Have you been to Nebraska in the late nineteenth century and met its German, Czech and Yankee settlers? Willa Cather’s My Antonia, paints the exquisite beauty and loneliness of the landscape, the power of its changing seasons, and the captivating resilience of Great Plains settlers who forged a life there. Have you wondered if you’d be tough enough to leave your warring homeland and begin somewhere else? Read Isabel Allende’s new triumph A Long Petal of the Sea, which chronicles a family fleeing Spain’s Civil War (1939) and making new lives in Chile. Are you curious about the Belgian Congo in the 1950s? (Aren’t we all?) Read Barbara Kingsolver’s The Poisonwood Bible, and when you finish, you may weep that this fine book had to end. Are you seeking a first-hand account of justice gone wrong and forgiveness extended? Read Anthony Hinton’s spellbinding The Sun Does Shine: How I Found Life and Freedom on Death Row -- an eye-popping account of an innocent black man sentenced to death in Alabama, who endured thirty years in prison before lady-justice removed her blindfold.
If you just want some place new to go, and a fresh, funny take on it, try any of Bill Bryson’s travel books: I’m a Stranger Here Myself (Hanover NH), In a Sunburned Country (Australia) or A Walk in the Woods (Appalachian Trail). And, last of all, if you long for Christmas in July, don’t miss Gretchen Anthony’s hysterically funny and touching Evergreen Tidings from the Baumgartners, in which Violet Baumgartner, type-A matriarch from a distinguished family, channels her family’s (mis)adventures through the annual holiday letter. You’ll end up loving her.
This summer, when so much of the news is dark and heavy and worrisome, take time to recharge and restore. Get above it. Read novels. Read poetry and more. And let Langston Hughes be your guide:
So since I’m still here livin’
I guess I will live on.
I could’ve died for love --
But for livin’ I was born.
Though you may hear me holler,
And you may see me cry –
I’ll be dogged, sweet baby,
If you gonna see me die.
Life is fine! Fine as wine! Life is fine!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.