Book Report: Lucy by the Sea

Rating: 5 out of 5.

What? A book report? I know, I haven’t been writing many of these lately (for all two of you who read them). But, between all the crafting and horsing, there hasn’t been much reading other than the huge number of magazines (mostly about horses and houses) that I devour every month or week. For some reason, I subscribed to People when it replaced a magazine I liked that went out of print and finding out what is happening to the same small group of “famous” people each week takes a LOT of my time. People seems compelled to tell me who this Pete Davidson person is dating every week, which, I must admit, is a new person most weeks. Why anyone should be so interested in a not-that-funny comedian is beyond me, but hey, at least he isn’t tweeting swastikas.

This woman can WRITE

And now let’s talk about the book I did read, which is Lucy by the Sea, by my current favorite author, Elizabeth Strout. You may recall that I have read a lot of other books by her, since the old book club read one of her novels a year or two ago, before I became an outcast (which may explain why I haven’t been reading many novels–there’s no one to encourage me, and novels remind me of being rejected so resoundingly by “friends” from my old neighborhood).

I need to be more like Lucy Barton, the protagonist in this book, who was raised outside of society, so misses social cues a lot. In some ways, that can be a relief. Anyway, this book covers recent years in the life of Lucy, during the pandemic and the previous US President’s time in office. Her ex-husband takes her to Maine to escape New York City just before the really bad COVID outbreak hit there.

Strout shares Lucy’s impressions of the ensuing events in her gloriously spare style, where you sometimes have to sit there and think about a sentence for a few minutes, because there’s so much implied but not stated. And because of Lucy’s unconventional upbringing, she is able to see some of the events of the past few years differently than folks like me would see them, which led me to think hard about some of my prejudices against people of different backgrounds from mine. This pleased me. I think many of my friends ought to read this book just for the chance to get a glimpse into how another person thinks.

Lucy is not someone who’d probably be my friend in real life, but she’s someone who can teach me a lot, and that’s better, I think. The way she sees the world clarifies my own world view (I’m not being too specific so you can read the book yourself and have your own “aha” moments.) But, here’s something I enjoyed, when Lucy is talking about God to a friend:

It’s our duty to bear the burden of the mystery with as much grace as we can.

p. 150

That sums up God for me.

One more thing Lucy thought of that rang true was when she talked about people you meet being like ping pong balls bouncing into each other, and how inevitably, you will bounce back a little. But you never know who the ball will next bounce into, even briefly, and have an effect. (She says it better than that.) (pp. 186-7)

If you are my friend or are experiencing life these days as confusing, I think you should get this one and read it slowly, savoring it, as a lot of people I know have been doing. It will stick with you! (And PS, Olive Kittredge, from the first book, shows up in the periphery, so this book nicely ties in the whole Olive and Lucy series.)

Does Anyone Read Magazines?

The answer is yes, Suna loves magazines. The view from either side of “my” chair at the ranch house will tell you so.

That’s Western Horseman, Interweave Knits, and New Scientist. And a book.

I’m worried that they will all go away, though. They get thinner and thinner. Then they go quarterly. Then they’re only online (bye Newsweek).

That’s Science News, Texas Parks & Wildlife, and books. Hmm. And my hand.

Sometimes I feel like I’m keeping the entire industry going. But I like them. They’re a happy surprise when I check the mail. I never know what I’ll get to learn about. And, in some cases, they’re something pretty and harmless to take my mind off real life.

I just love the variety of writing styles and topics. And I have so many interests. I wish I had a magazine for each of them! But I’d have no time to pursue those interests if I did.

Believe it or not, I’ve cut down lately. Some for financial reasons, some for the aforementioned trend of magazines folding. But here are some I read, and why:

  • New Scientist: it’s a weekly from the UK. I like it’s perspective. But once my inexpensive first year is over, it will go.
  • Science News: Lee has subscribed for decades. It summarizes research for lay people, but has no agenda. It’s weekly and US focused.
  • Interweave Knits. Most wonderful knitting magazine left. We almost lost all the Interweave publications. I had to cut a couple others, but I still get this one. Great writing.
  • Knitter’s. Basically I like the folks who run this and want to give them money. Benjamin Levisay is a great human. I hardly knit anymore but want to support the industry.
  • Texas Parks & Wildlife. I volunteer for them as a Master Naturalist. Plus they deserve my support. Also great photos and articles by people I know.
  • Texas Highways. Used to be for ideas of places to go. Now for info on places I miss.
  • Western Horseman. Best horse and western lifestyle magazine. Fantastic writing. Great photography. I learn so much history and horse lore. They have a wonderful monthly feature on women of the west.
  • Horse and Rider. I think. This used to be two monthly magazines and is now one quarterly one. Lots of horse health information and at least some of the horses aren’t quarter horses.
  • Equus. Okay I like to look at horses.
  • InStyle. I’ve read this since it started. Fashion stuff but pretty darned feminist. Escapism.
  • HGTV. Well, I renovate houses. It’s practically work related. Rather lightweight and overly trendy.
  • This Old House. See above, but more practical information and less trend-focused.
  • Architectural Digest. Not what it used to be. I miss the really long articles on architecture. But I love all the interesting buildings around the world.
  • Psychology Today. I just love it. It’s fun and often helpful. Not all that scholarly, but at least it has references.
  • Lion’s Roar. Buddhist stuff. You learn a lot about the different traditions and get good ideas for personal growth.
  • Mother Jones. To get me all riled up about stuff. Hard to read sometimes. Makes me sad.
  • Condé Nast Traveler. It comes for free. Too many expensive places I’ll never get to go to.
  • Woman’s Day and Good Housekeeping. For recipes and silly craft ideas. Relaxation reading.
  • National Geographic. I love all the biology, botany, geography and other research they share. Still informative after all these years.
  • Southern Living. This used to be more interesting, but I still like to learn about different places, and see more interiors. And there are recipes.
  • Veranda. No idea why I thought I needed another home decor magazine. I guess I like to look at houses.
  • Living Bird. This comes from my Cornell Labs membership to support their work. I like it better than other bird magazines.
  • AARP. I don’t ever get to this, though there are occasional articles I like. Still loathe to admit I’m in the demographic.
My view while reading. Pond, birds, dogs (beside me) and clouds.

See, I’m supporting an entire industry. At least it keeps me off Facebook, so people will stop looking down on me for it. Too bad. I also like far-flung friends.

The canine companions. Harvey hates heat.

So, any recommendations? What periodicals do you enjoy? Do you read on paper or online? Do you save any? So many questions. Gotta get back to reading.

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