Hop Picks for July 2018

Hellllllooooo  Friends! It's  Summer. Finally!!!!! 
I took a  small hiatus to recharge  and am ready for an incredible summer of library hopping. 

I hope our paths cross this summer. If they do, I bet it will be at the library, at the beach, or at the playground. Wherever I may be, I will be carrying an ENORMOUS novel.  

   This time of year,  I always read a giant book because I have more chances (and places) to sit, and many, many icy beverages to drink. What better way to spend those extra hours than with a 600-plus page book? Some of my fellow hoppers may think this is an unrealistic tradition but I suggest you try it! I truly believe that losing yourself in a story makes you pause, encourages you to relax and look forward to those slow, sunny afternoons. 

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A Little Life. My favorite book. When I say "favorite" I mean, favorite ever. Of all time. Isn't that crazy?

There are so many books that I love but I have never invested myself in a main character's life as deeply as I did with Hanya Yanagihara's. 

A Little Life captures the complex relationships of four friends: Willem, JB, Malcom, and Jude. It is Jude's life that I found myself so dedicated to. Jude's suffering and his choices affect his friends in every possible way, and their beautiful, mundane, and sometimes tragic lives are intertwined and knotted so realistically that just writing about this book makes me teary-eyed.  I read this novel a few years ago and although I think about it often, I am afraid to read it again because the first time around was just so remarkable. All the feels. 

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  1Q84 is Haruki Marukumi's whopper of a novel. Clocking in at almost a thousand pages I decided to listen to the audio book while traveling on a summer trip. 1Q84 is such a complicated novel that (honestly) I'm not sure I would have finished it if I had started with the book but fortunately the audio book is so well done (by the talented Allison Hiroto, Marc Vietor, and Mark Boyettbut) that about half way through I had to go back to the library and borrow the book too! I was listening to the audio book in the car and in my free time supplementing with the paper copy. I was that invested. I ate this novel up and was riveted until the very last page.

1Q84 is a journey and Murukami's poetic prose fills the pages with passages like this:

"Wasn't it better if they kept this desire to see each other hidden within them, and never actually got together? That way, there would always be hope in their hearts. That hope would be a small, yet vital flame that warmed them to their core-- a tiny flame to cup one's hands around and protect from the wind, a flame that the violent winds of reality might easily extinguish."

If you don't have any plans to travel this summer I suggest you try this book. After completing 1Q84 you will feel exhausted, invigorated and changed as if you have participated in some incredible voyage. 

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  Crimson Petal and the White is a historical novel set in Victorian England. It follows the life of a prostitute named Sugar as she slowly ascends the class system from the nasty slums to high society . This book may be over 800 pages but is deliciously easy to get lost in. The details found in this book are delightful, and while reading this novel I could clearly imagine the dirty city streets, smell the gutters and the baker's shop, and comprehend the struggles of poverty and class in the mid 1800's. This book is juicy, this book is fun, this book is perfect for the beach! 

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Wally Lamb is a national treasure. He has several novels and ALL are wonderful and gripping. He lives in Connecticut and I had the pleasure of meeting him last year. Although he writes forceful novels, he is an extremely cheery person! His novel We Are Water is a favorite of mine  but at 897 pages his novel I Know This Much Is True HAS to be on this list. 

This staggering text follows the life of Dominick Birdsey as he grapples with the love and resentment he has for his twin brother Thomas. The bond the brothers share is strong and changes dramatically when Thomas begins struggling with mental illness and symptoms of schizophrenia. It is moving and oh so complicated. You will be hooked!

Wow! I am in love with this list. These books are all incredible. Seriously, I cannot recommend them enough!

 I hope everyone is slowing down this summer and taking some time to smell the flowers, feel the sunshine and lose themselves in  a superb book. 

Now GO! "Loiter and Learn Something!"

Museum Pass: The Florence Griswold Museum

Hello Friends! 

Did you know that libraries carry passes to museums and national parks? 

   If you are looking for a little bit of culture or an inexpensive (probably free) date night your library can help you!!!!!!

Just like borrowing a book, you can go to your library and borrow a museum pass!

 The Florence Griswold Museum

The Florence Griswold Museum

   Recently, I headed to the Florence Griswold Museum which I knew NOTHING about. I had been told by several people to check it out but for some reason I didn't listen!! Shame on me because this place is SO COOL!!!!!

Little bit of background, Florence Griswold inherited her family's estate in 1890. She was unmarried (gasp!) and had no siblings. She was alone and needed to find a way to pay off her parent's debt so she decided to turn her enormous house into an artists retreat. 

 Florence Griswold Museum

Florence Griswold Museum


Every summer a group of painters (mostly men, mostly impressionists) would take up residency in her home. 

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   The museum has lovely gardens where the trees were just starting to bloom and every flower was getting ready to pop. The river was off in the distance and framed with swaying pale grasses. 

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The porch of the main house was so inviting! I sat on the steps and imagined the boisterous conversations that took place over the clinking of crystal. 

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   The Florence Griswold Museum

 The Florence Griswold Museum

   The best part about Griswolds' house were the beautifully painted panels and doors. For twenty years, her guests would practice their talents on her house. The result is a massive collection of artistic expression.

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The dining room was like a dream.

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     A library complete with a door painting of a cow?! 
Cue heart eyes.!!

   Griswolds' house was a wonderful surprise. I had no idea I would enjoy it so much. It was an added bonus because the real reason I got all dressed up to visit the museum was the temporary exhibit
Pen to Paper: Artists' Handwritten Letters from the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art. 
 

                                         Saul Steinberg  1967

                                      Saul Steinberg 1967


     This exhibit, now closed, was a terrific way to spend the afternoon. I was in awe of the collection which included many artists that I idealize. It was so interesting to see love letters written in their scribbled hand or mundane notes in beautiful flowing cursive. It was such an inspiration that I couldn't wait to get home and write letters to all my favorite people. 
 

                                        Louis Lozowick  1932

                                     Louis Lozowick 1932

                                           Maxfield Parrish

                                        Maxfield Parrish

This exhibit was such a  graceful example of the dying
art of letter writing. 

                                            Joseph Cornell    1968

                                         Joseph Cornell 1968

                     Willard Metcalf   to Florence Griswold 1905

                  Willard Metcalf to Florence Griswold 1905

 
                                                                                                   John Sloan   Memory  1906

                                                                                                 John Sloan Memory 1906

    A huge THANK YOU!!! to the crew over at the Florence Griswold Museum! I am so grateful for the day I had. I suggest that everyone go visit! 

If in Connecticut, you can grab a    library pass
and then your admission is FREE!!
Go check it out!!!!