For students and teachers, September is back-to-school time. For an independent bookseller in a summer tourist town, September is more often vacation. Not sure how that’s going to work out this year, with other things going on, but generally speaking fall brings at least a pleasant slow-down in the pace of life and work. Very different from my life years ago: when I worked in an office Monday through Friday and had weekends off (what a concept!), Monday meant a return to the 8-to-5 grind after kicking back -- or kicking up my heels, as I did more often back then.
Well, there are no “weekends” in my summer life. Except for opening an hour later on Sundays, every day is pretty much the same, in terms of hours worked. But after the rush of weekend tourist business and a Sunday afternoon author event, this Monday, even in the bookstore, feels pretty relaxed. I’m betting it will stay that way, too, as the hot, humid weather sends people to the beach to cool off.
My sister and friend were with us Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evening, and Sunday we were joined by a friend for Traverse City. It is front porch and outdoor table weather. Even when a minor migraine sneaked up on me Saturday and David had to get take-out pizza for our dinner, I managed to recover sufficiently to enjoy the stars with my company. And Sarah was in heaven all weekend: Sarah loves company!
On Sunday my guest author at Dog Ears Books was Ross Biddiscombe, sharing the story in his book Ryder Cup Revealed: Tales of the Unexpected. I’m not a golfer. I’m not very interested in golf. I had not read his book. And yet I was as fascinated by his presentation as anyone else in the audience. His book is not about the various games, year by year, but the history of this particular professional challenge, and he related it to the economic and social history of the United States and the United Kingdom in ways that made perfect sense. Golfers will know that the U.K. team is now a European team, while the U.S. team remains strictly U.S. Ross did acknowledge the different respective sizes of the countries involved but still thinks the U.S. golf pros could learn a lot from the Europeans about how to take ownership of their participation in the Ryder Cup.
And now – can you believe? – despite the fast-approaching Labor Day holiday, I have two more big author events scheduled before then! I’ve been wanting to get Luisa Lang Owen on the calendar for months, and that has finally come together for a week from Thursday. If you haven’t before, take a look at my review of her book, Casualty of War: A Childhood Remembered, and you’ll definitely want to join us on the evening of August 27.
Luisa Lang Owen is the mother of Erik Owen, owner with his wife Deirdre of the Northport Inn, and my other book evening coming the week before Labor Day also involves people in Northport. Susan Gilbreath Lee is the sister of the Fearless Leader of our intrepid Ulysses band, both Steve and Susan the great-great-grandchildren of Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath, who was not only only involved in most of the major battles of the Civil War but also left behind journals of his military service in the Civil War and beyond, which Susan found, transcribed, and edited, and which have now been published by the Pritzker Military Museum and Library in Chicago. Steve and Susan will be co-presenters of the resultant book, The Dignity of Duty: The Journals of Erasmus Corwin Gilbreath, 1861-1898. Anyone with an interest in American history, the Civil War, and/or preservation of family history will want to be sure not to miss this event on Thursday evening, September 3.
[Sold my first copy of the book before taking its picture! Waiting for more to arrive soon!]
As for my personal summer reading, I finished Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin, which our little group will be discussing on Wednesday evening, and have been spending many early mornings and late evenings with Hermann Hesse’s Magister Ludi: The Glass Bead Game. I expect to finish that soon.
At the bookstore, between customers and when I’m not working on book orders or other correspondence I’ve been enjoying an ARC of The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald, about as far from Hermann Hesse as it’s possible to get with a book also written as fiction. A shy Swedish bookworm, Sara, comes all the way from Europe to spend two months with Amy, whom she has never met but knows as a kind of pen pan (they bonded over books), but when she reaches the sad, dying little town of Broken Wheel, Iowa, she finds that Amy has died. The townspeople, however, insist that she must stay -- in Amy’s house. And then, looking for something to do with her time (besides read books every waking minute), she discovers that Amy also owned an empty downtown storefront. She will open a bookstore! She’s going to open a bookstore in a nearly empty town where people don’t read books and where the local diner often has only one customer, sitting alone drinking coffee. How is this going to work?
Gradually Sara comes out of her shell, as more and more the townsfolk rally around the bookstore, if only so a neighboring, more prosperous town can’t keep looking down on them, and when the town realize that Sara’s visa is about to expire, they hatch a plan to keep her there.
I’m still 100 pages from the end of the book – and I never (unlike some people I know) peek ahead at the last page to see how a story is going to turn out, so I can’t tell you where it will all end. And you know I wouldn’t, anyway, don’t you? I never do spoilers!
It's Monday, a quiet day after a busy, fun weekend, and "partly cloudy" is elbowing its way into the picture, too. The smart vacationers went to the beach this morning while the sun was shining. But this afternoon and evening will be perfect weather for reading.