I think Cicero has it right, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.” Since I work in the library, I always have half of the equation at my fingertips. But the garden, I, like the rest of you must wait. Thankfully, the wait is over. Summer is here and with her comes, ice tea, cool evenings on the deck, baseball, music, sidewalk chalk, long lazy days, and gardens. Gardens that tempt you stay in that blessed moment just one breath longer. But the heat, what are we to do with this heat. It’s like summer herself has wrapped us in a blanket so warm that to simply move has become difficult. As the temperatures rise and the sluggishness sets in, I say why fight it. Find a cool garden and a good book and let the adventures begin.
I tend to lean towards magical realism in my good book choice. You may be thinking, what is magical realism. Well, Wikipedia defines “magical realism as a genre of narrative fiction…that while encompassing a range of subtly different concepts, expresses a primarily realistic view of the world while also adding or revealing magical elements” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic_realism). Or as I like to think, reality with a little something extra.
Currently, I find myself following young Vasya in the deep northern woods of Rus (a fantastic version of medieval Russia) in Kathrine Arden’s The Bear and The Nightengale. Vasya much like the woods that surround her is wild and mesmerizing. Not only do the people around her find her intriguing the spirits that inhabit this untamed land are also captivated by her. The icy landscape cools and soothes my sweltering mind. And the characters mirror the depth and richness of the land itself. I haven’t finished this lovely little novel but I am excited to see where end up. If you’re interested in reading another magically real book I would recommend The Tigers Wife by Tea Obreht. This novel is not only magical it is really awesome. Give it a try, I would say it has made my short list. And lastly, I would suggest Alice Hoffman’s Blackbird House. Hoffman uses the house itself as the narrator to follow the lives of the many people and families who come to reside within its walls. Again, this is a must read but I usually prefer my Hoffman in the fall.