Settle Down, Cozy Up.

September 7, 2016

Summer is a busy time for everyone, and I too will admit I did not accomplish as much as I wanted. From the live music to the river sessions, our schedules get so jam-packed that it’s hard to find for solo pondering. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard someone say the phrase, with a sigh, “There’s just so much going on.” But even though our off-season has been more or less snatched from us and the town still has plenty of folks stumbling through the crosswalks with slack-jawed expressions, we’re slowly entering a period of quiet. This long awaited respite will free us up for all those projects and novels we’ve been putting off since Josie’s Ridge opened.

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“The Gentleman” By Forrest Leo pairs well with pumpkin lattes and autumn days of leisure.

I’ve been working part-time at Valley Bookstore for roughly 10 years, on and off, and I absolutely love writing up “Staff Picks” leaflets. These picks are meant to alert meandering book hunters of awesome reads that might have evaded the bestseller lists. Since I’m currently imbibing my first Starbucks Pumpkin Spice Latte of the season, (#psl4life #whitegirlsquad) I thought it only fitting that I assemble a small list of excellent reads now that it’s a bit cooler and indoor smelly candles are back in style.

First off, the one book I tend to thrust in everyone’s hands regardless of the season is We, The Drowned by Carsten Jensen. This thick, literary epic chronicling the coastal town of Marstel, Denmark, is nothing short of brilliant. Packed with characters, juggling different genres and time periods, this high-seas adventure is one that is unrivaled in its ability to captivate readers.

I recently just finished To the Bright Edge of the World by Eowyn Ivey, and I cannot recommend it enough. Told through journal entries, newspaper clippings and photos, it’s the ultimate historical love story, chronicling the adventures of a stalwart explorer heading up Alaska’s Wolverine River Valley in 1885 and the ambitious wife he leaves behind. Fans of Ivey’s first book, The Snow Child, will not be disappointed with this high-concept endeavor.

As I slowly catch up on all the TV I missed while I was enjoying the sunshine this summer, Outlander is a show in particular that has me completely hooked. I’ve now begun reading the eight-book Outlander Series by Diana Gabaldon. Initially, I figured a historical Scottish romance about a WWII nurse who travels back in time to 1700s Scotland wouldn’t really be up my alley. But sure enough, I’m consumed by it. Yes, it’s flowery, yes there’s more nipple play than I expected, but the epic scale and multi-layered characters will no doubt ensnare anyone looking for something to occupy their fall, winter and probably even spring.

In terms of books for younger readers, The Wild Robot by Peter Brown is so insanely good that I would actually recommend it for readers of any age. When a robot named ROZZUM Unit 7134 crash lands on an island, she befriends the animals who have made their homes there. Roz learns that her technological abilities are useless in the real world and she relies on her new friends to help her survive the wilderness and find a way back home.

A new favorite of mine is Forrest Leo’s debut The Gentleman, a Victorian-era adventure if Lizzie Bennet were held hostage by David Lynch and Mel Brooks. Hilarious, devious, and totally entertaining, it’s not one to miss.

There are a handful of books that have yet to be released that I’m keeping my eye on as well. T.C. Boyle’s newest The Terranauts (10/25) is the literary author’s first venture into sci-fi, and deals with a group of scientists that are sent to an off-world colony on a research mission. Swing Time by Zadie Smith (11/15) is no doubt going to be another powerhouse tome from the English writer, as it touches upon the friendship and rivalry between two female dancers of color as they navigate the 21st century.

My new book appetite is insatiable and as summer slips out of our hands, I can’t wait to light up those candles, cozy up on a couch and start ignoring the outside world. Well, at least more than I already do.

Munz.

(Originally published in Planet JH)

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