Summer Reading

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Next week marks the official start of summer and last summer’s book suggestions were well received, so we’re doing it again. Pour yourself a glass of iced tea or a crisp rosé and enjoy!


Part love story, part thriller, part cultural immersion, Saturday Comes, a first novel by our very own Carine Fabius, is magic. Her compelling characters, alive and otherwise, take you on a journey of love, loss, revenge and voudou. From the Haitian home of the bourgeoisie to the palpable humidity of Miami, this captivating tale transported me and the writing took my breath away.

Currently, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is keeping me up at night. This true story, written by science writer Rebecca Skloot, is another page-turner. In the 1950s, a poor black woman’s cancer cells were taken without permission and eventually used to develop the polio vaccine and numerous scientific advances. While her cells make others billions of dollars, the late Henrietta Lacks remains relatively unknown and her family impoverished.


Come to the Edge by Christina Haag. Imagine a Greek god descending from Mt. Olympus and sweeping you off your feet. Author Christina Haag captures the passion and tragedy of being loved by John F. Kennedy, Jr., the closest approximation to an Olympian who has ever walked the earth. Christina’s memoir chronicles the Kennedy inner-circle while revealing the flaws that brought this exquisite Icarus crashing to earth 13 years ago this July. Read more

Summer Reads

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woman reading book on beach

Whether it’s Nook, Kindle or iPad, hardback or paper, library or bookstore — we can never get enough great stories. So as summer starts to wane, we at Fifty is the New share some recent good reads. What we did on our summer vacation, literary style.


This summer reminded me of my girlhood, when every Saturday I checked out 11 books (the maximum allowed) from the Pasadena Public Library, and returned them a week later for another near dozen. Two I liked:

Wesley the Owl: a Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and his Girl by Stacey O’Brien. Mandatory reading for animal lovers!

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery: a romp through France’s bourgeoisie told by two razor-sharp wits whose lives collide in a fancy apartment building in the 5th arrondissement.


Summer for me means sun, sand, sea, and books, lots of books, and though I now live in the mountains I still make time for long, slow days and words that make my heart sing.

I am, for the dozenth time, re-reading Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice. This delicious froth of manners and misunderstanding within the Bennett family is a perfect summer distraction from our modern miasma.

I’ve also started Pompeii by Richard Harris, the historical fiction of the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius. Sounds like a potboiler, yes? Read more

The Best of Anniversary Edition

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Cathy and friends look back on three years of midlife musings picking their favorites along the way

Recently Fifty is the New celebrated its third anniversary. Wow! Three years? Time sure does fly when you’re sharing the virtual stage with smart, witty, passionate women.

When we started out there were few, but these days “midlife blogs” are everywhere. Sometimes, when I want to throw in the blogazine towel, I find myself inspired by the writings of Carine, Connie, Christie, Melissa and Pru, such amazing women, and deeply touched by the community that supports us. Readers, both old and new, you are the reason we do this. Your warm bear hugs and smart comments keep us keeping on. We thank you.

There have been so many excellent posts in the past three years that it’s time we reached into the archives. For part one of our anniversary celebration, I’ve asked the Bloggerinas to pick a favorite post written by a fellow contributor.

Here are their selections. Enjoy the “best of” Fifty is the New… and let us know what you think!
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Picture House Shines Bright

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REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Wrapping up the holiday theme—sharing what bring us joy—Carine tells a story of illumination

Sometimes joy simply comes from watching others experience joy. Someone I know sent me a link to a short article about the Sun City Picture House, a movie theater that was recently opened in one of Haiti’s worst slums, thanks to the efforts of actresses Olivia Wile and Maria Bello. The article quotes Bello saying, “We had 200 kids that [opening] night with little bags of popcorn and juice. Their parents stood in the back, watching them have some joy for the first time.”

When the task at hand seems overwhelming, doing the bit that you can, can have a huge impact. The thought of distressed Haitian people being able to watch a fun movie made me so happy. Good job, ladies!

From Farm to Heart

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Joy to the world, Cathy unearths her recipe for it

What brings me joy, year-round, is my local farmer’s market. What a feast for the senses—all six of them!

1) I see… a bounty of color and beauty.
2) I hear… people talking passionately about food, sharing recipes and wisdom from the farm.
3) I smell… fresh greens, damp dirt, flowers and sugar (from the waffle seller).
4) I taste… sweet fruit ripened on the vine, spicy hummus and rich almond butter.
5) I touch… everything. Is it soft enough, hard enough, ready now?

The sixth sense? A connection to the Earth, a sense of community, a reminder that food comes from the soil and not the supermarket—and an appreciation for life.

Find happiness at a farmer’s market near you. Check out Local Harvest’s zip code search, and even if you have to wait until spring—go local!

Belly Laughs

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Connie shares this joyful minute and fifteen seconds to brighten up your holiday

Cheers, to one and all, and joyous felicitations of the season.

If you’re just not feeling it this season, may I suggest you immediately watch this video:

May you be blessed with more belly laughs in the coming year.

The Inspiration of Others Inspires Me

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Oh My Darlin’ (Clementine), daily painting #137 by John Farnsworth

Get a daily dose of uplift, courtesy of Melissa and friends

To keep my cheer flowing year-round, I find great daily joy in two free email subscriptions.

A Daily Poem
Hosted and curated by Garrison Keillor, The Writer’s Almanac can also be heard daily on NPR. I read the poem each morning while the coffee brews.
The Writer’s Almanac >>

A Daily Painting
I also subscribe to a daily painting by a noted Southwestern painter John Farnsworth. Having painted himself into a corner with horses—a subject he’d become known for—John hit a creative wall. To reignite his creativity, John began doing one painting a day and posting it on his website. Every day I am eager to see what John has created. Waiting to see the painting reminds me of the fifty-cent surprise bags we used to get as kids at the Trading Post when on vacation, only better.
A Farnsworth A Day >>

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