What are you reading this summer?
Just this morning I finished one of those books so delightful that I didn't want it to end. The title caught my eye while headed out of the library: Strangers tend to tell me things.
Hey, that's my story, I thought. As a writer, it's what happens; often they tell me lots of random things. Last week I sat next to a fairly recent resident of New Castle who transplanted from Nebraska while I covered a senior center luncheon for the paper. She unpacked her story so thoroughly and personally, and gave such a splendid shout-out to how much the local senior center means to her, her photo and comments became leads to my resulting story.
But what's interesting about Amy Dickinson's book, mentioned above, and subtitled: A memoir of love, loss, and coming home, is that while I figured that our writing careers would be what we had in common and why I would enjoy her memoir -- that's the least of what drew me in.
She is famous for her Ask Amy syndicated column and I am not famous for anything but, I imagined that she'd talk a lot about her career and life as a columnist.
Turned out though, that the writing experience is a minimal part of the book. We have so much more than writing in common such as our mutual core loves for our tiny hometowns. Hers is even smaller by a lot than mine. She was raised in the boonies of that town on a farm. I was raised in the boonies of my hometown on a farm. Consider even the names of our hometowns: Hers is Freeville. Mine is Liberty, or fictionally honoring the town, I call it Freedom in my novels.
We're both the youngest in our families of origin. We're about a year apart and as kids, had trouble sleeping, wanting our mothers near at night after our grandmothers died. We both grew up in small Methodist churches. We both get the utter goodness and whip-smart insights of rural folk.
Amy, who also works for NPR and appears on the show, "Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me," could live anywhere she wants but instead, settled back in her New York-state hometown as soon as she became an empty nester. Becoming an empty nester inspired the theme of returning to a woman's roots in my first novel.
In another oddly ironic moment, when I snooped around the internet for images of Amy, one popped up of her wearing a dress nearly identical to the one I chose for son Sam's wedding.
I also related to Amy's stories of coping with her mother's decline and death, and I swooned with her over her romance with -- get this, for real -- falling for the "boy next door" who had grown at midlife into the man of her dreams and she married him.
You can bet that I'll soon be reading Amy's first book, The Mighty Queens of Freeville.
My small group from church, the Midlife Moms, just finished our study of Priscilla Shirer's book, Fervent, and I'm placing it on the bookshelf today. The new one we'll start a week from tonight is Liz Curtis Higgs' Bad Girls of the Bible: And what we can learn from them.
This summer I read the proof copy of friend Janis Thornton's true-crime book, Too Good A Girl, now available from her or on amazon. And out of the blue, the church sent along Henry Cloud and John Townsend's book, Making Small Groups Work: What Every Small Group Leader Needs to Know.
In a few weeks Bible Study Fellowship resumes and we'll start our journey with Joshua in the year's study, People of the Promised Land. Ovid Church is hosting a satellite group on what I hear will be Thursday mornings, an extension of the New Castle group that meets Tuesday mornings. I attend the Middletown group that meets Monday nights in Middletown. These are women's Bible studies and if you are interested in joining BSF, you are more than welcome to do just that.
Now if you'll excuse me, I've got some summer porch reading to get to.