Thursday, August 20, 2009

Southern belles rejoice!

This summer brings new books from two of my favorite southern authors: Pat Conroy and Rebecca Wells.

Pat Conroy's South of Broad just arrived at the library. From what I have heard, you'll want to keep the tissues handy. He wrote Beach Music (one of my all time favorites) and Prince of Tides. The library has this newest title in book form and on CD. There is also an excellent article about Conroy and the city of Charleston in the August Southern Living, one of the many periodicals the library carries.

Rebecca Wells new title is The Crowning Glory of Calla Lily Ponder. (If that is not a southern name, I don't know what is.) Wells is also the author of Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood, available at the library in book and on CD.

So reserve your titles now so you don't have a long wait for these. In the mean time, search for other southern novels under keyword "Women Southern States Fiction." Or you might consider choosing something by Cassandra King (Pat Conroy's wife), or my all time favorite author, Kaye Gibbons (Charms for the Easy Life and Ellen Foster).

Enjoy your southern summer reading.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

When you can't travel, read about traveling

Sometimes when I can't get away, I soothe the travel bug by reading about traveling, or about exotic places, or simply something that puts my head in a different "space."

I read travel guides when I'm planning a trip, and the library has tons of them, but when I don't have a trip planned, I choose another kind of book to escape into - books about places I'd like to go to, or, books about a places I know I'm never going to go to because I'm not brave enough.

Some of the titles below are nonfiction, but many are fiction. These aren't listed by call number or genre - they are just books I enjoyed. These are not the latest titles to come out either - many have been around for awhile. Not all, but some of these, are slightly irreverent. Finally, be aware that I have a high tolerance for fudging the truth when it comes to entertainment - I'm one of those people "who never lets the truth get in the way of a good story." (There is a theatrical term for this type of audience acceptance, but I can't remember what it is called - someone remind me please.)

First some oldies: You may know about Mutant Message Down Under, an interesting spiritual journey as well as a fascinating take on Aborigines in Austrailia. Be prepared, just for fun, to accept the author's reality on this one if you haven't read it.

You may have read the popular Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes (quite different than the movie) and Peter Mayles' A Good Year. If you like this ilk, check out Mayles' Hotel Pastis, a fun novel about opening a hotel in Provence (some day I'm going to try a pastis, a anise-flavored liqueur popular in France) or try Mayes' Bringing Tuscany Home: Sensuous Style from the Heart of Italy if you love beautiful interiors. If you like these titles, you might also like A Thousand Days in Venice: An Unexpected Romance by Marlene de Blasi. It's very romantic - I loved it.

I love books that combine travel (travel in this case is going away from where you usually are) with romance, self-actualization or spiritual growth. A Year by the Sea: Thoughts of an Unfinished Woman by Joan Anderson is such a book, and it has two other elements I like: nature and the sea.

Eat, Pray, Love: One Woman's Search for Everything Across Italy, India & Indonesia by Elizabeth Gilbert is another such book, but it's more adventurous. (Did I mention I like adventure, armchair or otherwise?) I went to India a couple of years ago, so Holy Cow by Sarah MacDonald was a fun read too, although the language, especially in the beginning of the book, may put some people off.

I'm getting long-winded so, except for an occasional aside, I'll just say the following titles are books I've read and enjoyed. While not all are travel books per se, they come under the category of "places I'm not," so they interested or changed me somehow.

My Kind of Place: Travel Stories From a Woman Who's Been Everywhere by Susan Orlean (but I really liked The Orchid Thief better, not a travel story but a true story/adventure about a fascinating character. This was also made into a movie that was very different from the book.)

Educating Alice by Alice Steinbach

The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh

In Beauty May She Walk: Hiking the Appalachian Trail at 60 by Leslie Mass (I'm currently reading this.)

A Woman Alone: Travel Tales from Around the Globe a collection of stories of intrepid women traveling solo. I really loved this book and it's a good way to get a sampling of some wonderful women journalists. The library doesn't own this one, I bought it in an airport, but if you want to buy it at, use this link and the library will get a small donation at no extra cost to you. In fact, you can bookmark this link and use it for anything you buy from Amazon.
Finally, here are some titles on my "To Read" list (would love feedback on any of these):

Life of Pi: A Novel by Yann Martel