The Sunday Salon: Vacation Reading Recap

The Sunday Salon

One of the best things about our vacation spot is that there is precious little to do. We’re a pretty sedentary family to begin with, so this generally suits us just fine. We have the beach within a block’s walking distance. The Ocean City, NJ boardwalk is a short drive away, and we usually hit the rides and attractions once during our week-long stay. We go out to breakfast every morning, and most evenings, we go out to dinner.

Our entertainment, then, usually consists of a lot of reading – and that’s the way we like it.

I wound up reading 6 books this week. I know … six!  It would have been even better if those half-dozen tomes came from the very heavy bag I packed, but alas, only one made the final cut. (What can I say? Even with my Kindle and its almost 1,200 titles, I still must have a plentiful supply of printed books at the ready.)

Hope for a Sea ChangeI started out with Hope for a Sea Change, by my friend and fellow blogger Elizabeth Aquino. This memoir, about Elizabeth’s daughter Sophie and the early days of her epilepsy diagnosis, was just published by Shebooks. (You know how much I love Shebooks.)  Hope for a Sea Change took my breath away with its honesty – which is exactly what I expected, because that’s what Elizabeth’s blog does. I will have a longer review of this soon.

Next was Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands, the newest novel by Chris Bohjalian. I can’t say much about this right now because I’m reviewing it for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, but I will say that this is a novel that is likely to stay with me for quite some time.

Handling the TruthAs I wrote in yesterday’s blog post, inspiration struck in the form of a possible memoir – and at that moment, the book I absolutely needed to read was Beth Kephart’s Handling the Truth: On the Writing of Memoir. Problem was, my copy was nearly 500 miles away back in Pittsburgh … so I downloaded it on Amazon. (Of course I did.)

Everyone who has read this has commented on how this is a book to underline in and to use as a reference; they are absolutely right on both points. In the very, very beginning stages of this story, this was incredible helpful and inspiring as a foundation. I’ll be turning to this one often.

There’s a little library on the island where we vacation, and we usually stop in at least once. They have a nice selection of local-to-the-area books, so I checked out – and read – Place Names of the Jersey Shore: Why Did They Name It That?, by Lee Ireland. I was curious about the names of two towns and I wound up reading this entire dictionary-like book because it was so interesting. I also checked out The Poets of New Jersey: From Colonial to Contemporary, edited by Emanuel di Pasquale and Frank Finale.

Still on a poetry kick, I read Averno by Louise Gluck. Averno is a crater in southern Italy that was regarded by the ancient Romans as the entrance to the underworld. Gluck uses that as her theme for this collection, which draws upon mythology. It’s an intriguing premise, but most of the poems didn’t quite grab me.

With this, my summer reading is starting off in good shape. The problem is, I haven’t read too many of the planned books that were on that list but here’s the other good thing: … officially, summer has just started!


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