Booked for summer

My summer "mobile library" picks include suggestions on proper nude potluck attire and how to make a mini Garden of Eden.

Tablehopper Marcia Gagliardi

“Riding in your car is so interesting,” boomed a voice from the backseat. While his wife, Lea, and I chatted, her husband, Deryck, conveniently ignored us happily surfing brochures on India, Okanagan wineries, and an impressive hardcover, Canada’s National Parks – A Celebration.

Panic strikes me – in the air or on the ground – if books or magazines aren’t within easy reach. The car is no exception.

Currently, my mobile library includes Adventures in Solitude by Grant Lawrence, Everyday Eden by Christina Symons, A Year on the Garden Path by Carolyn Herriot, and the tablehopper’s guide to dining and drinking in San Francisco by Marcia Gagliardi. My son once headed for White Rock, decided it was a great day for a drive, and wound up on his grandparents’ doorstep in Alameda, California. One has to be prepared. The current “Vanity Fair” (the Kate and William one), and The Sinai Secret by Greg Loomis should keep me (or anyone else) entertained should I decide to roam.

Grant Lawrence’s book, subtitled “What Not to Wear to a Nude Potluck”, is an entertaining series of rollicking sketches of his Desolation Sound adventures. Thirty years ago his dad – to the horror of his city-slicker family – bought “boat access only” Desolation Sound property. Clearly, over the years, Lawrence and his pals have added their brand of history to as much of the 6,350 acres of shoreline and 14,000 acres of high land as time, energy and ingenuity allowed. In 1973 the government designated the area Desolation Sound Marine Park, but this easy summer read proves some of the mainland interlopers have added the colour.

Major gardening is a thing of the past for me, but I can still dream. A Year on the Garden Path, the perfect gift for any gardener, is an easy to follow, informative, year-round planting guide. For me, advice on hanging baskets was particularly useful. Sprinkled with recipes, poems and gift ideas, I was delighted with the amount of information packed into this handy little book. A book for any season, indeed.

Although, at first glance, Everyday Eden seems more of a coffee table book, closer inspection proves its versatility and value. This summer, thanks to Christina’s advice, I’m experimenting with what she calls “Mini Eden”. Armed with sheet moss, seeds, potting soil and a fish bowl I’m intrigued to see what will materialize. The chapter on succulent sculpture has my attention, and the “Tablescapes” chapter is book-marked for special occasions. Whimsy interwoven with practical ideas is my idea of a truly naturally useful book.

Marcia Gagliardi and I chanced to meet in San Francisco last month at Pow Wow, a U.S. travel conference. An enthusiastic marketing bundle of energy, Marcia is known locally as The Tablehopper. Armed with a red Alpha Romeo and a notepad, her insight into Bay area eating places – from Gays on the Town to All in the Family – the data gleaned for her tablehopper’s guide to dining and drinking in San Francisco is impressive, compact and easy to follow. An iPhone is app is in the works, but meantime check this handy little book out at

Local bookstores carry most of the books mentioned. But if you run into trouble finding one let me know at Happy summer reading!

– Ursula Maxwell-Lewis retired as Managing Editor of the Cloverdale Reporter to read, write and wander.