books

Summer Reading

summer-education

Guys, summer is here! Since second-grade when Sister Yvonne Therese threw down the gauntlet with a summer reading challenge, I have been all in on summer reading. To be honest, I’m all about reading all year long. There is no such thing as no time to read in my book (see what I did there, hehe) and summer is especially sweet to me when it comes to reading time because there are so many more places to read in the warmer months and with school in the rearview mirror, it’s a more relaxing family time too. Outdoors is probably my favorite place to read this time of year. The hammock. The park on a blanket. A covered porch. The beach.

Speaking of the beach, on Friday we leave for Dewey Beach, our family summertime getaway for the last eight or so years (minus last year when we mistakenly went to Florida instead). I usually clock in about 4 or 5 books during the week and it is pure heaven. One year it rained most of the week and it didn’t matter much to me because I was able to sit on the porch outside our unit and visit other worlds while still having the beach in my sightline. I also love being under a covered porch during a rainstorm, book in hand. That year, the place we rented was stocked full of books and there’s nothing better than finding a great book from someone else’s library.

I spend a lot of time in the weeks preceding vacation culling my books to bring. Much of it is also dependent on the library as most of my books come in hardcover or electronic form based on what I have on hold. I had been anxiously awaiting the new book by B.A. Paris and was hopeful it would be coming with me to the beach but since it only came out last Tuesday, I was pretty sure I wouldn’t get it. I got a notification on Wednesday it was waiting at the library and I didn’t know whether I should collect it right away or wait until we were close to leaving for vacation. I don’t have much willpower when it comes to books I want to read and so I collected it Friday and finished it over the weekend.

My vacation list so far: Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bordain, The Alice Network by Kate Quinn and I will likely pick up something at Browseabout Books in Rehoboth (probably Less by Andrew Sean Greer – 2018 Pulitzer winner).  The rest of the list will depend on what comes up on my hold list. Elin Hilderbrand’s The Perfect Couple or All We Ever Wanted by Emily Giffin are my top hopefuls. My super secret trick is to request the large print edition which comes quicker and is actually more comfortable for me to read these days since I need readers most of the time.

I also have a few books loaded on my Kindle: There There by Tommy Orange, The Goldfinch and The Secret History by Donna Tartt and I’m currently reading Ruth Ware’s The Death of Mrs. Westaway which I want to read in every spare minute so I’m pretty sure it won’t be making the trip with me. I know all this makes for a very big reading goal for the week and I’ve already received a comment from Liam about how all I do on vacation is read. I will have to be cognizant of spending time with the family too!

If you are looking for something good to read during your summer vacation, here are a few from my already read pile that I highly recommend.

Sometimes I Lie by Alice Feeney (psychological thriller). I rarely give a book 5 of 5 stars but this one got them. A woman is in a coma and we go back to the events that preceded it. A page-turner with lots of twists!

The Girlfriend by Michelle Frances (psychological thriller). You are probably seeing a pattern here and this also gets 5 of 5 stars. It’s set in London which is one of my favorite settings for a novel. This is about a mom and her son’s girlfriend and has a bunch of twists.

The Wife by Alafair Burke (psychological thriller). 5 of 5 stars. I loved this book so much that I checked out two of Alafair’s earlier book from the library and may tuck them in my beach bag next week. The wife of a well regarded and bestselling economics professor has a secret past and one event snowballs into a big scandal for their family.

The Wedding Date by Jasmine Guillory (romance). Jasmine’s writing is wonderful. This was a well-done story of a best man who needs a date for the wedding of his best friend and ex-girlfriend. I wanted this story to go on and on. Another 5 of 5 stars!

Before We Were Yours by Lisa Wingate (current and historical fiction set in Memphis). I loved this story which was ripped from the headlines of the 1940’s about an orphanage where kids were stolen and sold off to wealthy families. 5 of 5 stars.

The Flower Arrangement by Ella Griffin (romance/fiction). I may have written about this one before because it was my favorite book of 2017. I loved the characters and the setting and how they were all intertwined in Lara’s flower shop, Blossom & Grow.

Happy Reading!

MC

 

 

 

 

 

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Life

Kate Spade

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The death of Kate Spade, only a few days old, has hit me hard for reasons that are hard to explain. I have read story after story, all the same version with very few details and I’m trying to make sense of it all. I do not own a Kate Spade bag, nor any high-quality statement bags save for a heavily discounted Coach bag purchased at an outlet because I can’t pull the trigger on anything over $100. I am all for clothes and shoes but for some reason cannot make the leap for an expensive purse.

I think what bothers me about this death as with all suicides is that the person did not see better days ahead. Could not comprehend in that moment or in the vastly larger blocks of time of their depression – days, weeks, months, years – that things would eventually change and make living bearable. Life is hard and we don’t always know in what ways for the people who walk among us. Some of us cannot comprehend a life that is so bad it is not worth living anymore. We think of them as selfish or weak. I do not.

Like most others, I experience those times when I’d rather not live either. Life can be HARD. I too have experienced many bad days on end where it seems like it would just make sense to pack it all in. Just drift into the nothingness of death so as not to have to deal with the hard stuff. Thankfully, these are fleeting thoughts because I remind myself that whatever it is, this too will pass. I also don’t have the guts to formulate and follow through with an actual plan. There is also the fact that my brother took his own life when he was 21 and I was 19. I saw the devastating results of suicide first hand and I couldn’t do that to someone else. Instead, I chose to seek help from a professional when necessary.

It doesn’t really matter what the backstory was for Kate. She was in so much pain that she couldn’t live anymore. Mental health holds a stigma as does addiction and these are a deadly combo when left untreated. My heart goes out to her family, for their long road ahead and the public scrutiny this death seems to demand. For many years I chose anger and denial in dealing with my brother’s death. I also succumbed to addiction as one of the byproducts. I had to forgive him and myself and even though it has been a hard road, I am better for my trip down it.

There was also a time when I was passionately involved in suicide prevention. I anonymously answered phone calls, often late into the night when the other person would cry or lash out or simply hang on the line in silence. Do suicide prevention hotlines work? Do people use them? I never felt adequate enough when I was on the other end of the line. Their voices and hopelessness stayed with me through the next few days as I went about life. Eventually, I couldn’t do it anymore for my own mental health. I wish I had answers but I don’t.

If you think you are out of options with nowhere to turn, please reach out. The National Suicide Prevention hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

RIP Kate Spade.

MC

Life

The Office

Yesterday I sat in my half-completed office, the new floor tiled and clean. Empty of all but the relics of construction detritus. I pulled a chair in from the nearby deck and just sat and envisioned the room as I see it Friday afternoon which I’m pretty sure will be the day it’s all put back together. I cannot tell you how good this feels after nearly six weeks of slow progress. There is still so much more but for now, this is everything.

For the past 15 years I have been in our house, this is the only room that remained untouched, bearing the scars of wallpaper hung sometime in the 90’s. The furniture is mish-mash and the room has served as a dumping ground for all things brought into the house – bookbags, ski paraphernalia, lacrosse gear, stuff we didn’t know what else to do with. I have tried to organize it and make it nice but it rarely looks better than a forgotten space. We decided a couple of years ago to finally redo the room we could never quite bring ourselves to call “the office”. Wainscotting was purchased in a moment of optimism but has languished in the basement for two years. One vision had us adding a fireplace but we found the cost, done right, was exorbitant for the size of the room and the use we’d get out of it.

Currently, it serves as a mudroom, office, dog feeding station, maildrop, command center, quiet reading area, shoe repository, recycling center and holder of random household things. I have my work cut out to change its image among our household members as a more refined place, a place of respect that deserves better than our cast-off coats and shoes. Our contractor caught me sizing up an area of the room yesterday and mistook it for displeasure in the work they’d done. Really, I was deep in thought about how to make this room really sing and work for us and I quickly assured him that wasn’t the case.

I have an old, old glassed-door (ugly green lining hides the contents) bookcase that has served as a centerpiece for organizing the room and it was a hand me down from my grandfather’s office of the 1950’s. When I was a child I  used it to house my library of books and I was our household’s self-appointed librarian and even put library card slots in all the books. I had a small table that served as the checkout desk. I’ve been thinking of letting the piece go because it doesn’t fit my new decor scheme, but I’m definitely struggling with this.

There is also the light colored desk that was a hand me down from an aunt and has a black leather top and old-fashioned drawer nobs. There is a sturdy, dark wood bookcase. The comfortable love seat was a new addition last year. None of it matches or looks right in that bespoke way of homes filled with old treasures that don’t match. I still have work to do in the envisioning of it as a whole. I’m just happy to be a little closer to that day.