Writing That Captures the Essence of May
The month of May is a wonderful, colorful time of blooming flowers, gentle warmth, and a perfect opportunity to dive into literature that encapsulates the spirit of this time of year. Here are three captivating works that revolve around or capture the essence of the month of May.
“May Day” by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Known for his masterful portrayal of the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald takes us on a different journey with his short story “May Day.” Set in the vibrant 1920s, Fitzgerald paints a vivid picture of the May Day celebrations, an occasion that symbolizes the arrival of spring and new beginnings. In this tale, Fitzgerald intertwines themes of love, class, and the transient nature of relationships.
The story follows a group of characters as they navigate the festivities of May Day in New York City. Through his exquisite prose, Fitzgerald skillfully captures the excitement and joy that permeates the city streets. Amidst the revelry, the characters’ lives intertwine, their paths crossing in unexpected ways.
Fitzgerald’s keen observations of social dynamics and his ability to delve into the complexities of human relationships shine throughout “May Day.” The story serves as a poignant reminder that amidst the celebration and merriment, love and connections can be both fragile and transformative.
“The Darling Buds of May” by H.E. Bates
The setting for this work is the picturesque English countryside, transporting readers to a simpler time. This tale captures the idyllic charm of rural life and follows the adventures of the Larkin family during the month of May.
The Larkin family, headed by the charismatic Pop Larkin, his vivacious wife, Ma along with their six children, embody the essence of a carefree and joyful existence. In May, when nature is arguably at its most resplendent, the Larkins immerse themselves in the beauty of their surroundings, reveling in the simple pleasures of life.
Bates’ evocative descriptions vividly portray the breathtaking landscapes, fragrant blooms, and the infectious enthusiasm of the Larkins. Through their infectious zest for life, the Larkins remind us to savor the joys of nature and embrace the abundance of May.
“The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows
While not exclusively centered around the month of May, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” encapsulates the spirit of resilience and hope that blossoms in the aftermath of war. Written in the form of letters, this captivating novel explores the lives of the inhabitants of Guernsey, a British island, during and after World War II.
May plays a symbolic role in the story as a time of renewal and rebuilding. Through the correspondence between the characters, we catch glimpses of their lives during May, as they navigate the challenges of the past and embrace the possibilities of the future. The letters paint a vivid picture of the island’s recovery, its natural beauty, and the indomitable spirit of its inhabitants.
Shaffer and Barrows skillfully weave together themes of love, friendship, and the power of literature. As the characters find solace in their book club, The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, they discover the transformative power of stories, particularly during the month of May, when nature’s resurgence mirrors their own journey of healing.
As May unfolds with its vibrant colors and gentle breezes, these three literary works offer a glimpse into the magic of the month. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “May Day” captures the intoxicating energy of the Jazz Age celebrations, while H.E. Bates’ “The Darling Buds of May” immerses us in the idyllic English countryside. Finally, “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society” by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows reminds us of the enduring power of hope and literature in the aftermath of war.
Give yourself a treat. Indulge in these literary treasures and allow yourself to be swept away by the enchantment of May. Whether you’re seeking tales of love, rural bliss, or post-war resilience, these books will transport you to worlds where the essence of the month comes alive on every page.
National Chocolate Chip Day
No, this is not a food blog but today I thought it appropriate to turn it over to a delicious treat, a cookie to be exact. The chocolate chip cookie is a classic American treat that consists of a soft, chewy cookie dough studded with chocolate chips, and today May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Day in the USA. This delicious holiday pays homage to the popular cookie, which is loved by many. It was invented by Ruth Graves Wakefield in the 1930s at the Toll House Inn in Massachusetts. Since then, the chocolate chip cookie has become an iconic dessert enjoyed by people of all ages.
What does this have to do with books and writing, you may ask? Here are three delicious novels that mention the holiday or the chocolate chip cookie:
“Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke: This cozy mystery is the first book in the Hannah Swensen series. The story revolves around a small-town baker named Hannah Swensen, who finds herself investigating a murder that takes place during the annual Lake Eden Chocolate Chip Cookie Contest.
“The Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder” by Joanne Fluke: Another book by Joanne Fluke with a similar title, this is the first book in the Hannah Swensen Mysteries series. Hannah Swensen, the owner of a cookie shop, becomes entangled in a murder investigation after one of her customers turns up dead. The story features delectable descriptions of cookies and includes recipes for chocolate chip treats.
“The Lost Art of Mixing” by Erica Bauermeister: While not solely centered around National Chocolate Chip Day, this novel explores the interconnected lives of various characters, including a pastry chef named Chloe, who bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie. The book delves into themes of love, loss, and the joy of food, with occasional mentions of chocolate chip cookies.
Chocolate chip cookies provide a delightful backdrop in these novels for those who enjoy both literature and delectable treats. Enjoy the celebration!
Enough writing for the moment. I’ve made myself hungry.
Enjoy National Chocolate Chip Day!
The Accidental Spy
The Accidental Spy by David Gardner is an entertaining and engaging read combining both humor and espionage. The story revolves around Harvey Hudson, a history professor who has lost everything and takes a high-tech job for which he is completely unqualified. When he outsources his work to India, he unwittingly becomes embroiled in a Russian cyberattack on the US petroleum industry.
The author skillfully creates a flawed and relatable protagonist in Harvey. Despite Harvey’s personal struggles (and there are many), Gardner manages to inject humor into the story, adding levity to an otherwise tense situation. Gardner weaves an intricate web of twists and turns that kept me guessing (and smiling) until the very end.
The book is a quick and easy read, and the pacing is just right. The writing is clear and concise, and the characters are well-drawn and believable. The Accidental Spy is a must-read for anyone who enjoys espionage thrillers with a touch of humor. Highly recommended!
About the author:
David Gardner grew up on a Wisconsin dairy farm, served in Army Special Forces and earned a Ph.D. in French from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught college and worked as a reporter and in the computer industry.
He coauthored three programming books for Prentice Hall, wrote dozens of travel articles as well as too many mind-numbing computer manuals before happily turning to fiction: “The Journalist: A Paranormal Thriller,” “The Last Speaker of Skalwegian,” and “The Accidental Spy” (all with Encircle Publications, LLC).
He lives in Massachusetts with his wife, Nancy, who is also a writer. He hikes, bikes, messes with astrophotography and plays the keyboard with no discernible talent whatsoever.
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April Fool’s Day
“Work? Why, cert’nly it would work, like rats a-fighting. But it’s too blame’ simple; there ain’t nothing to it. What’s the good of a plan that ain’t no more trouble than that? It’s as mild as goose-milk. Why, Huck, it wouldn’t make no more talk than breaking into a soap factory.” Huck Finn’s friend, Tom, trying to convince him to work for him by painting a fence on April Fool’s Day.
No one seems to know the origin of April Fool’s Day. Some believe it started in ancient Rome, where people celebrated the festival of Hilaria on March 25th, a day of merrymaking and pranks. Other sources suggest it may have originated from the spring equinox, a time of rebirth and renewal, when people would play pranks to celebrate the changing season.
The most popular theory, however, is that April Fool’s Day originated in France in the 16th century. In 1582, King Charles IX of France adopted the Gregorian calendar, which shifted the start of the new year from April 1st to January 1st. Some people resisted this change and continued to celebrate the new year on April 1st. These people were mocked and tricked by others, and the tradition of playing pranks on April 1st became widespread.
As in Huck Finn’s day, modern April Fool’s Day is celebrated around the world, with people playing practical jokes on each other and the media often publishing fake news stories for the occasion.
Here are three popular novels that mention the April Fool’s Day celebration in case you’d like to check them out:
“The Adventures of Tom Sawyer” by Mark Twain, a classic novel.
“To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee: In one scene of this Pulitzer Prize-winning novel, the Finch children play an April Fools’ Day prank on their reclusive neighbor, Boo Radley.
“The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown: This bestselling thriller features an April Fools’ Day prank played by the antagonist, who uses a fake phone call to lure the protagonist, Robert Langdon, into a trap.
The Importance Of Reading
I not only read but also write—short stories, poems, and murder mystery novels. My work is nothing super special, but it’s mine. I like to think it is an avenue providing escape, relaxation, entertainment, and a certain amount of pleasure to my readers. Sadly, book readership in America is declining, and I find that fact a bit depressing for several reasons, not the least of which is book sales. Beyond a personal business perspective, I am concerned for the long-term effects on society. Those effects can be devastating.
People Who Read Are Smarter
It’s true. People who read are, by in large, smarter. Why? Because reading is an essential skill that plays a vital role in personal and societal development. People who read books are often less ignorant about people, places, and things than people who don’t. Reading signifies a baseline intelligence, and careful choices of reading material may enhance that intelligence. Reading allows individuals to expand their knowledge, improve cognitive abilities and imagination, and gain a deeper understanding of the world around them. Reading for pleasure also provides an enjoyable and relaxing way to unwind and escape from the stresses of daily life. However, the statistics show reading for pleasure is becoming less common among Americans. According to ThinkImpact’s Literacy Statistics, in 2004, 28% of Americans age 15 and older read for pleasure on a given day. Last year, in 2022, the figure was about 19%. This decline in reading for pleasure is concerning and highlights the importance of encouraging and promoting reading among individuals of all ages.
Not Reading Has Considerable Downsides
Illiteracy is a significant problem in the United States, with 21% of adults being illiterate in 2022, and 54% having a literacy level below 6th grade. Illiteracy not only hinders the personal growth and development of individuals, but also has a detrimental effect on society. Low levels of literacy lead to a lack of workforce productivity, increased poverty, and higher crime rates. Studies have shown that illiterate individuals are more likely to be unemployed, have lower earning potential, and be dependent on government assistance. Furthermore, they are more likely to end up in prison, have poor health outcomes, and be unable to fully participate in society.
The cost of illiteracy is staggering, with some estimates suggesting that it costs the US up to $2.2 trillion per year. This highlights the importance of addressing the problem of illiteracy and investing in programs that promote literacy and reading. These programs include adult literacy programs, English as a second language classes, and programs that provide children with access to books and reading materials.
I have no doubt reading is an essential skill that plays a vital role in personal and societal development. However, the decline in reading for pleasure among Americans and the high levels of illiteracy in the US do not bode well for the future. I believe it is crucial to encourage and promote reading among individuals of all ages and invest in programs and activities promoting literacy and reading. By addressing the problem of illiteracy, we can improve the productivity of our workforce, reduce poverty, and create a more educated and engaged society.
And, while we are on the subject, what have you read lately?
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I’m Not Sleeping, Just Thinking With My Eyes Closed
Haven’t posted lately but that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle. As John Lennon and others have said, “Life is something that happens to us while we’re busy making other plans.” Beyond time-consuming personal and medical issues, I’ve continued work on the second book in my Runevision Murder Mystery series as well as writing more short-stories for my second book in that genre. I also have three books in queue to finish reading, at least one of which, I plan to review here.