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The Book Buzz

South Shore women share their summer reads

With beach chairs and porch swings beckoning in summer, South Shore readers love this time of year to indulge their passion. The only generalization I can see is that while we all have personal preferences in genre, we’re always eager to share a good summer read with others.

Maria Kennedy, a mother of two from Milton, is enjoying one of Elin Hilderbrand’s early novels, “Nantucket Nights,” a story about the many layers of female friendship.

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For 20 years, three women friends perform the same ritual: On a balmy summer evening, they put aside the trials and tribulations of their daily lives, drink champagne, and swim naked under the Nantucket stars. This time, though, one doesn’t return to shore. As the remaining two begin to emerge from their grief, they begin to uncover secrets that hold the potential to destroy all that they hold dear.

“It’s an easy, escapist read,’’ Kennedy said, “but I think readers will enjoy not only reading about these relationships, but also that the story takes place in Nantucket, and it’s delightful to recognize famous New England markers and familiar locations in the setting of the story.”

Other South Shore readers are similarly drawn to stories because of the setting, but for Maureen Foster, a Weymouth native who now lives in Marshfield, the locale of her summertime book is a bit more distant.

“I have really been enjoying ‘The Shipping News,’ by E. Annie Proulx,” Foster said.

“I first visited St. John’s, Newfoundland, in 1979, and a very dear friend whom I met back then just recommended this novel. I find the book interesting because it tells the story of one man’s discovery of his own self-worth and his family’s sordid past when relocating to Newfoundland.

“The book speaks to me personally, because my mother grew up in Newfoundland and my grandfather was a fisherman there,” said Foster. “However, I think others will like it because Proulx [who also wrote ‘Brokeback Mountain’] gives the reader a vivid and realistic view of the beauty of the land and its people.”

Stories about journeys of self-discovery seem to hold great appeal for South Shore residents.

Norwell’s Marina Selby, a mother of three and a Holbrook High School English teacher, is reading “The Tender Bar” by J.R. Moehringer.

“I love memoirs. This one is about a boy raised by a struggling single mother who wanted her son to make something of himself,’’ Selby said. “Substitute the phrase ‘it takes a village’ to raise a child, with ‘it takes a bar.’ This story illustrates that you can take a very unconventional path towards success vs. the white-picket-fence route.”

Selby said that despite tremendous adversity, Moehringer went on to graduate from Yale and become a New York Times writer and Pulitzer Prize winner.

Hingham resident Ellen Everett, a mother of three and a former attorney, also enjoys books that focus on self-exploration, but said she prefers to find them among the classics that she didn’t have the time to read in earlier years.

“I always like to read a couple of classics in summertime in order to give them my fuller attention. This summer, I’m reading ‘Lady Chatterley’s Lover’ by D.H. Lawrence, which is about one woman’s sexual awakening and exploration of the passions that make life worth living.”

While noting the book was notorious in the 1920s for describing an illicit physical relationship between an upper-class woman and a working-class man, Everett called it “a beautiful story.”

“It’s really pretty tame by today’s standards” she said. “But I think other readers will not only enjoy Constance’s discovery of physical awakening, but the sensual and metaphorical descriptions of D.H. Lawrence. The prose is intoxicating.”

Some other readers, meanwhile, are reading material of a much more practical nature, and enjoying it as well.

Colleen Connelly, mother of two from Quincy, is reading “The Anatomy of Buzz Revisited: Real-Life Lessons in Word-of-Mouth Marketing” by Emanuel Rosen.

“While I’m a student of marketing, I think everyone can find something of value in this book, which cites numerous examples and case studies of how word-of-mouth marketing and social media combine to create positive or negative buzz about a product or service,’’ Connelly said. “It’s really about how information flows in society and the impact of social media on that process.”

Says Connelly: “Not only is this a good read about principles to effectively market, but it really is also an unsettling commentary about how easily the public can be manipulated to a product’s advantage. It will make you think twice about the way we communicate and who we should trust for recommendations for products and services.”

Ellen Everett says, “As readers, South Shore residents are each as different in their preferences as the towns we choose to live in.”

Yet, she added, “whether you prefer to indulge your heart, mind, or senses in the material you choose, summertime is the best time of year to give reading full rein.”

Nancy Harris can be reached at dr.nancy23@gmail.com.
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