Welcome summer! School is officially out! I am looking forward to a slower, less scheduled pace with my family. We have some family adventures planned, camp drop-offs and pick-ups in North Carolina, and many dance intensives. I am also excited for time to read and write. It is a family tradition (and end of school treat) to visit Parnassus Books in Nashville to pick out our summer reading. Nothing gives me more pleasure and relief than to lose myself in a story. I have complied a list of books that I have recently enjoyed or I will pack in my suitcase! Please gift me with some of your summer reading picks! Bread and Honey is taking off for the Summer! See you soon!
On a recent visit to Sewanee, the campus bookstore chose this Young Adult novel to highlight on the front table. It is billed as historical fiction with a pinch of greek mythology. Clever how the World War I saga is narrated by Aphrodite, Ares, Hades and Hephaestus. The book centers on four young people whose path’s cross during WWI– British Hazel Windicott, a pianist, and James Alderidge, a would-be architect shipped off to war, Colette Fournier, a Belgian singer who lost her family at the hands of the Germans, and Aubrey Edwards, a black American solider in a jazz military band in a time of military prejudice and racial discrimination. The premise of the book is which is stronger—Love or War? I am betting on Aphrodite for the win!
I keep returning to WWII historical fiction, especially stories set in occupied France. The Postmistress of Paris is inspired by the real life Chicago heiress Mary Jayne Gold, who worked closely with the American journalist, Varian Fry to smuggle artists and intellectuals out of France. A little more quirky, but just as entertaining was The Perfume Thief by Timothy Schaffert.
Vanderbilt Divinity School gifted graduates with this treasure. I plan to read it again. Frederick Buechner is a spiritual luminary for me. In this topsy-turvy, unpredictable world, we need reminders to keep looking for the sacred in the ordinary!
I have read everything Shauna writes! I especially loved Cold Tangerines, Present Over Perfect, and Bread and Wine. Her recent memoir is a personal accounting of how to navigate disappointment and loss and still find the wondrous, the redemptive, the beautiful.
I had the pleasure of hearing Arthur Brooks speak at a Trinity Forum event this spring. He is a professor of happiness at Harvard Business School. From Strength to Strength gets to the bottom of how to live a life of meaning, consequence and joy.
My friend Laura just gifted me with three books set in France! She is trying to inspire me to write another novel like Alma Gloria and the Olive Tree! French Dirt is a story about a man who moves to Provence and falls in love, not with a French woman, but a provencal garden. It’s about plowing, planting, watering, and tending. It’s about cabbage, tomatoes, parsley, and eggplant. Most of all, it’s about the growing friendship between an American outsider and a close-knit community of French farmers. I am told if you loved Mayle’s, A Year in Provence, you’ll love this one!
Lunch in Paris is a memoir about an American woman who goes to Paris and falls in love with a Frenchman and French cuisine. I am excited to read this one as it take me back to twenty years ago, recently married, and living in Paris! Bard takes you to the markets, the bistros, museums, and gardens of Paris!
My friend Susan just recommended this one to me. Following is a stellar review:
In The Dearly Beloved, the author reminds us of “the power of the novel in its simplest, richest form: bearing intimate witness to human beings grappling with their faith and falling in love.” The novel follows two couples through decades of love and friendship, jealousy and understanding, forgiveness and commitment. Against the backdrop of turbulent changes facing the city and the church’s congregation, Wall offers a poignant meditation on faith and reason, marriage and children, and the ways we find meaning in our lives. The Dearly Beloved is a gorgeous, wise, and provocative novel that is destined to become a classic.”
This was a top pick for Read with Jenna!
Isabelle Allende is one of my favorites! She is the Queen of magical realism. From the very first sentence she draws you in to the South American ethos of deep love, regular tragedy, and glimmers of magic. She is a master storyteller!
I promise this book will touch you in a deep way, the kind of way that inspires you to make meaningful changes in your life and embrace the present moment with more joy and gratitude. I have given this book to my family, friends and all my teacher gifts! I have read it cover to cover three times.