When I was growing up, one of my favorite places was the old Barron Library in Woodbridge, NJ. The architect had built churches but never a library so the Barron looked like a church. But it smelled deliciously like old books.
Step into Birchwood Inn’s spacious library, and you instantly know I’m a life-long avid reader. I love books. I love authors. And my tastes are eclectic – literature, fiction, poetry, non-fiction, biographies, autobiographies. Science fiction? Not so much. And I always have book or Kindle with me.
Read any good books lately? I just so happen to have read, am reading, and will be reading a number of excellent books in the past few weeks. Here are a few of my summer reading recommendations:
If you think you have/had an unconventional family, think again. Blood Bones and Butter, Gabrielle Hamilton, the owner/chef of Prune in Brooklyn, had a most unusual childhood and a unconventional young adulthood, which all comes to together to create this acclaimed chef and writer. Gabrielle’s “story is told with uncommon honesty, grit, humor, and passion.”
Ayana Mathis, a treasured guest, has written her first novel, The Twelve Tribes of Hattie, which could also be entitled The Twelve Trials and Tribulations of Hattie. This story of a black mother of 11 children in Philadelphia was Oprah’s second Book Club 2.0 selection. Each child is unique and troubled yet engaging in his or her own way. Hattie begins with a tragedy and ends on somewhat of a hopeful note. Ayana truly has an elegant way with words – dead leaves hanging like bats from the trees, and I can’t wait to re-read this book, just as I can’t wait to see Ayana and her partner Nikki at Birchwood Inn again.
Sitting on my night table is my next read. Another extra-special guest is J. Courtney Sullivan, whose third novel, Engagements, is just out. Her first novel, Commencement, was set at her alma mater Smith College. Her second, Maine, was selected by TIME as one of the 10 best books of the year. Engagements captures four unique marriages and the different reasons people marry.
My childhood friend Marc Mappen has written five books on New Jersey, and his latest book, Prohibition Gangsters: The Rise and Fall of a Bad Generation, has a wider focus – those fascinating gangsters of the Prohibition era.
What are you reading? What’s on your night table?