Confined To Home? Escape Into A Book

By: Debra Lawless

Cape Cod author Joseph Lincoln, as portrayed by artist Harold Brett.

As news about the coronavirus pandemic dominates the airwaves and new cases are discovered here on Cape Cod, many of us, sheltering in our homes, have taken to reading as a comfort and a pastime.

As of last week, Yellow Umbrella Books was still open for business, although by press time it may be shuttered. “We’re going on a day-to-day basis to see what we can do,” owner Eric Linder said in a telephone interview.

Where the Sidewalk Ends Books is closed; pre-paid book orders can be picked up on its porch, delivered to Chatham and Harwich or mailed, says store co-owner Caitlin Doggart.

Linder noticed that 10 days ago the trend for people who came in looking for one book was to pick up additional books. He joked that he was considering hanging a sign in the window that read “Hoard Books, Not Toilet Paper.” So to help your book hoarding project, we are listing here popular new books, books recommended by local residents, and books written by local residents.

Here are a few new books that Linder says are popular: Erik Larson’s “The Splendid and the Vile: A Saga of Churchill, Family, and Defiance During the Blitz;” Lee Child’s “The Sentinel,” #25 in the Jack Reacher series; Hilary Mantel’s “The Mirror and the Light,” the conclusion of the Wolf Hall trilogy; Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale” and its sequel “The Testaments;” Ta-Nehisi Coates’ “The Water Dancer;” Ann Patchett’s “The Dutch House;” Sally Rooney’s “Normal People;” and, of course, Linder’s own favorite, Spencer Quinn’s “Heart of Barkness,” the latest in the funny and touching Chet and Bernie mystery series.

Linder observed that some customers are turning back to the classics—either books they once enjoyed or books they now have time to read. Other readers are turning to poets such as Mary Oliver. “Her stuff is very inspiring, and nature-based,” he says.

Here are books you might enjoy that local residents are reading:

Chatham flutist LeeAnn McKenna has turned to the classic, “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott, but says her reason has “nothing to do with the pandemic or comfort.” It’s just “about time” to read it.

Cape Cod author Jim Coogan is re-reading Joseph C. Lincoln. “Always a happy ending,” he says. It so happens that Coogan grew up in Lincoln’s childhood home on Route 6A in Brewster. Yellow Umbrella keeps a good supply of Lincoln’s books in stock.

Danielle Jeanloz, executive director of the Chatham Historical Society, has gone in a nerve-wracking direction in reading “Midnight in Chernobyl: The Untold Story of the World’s Greatest Nuclear Disaster” by Adam Higginbotham. “Captivating and scary on so many levels,” she says. And Doggart of Where the Sidewalk Ends just “devoured” “Station Eleven” by Emily St. John Mandel. It tells the story of a world vastly altered by a flu pandemic.

Chatham summer resident Maxim D. Shrayer, author of “A Russian Immigrant: Three Novellas,” is rereading the complete works of Ivan Bunin, the first Russian writer to be awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. His wife, Karen Lasser, has joined their two daughters in reading “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy, the girls’ home school assignment.

Chatham resident Robin Dubis Zibrat’s book clubs are no longer meeting. So she is reading “The Gown: A Novel of the Royal Wedding” by Jennifer Robson and “This Tender Land” by William Kent Krueger. Beth Eldredge is reading “Educated: A Memoir” by Tara Westover and “A Good Neighborhood” by Therese Anne Fowler. Audrey Lafrance Greenway of Harwich is reading the four-part “Neapolitan Novels” by Elena Ferrante. “They are fabulous,” she says.

Need some more suggestions? Here are some recent books by local authors:

Donna M. Bevans, “The Captain’s House.” A spooky tale about a young couple who open a B&B in a cursed 18th century house in Harwich Port.

Matt Fitzpatrick, “Crosshairs: A Justin McGee Mystery.” This debut novel delves into Boston’s grittier side with a Boston attorney who moonlights as an assassin.

Anne D. LeClaire, “The Orchid Sister.” Bestselling author LeClaire explores how things go wrong when people seek the fountain of youth.

Sean Padraic McCarthy, “In the Midst of the Sea: A Novel of Paranormal Horror.” This pleasurably-creepy debut novel is set on off-season Martha’s Vineyard.

Beth Meigs, “The Dreamer IV: The Cave of Bones.” The fourth installment in a series set in a prehistoric era and told in the voice of a Neanderthal.

Skip Rozin, “The View from Apartment Four: On Loving and Leaving New York.” A paean to a one-bedroom apartment on West 77th Street in Manhattan.

Gail Tilton, “Mermaid Sighting in Chatham.” A picture book for children about an enchanted voyage from the Chatham Fish Pier to an island.

David Van Wye, “Vietnam Blues.” A fictional exploration of the meaning of the Vietnam War by a veteran.

Keith Yocum, “Valley of Spies.” The third book in the trilogy featuring Dennis Cunningham, a retired CIA operative.

To order books to be sent to you from Yellow Umbrella Books, email ericlinder@comcast.net. Where the Sidewalk Ends Books is offering prepaid pickups of books on its porch at 432 Main St. and free Chatham/Harwich deliveries once a week. For more information on those services, call 508-945-0499. To order from that store, visit bookshop.org/shop/sidewalk.