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Check It Out

Courier Article by David Locker
Sunday, May 19, 2002

Sound of Music Can Be Heard Through Summer Reading

The theme this year for Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library's Adult Summer Reading Program is music, and it is inviting the community to "tune in to a good book." The sponsor is H&H Music, and the prizes of a Casio electronic keyboard, opera glasses and headphones are subsidized by the Public Library Friends.

To qualify for a chance at winning a prize we require participants to read one book in each of four categories that are tied to a musical genre, plus one title of their own choosing. The musical categories and their book equivalents are pop (popular), blues (mystery and suspense), easy listening (gentle reads), and classical (classics and literary).

"Gentle reads" is a new category for the program, and we added it because it was thought we could all use a little respite from a violent world. I would like to highlight some of these gentle titles, though our selections include books such as A Beautiful Mind: A Biography of John Nash, Seabiscuit: An American Legend, A Child Called It, and novels by John Grisham, Luanne Rice, Terry McMillan, and Barbara Kingsolver.

Christy by Catherine Marshall (Avon, 1968).

One day at a church retreat, Christy Huddleston, a nineteen-year-old college junior from Asheville, North Carolina, hears an appeal for teachers at a newly constructed school in the hills of Appalachia in eastern Tennessee. She responds passionately, discovering that she had been longing for a Christianity different than the boring sermons and comfortable lifestyle of her mainline Protestant hometown church.

What await her in the hills are enough adventures in eleven months to last a lifetime. Marshall based her novel on the real-life experience of her mother and spent years researching the customs and dialect of the Appalachian people.

The result is a wonderful book-one to be savored on peaceful summer evenings.

The Ladies of Covington Send Their Love by Joan Medlicott (St. Martin's, 2001).

My colleague, Karen Spitler, recommends this title highly. The ladies of Covington are Grace, Hanna and Amelia. They are dissatisfied residents of a retirement boarding house in Philadelphia who get a chance to leave when one of them inherits a rundown farmhouse in Covington, North Carolina.

On their slow drive down to Covington, the ladies get a chance to learn each other's secrets, and once at the farmhouse, they find out that retirement isn't the end of life, but the beginning.

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray (Onyx, 2001).

Karen also recommends this delightful novel. A modern update of Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, Julie and Romeo are rival flower shop owners whose families have hated each other for years.

Each is available romantically-Romeo's wife has died, and Juliet's husband has left her for a younger woman. Fate brings them together at a business seminar, but they have to meet secretly at the drugstore because their children are determined to keep the family feud alive. A light, humorous romance.

The Shell Seekers by Rosamund Pilcher (St. Martin's, 1997).

Pilcher's masterpiece, which has sold 3.5 million copies, was originally written in 1987 and made into a Hallmark movie in 1989.

It is a deeply moving and totally involving novel about a woman named Penelope Keeling who looks back on her life from the vantage point of a cottage in rural England, surrounded by mementos from her troubled past.

Penelope takes special solace from a painting of her father's entitled Shell Seekers and the pleasures of gardening, letter writing and sharing meals with her friends and family-just the things I, too, hope to be doing this summer.

David Locker is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.