One of my favorite parts of summer is the summer movie line-up because the summer is when blockbusters are released. I love to take in a good blockbuster. Who doesn’t? But, if I’m honest with myself, I know there hasn’t been a movie made which is better than the book.
In our last episode we were joined by author, Brent Lewis, who wrote a book about the impact the Eastern Shore has had on Hollywood. It’s an interesting juxtaposition then, that we follow that episode with our first ever curated summer reading list. Movies are fun. They take us away from our lives for a period of time, telling us stories that make us cry, laugh, and jump out of our seats. They bring stunning visual images to our eyes, and show us things we can’t see in real life. But when it comes down to it, one fact remains…
A good book is always better at telling stories than a good movie is.
Have you ever stopped to ask, “Why are books so much better than movies?”
Books tap into our imaginations in ways movies can’t. Generally speaking, movies play on only two of the five senses we use to experience life – vision and sound.
When we pick up a book, we engage our mind – our imagination – and we’re guided to worlds created by skilled authors who write in ways that tap into all of our senses. We are passive observers when we watch a movie. The experience is only as good as the creation we see on the silver screen; it’s limited to what the movie’s director imagined and was able to produce for us.
On the other hand, when we read a book, our imagination ignites. With the guidance of the author we enter into worlds movies only wish they could create, even as far as they’ve come. Our brains actively engage with the words on the page. We smell the smells the author describes, we feel the texture the author lays out before us, and we taste the flavors the author cooks up based on shared experiences we’ve all had. This even works in nonfiction books as authors’ writing brings us into rooms and settings we just can’t move ourselves into as we watch a film. As we read, we sit in the scene ourselves and experience the world laid out on the pages.
So, all this to say, I’m grateful for books. I’m more committed to the engagement when I read. It takes longer, and I learn more.
Thus, my desire to share a curated summer reading list as you sit on the … well, wherever it is you are spending your time on Delmarva. Perhaps it’s listening to the ocean waves crash on the beach by the Atlantic Ocean. Or, perhaps it’s on a porch watching the sun go down over the farmland. Maybe it’s listening to the birds and animals that call the marshland home. Perhaps your favorite summer pastime on Delmarva is to watch the sun go down over the Chesapeake. Whatever your favorite summer spot, you can take a book along with you to whisk you further away from whatever it is you’re escaping.
So, what exactly is a “curated” summer reading list versus just any other reading list? Well, a curated list is one that has been scrutinized by experts of some sort before being presented to the public. In our case, I asked the writers from the Eastern Shore Writers Association to share their favorite books by local Delmarva Authors. All of these works are written by Delmarva authors, ready by Delmarva authors, and recommended by Delmarva authors.
We offer these books in no particular rating order. We provide affiliate links so you can support these local authors by purchasing their work. It’s good stuff!
What book would you recommend to read this summer? Be sure to tell us in the comments below!
Here are 6 books to consider written right here on Delmarva. We’ll start with one familiar to listeners of Delmarva’s Own Podcast.
Stardust By the Bushel: Hollywood on the Chesapeake Bay’s Eastern Shore
Author: Brent Lewis
The title of this book is a master class on telling the reader what they’ll find on the pages within. From the earliest days of silent film, to the most famous stars from Planet of the Apes (Linda Harrison) and the Terminator series (Linda Hamilton), to all the on location filming sites you can imagine (ever wonder where Wedding Crashers or Failure to Launch were filmed?), Brent Lewis provides an in depth look at all things Hollywood on Delmarva.
“You might think that the Eastern Shore is as far from Hollywood as Pluto is from the Sun. But you would be wrong. In STARDUST BY THE BUSHEL, his latest non-fiction book, Brent Lewis masterfully tells you everything you didn’t know you didn’t know about the Eastern Shore’s numerous connections to Hollywood. It’s a fun, informative read that movie fans won’t want to miss.”
– Kenton Kilgore, Author of Lost Dogs,Wasted Lands, and Stray Cats
Author: Pat Valdata
Time and time again we find the most fascinating storytelling happens when we take a well-known story – in this case the creation story – and bring it into a new setting and addresses different questions. Seasoned poet Pat Valdata brings us a two-volume rethinking the creation myths from a feminist and modern perspective.
“Eve’s Daughters” by the novelist and poet Pat Valdata turned out to be a perfect read for me during Covid times. I was engaged, challenged, and educated.
Valdata presents a feminist revisioning of the creation myths found in most cultures—Part I based on the Sumerian myth of Inanna and Dumuzi and Part II refers to Milton’s retelling of the Adam and Eve Story in Paradise Lost.
The book captivated me with its beautifully constructed stories, well-developed characters, and a poet’s use of language. “Eve’s Daughters” reminds us that ancient themes in the Copper Age in Part I of her book are still present in the modern world in Part II. I’m picking this book up to read again given what’s happening in our world today.
– Nancie Laird Young, Author of Tea with Dad, Finding Myself in My Father’s Life
Chasing Alice: How the Life, Murder, and Legacy of an English Teacher Changed a Delmarva Community
Author: Stephanie Fowler
When an English teacher disappeared in the fall of 2011, the community of Salisbury, MD feared the worst. When the body of the beloved teacher was found several days later the same community asked, “How could this happen?” Fowler’s work is a tribute to the teacher who inspired so many and was written with the goal of keeping Alice’s spirit alive and well in a community to which she gave so much. Chasing Alice is a 2021 IPPI Bronze Award winner in the True Crime Category, and a Silver Winner in the Non-Fiction Authors Association.
Chasing Alice is a gripping look into how a good life can so easily go wrong and a reminder of how little we know about what goes on behind closed doors. Stephanie Fowler relates a personal tale that could be from any of our lives with tact and grace. The narrative will draw you in, but the storytelling and the connection Fowler establishes will stay with you long after you’ve finished the last chapter.
-Tony Russo, Author of Dragged Into the Light, and host of the This is War Podcast
Author: Kenton Kilgore
The end of the world for humans might not mean the end of life for our pets. In Lost Dogs we follow Buddy in his quest to find his family after the apocalypse. Discover what the world looks like through the eyes, mind and heart of a dog looking for his missing family.
With its inspired concept, unique characters and perspectives, and suspenseful storytelling, Kenton Kilgore’s Lost Dogs offers readers a work of fantasy-science fiction that is smart, imaginative, and heartfelt. Superb in every way, Lost Dogs is full of well-rendered action and adventure delivered through the larger themes of the bonds humanity shares with the rest of the animal kingdom, the importance of building trust and loyal friendships, and the need to belong to something bigger than ourselves. Years after its publication, Lost Dogs is still one of my favorite books written by a local author.
-Brent Lewis, Author of Stardust by the Bushel
The Norse Adventure Series
Author: Katie Aiken Ritter
Vikings, corrupt leaders, love and treason combine to make this three-part series a sure page-turner! This thrilling, escapist saga will take you to the Viking realm of Iceland in 979 A.D. as our hero, Kel, faces the difficult decision to stand up to his corrupt chieftain and risk the life of the one he loves.
Katie Aiken Ritter is one of those amazing writers who finds meaning in the complex associations of human struggle. She brings those issues alive on the pages, with vivid imagery and intense emotion. Her writing will open reader’s hearts and minds to engage fully with her characters—either deeply liking or disliking these fabrications of her imagination. One negative to keep in mind: Katie’s carefully-woven narrative, her action scenes, and her masterful dialogue may keep you awake reading until the wee hours!
-Constance Hayes Matsumoto, Co-Author, Of White Ashes, coming in early 2023
Dragged Into the Light
Author: Tony Russo
Sometimes we read a nonfiction book which makes our stomach churn. As we turn the pages we try and reassure ourselves, “This can’t possibly be true, right?” But, as Russo takes us through the reality that there are people who believe we are surrounded by lizards in disguise and super soldiers bent on destroying America, we are left to consider just what our Christian, American values have led us to. Dragged Into the Light is the 2022 IPPY Silver Award winner in the True Crime category.
Tony Russo’s new book, Dragged Into The Light: Truthers, Reptilians, Super Soldiers, and Death Inside an Online Cult, is a fascinating and deeply-researched wild ride through bizarre landscape of Sherry Shriner’s internet cult that believes in reptilians, the New World Order, witches, vampires, angels, aliens, demons, and so much more. Russo does an incredible job of navigating his readers through this field of conspiracy theories and logic land mines and he treats the two tragic deaths – one a murder and the other a suicide – linked to this cult with respect and introspection. I could not put this book down once I started it. From the opening sentence to the final notes, Tony’s narrative here is both compelling and interesting. His depth of research is feat and I found myself hooked by this nearly unbelievable yet true story. I feel like this was a story Tony was born to tell and he did a masterful job of it.
-Stephanie Fowler, Author of Chasing Alice, Owner of Saltwater Media
Lost & Found
Author: Kathryn Schulz
There are writers, and then there are writers who invite us into their own lives, sharing the lessons they’ve picked up along life’s way. Memoirs invite us to learn about ourselves as we consider the twists, turns, successes, failures, truths and wisdom bestowed upon us by an author willing to expose their inner being. Pulitzer Prize winning author Kathryn Schulz does just that.
In her memoir, Lost & Found, Kathryn Schulz breathes fresh meaning into the topics of grief and love. Often writers tackling these subjects become so wrapped up in their personal emotional responses, the reader is left feeling removed. Schulz avoids this problem, masterfully inviting the reader in by broadening her experiences to become meditations on the very nature of grief and love. Her book begins with the loss of her father, who Schulz clearly cherished and admired. Summoning the wisdom of writers, philosophers, science and the arts, Schulz leads us through an exploration of what it means to “lose” someone or something. In the next section, she uses a similar process to plumb the depths of what it means to be found—in this case by the woman she calls C, who later becomes her wife. Finding love after experiencing loss gives the book its hopeful tone. “I’d recognized love when I’d found it because I had seen it from my earliest days. … I had always known what it would look like: loyal, stable, affectionate, funny, forbearing, enduring.” Her father may be gone, but the seeds of affection he planted allow Schulz to carry forward.
– Emily Rich, Managing Editor of the Eastern Shore Writers Association’s Bay to Ocean Journal
What did we miss? Let us know in the comments below!
(And, if you can name a movie that is better than the book, please tell us! I need to see it!)