Header with a photo of Mari K. Eder on the left, the text "Ret. Major Gen. Mari K. Eder. Author, Speaker, Consultant at Benson's ReView" in the middle. And two book covers (The Girls Who Stepped Out Of Line and The Girls Who Fought Crime) on the right.

I love libraries—how rich they look, the careful displays that librarians create to inspire young minds and draw in readers. The smell of books entices me too. I liked to look at what’s new, what’s featured, and of course, the older books are just as important, drawing me in closer to share their promise of incredible stories waiting to be shared. 

I grew up in a small town in western Pennsylvania. We didn’t have a town library. At least not one sponsored by the town. But two enterprising high school teachers started a library in their home, and on Saturdays, like most kids in town, I trekked there with my friends to see what we could find. 

They lived in a little red cottage on the other side of a creek. It was part of the ritual to stop on the footbridge over the creek and look down until we could spot the fish trying to swim upstream while the sharp current was pushing them further down. About half a mile away, the creek would empty into a lake, where little fish became big fish.

But the prizes were inside. Once the family’s dining room, the redesigned community library held hundreds of books, most of the right vintage and size for grade schoolers. It was there I discovered Nancy Drew, the Hardy Boys, and a whole series of intricate mysteries by 1960s adventure writer Troy Nesbit. I especially loved The Jinx of Payrock Canyon and the Diamond Cave Mystery. My friends liked Anne of Green Gables and National Velvet. There was so much more too. We would load our book bags, trudge back up the hill to our circle of homes, and dig in.

No books were off limits. And there was no limit to how many you could take home. But they were all due back in two weeks. It wasn’t a contest but a great lesson in how to pace fun reading with schoolwork reading. I usually finished all the books I took.

Later, libraries were my friend too. My high school library opened up the world to me, and my college library at Edinboro gave me all the references and ideas I needed for every school project and writing endeavor. And once I joined the Army, I found that the installations where I was assigned had community libraries too.

A lamp in a library with a ceiling.

And I’ve found that it is an incredible education to visit new libraries too.  I’ve done the research for several of my books at the Army’s Heritage and Education Center, the library at the Army Navy Club in Washington, D.C., and the beautiful and awe-inspiring New York City Public Library.  I was intrigued by their little red train—that chugged away into the five levels of underground storage to retrieve research materials I’d requested to view.

A lamp in a library with a ceiling.

So, it was with great excitement that I learned The Library Journal reviewed my bookThe Girls Who Stepped Out of Line, when it was published in May 2021. Just as many of my friends sent me notes and texts to say they had seen the book for sale in airport bookstores, just as many wanted me to know how excited they were to learn their library was carrying it as well. “I’m on the waiting list,” a few told me eagerly. “I can’t wait until it’s my turn to pick it up!”

Then, in July, I was surprised (well actually surprised and THRILLED) to learn from my publisher that my book was a finalist for the Library of Virginia’s 2022 Literary Awards in the People’s Choice nonfiction category. Since 1997 the Library’s Literary Awards have celebrated Virginia writers and their contributions in the fields of fiction, nonfiction, and poetry.

Here are the other books in the People’s Choice category.

The 2022 fiction finalists for the People’s Choice Awards are:

  • Razorblade Tears: A Novel by S. A. Cosby
  • Yellow Wife by Sadeqa Johnson
  • My Monticello: Fiction by Jocelyn Nicole Johnson
  • Rhapsody by Mitchell James Kaplan
  • The Mother Next Door by Tara Laskowski
  • The Matzah Ball by Jean Meltzer
  • All the Little Hopes: A Novel by Leah Weiss
Library of Virgina 2022 People's Choice Awards

The 2022 fiction finalists for the People’s Choice Awards are:

  • The Words That Made Us by Akhil Amar Reed
  • Poe for Your Problems: Uncommon Advice from History’s Least Likely Self-Help Guru by Catherine Baab-Muguira
  • Going There by Katie Couric
  • The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line: Untold Mari K. Eder Stories of the Women Who Changed the Course of World War II by Mari K. Eder
  • Liberty Is Sweet: The Hidden History of the American Revolution by Woody Holton
  • Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy by Nathaniel Philbrick
  • The Ledger and the Chain: How Domestic Slave Traders Shaped America by Joshua D. Rothman

The Library of Virginia will host its 25th Annual celebration on October 15th at the Library of Virginia. Author Adriana Trigliani will host the event, honoring Katie Couric for her outstanding contributions to literature and journalism. The featured speaker will be Michael W. Twitty, James Beard award-winning author and culinary historian.

What an incredible event! And with culinary stories too. I’m just excited to be able to attend, meet amazing authors, and acquire more books for my growing library. It is going to be amazing!

The Girls Who Stepped Out of Line by Mari K Eder. People's Choice Nonfiction Award Finalist. 25th Annual Literary Awards Celebration.

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