Summer Reading Inspiration

Digging through some totes in my living room, I found this archival evidence of my early obsession with books.

Library reading certificate, 1976.

During America’s Bicentennial year of 1976, my mother had enrolled me in a summer reading program at Jervis Public Library in my hometown of Rome, New York. The librarian had divided the group into two teams—the Cincinnati Reds and the New York Yankees—and we competed against each other for the most books read over the course of the summer. I can’t remember which side I was on, but the librarian was prescient, because Cincinnati would meet New York in the World Series later that year, with the Reds sweeping the Yankees to win the title.

I wish I had a list of the eighteen books I had read during the summer of ’76, as I would like to revisit some of them now.

As for this summer’s reading list, I am starting off with these selections.

The Beauty of Dusk: On Vision Lost and Found, a memoir by Frank Bruni.

Frank Bruni book cover.

Jack Kerouac: Collected Poems, published by Library of America, and The Closers by Michael Connelly.

Jack Kerouac: Collected Poems, published by Library of America.

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Hotel Room Drapes

Recently I spent a weekend in a hotel room in the Albany area while my wife attended a dermaplaning class at The Aesthetic Science Institute (ASI); she works as an esthetician in Fayetteville.

On the Sunday afternoon, while my three-year-old son curled up on the bed and fell asleep, I could not turn on the lamp to read or flip on the TV because I was afraid the bright light or the noise would wake him. I’m sure parents of toddlers can relate—you don’t mess with nap time. So while I had nothing to do, I listened to the AC unit purring and studied the drapes fluttering. And I thought about the loneliness of hotel rooms—especially on a Sunday afternoon.

I thought about all of the lonely people passing solitary hours in hotel rooms scattered across the globe. If I could have listened to music, I would have selected some Johnny Cash, Roy Orbison or Hank Williams. If I could have read a book, I would have chosen a Kerouac paperback or Steinbeck’s Travels with Charley: In Search of America—or even pulled the Bible out of the drawer and thumbed through the New Testament.

But with the baby sleeping soundly nearby, I dared not move. Instead, I pulled out my phone and captured the hypnotic motion of the drapes blowing. I wanted to freeze the ephemeral moment and preserve it digitally.

Later on, when I thought about the scene, I was reminded of Edward Hopper’s Hotel Room (1931).

Hotel Room (1931) by Edward Hopper.

And just a side note: the best part of my hotel weekend was being able to get fresh diner coffee from the Denny’s nearby.

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