated from Wake Forest College (’53).
    You wrote for the Winston-Salem Sentinel. As asst to the ad manager at RJR in the late 1950’s, I read the Sentinel. The RJR job was a dead end. I opted out in 1959. Spent 45 years in bank marketing in four states. Initiated NC ZOO and was first chairman of ZOO Authority.
    You were editor of the OG&B. I was sports editor. The Howler as well.
    You taught journalism at WFU. There was no journalism degree available at WFC but I did take all three journalism sourses under Cap’n Eddie Folk. He thought The Baltimore Sun and the Norfolk Virginian-Pilot were the only papers worth reading.
    You are partial to Southern literature, especially NC-based. I have written two books that are NC-based: The Dance Band From Deacontown is a creatively-enhanced tale about the comings, goings, adventures, trials and tribulations of The Southerners, 1951-53, a 12-piece dance band at WF in which I was the drummer. WF did not permit dancing on campus so we played for colleges, high schools, military , civic and special events in three states but not “under thge magnolias.” The expanded museum has a small exhibit about the band.
    The most recent book, The Sweet Potato Caper, is about a fictitious bank robbery in Benson, NC. A fun tale based on a true incident (see website), there’s excitement, romance, lots of good ‘ol boy dialog and an ending you don’t see coming.
    I’d like to send you a copy of each. You, as a Wake Forester, will enjoy the Band book. Ed Wilson did, for there’s a good deal of history and old campus lore throughout.
    Candidly, it would be nice if you/someone read and reviewed the books. If you don’t, that’s okay. I write books for the fun of it and for the very specific targeted markets that would understand and enjoy the stories. The Band book did well (still sells after three years) and folks in Johnston and Harnett Counties loved the Caper tale. Anyone with a rural background who understands small town life in the 1950’s will relate.
    I don’t have a mailing address for Briar Patch Books. Dance Band From Deacontown is at the WFU Library, the Bookstore and the Birthplace Museum. Both are available online, but why pay anything when I’ll send them to you free? Just need an address and there will be no follow-up marketing effort, believe me.
    You live in the woods of Stokes County. I live amongst the cacti of Scottsdale, AZ.
    See, I told you we had a good deal in common.

    Thanks for your time.
    Red Pope

  4. Linda, I enjoyed your article in the spring issue of Wake Forest University Magazine, and I am pleased to learn that you are still reading and reviewing books. I recommend a North Carolina-based book entitled Doing Time. It reveals the tragic impact of domestic violence while revealing the unusual story of redemption for the main character who eventually frees herself from these past bonds. Here’s a link:

  5. Hi Mrs. Brinson,
    I’m one of the students at Stokes County Early College High School, which you’ve been substituting at for my ACA/Study Skills class for the past number of weeks. Your husband was in your place today and he introduced me to your website amoung other things. I’d like to know if I would be able to participate in some of these book reviews, because I am an avid reader and would like to be starting to get my own words out there, even if it starts out as a critic on this colorful blog. Please let me know your opinion on the subject whenever you are able.

    • Sure, I’d love to have you try a book review. What kinds of books do you like to read? I may have one I can drop off at the school for you.

  6. Keep up the good work. Great reviews, especially Bob’s (my brother). I’m forwarding the link to friends.

  7. Hello Linda, I’m writing to inquire if you review self published books. I have published Deal with Life’s Stress With ‘A Little Humor’ which holds 50 of my humor columns that were published in several papers, magazines and two Chicken Soup for the Soul books.
    To get an idea of my work you can read excerpts from my book at my site listed above.
    Also you can view my videos of my column readings by going to:http://www.youtube.com/user/CindyArgiento
    Thank you for your time and reply.

    • Cindy,
      I don’t have a strict rule against reviewing self-published books. That’s because I think book publishing, like so much in today’s media, is in a transition phase. We are, however, limited by the interests of our reviewers. I don’t have anyone who generally likes to review self-help or advice books. Good luck to you.

      Linda Brinson

  8. Someone sent me your essay about Doris Betts after her death, and as I was reading it, I thought, this is the best. Who wrote it? So I was not surprised to see that it was you. Where was your longer profile of Doris published? Thanks for your words, which are a deep comfort in the loss of such a friend. Emily

    • Hi Emily,
      Thanks for writing. The original profile of Doris ran in the Winston-Salem Journal in 1988. It was a Tar Heel Sketch.
      Hope you and Ed are well.


  9. The above comment is garbled because I tried to use HTML tags, and clearly messed up! The last sentence should read (without trying HTML):

    “….I’ve finished Chancellorsville, which was remarkably well-researched and written, and look forward to reading, next, Richmond Rising, next. (Right after I finish reading US Grant’s Memoirs….)

  10. Linda,

    I found Briar Patch Books while looking for information on book reviews at the W-SJ; it’s disappointing to read that they let you go and now rely on canned reviews from AP. Local authors, especially independents, already face an uphill battle getting the word out to their community regarding their book(s), particularly with the consolidation and closure of new-book bookstores. I am heartened that you started this web log!

  11. Hi Linda,

    I moved from Winston-Salem about seven years ago, so I’ve been out of the loop regarding the W-S Journal. I always enjoyed your reviews and columns and was thrilled to find this site. My third book and first novel, Pillow of Thorns, was recently released. It is based on an actual 1850 North Carolina murder trial. You can read an excerpt from it on my website: http://www.karencecilsmith.com Please let me know if you’re interested in receiving a copy for review.

    Thanks, Karen

  12. I found your blog through Karon Luddy’s Facebook page. A mutual friend recommended her newest book, Bewilderment of Boys, and I saw that you had reviewed it recently. I didn’t see any other contact info on your blog site, so I wanted to ask if you ever review self-published books? My book, Sweet Tea and Southern Grace, is in the genre of southern fiction (although that category doesn’t exist on Amazon). It’s written in the style of Jan Karon’s Mitford series. I had an agent who offered to represent me, but frankly declined because I didn’t want to wait the two years she told me it would take to get it to a publisher. Sheesh! I’m 65 and wanted to get it going. I was born and raised in North Carolina, but 18 years ago moved just south of the border to Lancaster County, South Carolina. My website is http://glendacmanus.vpweb.com/ if you’re interested in taking a look. I’m working on a sequel that I hope to have published by late September.


    • Hi,
      I’m willing to take a look at your book. Can’t promise that I’ll write a review, or that it will be favorable if I do one. I don’t absolutely rule out self-published books, as I know the publishing industry is changing rapidly. I have not read the Mitford series, I confess, but I know that a lot of people like those books.
      Linda Brinson

  13. Wouldn’t you rather be having a coffee with me and Tom Dillon and Joe Goodman (if I can rouse them from their afternoon naps) and others who might be interested in recruiting some young bucks(and does) to take advantage of the offer to help local start-up newspapers start up? See NY Times. Fri. 9/8, p. B3. Lemme know at jerryadams38@gmail.com. It’s too late to stop fighting. Jerry Adams

  14. Linda, You reviewed my novel, The Last First Kiss, in the Greensboro News & Record a few years back and did what I thought was a deeply insightful piece on it. I’m writing to see if you might be interested in looking at a terrific (seriously!) memoir by an acquaintance that has just been published by UNC Press and is in need of exposure by insightful reviewers. It’s an exceptional piece of work in terms of craft, subject matter, and importance to anyone interested in a deep, redeeming story of childhood and personal journey. I’m happy to send you a copy or “Amazon” you one if you are interested. The book is: Everywhere the Undrowned by Stephanie Smith. Thanks, Walter Bennett

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