The “Dog Days” of Summer

posted in: authors, Holidays, reading, Reviews | 0

It’s hard to believe summer is almost over! Though the calendar says there are still a few weeks left, many Ohio schools are already back in session. With Labor Day marking the unofficial end of summer, we thought we would take a look at some great books to enjoy during these final “dog days” of summer.
Most people tend to think of the “dog days” of summer as those days that are the most hot and humid. However, this ubiquitous phrase has its origins in astronomy. The ancient Greeks were the first to notice that the “dog star,” Sirius, rose and set with the sun during July and August. They thought this was the reason for extra heat during that time of year.

Over time, this phrase has come into more common use to describe the type of steamy weather Ohio has seen for much of this summer, when many our canine buddies want to lie around and enjoy some fun in the sun (or shade!). Of course, dogs are not the only ones who like lounging on a hot summer day. Here are some great hot weather reads to help soak up the last few days of sun:

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fun Dog, Sun Dog by Deborah Heiligman, illustrated by Tim Bowers
Meet Tinka – a dandy, sandy golden retriever, and the little boy who loves her, as they spend a busy, dizzy day at the beach. With rhyming text and adorable watercolors by Ohioan Tim Bowers, this is a story that the whole family will enjoy. Ohioana’s furry friend, Kirby thinks it’s a delightful “tail!”

Photo courtesy of KATHRYN POWERS

 

 

 

 

 

The Summer That Melted Everything by Tiffany McDaniel

This debut novel by the 2017 Ohioana Readers’ Choice Winner is the perfect choice for a scorching summer day. It’s the tale of the summer of 1984, when a blistering heatwave baked the small town of Breathed, Ohio. Fielding Bliss never forgot that summer – the year he became friends with the devil.

ST. MARTINS PRESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Last Summer with Maizon by Jacqueline Woodson
This first novel by Ohio native and 2018-19 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature tells the story of the beautiful friendship of Margaret and Maizon. The summer Margaret turns eleven, her father unexpectedly dies. Then Maizon is accepted at an expensive boarding school, far away from the place they have grown up together. This exploration of self-discovery and issues like racism and death is a realistic, touching look at the lives and friendships of young African-American girls, and their journey toward adulthood.

PUFFIN BOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

 


The Common Summer: New & Selected Poems  by Robert Wallace
A collection of poems on the season, by the late, celebrated Cleveland poet Robert Wallace. Mary Oliver describes his poems: “Often they have a shimmering quality, as though light was held inside the lines.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One Evil Summer (Fear Street #25) by R. L. Stine
In this fun entry from the Bexley native who has given kids nightmares for decades, it’s summer at the beach and Amanda Conklin is stuck in summer school. At least she doesn’t have to take care of her bratty little brother and sister – that’s Chrissy’s job. Chrissy is the perfect babysitter. But Chrissy has a secret – she’s a cold-blooded killer!

R.L. STINE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How to Survive a Summer by Nick White
This debut novel by OSU Assistant Professor Nick White centers around a gay conversion camp in Mississippi, and a man’s reckoning with the trauma he faced there as a teenager. It is the story of reconciling the past and learning from the present, of found family, and of working through trauma and grief to reclaim your own story from those who have stolen it.

BLUE RIDER PRESS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Lake Effect by Erin McCahan
In this novel by 2018 Ohioana Book Award Finalist Erin McCahan, it’s the summer after senior year, and Briggs Henry is out the door. He’s leaving behind his ex-girlfriend and his parents’ money troubles for Lake Michigan and its miles of sandy beaches, working a summer job as a personal assistant, and living in a gorgeous Victorian on the shore. It’s the kind of house Briggs plans to buy his parents one day when he’s a multi-millionaire. But then he gets there. And his eighty-four-year-old boss tells him to put on a suit for her funeral. So begins a summer of social gaffes, stomach cramps, fraught beach volleyball games, moonlit epiphanies, and a drawer full of funeral programs. Add to this Abigail, the mystifying girl next door on whom Briggs’s charms just won’t work, and “the lake effect” is taking on a whole new meaning.

DIAL BOOKS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books are the best gifts

posted in: Holidays | 0

It’s never too late to buy Yuletide/Holiday/Christmas presents. Even if you were to be abducted by aliens on December 24 and not released from the Mother Ship until December 26, you can always apologize to those on your Christmas list. They’ll understand, especially if you take a tip from the Wise Men and arrive bearing a gift. And what gift is better than a book?

And you can buy books everywhere — the grocery store, the drug store, large chain stores, at the airport, used book stores, thrift stores, art and craft stores, independent and chain book stores …. can you think of some other places that we missed?

And isn’t it wonderful to unwrap a book on a holiday morning? All of the noise is over and you can sit down and read. And if reading a new book on a holiday makes you happy, you know it will make your family and friends happy too.

Books: The perfect gift!

 

 

A Christmas to break your heart

posted in: authors, Holidays | 0
O. Henry in 1909.

If you look up the word “pathos” in the dictionary, you’ll find The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry.

Not really. But we consider that an oversight to be corrected.

Some people consider the story comic, what with the twist and all: the married couple each giving up something cherished in an attempt to give one another a significant and meaningful gift — only to wind up weirdly missing the mark.

How is that funny? It’s not. It makes you cry. They’re poor as church mice and at the end of it all, what do they have to show one another? Bupkis. Except for the love between them, of course.

One of Columbus’ most famous temporary residents was the author of that story.  O. Henry, the best-known pen-name of short story William Sydney Porter, spent three years in the Ohio Penitentiary on a charge of embezzlement. He’d been on the run and  hiding in Honduras, but when he learned his wife was dying of consumption (tuberculosis), he came back to the United States and faced a jury. Some of his stories were even published while he was jailed. The Gift of the Magi wasn’t one of those, but it is unarguable the most famous story written by this popular and prolific writer.

Porter died young, and we’re not sure if ever came back to Ohio after leaving the penitentiary in Columbus. Some folks say that his pen name came from his time behind those walls: “O. H.” from Ohio, and then “enry” from “penitentiary.” We think that’s a bit of s stretch but we’ll also take it.

If the story makes you cry or makes you smile, it is truly about the spirit of giving and really giving until it hurts. May the spirit of the season grow large and bright within you.

Kind of like Christmas: December 5

posted in: David's Blog, History, Holidays | 0
King Gambrinus in Columbus, Ohio

He looks like a certain jolly old elf and he does bring gifts, but he’s not Santa. He’s King Gambrinus and he doesn’t have a special day, but maybe he should. We’d like to suggest December 5 because of its significance in United States History: it’s the day that Prohibition ended.

In 1933, after a less-than-successful run at being alcohol-free, America threw in the towel, effectively saying “Oh to heck with it,” and alcohol was again legal and could be sold, produced, transported, and generally enjoyed.

Our very own King Gambrinus statue in Columbus once adorned a brewery owned by August Wagner, a Bavarian brewer. The statue was saved even though the building is long gone, and his serene highness is now on display in Columbus’ Brewery District.

Beer is back in Columbus and all over Ohio with the rise of independent brewers. The later day beer barons and the fruits of their labors are celebrated in books like Ohio’s Craft Beers by Paul Gaston, published by Kent State University Press.  The latest addition to the genre of Ohio beer book includes Columbus Beer: Recent Brewing & Deep Roots by Curt Schieber.

King Gabrinus himself is less well-documented. He’s not exactly a god and certainly not a historic figure. He’s like Bacchus or any other merry reveler of myth; a personification of good times. With one leg up on a barrel and a foaming flagon held high, he reigns victorious over lesser beverages.

Our attitude is one of gratitude!

posted in: Holidays | 0

Here at Ohioana, we have a lot to be thankful for. We’re thankful that we get to work with books and people who love them, just for starters. And on this day before Thanksgiving, we want to send a shout-out to some very special folks:

  • To the political leaders who approve our budget. Nonprofit organizations like ours need friends at the Statehouse. We promise to never let you down and to always live up to the trust you place in us to be good stewards of resources that form the backbone of Ohioana.
  • To the Ohio writers. You know how people use the word “literally” when they mean “figuratively”? This is not one of those times. We LITERALLY can’t do this without you and we just love you to pieces! Thank for your support as we strive to support you! And keep writing!

To the supporters, members, and volunteers. Because you subscribe to the Ohioana Quarterly, because you help out at the Book Festival, because you keep reading, we keep going. Thank you for all of your help in 2017!

To the Ohioana Board. Through thick, through thin, you folks are always there, moving us forward and getting into the nitty-gritty of what it takes to keep a nonprofit organization relevant and healthy. Thank you for all of the lunch meetings, suggestions, actions, and innovations.

To book publishing houses. Thank you for your generous gifts of books, promotional materials, author pictures and book cover images, books (we said books, right?) and cross-promotions. We love it when you follow us on social media, and we love to follow back.

To book sellers. Thank you for keeping the wheels of commerce rolling. We’re all in this together.

To the staff. What happens when you get a book-loving staff together with a bunch of political leaders, Ohio writers, supporters/members/volunteers, board members, publishers and books sellers? You get Ohioana.

Happy Thanksgiving!

An Ohio Halloween

posted in: History, Holidays | 0

BOO! Did we scare you? Just a little?

It’s that time of year, when pumpkins get carved into jack-o-lanterns and everyone dresses up in great costumes to pretend to be someone (or something) else for a day. There’s plenty of scary stuff right here in Ohio, and fun stuff too — and serious stuff.

A recent article in the Columbus Dispatch, written by Nancy Gilson, featured the work of James Willis. James chases folklore, ghosts stories, and ghosts. He’s the author of three perfect Halloween books: Weird Ohio, The Big Book of Ohio Ghost Stories, and the most recent offering, Central Ohio Legends & Lore. You can follow him on Twitter at @GhostsofOhio to get all of the latest and greatest.

There’s plenty of book offerings in the category of cemeteries in Ohio as well, like Buried Beneath Cleveland: Lost Cemeteries of Cuyahoga County, by Wiliam Krejci. So if you are troubled by poltergeists, it could be that your house or your business is built over the top of a graves that didn’t get moved. Cemeteries that aren’t hidden  are spooky and creepy, for sure, and in older ones if you walk across the grave, the ground might sink under your feet a bit (so DON’T DO THAT! OMG!). But cemeteries  are also full of stories, and one of the few places that ordinary people can be memorialized for posterity.

So if you are looking for spooky thrills on the 31st, check the local paper and see if there’s still time to find a corn maze, a haunted tour, or that perfect pumpkin ready for carving!