Read like you're on spring break

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Whether I’m staying close to home or packing my bags for a getaway, I know spring break is a great time to catch up on reading. Here are five books—some recent, some older—that have captured my imagination and heart. The Age of Miracles by Karen Thompson Walker tells the story of what happens when the earth’s rotation begins to slow. It begins with just a fraction of a second difference, then it lengthens until the clocks are out of sync with the rise and set of the sun. Everything is affected, from nature and the environment to gravity. As eleven-year-old Julia deals with life changes stemming from this unexpected shift in reality, she’s also grappling with normal life—her parents’ marriage, changing friendships, and a first love. Important to note is though it’s told from a child’s point of view, it is a novel for adults, showing how families come together—and in some cases, break apart—in a spectacularly altered world.

Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen was my first experience in the genre of magical realism. Instead of a totally magical world (a la Harry Potter or Narnia), these books are set in regular, everyday life, but small touches and hints of magic are thrown in. In Garden Spells, the main character Claire Waverly can change the course of someone’s life (or at least their day) by baking particular ingredients into her food. Elderly aunt Evanelle has a knack for giving peculiar gifts to people without knowing why—she just knows the person will need that gift someday. There’s an apple tree in the back yard that throws apples at people it doesn’t like, and if you eat one of the apples, you’ll see the most important event of your life. Allen’s writing is rich and beautiful, and you’ll want to sink into the lush setting.

Karen White’s Flight Patterns tells the story of Georgia Chambers, an expert in fine china, who hasn’t been home to Apalachicola, Florida, since she parted ways with her sister ten years ago.  Now James, a new client, is searching for a particular Limoges pattern, and Georgia remembers a similar piece her grandmother once had. Her trip home and what she discovers there is a touching southern story involving voices from the past, beekeeping, sisterhood, family secrets, and regrets.

In Abbi Waxman’s The Garden of Small Beginnings, we meet Lilian, a young widow who’s mostly moved past the shock of her husband’s unexpected death, though not the melancholy and self-pity that remains. She’s now a single mom with two small children and a job illustrating textbooks. When she’s assigned to illustrate a gardening book, her boss signs her up for a vegetable-gardening class, and she dives in, thinking maybe it’ll get her out of her funk. However, with a charming instructor and quirky fellow gardeners, she gets much more out of the class than she expected. The story is moving and bittersweet, and it made me both cry and laugh out loud, a rare combination.

In Jenny Colgan’s The Bookshop on the Corner, we follow Nina, a former librarian, as she decides to throw caution to the wind and buy a van and transform it into a traveling library of sorts. She travels from village to sleepy village selling books and transforming lives through the power of stories. The people she meets along the way transform her life and force her to rethink her future. This book is such a fun romp through the Scottish countryside with sweet romance and quirky characters.


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Alabama writer Lauren K. Denton –the USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Hideaway—pens stories that chronicle women’s journeys towards truth and love, hope and healing.  Her new book, Hurricane Season, releases Spring 2018. In addition to her fiction, she writes a monthly newspaper column about life, faith, and how funny (and hard) it is to be a parent. On any given day, she’d rather be at the beach with her family and a stack of books.

 

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