Friday, May 25, 2012

Summer Reading For You


Summer reading.  I know it’s at the top of your priorities right now as you settle into that pool recliner on Memorial Day.  To make it easier for you, I’m offering a list of the many wonderful memoirs produced by the immensely talented presenters at my nonfiction writing conference sponsored by River Teeth magazine.  I vouch for the poetic language and unforgettable characters in all of them.

Ana Maria Spagna
 -- Potluck: Community on the Edge of Wilderness The Washington state community in which she lives is so remote that it takes four hours by boat and six hours by car before she even reaches somewhere that she can board a plane.  But in the simple coming together of American potluck suppers she gives an honest portrait of the difficulties and rewards of living with others in a small, isolated world.
-- Test Ride On The Sunnyland Bus: A Daughter’s Civil Rights Journey  Because her father died when she was young, Ana never knew that her father had been arrested for a bus protest in Florida during the height of the Civil Rights Movement.  His case went all the way to the Supreme Court.  She begins her search for the other original remaining riders to learn the truth of conflicting stories at the same time she begins caring for a mother diagnosed with terminal cancer.  This book is the winner of the 2009 River Teeth Literary Nonfiction Contest.

Hope Edelman
-- Author of Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, Hope wrote the memoir The Possibility of Everything about a time when, in the midst of many kinds of upheavals in her life, her 3-year old daughter started exhibiting extremely strange and disturbing behavior.  With few effective treatments left to her and her husband, they take a leap of faith and head to the jungles of Belize seeking an alternative cure with a healer. Of course, what they discovered in that jungle applied to more than their daughter.

Walt Harrington
-- In The Everlasting Stream: A true Story of Rabbits, Guns, Friendship, and Family, award-winning Washington Post writer Harrington brings to life the annual hunting rituals on his father-in-law’s rural Kentucky farm.  Four African-American men of the South introduce a white city-slicker to the world of the woods, hunting, and a different definition of manhood.  He learns lessons of adaptation and growth.

Joe Mackall
-- The Last Street Before Cleveland: An Accidental Pilgrimage  Joe returns to the street where he grew up upon hearing of the death of a childhood friend who had long been lost to him.  He came back to understand the life of his lost friend, but he is drawn into larger questions that get at his own rejection of this neighborhood, his depression and addictions, and the over-arching Catholic faith that defined his youth in this blue-collar world.
-- Plain Secrets: An Outsider Among the Amish  When an Amish family of one of the most strict sects moves in next to him in his Ohio town, Joe has no sense of how much he will be drawn into that world.  He writes this book not from the perspective of an anthropologist or someone temporarily immersed in the extreme strictness of this life.  It is written from the perspective of a neighbor who is witness to the daily life and the familiar struggles of this Amish family and their community.  His attempt to understand this world and write about it tests the friendship of the Amish and this “English” man, but it results in a very human portrait of this traditional American clan.

What will you be reading this summer?  Please share in the comments box.


Babette said...

Thanks for suggestions! I am always looking for the next read.

Anonymous said...

My summer reading list is growing. Thanks to you for giving me some additional interesting titles. I like nonfiction, so I will definitely try some of these.

Judythe Morgan said...

These titles sound fascinating. Thanks for sharing. I'll be adding several to my summer reading list.

Tele said...

Hey! I just read Ana Maria's "Now Go Home" collection when we were out on a halibut trip! I really liked her voice, and am happy to learn about these. I've been reading all of the memoir I can lately, and another good one you might like was Jennifer Wilson's "Running Away to Home: Our Family's Journey to Croatia in Search of Who We Are, Where We Came From, and What Really Matters." Funny and thoughtful - a good mix!

Julie Farrar said...

Hope the weather is treating you good, Tele. I'll add the Croatia book to my list. Yes, you must read Ana Maria. In real life she is just like her voice sounds. I suspect the two of you would really hit it off.

Trisha Faye said...
My writing journey led me to the ‘She Writes’ group. WOW! What a tremendous support group; She Writes and the Late Bloomers subgroup. I discovered so many talented writers here. One blogger, Julie Farrar, writes ‘Traveling Through’ ... the world, the second half of my life, and my own mind ( from the Midwest. Her goal is to keep moving in as many ways as she can until her time is up. Why don’t you join her?

Nadine Feldman said...

Looks like some great recommendations! I will add them to my ever-growing list.

Liv Rancourt said...

Hmm...most of my summer reading list involves vampires somehow...

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