Welcome to the Memorial Day Edition of You Are What You Read. We made it People. Break out the coolers, the Solo cups and the white pants! Commence the rejoicing! Here’s wishing you all a lovely long weekend that involves a healthy dose of whatever makes you happy come the Summer. As for The Traveling Companion and myself, we will be found at our favorite beach one of these weekend days under the umbrella with the cooler full of contraband, two new chairs, and a bag full of reading material.
This week’s housekeeping involves a big change coming down the pike and one that we are most excited about. On Wednesday we will debut our new website which is truly spectacular. This being said, I need to warn you all that you will need your library card number to access your on-line account so please feel free to talk to the Gentle People at the Welcome Desk this weekend if you can’t find yours and they will be happy to help. There are a lot of really cool new features and the look is sleek and clean. We can’t wait for you all to see it. So get excited People!
In Animals Run Amok News, Mary Lee Shark seems to be gearing up for her Memorial Day Weekend by hanging off the beautiful beaches of Virginia. I have no way of knowing if she is going to make a Hamptons appearance this year, but with Mary Lee all things are possible. You can track her here.
Going down this weekend is an occurrence that comes but twice a year and is a rather cool thing. Manhattenhenge is a two day event that occurs on the opposite sides of the summer solstice and it baths the numbered streets that run east and west with beautiful light that is framed perfectly by the buildings on either side giving it that Stonehenge during a solstice affect. This is happening on Sunday and Monday at about 8:12 and then again on July 11 and 12th. This is a direct result of how the city was laid out over two centuries ago. Because of the 90 degree angles there it is only logical that there will be days when this phenomenon happens. Of course there are other cities where this happens because if your city is a laid out in a grid fashion running from East to West there are going to be Henge days. But I don’t think that this makes them any less magical. You can read about that here and if you witness it for reals, please let us know.
This week we have a dog, a rainbow, some lovers, an island, hippies, a game (or is it?), and small-town America.
Let us begin!
Laura has just finished Spill Simmer Falter Wither, by Sara Baume. “This is a touching story told from the perspective of an orphaned, socially-delinquent adult, who adopts a damaged dog that had been rescued from a dog fighting ring. These two stray souls create a bond that, over the four seasons as depicted in the title of the book, touches the heart. Baume’s award winning prose is mesmerizing as you understand the hurt and shame that comes from not being perfect and what tragedy awaits those desperate hearts. This story takes surprising turns across the bucolic landscape of Ireland. “
Pat T is weighing in about our most popular non-fiction book. “The Rainbow Comes and Goes, by Anderson Cooper and Gloria Vanderbilt is an emotionally rich and honest reflection of the relationship between a mother and her son. Just before Gloria Vanderbilt turned ninety-two, she experienced a serious illness, so when she recovered, Anderson and Gloria were determined to spend more time together. What ensued was a yearlong email correspondence between mother and son. Anderson came to know his mother in ways he couldn't have imagined. Gloria opened up about her privileged, yet lonely childhood, early marriage at the age of seventeen , her emotional insecurity, and her search for a father figure. Together they shared their deep sorrow over their many shared losses. ‘The rainbow comes and goes. Enjoy it while it last. Don't be surprised by its departure and rejoice when it returns.’ captures Gloria Vanderbilt's reflections on her life and advice for her son, Anderson.”
The Always Delightful Pat S and what she thinks of Mothering Sunday by Graham Swift. “Set in 1924, just after the close of WW I, Mothering Sunday tells the tale of Jane Fairchild, an orphan who is currently a housemaid at one of the posh estates in the home counties. All of the action takes place on one day, Mothering Sunday, a Sunday in March when servants are allowed to visit their Mothers. But Jane is an orphan, with no mother to visit. Instead, she will go to the neighboring estate, to spend the day in bed with Paul, the son from the neighboring estate. Jane knows that this is the last time she will see the soon-to-be-married Paul, and memorizes each detail, each scent, and each moment of the day. Interspersed throughout this measured memory, we meet an adult Jane who has become a well-established and celebrated author. Flipping back and forth from the young Jane to older Jane, we are offered details which underline the importance of books and language which ultimately gave Jane the tools to find her voice. Run, don't walk, to find this gem.”
Sweet Ann is listening this week to The Water is Wide: A Memoir by Pat Conroy. This story details Pat's year teaching in the early 70’s on an impoverished island off the South Carolina Coast. Pat Conroy was an idealistic young teacher at the time, who thought he could change the lives of the children on the island. Segregation was just ending but needless to say in the South there was still some resistance to that change. The children on the island were very poor black children who were treated as if they would never learn anything. Conroy was shocked that the students did not know what country they lived in , how to add or read beyond basic sight words. He tried to make the year he taught there special and he tried to show them the bigger world. His unorthodox methods to teach the children were met with anger and resistance at each turn, from the principal to the superintendent of Board of Education. This is a heartbreaking journey with a great deal of heart. “
John is revisiting some earlier work. “Last week, I finished Arcadia by Lauren Groff, who I’m starting to develop a bit of a literary crush on. Many readers will be familiar with Fates and Furies, which was Groff’s breakout best seller. Where ‘Fates’ has some finely honed sharp edges, Arcadia yields to compassion, which is unsurprising given that it is about a boy named Bit growing up in a hippy commune in the 1960s. The commune buckles and falls apart under the weight of a growing population of strung-out newcomers, forcing Bit to emerge into an outside world he is completely unprepared to deal with. This book is simultaneously a gentle critique of and wistful longing for the ‘back to the garden’ movement that infused the early hippy culture with energy and life.”
Babs B has finished up The Bridge Ladies by Betsy Lerner. Here’s what she’s feeling about that. “This is the story of 5 women who have played bridge together every Monday for 50 years. In this absorbing memoir, Betsy Lerner probes marriage, career, motherhood, depression, aging, death, religion and sex. She discovers that, although the Bridge Ladies' generation differs from hers, they share common values of love and kinship. Tentatively at first, teenage Betsy becomes a regular fixture at her Mother's Monday Bridge Club. Before long, she braves the intimidating world of Bridge and falls under its spell. Unexpectedly, the Bridge Ladies and the bridge table became a catalyst for change between Betsy and her Mother as they reconciled years of painful misunderstandings and long silences.”
Steph is here with what made her the most excited in Chicago. “At BEA this year, I had the pleasure of hearing a talk by Katarina Bivald, author of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend. She was so funny that I had to give her book a try. I am about halfway through, and loving it! It’s so sweet and charming—the perfect clever summer read. As if The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry and 84 Charing Cross Road had a baby, and then raised that baby in Sweden. Bivald’s Scandinavian eye captures small-town America at its worst and its best, and all with a great sense of humor. I can tell I’ll have a very long to-read list at the end. This would be just perfect for a book group looking for a light read, or to share with a book-loving friend.”
DJ Jazzy Patty McC is here from That State Up North with the final musings and the Playlist. What’s good Pats? “This Memorial Weekend we will be spending time with our family and taking in a parade. This weekend’s parade is a somber reminder of those who serve and those who’ve lost their lives for our freedom. This weekend, I’ll also be attending a performance art piece by Billy Mark called Wrestle: The Match. Artist, Eno Laget describes it as, “He's gonna do some crazy/wonderful thing on the median on 8 Mile -- til the cops maybe shut him down. Will be crazy/cool and a life affirming assault on race and class divisions. Not to be missed as a Detroit experience challenging the status quo.” Now, how could I pass up an invitation like that?! Hope your weekend includes a parade, glorious weather and plenty of time to ponder the meaning of freedom and its’ cost.”