You never know what next chapter holds

Published 10:49 am Wednesday, March 29, 2017

“Life is like a book—some chapters sad, some happy and exciting. But if you never turn the page, you will never know what the next chapter holds.” (House of Leaders)

Vacation time is gearing up.

Airlines are being consulted and calendars are being pored over like treasure maps.

Friends and families are diligently coordinating times and locales.

One might say vacations are a huge production. I don’t envy any of it.

My husband and I have tried to plan a weekend to Mariemont, Ohio, for months. I would have better luck herding cats.

When I was growing up, the idea of a vacation was a reality every three years.

My father worked for the Armco Steel Corporation and every three years, he had 13 weeks vacation. That is one long time having your father around the house.

He managed to break the time into small increments so we could take “mini-vacations,” but most of the time, Daddy had a project — A new fence. Planting the garden. Watching baseball games in Central Park.

One of my favorite trips was to Potter’s Lake, a pay lake where we would travel to fish all day.

We would load up the station wagon with our Zebco rods and reels and an ice-filled white Styrofoam cooler for the fish we caught.

Daddy would go out to the compost pile (long before they were cool), and turn up the chocolate brown earth. Squirming in the loosened soil were the bulbous bodies used to tempt the catfish, bass and brim.

In a large basket, momma would load up with sandwiches, Snyder’s potato chips, iced tea and my favorite cookie even to this day, Fig Newtons.

Momma went with us, but this was a vacation day for her as well. Her Daphne du Maurier mystery tucked under her arms, she would stretch her Coppertoned legs out in the hot summer sun. Her blond curls ruffled by an occasional humid breeze, she read while we fished.

She was never bothered, but we would yell at her from time to time to show off our trophy-worthy fish.

Simple times. A book. A fishing pole. A peanut butter and jelly sandwich with potato chips.

The times are as vivid today as they were 50 years ago.

This year, while you are basking in the sun in tropic areas unbeknownst to me, I want to leave you with my top reads you might enjoy.

Dig those feet in the sand, slather on that sunscreen and relax.

1. “Everything, Everything” by Nicola Yoon. While this book is categorized as a young adult fiction book, it is one that resonated with me. As a mother, how far would I go to protect my child?

2. “Finding Audrey” by Sophie Kinsella. I love Sophie Kinsella. I love her British wit so much I laugh aloud. This is not funny, but the way she climbs inside the mind of a teenager is scary. Her first young adult novel, she shares the angst of a young girl suffering from debilitating anxiety and her family’s response.

3. “All the Bright Places” by Jennifer Niven. Imagine being the most popular girl in school who wants to end her life. Imagine being saved by the weirdest boy at your high school and being paired for a class project. One of my favorite reads this year, and a must read if you have teenagers.

4. “The Sun Is Also a Star” by Nicola Yoon. A totally different take on the immigration policies and the fury they are causing. You will laugh and cry and have your eyes and heart opened.

5. “A Man Called Ove” by Fredrik Backman. This book sat on my “To Be Read” pile for more than a year. I don’t know what I was waiting for, but definitely a story that brings a neighborhood together and leaves you with a great feeling. You will love Ove, the neighbors and his ability to grow, change and love.

6. “The Runaway Midwife” by Patricia Harmon. After reading Harmon’s earlier novels, this one is present day with her life as a midwife. There is a twist to this story that keeps you enthralled all the way to the end.

7. “The Pocket Wife” by Susan Crawford. You suffer from bipolar disorder and decide to quit taking your medicine. You awaken in your neighbor’s home, with her dead. A great psychological thriller and one you won’t soon forget.

8. “Inherit the Bones” by Emily Littlejohn. A debut novel about Gemma Monroe, a detective returning home to solve a crime. If you love this or even like it, then read “The Dry” by Jane Harper, another debut mystery set in the heat of Australia.

9. “Making Faces” by Amy Harmon. “God has given you one face and you make yourself another” (Hamlet). A sort of “Beauty and the Beast” retelling that captures a small town and the secrets, loves, hurts and dreams they harbor. A tear will definitely drop with this novel.

10. “Becoming Wise” by Krista Tippett. I enjoyed this book because the author makes me think. She interviews many people who share their souls, their authentic voices and their beliefs. A great read with great voices.

11-12. “Outrageous Openness” and “Change Me Prayers” by Tosha Silver. Why do we ignore the messages that push us to let the divine lead the way? The prayer book is a spiritual guide to prayer that accompanies the first book.

This spring break let your imagination run wild.

Embrace the world around you.

Walk barefoot and let the grass tickle your toes.

Glance up and look at those cotton candy clouds above your head.

Listen to the sound of the wind and the birds in the trees.

Pretend you are on a beach. Every time that you hear a horn honking, your cruise ship is taking you to ports unknown.

Feel the warmth of the sun on your skin, the gentle breeze running its fingers through your hair.

Be simple. Live simple.

Go throw out your fishing line and see what you catch.

Lisa Johns is a former teacher and librarian as well as an activist on revitalizing downtown Winchester.