Another Wednesday… another awesome author!
I’m excited to be spotlighting Brenda St. John Brown today! I found Brenda the way I find a good number of authors these days – through that magical combination of an eye-catching cover on a book listed on NetGalley and rave reviews from trusted blogger friends on Goodreads. The minute I saw the cover for Swimming to Tokyo, I knew I had to read it. I read the blurb, did a little Goodreads homework and realized I needed it RIGHT THAT MINUTE. So good! Her latest book, The Lies We Live, was released earlier this week. It kicks off her Truth series and believe me when I say you’re gonna enjoy it!
Without further ado, I give you Brenda! I loved her nostalgic look back at the reading she did over the summers of her past.
by Brenda St. John Brown
I was going to do a video post, but today was one of those days when I should’ve washed my hair, but didn’t and now I’m doing this:
My hands are hiding the unruly frizz. Trust me on this. Also I’m wearing a sweater in June, but it is summer in my mind and that counts, right?
I’m going with, yes, it totally counts because I’m so excited to be talking about summer and reading because summer reading WAS my childhood. My parents live in upstate New York — way upstate, not forty miles from New York City – in pretty much the middle of nowhere. The nearest store is miles away and going to the mall means getting on the highway. Both of these things were a VERY big deal to my mom who didn’t learn to drive until I was eight. There were no camps and my next-door neighbor, my closest girlfriend, took a month-long road trip every summer with her family, leaving me to play with my brother and his friends. Or read.
I read. The Bookmobile came every Wednesday and I’d get ten to twelve books every week and that was my summer all figured out. Sigh. It was bliss.
The summer I was seven or eight, I devoured the LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRARIE series. Anyone else a Laura Ingalls Wilder fan? The drama! The classic mean girl, Nellie Olsen! Mary, who made me want a sister instead of my boring old brother. I’ve read criticisms of these books, which I think are valid, but (cough) forty (cough) years ago, they were unputdownable for me.
Another summer favorite was A TREE GROWS IN BROOKLYN. My parents have a screened-in porch and I remember lying on the vinyl glider, the backs of my legs sticking to the yellow flowers, devouring this book. Truthfully, I hardly remember the story, but I still remember the experience of reading it because it was the first time I got so completely lost in a book. I took it with me everywhere and there just might be an old picture of me standing in the bathroom brushing my teeth with this book open beside me on the counter because I wouldn’t put it down.
As I got older and decided I needed a tan, I took my books to the backyard (along with baby oil and lemon juice for my hair, of course). Danielle Steele, Victoria Holt and Sidney Sheldon probably weren’t age-appropriate, but my parents never told me I wasn’t allowed to read them, so I filled my days with sun and family sagas. (It didn’t take long for my parents to tell me to up my SPF or get out of the sun. I didn’t appreciate that at the time either.)
Late high school summers kind of blend together. I started working at Burger King when I was sixteen (“Welcome to Burger King drive-thru. May I take your order?”) and reading time morphed from long, lazy afternoons to stolen moments, often late at night. I discovered Stephen King and Dean Koontz somewhere along the way, which was both good and bad because did I mention that my parents live in the middle of nowhere? My triple-checking the locks habit might have come from one summer’s night as I sat home alone reading Stephen King. I’m still terrified of German Shepherds because of CUJO, too. (And yes, I realize Cujo is a Saint Bernard, but this was pre-Google and I was a bit sketchy on my dog breeds.)
Anne Rice, John Irving and Jackie Collins were squeezed in there, too. I tried to read THE LORD OF THE RINGS but failed. Same with LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. (I’ve since read the latter and I’ve seen all of the LOTR films, so that counts, right?) There were lots of books I meant to read, but didn’t. Books left half-finished or abandoned after just a chapter or two. It didn’t mean they weren’t right for me, but maybe that summer wasn’t the right time for those books. Notably, I abandoned Judy Blume’s books when I picked them up one summer, but when I was in fifth grade, I read them like it was a competition!
I wouldn’t go back, but sometimes I miss the days stretched out before me, when the biggest decision to be made was which book to start when. I try to recapture it a little on summer vacations, leaving my laptop at home and loading up my Kindle. And, although it’s not quite the same, there’s something special about days spent reading by the pool, lounging under an umbrella at the beach with a book or reading late into the night when everyone’s asleep. It feels soothing. Simple. And, I daresay, magical. Still and always.
If you want to learn more about Brenda, you can visit her website or find her on Goodreads, Facebook and Twitter! She has a great newsletter and can often be found on Twitter talking about her books and other books she enjoys!
For those of you participating in the challenge, don’t forget to keep entering your links in the Rafflecopter. I can’t tell you all the prizes we’ll be giving away this summer because we’re still pulling awesome things together, but believe me when I say you want to win them. I wish I could win them! 🙂 And if you’re not participating yet, it’s not too late to sign up! Hit up the announcement post and learn more! Keep current with all the details by joining our Facebook event.
Until next week… happy reading!