Maybe it’s because I made such a deliberate and dramatic personal change when I left I think a lot about what life in a rural community offers us that life in the city can’t. When I left New York, I hoped I would be trading quantity for quality. That has turned out to be true for me.
While I had access to so much in New York, I found, after a while, that I wasn’t really absorbing any of it. For me, the gift of living in a small town is time and attention. Both are more abundant here, and I can afford to be more generous with each than I ever could in the city. My life is richer as a result.
The same principle applies to Shore Lit. As a one-person organization, I will never be able to produce the number of events a great city bookstore does. But that was never the point. My hope in starting Shore Lit was to offer this community a way to connect through literature—to read excellent books we may not have otherwise discovered, and to discuss the ideas presented in those books with our neighbors in a setting that encourages curiosity. It’s about the conversations, as much as it’s about the content.
With that in mind, I’m experimenting with a new community conversation series this summer. Academy Art Museum Director Sarah Jesse and I will be leading a Summer Book Club in the AAM galleries—one book each month that coincides with the themes of an AAM exhibition.
These conversations will be intimate, 15 to 20 people tops (depending on the size of the gallery), giving participants the chance to connect with one another and to share their responses, interpretations, and questions about the work—both the art work on the walls, and the text we’re reading. Sarah and I will give some background on each, and we’ll offer some guided questions, but we won’t be lecturing. We imagine these as facilitated conversations, rather than formal talks. All are free (though registration is required for planning purposes), and books are available for purchase at AAM. I hope you’ll join us!
Visit the Shore Lit website for more information on each book selection and its corresponding exhibition.
What Else I’m Reading
To the Lighthouse, Virginia Woolf. I’ve joined A Public Space’s APS Together reading group, led by novelist Mona Simpson, to work through Virginia Woolf’s masterpiece this month. It’s like being back in school, in the best possible way.
River House, Sally Keith. An elegy for the speaker’s mother and a metaphor for the imperative of life after loss. I cried, and then I read these poems again start to finish.
How To Do Nothing, Jenny Odell. I finally got around to this buzzy 2020 book about “the attention economy.” I had been expecting something softer, more self-helpy, and was pleasantly surprised at the intellectual rigor and insight Odell brings to the topic.
Bonus: Use code BANNEDBOOKS10 to get 10% off orders at Bookshop.org all month long.
What Else I’m Looking Forward To on the Shore This Month:
10:00-2:00 Saturday, May 6 Free
A beloved family event returns with music, artisanal goods, and, of course, food: Haitian, Salvadoran, Indian, and Pakistani options will be available (plus hot dogs, sausages, snow cones, and ice cream).
1:00 Sunday, May 7 Free
Complementing his site-specific atrium installation currently on view at the Academy Art Museum, Corona will conduct a performance piece in which performers wearing his climate ponchos will walk the Arboretum grounds.
1:00 Saturday, May 13 $15
DC’s Shakespeare Theater just set the bar for modern adaptations of Lear with Simon Godwin’s record-breaking spring 2023 production. See how Ian McKellen’s performance compares in this replay from the London stage’s 2018 version.
6:00 Tuesday, May 30 $18.99 (includes a paperback copy of Happy-Go-Lucky)
If you missed everyone’s favorite Christmas elf at The Avalon last fall, you can catch him on the paperback tour for Happy-Go-Lucky. But the best part of a Sedaris event may very well be the signing line, where he chats and jokes with every last fan.
Easton-based Kerry Folan is an Assistant Professor at George Mason University. She is also the founder and director ofShore Lit, an organization that aims to bring literary events to the rural Eastern Shore of Maryland. Her creative nonfiction has appeared in the Baltimore Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, the Washington Post, and other noted publications.