What This Summer Needs is a Good Story

Posted by Stephanie Duttenhaver on

“That night, arms folded under her head, she lay on her porch bed, a slight smile on her face...”

I sip a little more iced tea and turn the page. I don’t want to close the book yet on the saltwater world and coming-of-age yearnings of Kya Clark in Where the Crawdads Sing  by Delia Owens—a tragic, beautiful novel set in the wild islands and marshes of the Carolina coast in the 1950s and ‘60s.

The bestseller paperback is one of those terrific escapes of love, secrets and landscape, especially in summer, when the extra hours of daylight offer more time to steal away to the porch, the beach house, or wherever the day leads.

It seems the pull to read grows stronger with the sunshine, and that’s a good thing. According to a study at the University of Sussex, reading calms our muscles and mind. Falling into a story certainly relaxes the face. (You know we like that at Sapelo!) Reading to distraction is the goal, in order to reach a lower-stress state. Researchers say it can take as few as six minutes of silent reading for the reader to be immersed in the story enough for the heart rate to slow, and stresses slip away. Listening to music or taking a walk are also calming activities, but it’s reading that reduces the most stress—by 68 percent, the most of all three.

 Sapelo Summer Reads 2019

What books to dive into in this hottest of seasons? To celebrate the calm joys of summer reading, Sapelo Skin Care is compiling midsummer-dreamy suggested reads. On our list:

  - Just out this spring, I Miss You When I Blink, by Mary Laura Philpott (Murdoch Books, 2019) is a memoir that’s getting lots of buzz for Philpott’s quirky wit and honesty about ordinary life in Atlanta and then Nashville. Even the cover is charming—a pattern of eyelashes in a rainbow of colors—and the essays are rich with laugh-out-loud moments. A favorite chapter is a musing on the time Philpot wore a vintage aqua, orange and green polyester dress to a dinner party with a “Disco Inferno” theme, and she was the only guest in costume, besides her husband in an unbuttoned paisley shirt. “Turns out nobody ever dressed up for (that) supper club,” she wrote, lesson learned.


 - Rich in Love by South Carolina author Josephine Humphreys (Penguin Books, 2000) was first published in the 1980s, and it’s still a classic. The truly beautiful story of a family unraveling is set in Mount Pleasant and was made into a movie starring a young Kathryn Erbe and Ethan Hawke along with Albert Finney and Jill Clayburgh and Kyle McLachlan. But the book must be read(!) to fall into the vivid voice of Lucille Odom, the young narrator. “If I had one personality trait, it was vigilance... I stuck to the highway. Even though I had already been on it that morning, I saw new things.”


 - In Where the Crawdad Sings by Delia Owens (Random House, 2018), the lead character might be a 20th-century Huck Finn, “dressed in the now too-short peach chiffon, Kya walked barefoot to the lagoon on July 4 and sat on the reading log.”  She’s alone in the natural world of coastline and salt creeks, and her story of survival draws in the reader so tenderly.


 - Terrific for recipes from Shrimp Pie to Dancing School Fudge but only part cookbook, Mrs. Whaley Entertains is by Emily Whaley, in conversation with William Baldwin (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, 1998). The compact book is also a gem for joyfully funny anecdotes and full-of-life wisdom. Mrs. Whaley, famous for her enchanting Charleston garden—which you can still visit on lower Church Street—was 87 when the book was published, and nearly half of the 247-pages are stories and advice. “About 1980 or so, divorces were flying around town like buzzards after some awful disaster,” begins a chapter about cakes for weddings—and remarriages. In another, “There are about the same percentages of amusing, gifted, humorous, boring, stingy, and malicious people in every social drawer. Life is short. Plant and tend a friendship garden that will grow and flourish.”


Get The Reading Glow

Photograph by Kelli Boyd Photography

Taking a little reading break this summer? You can give your sun-stressed skin a break, too. Apply a facial mask that’s gentle enough for a 30 to 60-minute session, grab a paperback, and read while the mask hydrates and adds nutrition to your skin, giving you a beautiful, natural glow–no sun required!

Sapelo’s Milk & Honey Hydrating Mask or Anti-Aging Enzyme Mask are the perfect companion for your next reading adventure. 

Sapelo is Bookish

Sapelo Skin Care founders Stephanie Duttenhaver and Cindy Edwards first met while working to transform and reinvigorate the Savannah Book Festival (www.savannahbookfestival.org) into an annual celebration of novels, authors and the delights of a good story.

What this Summer Needs is a Good Story is written by Sandy Lang.


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