It’s always a shock to my system when summer vacation ends and it’s time to head back to school. As a student and a teacher, I know how lucky I am to have summers off, so I’m always grateful for the time. Like so many of you, I read a lot during the summer, and this summer I read a variety of books, both fiction and nonfiction.
I realized in May that I was feeling stifled creatively. I wrote in this post about how I had been feeling disconnected from my writing self. I couldn’t settle my mind to any writing project. I was having trouble separating what I wanted to write from what I thought I should be writing, which led to a lot of creative dissatisfaction. I was drawn to rereading Natalie Goldberg, who always helps me find my writing center when I lose it, and Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird. I also reread The Artist’s Way, but instead of reading it cover to cover as I did the first time I’m going through the 12 weeks of lessons. Here are the books I read that helped me to get excited about writing again:
Another nonfiction book I read was The More Beautiful World Our Hearts Know is Possible. I had seen the author, Charles Eisenstein, on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday, and I had a feeling I would enjoy the book. If you’re having trouble accepting the state of the world today, then you might get a lot out of this book, as I did. I love Anne Lamott’s books (see Bird by Bird above)—I love her humor, her insights, and her observations—and Hallelujah Anyway: Rediscovering Mercy was also an important book for me.
I read a lot of nonfiction, but the historical fiction I read was outstanding. The Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller is simply great literary historical fiction. It’s a retelling of the story of Achilles from The Iliad, but it adds a twist, and Miller’s prose is simply gorgeous.
Finally, finally I read Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. I wrote about my experience reading that book here. Now I could kick myself for waiting so long to read it. I had said that since I don’t get Starz I wouldn’t be able to watch, but then a few days later I discovered that Starz was having a free preview week so I got to watch Seasons 1 and 2, which were fantastic. I know Season 3 is coming up soon, but I’ll have to wait for the next free preview week to see that one. It’s okay. It will give me time to read more of the books. So far I’ve read Outlander and Dragonfly in Amber. I love what I’ve read in the Outlander books so far. Gabaldon is a great writer, which adds so much depth to the stories.
I’ve also been reading about the Salem Witch Trials as I’ve been writing Down Salem Way. The Marilynne K. Roach books are rereads for me since I used them as sources for Her Dear & Loving Husband, but The Devil in Massachusetts by Marion L. Starkey is a new find for me. I’m reading it now and I’m enjoying the way Starkey weaves together the events of the witch hunts into a narrative, so much so that it reads like a novel.
So that’s how I kept busy this summer. Not one stinker in the bunch, which is a pretty neat trick when you’ve read a lot of books.