Sunday, May 04, 2008

Summer Travels and Reading Plans

Summer always takes me back South… I took this photo of Wilmington, NC, from across the Cape Fear River, in the late '70s. The large steeple is First Presbyterian Church. This is a copy from a slide.

Summer is coming fast. The dogwoods are blooming, leaves on the maples are unfurling and the oaks are beginning to bud. Reviewing my calendar, I can’t believe how busy the summer already looks… In late May, I’ll be heading south for ten days, digging my toes into the sand along the Carolina coast and checking up on my mother and grandmother and others in the family. In late June, I’ll be flying out to San Francisco for a convention. I’ve already booked my ticket, tagging on a few (4) extra days so I can head up into the Sierras and maybe check in on my old stomping grounds around Virginia City, Nevada. Unfortunately, the Giants are out of town when I’m there, but I hope to catch a game in Oakland. Then in late July, I will volunteer at a camp where my daughter will be spending a week (my daughter insisted, she really did). Then in August, I’m taking off with a few other guys for a week of wilderness canoeing and fishing in the Quetico of Western Ontario. Counting travel, I’ll be gone another ten days then. They’ll also be a few shorter trips…

With the onslaught of summer, comes the onslaught of summer reading challenges… Last summer I enjoyed Maggie’s Southern Reading Challenge and I’m signing up again. This year, for some reason, her summer is running from May 15 to August 15. Is that because down there in Mississippi, it’s so hot and sweaty in late August, one’s perspiration will ruin the pages of a book. Whatever the reason, I’ll abide by the rules.

Although I hold the right to change, these are the books I’m proposing for my Southern Reading Challenge:

Michael Malone, Handling Sin. This is not a “how-to” book! It’s a novel. Supposedly it’s funny and from the reviews sound a lot like the Martin Clark books I read last summer. I’m waiting on Clark’s next book, but it’s not due out till sometime in July.

Janisse Ray, Ecology of a Cracker Childhood. This memoir is set in rural Georgia.

Greg Bottoms, Sentimental Heartbroken Redneck: Stories. These short stories are set in Virginia. Wonder if any of these stories are about rednecks ironing their own shirts?

I’m also going to try a second reading challenge, Thoughts of Joy’s “Five Non-fiction Challenge. This challenge runs from May 1 through September. These are the books I’m planning on reading in this challenge:

Cary J. Griffith, Lost in the Wild. I finished this book yesterday and will review it shortly. It’s about two different individuals lost in the remote wilderness of the Boundary Waters and the Quetico in northern Minnesota and western Ontario. One of the guys I’m canoeing with later this summer recommended it. I think it had to do with me arguing for us to go into Northern Ontario and making a quip that the Quetico wasn’t “that remote.” I hope I don’t have to eat my words…

Joseph M. Marshall III, The Journey of Crazy Horse. At Diane’s recommendation, I started listening to this book on my ipod on Thursday. I like what I’ve heard so far; I’m an hour into a 12 hour book.

Brian McLaren, Everything Must Change: Jesus, Global Crisis and the Revolution of Hope. A few years ago, I enjoyed McLaren’s A Generous Orthodoxy. He’s thought provoking about the role the church should be playing in the world.

Paul Theroux, Dark Star Safari: Overland from Cairo to Cape Town. This book has been on my nightstand for nearly two years…. I need to read it. Besides, I like Theroux’s writings even if I would never want to travel with him.

Robert Quinn, Deep Change: Discovering the Leader Within. This is a business book written by a University of Michigan professor. I’ll see what he has to say.

As of now, I’m not planning on running a DamnYankee Reading Challenge this summer… Last year, it started as a parody and ended up with a life of its own. As a southerner in exile up here, I figure a Yankee Reading Challenge is best left to the Yankees… (Murf or Ed, either of you up for the hosting?)

What’s your summer plans and what books will you be totting along?


  1. Wow! You do sound like you'll be busy this summer. Book reading right now for me tends to be a luxury that doesn't happen very often.

    On Thursday, my wife and I are planning to go to Mexico City with our pastor for five days. I think our main role will be relationship building with a church down there.

  2. Land of Many Lakes Bound! Hubby has a cabin and one whole week of solitude planned and then another week traveling the roads of Minnesota. I'm guessing, but cannot promise, we will see the beginnings of the mini-Mississippi.

    Anaheim for a conference and two separate appearances in Starkville and Jackson Mississippi promoting blogging and reading, will be my work travels.

    Thanks for joining the Southern Reading Challenge! I have two going on at the same time: the one you as a blogger joined and the one my coworkers joined as non-bloggers learning the art. If any of them stop by could you give them a warm southern welcome? Actually, right now I'm hoping they will write a second post. ;D

    This leads me into my current money situation. I promised them the pewter full of pecans ($45 plus shipping), so I'll be giving a lesser version for bloggers at Maggie Reads. Same great pecans, but a lesser tin with a painted cotton boll or magnolia on the top.
    The economy even has me down...

  3. Handling Sin is one of my favorite books! When I was reading it, there was an obit in our paper of a woman with the same name as the main character, and I sent it to Michael Malone, who was nice enough to write back to me! I know you'll enjoy it. I will have to check out the others on your list, which seems like a lot of reading for one summer!

  4. Tim, I always see reading as a bit of a necessity! Have a great trip to Mexico--you should be getting fluent in Spanish with all your recent trips.

    Maggie, Are you from Minnesota? The peacans were a real treat--unexpected and a very classy touch--don't apologize for how they come, they'd be a treat if they were in a paper bag.

    Kenju, I love the title, "Handling Sin." THe book sounds good.

  5. I look forward to all your reviews. "Handling Sin" sounds like something I'll check into. I've been doing a lot of reading from Fall-Spring, and I hope I am challenged this summer. Who can participate in these challenges?

  6. Wow, I need a job like yours where I can get that much time off. I'm sure the good Lord would understand but I'm not sure about my boss.

    As far as the reading challenge, I'm going to try to get a few books in but right now with MIL as a perpetual guest, I'm still working on the same book I was two months ago. I'm off on an eight hour car trip to Ohio this morning so perhaps I'll get some time to read if I'm not driving and the roads aren't too rough.

  7. I second Ed. What a cushy job you must have. :-)

    My summer plans include annoying you more, hosting a Memorial Day BBQ that has a good chance of being a disaster, taking the last class in the Technical Writing certification program, listening to Big A complain about being the oldest person in his classes, taking weekend sidetrips every so often and trying to read The Secret Knowledge of Water.

  8. No, I'm from Tennessee, but born in Texas. People think I have a texans drawl. ;)

  9. The Boundary Waters sounds great. So far, our plans are in limbo, but I'm thinking a multi-day float on the upper Current River. My boys are old enough now to appreciate it.

    As for books, I haven't decided yet. I'll probably check out some of the recommendations above.


  10. Scarlet, anyone can join--check out the links

    Ed, with your MIL in residence, it sounds like the perfect time to invest in an ipod and listen to books :) As for vacation time--I do get a lot, but I also put in a lot of 60-70 hour weeks.

    Murf, I always get nervous when a yankee starts talking about barbeque (or do you just mean "grilling out" as opposed to roasting a pig?)

    Maggie, after living in Texas, Mississippi might be a step up :)

    Sherman, we're going to be in the Quetico, which is the Ontario side of the Boundary Waters. I've never been there, so it'll be a new experience, supposedly the fishing is better than up in the Hudson Bay lowlands where I hope to again go one day.

  11. I will also be doing the SRC - my books are:

    Dead Until Dark
    Thirteen Moons (audible version)

    I hope you like the Crazy Horse book!

  12. Diane, I haven't read any of your three! I heard the author of 13 Moons on NPR--it sounds like an interesting book and I really enjoyed Cold Mountain. I listened to another 75 minutes of Crazy Horse yesterday in the gym---I like his style--instead of history, I'd say his genre is more "creative non-fiction" I'll review it, I'm sure.

  13. sage - I enjoyed it too - - I like his storytelling and enjoyed the accounts set out through generations of Lakota "oral historians" . . .

  14. It seems I have joined too many reading challenges and can't cope! What with moving and all!

    Wish you luck!


  15. Welcome to the Non-Fiction Five Challenge, Sage! We are happy to have you and hope that all your choices are great reads! Don't forget to come back and link your reviews. Happy Reading!