AARP Eye Center
Andrew McCarthy — who’s not a brat! — on ‘Walking With Sam’
Remember the Brat Pack, those hot young actors of 1980s coming-of-age films like Pretty in Pink and St. Elmo’s Fire? Turns out they are no longer bratty (if they ever even were) — or at least Andrew McCarthy isn’t. Now 60, he was friendly and thoughtful when I talked with him recently about his new book Walking With Sam: A Father, a Son and Five Hundred Miles Across Spain (May 9). It’s his story about an epic five-week bonding adventure he shared with his 19-year-old son, Sam, walking the famous Spanish pilgrimage route, the Camino de Santiago.
McCarthy — who does a mix of acting, writing and directing these days — candidly describes his insecurities and various tensions with Sam during the often grueling, life-changing trip, which we discussed along with what he’s reading (lots of nonfiction about spies, for one) and a documentary he’s filming about the Brat Pack. You can read more from the interview on Members Only Access.
Picks of the Week: Tom Hanks’ book for movie buffs, caregiving concerns and a life-affirming new novel
- The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks (May 9). Turns out Hanks isn’t just a stellar actor. He’s also a darn-good writer. His first novel is a wonderful, often humorous story that jumps from 1947 to 1970 and on to the present-day creation of a splashy superhero movie based on an old comic book. Film lovers will eat it up. (Read my review here.)
- Who Cares: The Hidden Crisis of Caregiving, and How We Solve It by Emily Kenway (May 9). Beginning with a wrenching description of Kenway’s exhausting (emotionally and physically) experience caring for her mother as she’s dying of cancer, the author argues that we are on the brink of a caregiving crisis, with people living longer, and urgently need to address it. Her words will ring true for family caregivers — which so many of us are, have been, or will be.
- The Collected Regrets of Clover by Mikki Brammer (May 9). This is a warm-hearted novel that’s also (sort of) about caregiving. Its focus is on Clover Brooks, an antisocial death doula who — since her beloved grandfather’s death — has been devoted to making sure that others’ dying journey is peaceful, yet does nothing to focus on her own happiness. Then she meets Claudia, an older woman who, in a roundabout way, inspires her to open her heart and embrace life. Kirkus calls it “a beautiful tale” that “walks the edge of sentimentality with poignant success.”
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Elin Hilderbrand’s (almost) last Nantucket novel
Summer’s coming, which means it’s time to start thinking about beach reads, people! And few authors are more beachy than the beloved Elin Hilderbrand, 53, who’s been writing her Nantucket-set novels for more than 20 years. Her next one, The Five-Star Weekend, comes out on June 13, and her fans will want to savor it because there will only be one more to come. As she told me in a recent interview (check it out on AARP.org next month), her last summery Nantucket island tale will be published in 2024.
Why stop now? “I am just flat out running out of ideas,” Hilderbrand said. “I’m at the top of my game right now, and I don’t want the quality of the books to fail — so I’m doing everybody a favor.”
She added that she’s not retiring from writing altogether, but is eager to focus more on her true love: reading other authors’ novels. A few of her recent favorites: I Have Some Questions for You by Rebecca Makkai, Romantic Comedy by Curtis Sittenfeld and Pineapple Street by Jenny Jackson.
Picks of the week (May 2 edition)
If you’ve got ample reading time, you won’t regret diving into the weighty The Covenant of Water by Abraham Verghese (May 2), known for his 2009 bestseller Cutting for Stone. It’s 715 pages long but absolutely absorbing and a likely award contender this year. Verghese weaves multiple storylines throughout — including that of a family in Kerala, on south India’s Malabar Coast, with what appears to be a kind of curse: Someone from every generation dies by drowning. The audiobook version is narrated by the author.
For lighter reading, check out Late Bloomers by Deepa Varadarajan (May 2), a charming debut about an Indian American family shaken up when the parents divorce 36 years into their arranged marriage and enter the wild world of dating — surprising their two adult children, who have their own share of problems in the love department.
Also of note is Camera Girl: The Coming of Age of Jackie Bouvier Kennedy by Carl Sferrazza Anthony (May 2), who describes the icon’s life in Paris and other adventures — such as covering Queen Elizabeth’s coronation as a writer for the Washington Times-Herald — from her formative years (1949-1953), through her marriage to John F. Kennedy at age 24.
Bridgerton’s Queen Charlotte, before she became the talk of the town
Guilty pleasure alert: Netflix’s Queen Charlotte: A Bridgerton Story premiered on May 4. It’s a spin-off/prequel to the streaming service’s often-steamy Regency-era romance series from Shonda Rhimes, based on the novels by Julia Quinn (fun reads, as I discovered during a romance novel binge a few pandemic summers ago).
An accompanying book cowritten by Quinn and Rhimes is also out now. As fans know from the previous Bridgerton novels and/or the two seasons of the show that have aired, Queen Charlotte — played by Golda Rosheuvel, 53, on TV — is an imperious power broker responsible for choosing one lucky young lady as the most desirable, the “diamond,” among the ton (fashionable society) every season.
The prequel, billed by publisher Avon Books as “the diamond of this season’s publishing offerings,” focuses on the arranged marriage and subsequent romance between the young German Princess Sophia Charlotte of Mecklenburg-Strelitz and King George III. The novel begins, amusingly, with the princess at age 17, uncomfortably squeezed into a corset on her way to meet her betrothed — and royally displeased by the prospect.
Beyond books: More reasons to love libraries
How awesome are libraries? Books galore, available to all, for free. And many libraries offer a range of other freebies, as explained in this story. They include not only workshops, internet access and conference room space, but unexpected perks such as passes to state parks: Nevada State Parks recently launched the Library Park Pass, which you can check out at any branch to get a day pass allowing free entry to its 27 parks; Connecticut has a similar deal called the No Child Left Inside day pass (for all ages).
You can also get — who knew? — free plant seeds. A growing number of libraries, from Delavan, Wisconsin, to Boulder, Colorado, allow people to “check out” seeds to grow flowers, vegetables and more. Programs vary, but some libraries suggest that seed takers later return seeds from their sprouted plants, to replenish the library’s stock.