Summer Reads about the Outdoors

Stillmeadow Sampler | Gladys Taber

Summary: Gladys Bagg Taber (1899 – 1980) produced a large body of work during her lifetime. She wrote over 50 books, including fiction, nonfiction, cookbooks, children’s books, plays, poetry and more. Her best loved books are in her series about her life at Stillmeadow, her farm in the then rural country of Connecticut.

Recommendation: If your dream home would be 40 acres in the Connecticut countryside where you could plant, can, cook, and raise animals, you need to make the acquaintance of Gladys Taber.  Beginning in the 1940s, Gladys wrote a series of books about life in her Connecticut farmhouse, Stillmeadow.  She describes a thoughtful life, lived to the rhythm of the changing seasons.  If you’re into drama and thrills, she’s not for you.  But if you’d like to sit down with your cup of tea in the garden for a peaceful hour or two, you might want to check her out.

Quotes: “Well, any love makes us vulnerable. Whatever we love will give the gift of pain somewhere along the road. But who would live sealed in spiritual cellophane just to keep from ever being hurt? There are a few people like that. I’m sorry for them. I think they are as good as dead.”

Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom, and Practical Advice: Useful Tips and Fascinating Facts for Every Day of the Year | The Editors of the Old Farmer’s Almanac

Summary: The spirit of Ben meets the challenges of 21st-century living in Ben Franklin’s Almanac of Wit, Wisdom, and Practical Advice. This is 365 days’ worth of ingenious hints, practical solutions, and recipes, along with a generous portion of Ben’s witty maxims, historical tidbits, inventions, and advice. Packed with clever cleaning ideas, kitchen wisdom, smart gardening tips, savvy health hints, easy home-repair advice, weather wisdom, and, of course, money-saving strategies.

Recommendation: When is the best time to plant your corn?  What is the August full moon called? (It’s the “Sturgeon Moon”, in case you needed to know!) What happened on November 23rd in history?  Are you just a curious person?  This book is just plain FUN!  Best suited to dipping in for a delightful browse, there is always something unusual and interesting to learn.  I buy this for birthday gifts for my gardening friends and they always find it delightful.  I am NOT a gardener, by any means, and I find it delightful also. 

Quote: “January 1st.  ‘Firstfooters’, the first ones through the door of a dwelling on New Year’s Day, should always bring a small gift for good luck.  Among the traditional offerings are a chunk of coal, a loaf of bread, or a glass of spirits.’”

The Scent of Water | Elizabeth Goudge

Summary: Mary Lindsay is a born and bred Londoner who has enjoyed her city life–a prestigious job, and friends with whom she takes in the city pleasures of theatre, art and music. But fleeting memories of a childhood visit to her father’s elderly cousin out in the country are revived with the news that the woman has willed her home, the Laurels, to Mary. She makes an uncharacteristically sudden and life-changing decision to leave London for the country. The gradual unfolding of her understanding of herself, of the now-deceased woman who has bequeathed her home to Mary, and of the people of Appleshaw, all weave together in a most memorable story of love’s redemptive power.

Recommendation An Elizabeth Goudge book is best suited to a quiet afternoon, so that you can savor her depth of insight into why people act as they do.  She is a somewhat mystical writer, who is brilliant at looking below the surface of things to the truth underneath.  Her writing is lyrical, haunting and she writes about what really matters–love, forgiveness, selflessness.  I can’t even explain her depth–you’ll just have to give her a try.

Quotes: ““We all of us need to be toppled off the throne of self, my dear,” he said. “Perched up there, the tears of others are never upon our own cheek.”

“The sun is still there… even if clouds drift over it. Once you have experienced the reality of sunshine you may weep, but you will never feel ice about your heart again.”

About the author

Smithton Public Library

The Smithton Public Library District is located in southern Illinois, near St. Louis, MO. The library serves nearly 5,000 residents. We hope you visit us soon!