• Marilyn Gardner Woods

Longer days...more pages

Something kind of crazy happens to me when the lazy, hazy days of summer begin. I want to bury myself, not in the sand, but in a great book. I read throughout the year, but the summer read is different. More relaxed. Maybe a little slower. Turn a page, sip some lemonade, turn another page. Drift into thought. Turn another page.


Longer days mean more pages.




Whether you find yourself on a plane or a trolley or the beach—even in your own backyard, I have some books to recommend for your summer reading quiet time that I thoroughly enjoyed:



Mecca – this is a powerful story about California. Not the California glamorized in the movies, but the California of working-class folks—nurses, a butcher, a CHP, a housekeeper, an animal control officer, and a compelling woman (I loved Matelassé!) —a mix of ethnicities and background so timely in our world today. A sweeping story about family and home by award-winning author, Susan Straight.







Violetta—Isabel Allende's epic tale covers a century of South American history through economic collapse, dictatorship, and natural disasters. From the aftermath of WWI to present day, Violeta del Valle recounts her story with a book-long letter to her grandson Camilo. I was so touched by this connection that I gave the book to my granddaughter, Chesapeake for our first Summer Book Club selection!





The Bohemians—Out last summer, I didn’t get to this dazzling book until the first of this year. So worth the wait! It captures a glittering and gritty 1920s San Francisco through the eyes of Dorothea Lange, pioneering documentary photographer. A cast of unforgettable characters—Mabel Dodge Luhan, Frida Kahlo, Ansel Adams, D.H. Lawrence and the troubled painter, Maynard Dixon who Lange married. A captivating story of the woman who would create the iconic Depression-era photograph—Migrant Mother—that would break the hearts and open the eyes of a nation.







You’ll Never Forget This Ever Happened – just out and I just finished this book which is the heartbreaking story set in the 1960s of a young mother forced by family and society to relinquish her child for adoption. Laura Engel writes lyrically and poignantly of finding the courage to confront her guilt-ridden past and seek redemption. A triumphant story by a brilliant writer who happens to be a friend!









Uphill and Into the Wind—And if the high price of gas or plane tickets is keeping you home this summer, here’s a trip you can enjoy vicariously! At twenty-three, my pal, David Reed, found himself embittered by the political strife and corruption in our nation in 1973 and planned with two friends to get away on their bike and hike odyssey from the Garden State to the Golden Gate. Through it all, the three are changed forever by their long journey into the unknown.





There’s one more book which some of you are familiar with The Orangewoods—Seasons in the Country Artfully Lived and I appreciate your support. But perhaps you can share this blog with a friend who likes to read, might be interested in my recommendations, and perhaps has not read my book. I would be very grateful. I think this quote from one of the reviews about my books gives a nice idea about it – “Marilyn's storytelling is pure magic. If you love romance or Texas or art - especially art - or music or family or California or stories about creating a dream, you will love this book.”


Meanwhile, two books on my sun-filled horizon:





This book, just out features a chapter by

my marvelous mentor, Judy Reeves. I am a

regular journaler, but am hoping to up the

game with this interesting new inspiration!













And one more time...

along with a well-read and patient friend, I am attacking Ulysses again this summer. I am determined to not only understand but comprehend it in its entirety. And most importantly, enjoy!

Any insight would be greatly appreciated!







Stephen King may have said it best – “Books are a uniquely portable magic.”


I hope you enjoy lots of portable magic in your long summer days and nights. Wherever you are...





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