by Emily Dodi 

This has been a summer like no other. The Ventura County Fair, music festivals, camps and summer getaways have been canceled or modified in response to COVID-19. One summer tradition continues, thankfully, and that is the joy of diving into a good book. Summer days may be waning, but there has never been a better time for some escapist summer reading. 

A few local authors and several online author events have just the thing to take your mind off, well, everything. 

How about a voyage to Iceland for starters? The Museum of Whales You Will Never See: And Other Excursions to Iceland’s Most Unusual Museumsby A. Kendra Greene has been hailed as a “wise and whimsical guide through this cabinet of curiosities.” Greene, an alumna of Ojai’s Nordhoff High School, is a gifted tour guide. “The world is chockablock with untold wonders, there for the taking,” says Greene. “ready to be uncovered at any moment, if only we keep our eyes open.”

A special hometown edition of The Museum of Whales You Will Never Seeis available through Bart’s Books in Ojai. Each copy features a special author plate created by Emma Bailey. The special edition means a lot to Greene, who said,  “It was all about coming together. And now it’s about a local artist and my hometown bookstore finding a beautiful way to send the book out to the world.”

Readers can travel from Iceland to the Korean Island of Jeju in New York Times best-selling author Lisa See’s The Island of Sea Women. The novel tells the story of two best friends who become part of their village’s all-female diving collective and begin a “life of excitement and responsibility but also danger.” The book is Ventura County Library Foundation’s One County One Book selection for 2020. The foundation, in partnership with California State University Channel Islands, will host a virtual author talk with Lisa See on Aug. 22. Tickets are limited and are available with a $50 minimum donation. Each guest will be mailed a signed copy of the book after the event. (www.eventbrite.com/e/author-talk-with-lisa-see-tickets-110210618928)

Another recent event featured author Brad Thor discussing Near Dark, the 20th installment in his wildly popular Scot Harvath series. The best-selling thrillers take readers around the globe and deep inside the world of foreign espionage and counter-terrorism with a charismatic ex-Navy Seal agent. Hosted by the Ronald Reagan Presidential Foundation and Institute, Thor’s author talk is available to view on the Reagan Library’s website. (www.reaganfoundation.org/programs-events/events-calendar/virtual-event-with-brad-thor/)

In contrast to a series about a globe-trotting hero, Rachael’s Return, by local author Janet Rebhan, hits closer to home — albeit with an otherworldly twist. The novel centers around a woman who is devastated by a loss. She finds hope in the form of some “heavenly guides” but she must also confront a dark force.  

Perhaps, in the midst of quarantine, you are  inspired to write more than read. Now is the moment to work on that book you’ve been dreaming about writing or trying to get published. Several popular local authors are here to help. Maryann Ridini Spencer, Sheila Lowe, Mike Kennedy and James F. Gray host Writers Table, a series of author talks on Facebook that focus on writing, publishing and marketing your book. (www.facebook.com/WritersTable)  

Whether you’re a reader or a writer or both, there’s never been a better time to get lost in a good book.