On this hot and humid July day, I went shopping for a birthday gift for my 93 year old aunt. I was surprised, as I am every year at this time - to find the stores are ready for back to school shoppers. Meanwhile we’re all trying to enjoy our short Pennsylvania summer. You would think I’d have learned by now that is just the way it is, but I am a stubbornly optimistic soul. I am sure come October I will be unhappy again to see Christmas sales before Halloween!
We enjoyed a long weekend in Baltimore area last weekend. We visited my sister, Linda, and her husband who live in Columbia, Md. My sister, Sue, and her husband met us there. On Saturday we all went to Annapolis for a boat ride across the beautiful Chesapeake Bay to St Michael’s Island. It was a record breaking HOT sunny day, we visited the lovely quaint village and a wonderful air-conditioned Maritime Museum. Then to a great air-conditioned bay-side restaurant with a fantastic view of the harbor and super delicious seafood. On the way back to the boat we stopped at a few tourist shops, but it was way too hot to shop.
On Sunday morning two of us went to church with Linda who had taught Vacation Bible School there last week. It was a great service! Then we helped un-decorate the church from the leftover rather elaborate Bible School decorations. Sunday afternoon some of us went to their local Barnes & Noble Bookstore. We live in rural N/W Pennsylvania and don’t have ready access to a book store, I was in book heaven for a couple hours! That evening we went to a dinner theater and saw the play Hairspray. The food was delicious and we all had a good time!
This month I have read a few good books:
The Rainbow Comes and Goes, nonfiction by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt. A mother/son story that gives a close look at the lives of the rich and famous. Yes, they have had their share of trials and tribulations.
The Girl You Left Behind, novel by Jo Jo Moyes. It was another gritty WWII story about how the French civilians suffered at the hands of the Nazis. But also a paralel story about a young widow in England fifty years later, whose husband had given her a mysterious beautiful painting on their honeymoon, they had found it at a street sale.
In Robin’s Nest, debut novel by Elizabeth Sumner Wafler. I wrote a review for Story Circle. It would make a great summer read with characters and plot that will stay with you long after reading the novel.
Poldark, by Winston Graham. A rich historical fiction set in Cornwall, England, in the 1770s. There are many characters to keep straight. This historical fiction was our book club read for July, everyone agreed it a was a great story, with well developed characters and engaging plot. It is also a PBS series, the second season will start Sunday, September 4th. The PBS series closely follows the W. Graham books; there are thirteen book in the series.
When Breath Becomes Air, nonfiction by Paul Kalanithi, *the forward was written by Abraham Verghese. The author begins his haunting story after he is diagnosed with stage four lung cancer, at age thirty-five just as he is ready to graduate as a certified neurosurgeon. In fact his wife, also a physician had to write the epiloge. A story of heart breaking courage and strength. (*An early birthday gift from my sister.)
Invivsible Influence, The Hidden Forces that Shape Behavior, nonfiction by Jonah Berger. This is an insightful book about the choices we make everyday.Without our realizing it, others have a huge influence on everything we do. It is well researched and eye-opening.
The Wright Brothers, nonfiction by David McCullough. Absolutely wonderful! I knew so little about them before reading this book. Daredevils they were not. Brilliant engineers and inventors they were!
*Last week we also went to Chautauqua Institute to listen to David McCullough talk about his The Wright Brothers book. He’s an amazing writer, as well as a good speaker. He introduced his wife of 60 some years, she was lovely and feisty, good character combinations.
We have watched a few unmemorable Netflick movies this month, usually when I have lots of ironing to do. That works well except when it is a foreign film and I have to read captions! We went to the movies one night and saw The Free State of Jones with Mathew McConaughey. (My husband was in shock when I declined movie popcorn!) It was a great movie that gave us lots to think and talk about.
Our local library also hosted David Poyer last week. He read from his new novel, The Tipping Point, and discussed the business and art of writing. An audience of about fifteen people were attentive and involved in conversation with the author. It was definitely a worthwhile evening.
I will be at the Wilkes Writers Workshop, Aug. 5 and 6. I will be on a panel with four other Pennsylvania writers, all who write fiction about Pennsylvania, discussing what makes Pennsylvanians unique. You can check online to see if there is still time to register for the workshop. Jay Parini, author of several excellent books will be a featured speaker, his most famous novel was The Last Station, made into an Academy Award-nominated film. Maureen Corrigan of NPR’s Fresh Air will also be a featured speaker.
Add in a few dinner parties and picnics with family and friends, and it would be safe to a say we’ve had a busy month!
Till next time, keep reading my friends and enjoy the lazy hazy days of August!