14 MONTEREY COUNTY WEEKLY JUNE 27-JULY 3, 2024 www.montereycountynow.com Monterey County’s beauty serves as the inspiration for a large number of books and poems. By Pam Marino Map Reading We suggest reading all year, but lots of people carve out extra time for books over the summer. Whether you’re looking for beach reads, rereads or want to start (or improve) a book club, the Weekly’s summer reading issue draws on expertise and opinions from writers, book club members and a professional book club facilitator, booksellers and our readers to give you some insight into the ideas, styles and approaches to make it fun and insightful. Read on. –Sara Rubin, editor ~~t~~ John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath falls somewhere on most “top 100 novels” lists, which means millions of people have read the book, likely their first introduction to the fertile Salinas Valley. Throughout his career, Steinbeck mined his home county for many settings in his books and short stories, vividly describing locales that he made famous the world over. Other authors and poets who migrated to the county or only visited for a short while were similarly inspired to use the dramatic coastline and interior valleys as settings. For those of us familiar with the county it’s a fun exercise to imagine characters coming to life in real-life settings. Once you’ve read Steinbeck’s Cannery Row, it’s hard not to imagine Doc, Mack and the Boys, Ida and Lee Chong criss-crossing those Monterey streets, or Mack’s gang traveling in a beat-up truck to the Carmel River to catch frogs, in a hapless scheme to earn money to surprise Doc with a party. Likewise, it’s not difficult to feel the lonely eeriness of Elkhorn Slough on a moonlit night while reading MotherDaughter Murder Night, last year’s New York Times bestseller by author Nina Simon, who wrote the book in partnership with her mom, Sarina Simon. Below is a list of Monterey County locations found in a number of books and poems. If you’re looking for some good summer reading options, consider choosing a location first, then pick a novel or a poem to read, and let yourself be as inspired as the writers themselves. BIG SUR Big Sur by Jack Kerouac A semi-autobiographical novel Kerouac wrote in a Big Sur cabin while struggling with doubt and handling fame after the publication of On the Road. Big Sur makes appearances in other Kerouac works, including Desolation Angels, The Dharma Bums and The Subterraneans. Holding the Dream by Nora Roberts The breathtaking views from Big Sur serve as the backdrop for this novel by the bestselling author. The Strange Case of the Big Sur Benefactor by Jess Faraday The award-winning author sets this historical mystery novella in the wilds of Big Sur in 1884. It was a Rainbow Award Winner in the category “lesbian historical.” Poetry by Robinson Jeffers The wild and majestic beauty of Big Sur provided a wonderful muse for one of the great poets of the 20th century, Robinson Jeffers, who lived on Carmel Point. Here are a few he wrote using Big Sur locations. “Hands” is set in a cave along Church Creek where Esselen people of the past left handprint art. Inside a cave in a narrow canyon near Tassajara / The vault of rock is painted with hands /A multitude of hands in the twilight, a cloud of men’s / palms… The setting for “The Place for No Story” is Soberanes Creek, which This map shows poems by Robinson Jeffers that are set explicitly in local places, which often serve as recognizable settings for fictional characters. Summer Reading issue 6 Leyendo, en español 14 On location 16 Books for the beach 18 Readers’ raves 20 Book club do’s and don’ts 32 Meet a mystery writer 37 Bohemian beverages