32 Books in 32 Days – Day 26: A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts

Each day leading up to the April 17 announcement of the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards, we highlight one of the thirty-two finalists. Today, we feature


 Novel & Short Story Finalist,
A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts
N.M. Kelby

An excerpt from A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts:

It’s not a good idea. Nordan and Sara both know it. Both are over forty. Both love their spouses. Both are drunk. Both naked-and not thin. Both wonder if the other is lying when they say, nearly simultaneously, “I’ve never done this before.”

And they’re friends-or think they are. It’s difficult to tell. They were total strangers before they checked into adjoining hotel rooms in Jubilation, a planned community featuring Key West-styled homes in sherbet colors with white picket fences. The resort is Gingerbread Victorian, with a permit-only beach where the sand is raked into traditional Zen patterns three times a day. There are no homeless people in Jubilation. No tattoo shops. There’s nothing sordid, or dangerous. You can’t even walk down the side streets unless you have security clearance; surveillance cameras are everywhere. It’s not the kind of place you’d have an affair in.

This collection of ten stories varies from touching to bizarre, beautiful to hilarious, and everything in between. An eccentric coyote fur-wearing mother, a twisted Girl Scout troop determined to sell the most cookies, and a rock hero who wants to be buried in his 1953 Cadillac Eldorado convertible are just a few of N.M. Kelby’s unforgettable characters.



N.M. Kelby is the author of several novels including the best seller, In the Company of Angels. N. M. Kelby’s stories have also appeared in New Stories from the South: Best of 2006 and also on NPR’s CD, “Travel Tales.” A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts recently won the Florida Book Award Gold Medal for best general fiction.


“These are stories of longing, told with economy and elegance. Many are sweet but not saccharine, funny but not comic. Every reader will find herself reflected in at least one of these stories of people seeking a point of connection with others.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“Each story in this collection paints indelible images of real people caught in interesting situations. Kelby has a gift for telling the whole back story for a character with just a few lines and then she transports you to surprising destinations. Rest assured that you are in good hands with this travel guide.” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“…a unique achievement. Well written, quirky stories that often are about something very different than the story itself – meaning that they emit a sort of subtext about the human condition, regardless of the characters and plot we are presented. Love stories without love but with the hope of love… Sadness, tragedy, and laughter seem to exist in nearly every story and in a compact but expert style” – Minnesota Book Awards Judge

“Kelby is a natural-born storyteller who manages to be very funny and very wise at the same time.” – Carl Hiaason, author of Tourist Season, Nature Girl and more than a dozen other books for adults and young readers.

Listen to an interview of N.M. Kelby on “All Things Considered,” by Euan Kerr, Minnesota Public Radio.

Check it Out! at the Saint Paul Public Library

Award winners will be announced at the 22nd Annual Minnesota Book Awards Gala on Saturday, April 17, at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, in downtown Saint Paul. The opening reception begins at 6:30 p.m.; followed by the awards ceremony at 8 p.m. Tickets are $40 and a limited number are still available by clicking here or calling 651-222-3242.

Have you read A Travel Guide for Reckless Hearts? What are your thoughts? We welcome your comments!

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