For the past several months, I have been compiling a list of some of my best-loved beach reads to share on this blog. My entire life, I have surrounded myself with books; adventure stories, love stories, biographies, war stories, classics, poetry, history - cannot imagine a life without the many rich layers of literature. Whenever I have needed another perspective outside of my little town, there was always a story to be read about another part of the world, another part of the country, about someone else's struggle and triumphs, someone that was a different color than me, someone that had a completely different life from my own....
I discovered Rosamunde Pilcher's books many years ago when my children were small and my life was incredibly stressful. I worked full-time, and had these little bodies to take care of - I am not sure that I even slept during those years! I do remember these books though. When the Allison and Alex would finally fall asleep, I would then find some Earl Grey, make a nice steaming cup of tea with honey toast. Snuggling up in the covers reading about Wales, Scotland, Ireland and Cornwall., I was a very happy girl Could escape for a few hours into the British Isle moors full of lilac-colored heather, could smell and feel the cold beaches of the Atlantic Sea... ah, a few minutes of peace.
The Short List - (keep in mind, these are not new books!)
- published 1988. Read this entire book on my way to meet my ex-husband in Amsterdam. Very good friend for a very long plane flight. (was a tv movie too, I believe)
Snow in April
Wild Mountain Thyme
If you have never read The Secret Garden,
this is also a MUST read. I think when I read this at age 8 is probably when I started my love affair Scotland and the cold, lonely, windy moors. It's also one of the first books that my grandmother Thea introduced to me. The next series of books that she started me on was the Anne of Green Gables
books - my project for the summer is to re-read these fabulous stories! Better find the library here in California though, because my books are packed someplace in Washington.
Snow Falling on Cedars,
and most recently Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet,
(different authors) exposed my cloistered small town life to prejudice and hate within my own community home of the Puget Sound. Both stories deal with society's shortcomings, misunderstandings, love and with the Japanese Internment Camps in Washington and around the West Coast. I had such an idyllic childhood in the 70's, and had NO idea of this history of Seattle area in the 1940's.
Cutting for Stone
Not sure where to start with this novel, or how to accurately describe the impact that this story had on me. The story takes you from India, to Ethiopia, to the United States and back to Ethiopia. I am so lucky to have Suzanne for a friend, as she owns an Independent Bookstore in Poulsbo, and I have been fortunate to have read many many books before they ever hit the regular bookshelves. This was one of them, and this was one of my favorites from last summer. I know NOTHING about Ethiopia, and read this to have an insight into another part of the world, ended up on an tangled emotional journey and mystery between twin brothers. All with the strife in Ethiopia in the background...
Velva Jean Learns to Drive
This was another book that I pulled out of the stack of galleys about a young girl growing up in the Appalachian Mountains before World War II. She was wonderful! Again, I had a chance to read about another part of our big country that I have never seen - while reading this, you can taste the clear water in the brooks, you can feel the earth between Velva Jean's toes as she runs through the life-giving lush forests. She has big dreams, and gets a little sidetracked by a charismatic preacher - I believe she really does love him, but also wants more,struggles with wanting more (gee, I get that!), before she straps on her shoes, and turns the truck ignition key to go to find her real voice.
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society
My daughter bought this wonderful book for me for Christmas this year. Once I started it, I could not put it down. I confess, I sat in a barca-lounger at our beach cottage on the Oregon Coast, in my leopard PJ's - sun streaming through the windows, and read the entire story in one day. Once again, was reminded of how ignorant I really am - I didn't know the history of the Guernsey Islands, had no idea that they even existed. During WWII, these islands were occupied by the Germans starting in 1940, and were completely cut-off from the outside world. The novel is a series of letters and tells the story of the survival of the islanders in such a fresh new way, completely unlike anything I have ever read. Romantic, endearing, eccentric characters...cannot recommend it highly enough!
I love this story of the Endurance and Shackleton's crew in the Antarctic. Amazing adventure story - all true. Incredible photography and so well researched. Any time I am feeling a little down, I just think of this crew, how WITHOUT Gortex, or any other modern cold-weather gear, they survived and thrived after getting their ship stuck in the ice. Sort of a weird present for me one Christmas, but one book that is always on my bookshelf.
Well, that's a few to get your started on your reading list for this summer! More to follow this week - including some of my recommended Interior Design Books.