Take a BREATH with BOOKS

orchid, vase, flowers, blogLet’s start with the Pretty Things of the past year. In January and February, most of us saw no Signs of what was to become. In fact, as 2020 began I hoped that love and kindness would become The Signature of All Things

February found me believing that I was at Such a Fun Age. I became The Sun Sister, jumping in the ocean with the humpback whales on The (Hawaiian) Island, staring in awe at The Starless Sea as my guy and I hiked cliffs and beaches. The near future was Hid from Our Eyes. Continue reading


reading, lounge chair, ocean viewWhat’s the difference between a summer read and a winter read? A “beach book” and a “book to snuggle up during a snowstorm”?


A good read is just as good a read while sitting on your comfy chair in front of the fireplace as on your sandy lounge chair in front of the ocean.

But I thought I’d share what books have kept me company during this too-short summer season while I’ve squeezed myself in a steel tube flying from one coast to another; while I’ve been surrounded by boxes of packed kitchenware and towels during a move; when I sat on a rusty ancient beach chair with the Atlantic Ocean waves soothing my sunburned skin; and while resting in bed, lights turned low, muscles going limp after a hard day’s night.

STATE OF WONDER, by Ann Patchettbugs, insect, State of Wonder, Amazon

Every Patchett book delights me in its authenticity, range of characters, and thought-provoking scenes. Despite slapping myself constantly because of (unseen but well-imagined) mysterious enormous insects (you’ll understand by page 100), I loved every inch of this amazing Amazonian book.

A Discovery of Witches, Deborah Harkness, good readA DISCOVERY OF WITCHES, by Deborah Harkness

I ignored several good reviews of this book because one of the characters is a vampire, and I am tired of vampires invading the bookseller’s list. Enough already. But my daughter (who’s prone to read scientific non-fiction tomes) gave me her copy and suggested this is more than a vampire story. I got sucked in immediately (whoops, couldn’t help myself). As the reviewer for PhiloBiblos remarks, “Pure literary brain candy, but … it’s very well written and chock-full of fascinating bits from Harness’s research.” Now I can’t wait to read the sequel.

THE WEIRD SISTERS, by Eleanor BrownConcord, bookstore, books, Concord Bookshop

A friend’s friend’s mother recommended this book so highly that I bought the paperback less than 24 hours later at one of my favorite independent bookstores – the Concord Bookshop in Concord, MA. Three grown-up sisters discover themselves, and each other, when moving back home with their aging parents. Many wonderful Shakespearean references abound (after all, in Shakespeare’s time, to be weird was to be prophetic). Author Brown explains, “The fact that (the sisters) were named after … famous Shakespearean heroines contributes to their feelings of failure. They are never going to be as glamorous and romantic and well-spoken as the women after whom they are named, but their problems are very much their own.”

The Last Time I Saw You, Elizabeth Berg, bookTHE LAST TIME I SAW YOU, by Elizabeth Berg

I’ve never read an Elizabeth Berg book I didn’t like (and she’s written a dozen). Berg delves into a woman’s soul like a woman delves into a deep dish of ice cream: passionately and to the last drop. In this Berg book, longtime friends attend their 40th high school reunion. Harsh, painful, funny, eye-opening: these words describe the book, as well as the reunion. I think the Seattle Times reviewer got it right: “Maybe Freud didn’t know the answer to what women want, but Elizabeth Berg certainly does.”

A TRICKLE OF LIGHT, by Louise PennyWhite Birch Books, books, New Hampshire bookstore

Several years ago my man and I stumbled upon an amazing independent bookstore in North Conway, NH, called White Birch Books. Even though I live on the other side of the country now, I still read this bookstore’s monthly e-newsletter because the staff has been so good at introducing me to new authors, like Canadian Louise Penny. I began with her first mystery, Still Life, set in a fictitious Canadian village south of Montreal, and I’ve been hooked ever since. A Trick of the Light is Penny’s latest, in which the A Trick of the Light, Louise Penny, mystery, bookwise and wonderful Chief Inspector Gamache (a truth-seeker in more ways than one) searches for clues after an art-inspired murder in the deceivingly sweet town of Three Twins. I agree with the Booklist comment: “Penny has been compared to Agatha Christie [but] it sells her short. Her characters are too rich, her grasp of nuance and human psychology too firm….”

I could continue with more good reads, but now it’s your turn.

What Summer Read do YOU recommend?