Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Sunday Salon: Books by the Beach

I'm playing catch up with the Salon this week, since we were away last Sunday. It was our 18th wedding anniversary (how is that possible?!) and we spent a glorious weekend with the kids at my aunt and uncle's beach house to celebrate.

Even though this was somewhat of an impromptu trip, I still had the dilemma and indecision of which books to bring along.  (Never mind the fact that I have 433 books downloaded on my Kindle, which was obviously coming along but just not to the actual beach.) 

I need not have worried about that, because as luck would have it, the little library by the sea in this tiny shore town (separate post to come on that) was having a Summer Book Sale!  Whereas I practically jumped out of the car as we passed by the sign, I think The Husband was hoping I'd be rendered temporarily illiterate. The kids and I caught the sale on one of its last days, but I still managed to fill a bag for $2 with these gems:

Not pictured is one that I purchased for The Husband, When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by David Maraniss. (He's reading it outside as I type, accompanied by a Father's Day cigar.) None of these made it out of the bag (or the car, for that matter) as I had selected Dangerous Neighbors by my friend Beth Kephart for my beach read. 

This was an ARC (advance reader's copy) that I had purchased from another book sale, which was perfect because my copy of Dangerous Neighbors is a) signed and signed books don't go to the beach and b) packed away, in preparation for our move.  (This also means that, for my review, I'm going to be a bad blogger and break all the rules by referring to the ARC version. So be it.) 

I really liked Dangerous Neighbors.  As with Beth's other books I've read (House of Dance, Nothing But Ghosts), it is set in my hometown of Philadelphia.  This one, moreso than the other two, is a love story to our city of brotherly (or sisterly, as the case may be here) love.  And, I loved that part of it was set in Cape May, a shore town that I adore and which was (and still is, of course) only a stone's throw from where I sat reading.  

Back to the little library by the sea for a minute.  (It's such a wonderful place.)  We borrowed my aunt's library card and one of the books I checked out (and devoured in one sitting) was the incredible I Was Amelia Earhart by Jane Mendelsohn.  Holy cow, people ... I'm telling you, this one just blew me away. The writing in this one! Spectacular.  

In her debut novel, Mendelsohn takes her reader into the mind of pilot Amelia Earhart after her plane crashes and imagines what happened afterwards.  It's brilliantly done.  It's going to be one of my favorite reads of 2011. I have Beth Kephart to thank for introducing me to the works of Jane Mendelsohn, for it was her review of American Music that made me pick that one up (and select that as one of my favorite books of 2010).  I wasn't crazy about Mendelsohn's Innocence, but this one has solidified her place as one of my favorite writers. 

So, that was last week.  Two fabulous books read from start to finish on a 3 day vacation, along with a decent portion of the Summer Fiction Issue of "The New Yorker" on my Kindle. (And might I add that I am loving having a Kindle subscription to this? It is perfect for reading in short increments of time.)

Upon returning home, I finished Reading Jackie: Her Autobiography in Books by William Kuhn. He connects the books Jackie edited to significant instances, events, and people in her life; in doing so, he presents his view that the books serve as a window into her thoughts and feelings while giving us a glimpse into the woman Jackie really was - the woman behind the two marriages to famous, powerful men.  Some of the discussion about the actual books and conception and production thereof struck me as a little dry (I admit that I skimmed over some of those parts).

I'll have more to say about this in my review (I have Jackie as Editor out from the library so am hoping to review both of them together) but for the most part I found this to be interesting.

Last night I finished Click: The Magic of Instant Connections by Ori Brafman and Rom Brafman.  This is a short, fairly fast read about the psychology behind feeling an immediate, powerful connection to someone - or when we are in the state of flow (as described by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi) with a project or hobby.

We can all probably think of a time when we "clicked" right away with someone, be that a significant other or a work colleague. These connections are ones that I always thought to be more serendipitious than scientific, but the Brafmans show that there are several psychological factors at play. There are some work implications with this, too, which is making me look at the business of fundraising in a slightly different way.

On Friday, Boo and I spent the day with my mom.  We went to their pool in the morning, where I continued reading the Summer Fiction Issue.  I only got through George Saunders's story "Home," but wow ... what a fabulous piece of writing. 

This is one of the best short stories I've ever read. Again, it's the writing (particularly, the dialogue) that makes this one shine.  I loved it, and now I am going to want to seek out more of George Saunders's work.  If his other stories are even half as good as "Home," then I know I will be in for a treat. 

As for today? It's Father's Day, and while this is always kind of a bittersweet day (my dad died when I was 15), it's a day to celebrate the wonderful father that The Husband is. We don't have any grandiose plans (The Husband and Boo are probably getting haircuts; I'll make The Husband's favorite dinner, baked ziti).

Hope you're having a great Sunday - and to all the dads out there, Happy Father's Day!

copyright 2011, Melissa, The Betty and Boo Chronicles If you are reading this on a blog or website other than The Betty and Boo Chronicles or via a feedreader, this content has been stolen and used without permission.

5 comments: said...

I'm sorry I'm still stuck back on the 433 books downloaded on your Kindle. Crikey! I have a Nook and have about 20 or so...if I'm lucky, even including the free ones. How did you manage that? :)

Melissa said...

Oh, unfinishedperson ... you must not suffer from the same addiction to Books on the Knob that I have. :)

Booksnyc said...

sounds like you had a lovely weekend. Your line about leaping out of the car at the sigh of the library sale made me laugh out loud!

Michelle said...

Happy anniversary, Melissa! We celebrated our 14th wedding anniversary last Monday (the 13th). The years fly by so quickly!

stacybuckeye said...

I LOVED I Was Amelia Earhart when I read it years ago.
Your books is going in the mail tomorrow. Sorry I'm so late!