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Books

This weekend, meet author Gary Pendleton and the artists he covers

We English speakers lack words for what the French call plein air painting, the Italians al fresco and Spanish speakers al aire libre.     But fresh air painters we’ve got aplenty, as Gary Pendleton’s new book 100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic lavishly illustrates.     You see such painters in, excuse my French, plein air competitions throughout Chesapeake Country and across the land. One hundred in one place makes for an extraordinary visual experience.

Read the book, meet the author

Gardeners don’t need degrees in botany. But knowing a little botany — plus a bit about the history of human relationships with plants — creates a deeper gardening experience. Just ask local author Ruth Kassinger.

The healing power of a good story

Bob Timberg has a face you don’t forget.     How the U.S. Naval Academy graduate and Marine first lieutenant — handsome son of a mother who was a McCall’s cover girl at 13 — got that face is a question you don’t ask.     Yet now, “as I edge into my seventies,” Timberg says, he has written a book revealing the whole story.     “I had third-degree burns, the skin … totally destroyed, top to bottom,” he writes.

Still time to escape in a good book

     With half of summer stretching before you, there’s still time to get lost in a good book.     Armchair travelers stretch our confined worlds with books that take us places we’ll probably never see on our own. Certainly not with the open-eye and open-heart clarity of the ­writers we love best.

Mine makes 15,001

     Five years ago in Wisconsin, Todd Bol built a model of a one-room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former teacher. He installed it on a post in his front yard and filled it with books to give away. It was such a hit with his neighbors that he built and gave away several more, each with a sign that read free books.

You can get (most) anything you want — even a good book

If the medium is the message, then there’s more to be learned from Calvert Library’s huge festival of local authors than you’ll read in this week’s feature story, The Writers Next Door.     Your neighbor may have written just the one for you, I say, introducing 33 authors and their latest (or favorite) books. These are quick introductions, the literary equivalent of speed dating, with a life compressed into one sentence and a plot into another. At the May 31 festival, you’ll meet even more authors from 9:30 am to 4pm.

Is your neighbor the next New York Times bestseller?

The death of reading — like the death of Mark Twain — may be greatly exaggerated.     For the Digital Age has given us high-quality, nearly instant do-it-yourself publishing. Thus the book each of us has within can find a publisher — if it finds an author.     Then it must find readers.     If you’re a reader in search of an author, you’ll find them on May 31 at Prince Frederick Library’s huge Author Festival.

A tribute to one man’s time in Korea

Is it coincidence that graduation coincides so closely to Memorial Day, when we honor those lost in battle, so many of whom don a uniform upon leaving school?     When William Edward Alli, now of Bowie, enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve in 1950, he was barely 18 and not yet out of high school. “I had been clueless about what was happening to Marines deployed to a seemingly doomed southeast corner of Korea,” Alli recounts.

Connecting food to farm: It takes chickens, cows and maple trees to make French toast

When Patrick O’Shanahan stumbles into the kitchen for “another boring breakfast,” he’s in for a surprise. Dad is making his World Famous French Toast, and there’s a cow in the kitchen. As if that’s not exciting enough, a trio of hens “bagaaaawwwkkk” in the fridge, and maple trees spring up from the floor.     In these days when kids from cities and suburbs know only that food comes from the grocery store, Patrick’s about to learn a big lesson, all based on the ingredients in Dad’s specialty.

World Class; Poems Inspired by the ESL Classroom, by J.C. Elkin

My students arrive in a dust storm of change. …     their tongues in accents lush as rustling crop leaves.