When Barton Swaim read a column by his state’s governor, he promptly sat down and wrote him, “I know how to write, and you need a writer.” He got the job, but his writing skills went to waste as the governor insisted on a “voice” that bore only a slight resemblance to proper English.
Laughter can tighten your abs, soothe your mind and increase your empathy. Lighten up your summer reading with two funny new books that have both heart and brains.
It’s no surprise that Alfred Lansing’s 1959 book, Endurance: Shackleton’s Incredible Voyage, is still in print. The harsh reality of survival near the Poles continues to make gripping reading, especially from the safety of our own homes.
Taking your boat out on open water any time soon? Already there? You’ll want to weather life’s inevitable storms by keeping your anchor and flares aboard at all times. If an emergency strikes, you will need something to hold you steady, and lights can summon help. In this tender follow-up to her 2007 bestseller, Here If You Need Me, Kate Braestrup weathers her own storms—the sudden death of a spouse and the inevitable departure of a child growing up—and calls upon her work as chaplain for the Maine Game Warden Service to help in her most personal ministry, her family.
Don’t miss these superbly written books that combine intriguing history with memorable real-life escapades.
Tracy Slater thought she’d stay in Boston forever. A writing teacher with a Ph.D. in literature, Slater worked with diverse students, practiced yoga, published essays and enjoyed her close-knit community of friends. Yet one fateful summer, she agreed to teach English in Japan. “Don’t fall in love,” said her mother. Naturally, she did.
Ah, alcohol: the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems (to misquote “The Simpsons”). In Blackout: Remembering the Things I Drank to Forget, Sarah Hepola reveals the ugly side of addiction with humor and honesty. She writes gracefully of blackouts, junk food binges and unnerving sexual encounters. Along the way, she touches on loneliness and cats and hangovers and alternative weeklies. Although she claims that alcohol made her fearless, her true bravery emerges in this memoir’s witty candor.
Anyone who has completed a grueling round of sun salutations may be glad to learn that such exertions were intended for adolescent boys. Yoga, as it was taught to Americans by Indra Devi in the 1950s, was a slower series of postures, yet it was no more “authentic” than the intense hatha yoga of today. As Michelle Goldberg capably illustrates in The Goddess Pose: The Audacious Life of Indra Devi, the Woman Who Helped Bring Yoga to the West, yoga has always been a bizarre blend of Eastern and Western tradition, particularly in the U.S. Like many other trends, yoga’s popularity began in Hollywood.
Bob Morris may have disappointed, infuriated and befuddled his parents along the way, but he loves them enough to keep trying to get it right. In Bobby Wonderful: An Imperfect Son Buries His Parents, a memoir that offers few sentimental excuses while laying bare his big, if often misguided, heart, Morris does an unforgettable job of trying to redeem himself. He even manages to share the humor in it all.
Given the endless parade of biographies of Founding Fathers and Tudor monarchs, one might be forgiven for wondering whether there are any fresh candidates for a lengthy life study left. Canadian writer Rosemary Sullivan (Villa Air-Bel) proves the answer is yes with Stalin’s Daughter: The Extraordinary and Tumultuous Life of Svetlana Alliluyeva, the masterfully told and meticulously researched story of a truly remarkable life.