Monday, June 29, 2015

Back to the Beach--and more good reading!



Beach-goers of the meditative sort, and some who are not so much thoughtful as seeking entertainment, eagerly shove paperbacks into their gear this time of year. No doubt, they're taking advantage of free time to catch up on intended or suggested reads. Some are reading to find good choices for next fall's meetings. Regardless of reason, here is a knapsack full of fun.
First off, I've found a couple good writers based in Nantucket. These island residents write—a lot—and specialize in the women's fiction genre, which includes emotions and relationships immersed in a character-rich plot. Nancy Thayer and Erin Hilderbrand are both popular, best-selling authors. Their books entertain, and also give those unfamiliar with this vacation spot a glimpse of island life and places (that may actually exist) to visit.
Thayer recently released "The Guest Cottage," in which two single parents accidentally co-rent a Nantucket house. One is a widower and the other has been brutally dumped by her philandering husband. Amid competing outside temptations, they mend their broken lives. It's well written, and the children's confusion—as they deal with grief and separation—complements the main theme. As the author of 23 novels and a variety of short stories published in "Redbook" magazine, Thayer is no stranger to family themes and the strong emotions associated with love and loss. It's quick, enjoyable fare.
I read two of Hilderbrand's books: "Summerland" and "The Matchmaker." Both were fun, but I particularly enjoyed the latter, in which the action is juxtaposed with comments from characters whose lives were changed by the protagonist's matchmaking. She senses a good match, but is unable to trust her instincts when it comes to making her own romantic choices. Hilderbrand was at a Worcester reading with Hank Phillippi Ryan during May.
I don't know this writer, but you may want to check out Cynthia Riggs' mysteries, set on Martha's Vineyard. She's an island native who has written multiple mysteries about a 92-year-old amateur detective. That's different! Her new books include "Murder on C-Dock" and "Poison Ivy." There are, of course, many more authors who reside or summer on the Cape and islands, so ask at local bookstores when you arrive. That's a good idea regardless of where you find yourself this summer.
Next, a few authors sent in additional suggestions to the summer reads we published last month. A good idea is welcome, so ...
"Here are three," said Chris Bohjalian (his newest is 'Close Your Eyes, Hold Hands'). "I was riveted by Jill Alexander Essbaum’s novel, 'Hausfrau,' a re-imagining of 'Anna Karenina' set in Zurich in the present. It is poignant, exquisitely written, and (yes) incredibly hot. (And I mean hot in a good way, not in a Paris Hilton sort of way.) I savored Nick Hornby’s 'Funny Girl,' a novel set in the world of British TV in the 1960s. It helped me endure the fact I know longer have 'Mad Men' to feed my 1960s addiction. And I will never look at Scientology quite the same way again after Lawrence Wright’s 'Going Clear,' his history of L. Ron Hubbard and the organization he founded in the 1950s."
Daniel Bruce Brown of Westborough ("Roll Over Hitler," "The Fifth Season") says, "I’d certainly recommend anything by Kurt Vonnegut. 'Bluebeard' and 'Galapagos' in particular."
Dave Ellis, president of the Brande Foundation and an educator and leadership professional, is the author of "Becoming a Master Student," "Falling Awake," "Creating Your Future" and several other educational and leadership-oriented books. "I just read three books in a row by the same author," he said. "I have never done that. I was captivated by his style and the stories. His name is Glenn Cooper. I read: 'The Keeper of the Library,' 'The Tenth Chamber,' and 'Library of the Dead.' I also enjoyed 'The Circle' and 'Zeitoun' by Dave Eggers."
Thanks, guys.
A Quick note
Matthew Quick, formerly of Holden but now living in North Carolina, has published a sixth novel. HarperCollins released his newest, "Love May Fail," in mid-June. Quick is the author of "The Silver Linings Playbook." Based on the description, intertwining a noble quest with a cast of very strange characters, I'm expecting a pretty good read. (See June 14 Telegram & Gazette for an interview with Quick.)
Gerritsen launches War on Alzheimer's
Writer-physician Tess Gerritsen has started an effort to further research on the illness which took her father's life. Her campaign is at www.gofundme.com/WOA-2015. Since her fictional Rizzoli & Isles have made it big on a television show of the same name, she's offering two winning contributors at that site a chance to name characters in her next R&I novel, being released in 2016. “Watching my father lose his identity as he struggled with Alzheimer’s is the most devastating experience our family has been through,” said Gerritsen, author of "The Mephisto Club," "Vanish," "The Bone Garden," "Gravity" and multiple other novels. 
Book groups
While this is primarily a column for adult readers, it's worth mentioning that there are children's clubs that continue to pierce the iPad shell and attract young readers. Renee Cormier Wheeler, children's librarian at Leominster Public Library (and daughter of the late novelist Robert Cormier) typically sees 10-12 children at the clubs for boys 8-12 and one for girls 10-13. Upcoming meetings for July: girls, June 30, July 14 and July 28; boys, July 14 and Aug. 18. Wheeler selects books from a range of age-related literature. For details, contact rwheeler@cwmars.org or call 978-534-7522, ext. 4.
Eben Chesebrough of the Douglas Library group reports steady numbers throughout the summer: "Last night, we had 11, a good number for us."  On July 14 at 6:30 p.m., the group will discuss "Riding the Bus With my Sister" by Rachel Simon, the updated story of a girl with Down Syndrome who rides the bus daily and asks her sister to join her for a year.
The NOW Women's Issues Book Group has slated "Traveling With Pomegranates: A Mother-Daughter Story" by Sue Monk Kidd ("The Secret Life of Bees") and Ann Kidd Taylor, for its July 13 meeting. They travel in Greece, Turkey and France—a journey of loss and return, delving into the experiences behind Kidd's books.
The Friday Morning Book Club at Northborough Public Library will discuss contemporary fiction, "The Wedding Letters" by Jason F. Wright, at its July 10 meeting.
The Worcester Public Library book club, Pages and Palates,  will discuss singer-songwriter Patti Smith's "Just Kids" on Wednesday, July 8, from 3 to 4 p.m. and again on Saturday, July 11, from 2:30 to 3:30. Smith's "M Train" won the National Book Award. (The library is  hosting reading-related free events daily at the main library and branches through Aug. 14 for children, teens and adults.
Carl Hiaasen's "Skinny Dip" is the choice for Crawford Library, Dudley, where members will meet July 2 at 6 p.m. to discuss this comedic mystery. Up for August will be Wally Lamb's "We Are Water."
At Merrick Public Library, Brookfield, author Ed Londergan will conduct a free creative writing workshop from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, July 18. Anyone may attend. Banister Book Group meets at 7 p.m., July 28, to discuss "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" by Mark Twain.
In Gardner, members will discuss Sue Monk Kidd's "The Invention of Wings" at 4:30 p.m., July 29.
The New Earth Book Club has switched focus to a new topic: individuality in the complex world around us. They read "The World Beyond Your Head: On Becoming an Individual in an Age of Distraction" by Matthew B. Crawford and "All My Friends are Superheroes" by Andrew Kaufman in June. Organizer Celine Livingston says anyone interested in attending should email livsbookjourney@gmail.com.
The group at Gale Free Library in Holden is reading "Big Little Lies" by Liane Moriarty. A meeting is set for 10:30 a.m., July 7.
Thayer Memorial Library's evening book group meets July 28 to discuss Franz Kafka's "The Trial." The group rotates between fiction and nonfiction. Contact Karen Silverthorn at ksilverthorn@cwmars.org.
Lisa Perry says Sterling's library book club will discuss "We Were Liars" by E. Lockhart on Thursday, July 23, at 6:30 p.m. in the Baker Roomy.
Grafton Public Library's "Not Just for Young Adults" Book Group (18 and over) meets the second Monday of each month with facilitator Heidi Fowler. July's selection is "V is for Villain" by Peter Moore. The library has multiple groups, for fans of mystery, inspirational books, and general literature. See www.graftonlibrary.org.
Send your ideas and book group plans to ann.frantz@gmail.com. See www.readitandreeap.blogspot.com for more book news.

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