Reading, Music, Travel, Summer! That about sums up what I’ve been into the last few months. I read some great books in varying genres and took a phenomenal trip to Sicily. Now that I’m back, it’s back to singing, writing, cooking, gardening, and all the other things that make the quiet summer months so wonderful. Linking up with Leigh to share what I’m into!
This book was, in a sense, a relief. It was nice to be reminded that people are writing books where characters are complex but not irredeemably tortured. Too much of what I’ve read recently has been fundamentally dark, and this book was not. That’s not to say it skimps on conflict and drama, though. A compelling story, highly recommend.
I hadn’t heard of the travel writing Norman Lewis before reading this book, but apparently he is/was a pretty big name, and this memoir-ish collection of stories from his travels in Sicily proves why. What I appreciated most was that he gives great background and insight into the Mafia without being sensational about it. I have avoided reading much about the Mafia because so many writers try to titillate readers with this scourge on Sicilian society. Lewis writes matter-of-factly, never losing sight of the ordinary Sicilians living in tiny towns and beaten-down cities throughout the many decades of his travels. When people talk about history/sociology/cultural investigation from the “bottom up”, this is what they are talking about. And the writing can’t be beat.
I listen to On the Media most weeks, and I think they are at their best when they avoid the smug negativity that has blossomed throughout the Trump candidacy and presidency. I could say the same thing about this book from host Brooke Gladstone. It was just what I expected: trenchant commentary, illuminating historical references, with a strain of superiority that I don’t find particularly helpful in cultural discourse. This was hustled into production so as not to miss the cultural moment, and no where is this more obvious than in the final sections. These are supposed to encourage future action to resist reality-bending rhetoric and promote truth-telling, but they just don’t come off that hopeful. Worth reading for its concision and clarity, but be prepared to chase it with something motivational.
Richard Reeves’ indictment of upper middle class perks that help them stay ahead takes on a number of the sacred cows of aspirational American life: legacy admission to college, tax deductions for mortgages and college-savings plans, “good” neighborhoods that are designed to exclude, and more. More challenging is his contention that inequality in the US is less about the 1% than about the 20%, and that many affluent liberals who think they aren’t part of the problem actually are. Tons of graphs make this easier to read on paper than on a device (if you care to see the graphs clearly), and if you’re not up for an entire book on inequality you can read his NYT opinion piece, Stop Pretending You’re Not Rich.
After reading books about Sicily on the beach in Sicily, I picked up a book about Cape Ann to read on the beach in Cape Ann. Not long after getting back to the US I heard an interview with the author, Anna Solomon, on WBUR and much to my surprise was able to find a copy of the book at the library without having to put a hold on it. Set during Prohibition, this book has a lot to offer in historical education as well as storytelling. I was especially captivated by the repeated references to the Sacco and Vanzetti case, which has always held special interest for me. A nice break after reading two books about how the sky is falling…I guess it’s a comfort to realize it always has been?
I played Cinderella’s Stepmother in a delightful production of Into the Woods this May, and sang on a recital with Boston Singers’ Resource in June. Now I’m working on pieces for a few concerts this summer and getting excited for August’s trip to Tanglewood!
Additionally, editing on the videos of my spring recital finished up. I’m thrilled with the work Russ did – if you ever need video production be sure to check him out: T-Stop Pictures. Videos at the bottom of this post!
My husband and I returned to Sicily mid-June, still enchanted after our trip around the same time last year. He takes much better photos than I do, partly due to skill and partly due to a better camera phone than mine, but here’s a few of my favorite pictures.
I’ve already written about our trip to Scala dei Turchi, and hope to share a bit about some of our other adventures on this trip. Watch this space.
This is the first time I have felt compelled to recommend so much travel gear, but I was SO HAPPY with a few of the things I brought on the trip that I can’t keep it to myself.
I have recommended Yurbuds before, but recently had to buy a new pair after wrecking mine by bending the headphone jack on the flight home (last year’s trip I also trashed a pair of headphones, that time by getting them covered in chocolate. Don’t ask.). There’s a reason I keep purchasing these: they are the best. Now if could stop destroying them.
My husband really, really likes to walk, so when we started dating I had to upgrade my footwear to style that can sadly be called “sensible”. I had bought a pair of “sensibles” last year that ended up being worthless because they gave me a blister, but these were perfect, and they are fairly stylish (for Tevas). Lots of color options.
That’s a pretty long name for not a lot of fabric. I have these in a few colors because they are easy to slip on, don’t overwhelm my short torso, and don’t take up a ton of space. Why I loved having one on this trip was that I could tie it around my bag strap (I used an LL Bean Everyday Lightweight Clutch, in case you are curious) and not have to worry about it until I needed it (usually to cover my shoulders in a church).
Between skorts and Tevas I feel like I am back in the 90s. As soon as I got home from our trip I ordered another of these. The shorts don’t ride up, the waistband and length are super-flattering, the material is light and doesn’t easily get dirty, and there are plenty of pockets. I LOVE THESE.
I’m looking forward to these quiet weeks of summer. Our container garden is up and running and I have a list of books to read (though I’d love your recommendations) and music to learn. What have you been into this month?
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Bonus! Videos from my March recital:
Barber’s Hermit Songs: My absolute favorite
Et Incarnatus Est from Mozart’s C Minor Mass
More Mozart: the first movement of Exsultate Jubilate
More video is on my YouTube channel. Thanks for watching – I hope you like it!