RuthAnn Deveney

Before we get into the Girls Who Read feature, RA is going to tell you a bit about the amazing challenge she is taking on this December.


Tomorrow, December 1, I’m kicking off a month of wearing a dress every day with Dressember! This annual challenge and campaign aims to raise awareness and funds to fight human trafficking all around the world. Sadly, an estimated 40 million people are enslaved today through human trafficking, which nets more than $150 billion annually. We can make a difference by spreading the word, shopping ethically, and channeling our funds to organizations that rescue and restore victims of human trafficking. For my fifth campaign, I’m going big: my fundraising goal is $10,000! Thank you for considering supporting me and this cause through your encouragement and monetary contributions!

  • Learn more and donate at my page:
  • Join my team as an advocate and wear a dress alongside me:
  • Book recommendations for learning more about human trafficking: The Locust Effect by Gary Haugen, Slave by Mende Nazer, and Sold by Patricia McCormick


Name: RuthAnn Deveney
Where you live: Kennett Square, PA
Insta handle: @definitelyra
Current read: News of the World by Paulette Jiles; Girls Burn Brighter by Shobha Rao; Talent Wins by Ram Charan

What has been your favorite read of the past year?

It’s so hard to pick, but I have to go with The Heart’s Invisible Furies by John Boyne. I could not stop reading it, and I thought it was so powerful and beautiful, with snappy humor to mix it up. I wish I had read it sooner!

What is one book that you think will (or should) become a classic in the next 30 (or 50) years? Why?

I think Men Explain Things to Me by Rebecca Solnit will be one of those books that future teen girls will read to rebel, although I’m hoping that we will thoroughly smash the patriarchy soon. Solnit’s writing is so incisive and sharp, and I think it will really endure.

Imagine this.  You and a celebrity of your choice are becoming friends.  They have asked you for a book rec.  Who is the celebrity and what book do you recommend?

Okay, in this dream world, I am becoming friends with Kristen Bell and NOT acting weird or overly excited! I’d recommend The Power by Naomi Alderman. I read it in July, and it is STILL echoing in my brain. I can’t talk about it with getting all wild-eyed and demanding that people discuss it with me! That includes my new BFF, Kristen!

How do you choose your next read?

I always have a few books going at once in various formats, usually one each in print, ebook, or audio. I have a huge backlog or stack from the library, so once I finish one, I see what’s waiting and choose whatever I’m in the mood for. I rely heavily on recommendations from trusted sources, and I almost never read reviews on Amazon or anything. I don’t know those people!

What book meant the most to you as a child?

I have such fond memories of The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster. I loved the wordplay, the scratchy illustrations, and the lesson that we should never be bored! I re-read it as an adult and chuckled my way through it. It’s even more relevant now than when it was written over 50 years ago!

What is your favorite adaptation from book to film, theater, or television?  What book do you wish would be adapted?

I love The Lizzie Bennet Diaries web series, an adaptation on Pride and Prejudice, especially Kitty Bennet and Bing Lee! As for a book that I wish would be adapted, I think Dark Matter by Blake Crouch would be amazing. They sold the movie rights, but that was several years ago, so I’m doubtful that the movie will actually get made after so much time has passed.

What’s the one book everyone loves that you just cannot stand?

I do not get The Book Thief by Markus Zusak. I’m convinced that I got some kind of defective copy because I was so bored the whole time! And based on the title of the book, I expected  A LOT more book thievery. I’m sure I’m missing something because everyone else on the planet loves this one.

What is your favorite book set in or around the area where you live?

Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli takes place in Pennsylvania, and the author is from the county where I live! When I read it as a child, I lived in Connecticut, so I had no idea that Butterscotch Krimpets were real (I grew up with Hostess!), and then my mind was blown when I moved down to this area. Seeing those Tastykakes was like meeting a fictional character.

What is one classic you think is not overrated?

The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck! I love this book. It walloped me when I read it a few years ago, and I thought it was so beautiful and poignant. I also read it alongside Working Days, which is Steinbeck’s journal while he wrote the novel! It was fascinating to experience them side by side, and I highly recommend that.

If you had to declare yourself an expert in one extremely specific genre, what would it be?  

I’m going to say “weird books,” by which I mean, you have to take a mental leap into the world and then go with it. I keep finding myself recommending books and saying, “It’s SO GOOD! And it’s so weird! You just have to get used to…” and then I name a super weird thing. A few weird books I have loved (out of many) are The Bees by Laline Paull, The Paper Menagerie by Ken Liu, and The Sparrow by Maria Doria Russell.

What is your go-to book recommendation?

At this time of year, I’m always recommending Peace Like a River by Leif Enger. It’s a great winter book, and I love a quest story. I’m going to read it again this winter before I borrow his new release from the library!

What book changed your worldview in some way?

Tell Me How It Ends by Valeria Luiselli was one of the best books I read this year. She opened my eyes to the immigration crisis by elucidating how refugees are fleeing from war torn countries. I also found her journey from volunteer to activist really inspiring. It’s a short book (100 pages), but it’s so powerful. I’ve been pushing it on people nonstop.

If you could inhabit the life of one fictional character for a day, who would you choose?

I just read Christmas at the Grange by TE Kinsey and I’d love to inhabit Flo Armstrong! Assuming I inherited her quick wit and martial arts skills, of course. I want to observe Lady Hardcastle in real life, especially when she says things like referring to champagne as “a bottle of shammy”!

Who do you think is the greatest female author?

I have to go with Madeleine L’Engle, because she is always and forever my favorite. She wrote in so many genre! She wrote YA before YA was a thing! She tossed together literature, science, and religion like it was no big deal! And it would have been Madeleine’s 100th birthday yesterday! Happy centennial, Madeleine!


Why reading?

I read to learn AND escape. I love diving down a rabbit hole and reading a whole bunch of books on a topic that interests me, and I love reading stories that plunge me into whole other worlds. And as long as I have a book with me, I never have to wait – it’s just bonus book time!

What’s at the top of your TBR or wish list?
  • Beartown by Fredrik Backman
  • Dare to Lead by Brene Brown
  • Virgil Wander by Leif Enger
  • A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza