Endings of any kind are by definition beginnings of something else. We know that from every commencement speech we’ve ever heard, don’t we! Last week I finished my musings on the 32 parts of Bach’s Goldberg Variations. In a couple of weeks I end a self-described sabbatical by beginning work as the Interim Minister of Music at St. John’s Episcopal Church, Norwood Parish in Bethesda, Maryland. And these next few weeks bring us toward the end of my favorite season, summer. Yes, in all its humid glory, August is my favorite month, in part because there are little signs of change in the sounds and light of late August that I love. Changes that signal an ending. The kind of ending which promises a beginning.
I’m going to take a brief hiatus from writing Notes for a New Day. I’ll return in mid-September, when I will connect this blog with my work at St. John’s. Meanwhile, should August still hold some promise of quiet for you, seize the opportunity to read a book that you won’t have time for later. Here are some I’ve read this summer, and I happily recommend any of them to you:
A Gentlemen from Moscow by Amor Towles – An utter delight to read, with elements of mystery and history woven around the story of a man who transforms his life in surprising ways as he finds purpose.
Rules of Civility by Amor Towles – Because I loved the first book so much, I found his other published novel. A lesser work, but still beautifully written.
Absolutely on Music: Conversations with Seiji Ozawa – The great conductor’s genius, joy, and curiosity shine through in every exchange he has with author Haruki Murakami.
Resistance by Owen Sheers – However overused, lyrical is the only word I can come up with to describe this beautiful novel, set in Wales. It moves very slowly at first, but as you get to the middle you realize why. You have been drawn into the very soil of the Welsh mountains, away from what others might call the “real world,” and are as much a part of the landscape as the characters.
Chesapeake by James Michener – A book can only sit on your bookshelf for so long, staring reprovingly at you, and this became the summer it demanded to be read. It’s huge in every sense of the word, but the book that I thought was about a beautiful aspect of Maryland is actually about racism and the lingering effects of slavery on American society, and I happened to finish it the day of violent confrontation around those same topics in Charlottesville.
And a few books will travel with me for some serious porch sitting in western New York this week:
The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton – They had me with the book jacket description of a family’s “sprawling apple orchard.” I have a particular fascination with apples and how they’re grown.
Commonwealth by Ann Patchett – Well, because I just need to read everything by this author.
Happy endings. We’ll begin something new in September.