Bacon on the Bookshelf

Savory picks for the free range reader

Late Summer Special: He Said/She Said Featuring Governor and Mrs. Haslam



A boy from Knoxville and a girl who grew up in Memphis found some pretty good real estate in Nashville: the Tennessee Governor’s Residence!  Today’s post concludes the Summer Reading series at Bacon, featuring Governor Bill Haslam and his wife, Crissy.  In a taxing political season, it’s reassuring to have a Governor and First Lady like ours – nimble of mind and generous in spirit.  The Governor is living proof that humility can be the companion of talent.  Mrs. Haslam is living proof that grace goes hand in hand with intellect.  And they are both book lovers!  Check out the ‘Read to Be Ready’ campaign, an essential component of the Governor’s education plan, and the First Lady’s web page, which features as some of her top priorities the READ20 Family Book Club and the Governor’s Books from Birth program.  The Haslams know that books can change your perspective, change your outlook and change your future.  Today, they’ve been kind enough to share their thoughts on summertime in Tennessee and what they’re reading right now.  

What do you love about summer in Nashville?

Governor:  I love being outside, especially in the early evening.  I love walking out to the garden at the Residence to see how much the corn has grown and eating that fresh corn, too.  I have actually learned about wind pollination.

Mrs. Haslam:  We have field trips to the Residence now, and I love having kids come to the garden to learn about where their food comes from.  They get excited to pull radishes and carrots out of the ground.  I kind of get excited, too!  And did I mention I love eating all those fresh vegetables?!

Anything you don’t love?

Governor:  The humidity.

Mrs. Haslam:  Oh, he loves to sweat in all that humidity!  Me – not so much.

Do things slow down at all for you?

Governor:  It’s been a busy summer.  I’ve done a lot of traveling across the state and to our departments of state government.  I’ve been busy working on higher education and building local governing boards for our four-year state universities, Austin Peay, ETSU, MTSU, TSU, Tennessee Tech and the University of Memphis.  We’re also building a new Tennessee State Museum set to open in 2018, so I’ve been busy raising money for that.  Some exciting things for the future of our state.

Mrs. Haslam:  Things slowed down for me.  I built in some time with our two new grandbabies and the other four grandchildren, too!

First Lady

As a kid, my favorite things about summer were…

Governor:  Playing baseball at the fields right on the Tennessee River in Knoxville.  Baseball consumed my summers from age 6 to 18.  If I wasn’t playing baseball, I was on the lake.  Living in Knoxville, we were close to many lakes, so we grew up going with my family and later on with friends.

Mrs. Haslam:  My family vacation was always a week or two at a lake in Arkansas skiing, tubing, and jumping off the cliffs.  We had a limit of 30 minutes of skiing and then we had to drop.  Now I would be hoping to stay up for 5 minutes, and I would probably have sore muscles for a week!

Memorable summer job as a teen?

Governor:  Remember before self-service gas stations when someone pumped the gas for you?  I pumped gas for four summers in a row, starting at 12 years old.  During my first week of work, I accidentally put automatic transmission fluid where the oil should go.  That customer was not happy.

Mrs. Haslam:  I was a day camp counselor at my school, St. Mary’s, in Memphis.  I liked school so much that I was willing to be there all summer!

Favorite summertime drink, and where you’ll be drinking it?

Governor: Gatorade after a bike ride, on the back porch.

Mrs. Haslam:  A French 75 on a rooftop patio or porch.

Best tomato for a BLT?

Governor and Mrs. Haslam: An heirloom tomato from the Residence garden.

Mrs. Haslam:  One of my favorite quotes is from Cicero, “If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need.”  We are so thankful for our volunteer master gardeners who come every Saturday to work in the garden.  And we just adopted a new garden dog, Ruckus, to chase away the chipmunks.

Favorite flavor of ice cream?

Governor:  Chocolate-chocolate chip – or anything chocolate.  The way I look at it, if it’s not chocolate it doesn’t count as dessert.

Mrs. Haslam:  I’m with Bill on this one – chocolate gelato!

42309284 - fresh chocolate ice cream scoop close up.

Best amusement park ride or game?

Governor:  The baseball throw.  I was better at that game, and I could always win a prize!

Mrs. Haslam:  Growing up in Memphis, I loved the ancient wooden rollercoaster named the “Pippin.”  I don’t think I am brave enough to go on some of the rollercoasters I see now.

You’ve got a week at any beach on the planet. Where?

Governor:  Hilton Head, S.C.  I love its wide beaches, and we have spent many summer vacations there with our kids, friends and family.

Mrs. Haslam:  I did not grow up going to the beach, so if I get a choice of anywhere, then I am choosing the coast of Italy!

Will you get a vacation this summer?

Governor:  We went on trip to Scotland and Ireland with four other friends.  We spent one day doing economic development work for the state, but otherwise it felt like a true vacation.

Mrs. Haslam:  We learned about the history, cycled the beautiful terrain, and even played some golf.  In Dublin, we had a special tour of Trinity College and the Book of Kells.  That night, the cast of the TV show “Nashville” performed to thousands of fans in Dublin.  Bill went on stage and invited everyone there to visit Tennessee!

What are you reading right now?

Governor:  Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy – a classic; I am Pilgrim by Terry Hayes – a suspense thriller; You Are What You Love by James K. A. Smith – a book about spiritual disciplines.










Mrs. Haslam:  I am reading Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir by Carolyn Weber with my Bible study group; The Princes of Ireland by Edward Rutherford (inspired by our trip earlier this summer); and Siftings, because I became interested in the 20th century landscape architect who wrote the book, Jens Jensen.









What would you recommend to a friend as summer reading?

Governor:  All of the above.

Mrs. Haslam:  Surprised by Oxford: A Memoir.  I also like novels to read during the summer at the beach.  Even though I haven’t made it to the beach yet this summer, I would recommend All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah.








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Governor and First Lady





  1. Enjoyed this post’s glimpse into the life and interests of our Governor and First Lady! As a master gardener who helps maintain the Harding (kitchen) Garden at Belle Meade Mansion, I was delighted to hear there was a kitchen garden at the Residence being maintained by master gardeners and that children are able to stop by for a visit.

  2. We are lucky to have such an outstanding governor and first lady! Thanks for the awesome and intimate glimpse of their happy lives, Jennifer! Happy to see that they love many of the same books I do! ❤️

  3. Great last post! I do hope you plan to do this series next summer! I have enjoyed it every week! Thank you!!

    • This series has been fun for me too. I really appreciate your kind comment and I’ll for sure run a series next summer! I’ve been thinking about a series in December as well, maybe involving holiday traditions… thank you so much for the encouragement, Amy. xo

  4. Your ability to tie a lovely ribbon around people, books and life is indeed a gift. Today you made me feel good about my home place, family, time and of course, reading. And also about leadership.
    Crissy Haslam does for children’s minds (and hearts) what great educators, pediatricians, librarians, booksellers, writers, illustrators, puppeteers, counselors, families and friends all aim to do. She excites and invites them to learn, believe and create. She and the Governor are learners, believers and creators on our behalf. Thank you for sharing and showing.

  5. Jennifer thank you for a glimpse of our Governor and First Lady featuring their interests, projects and yes their love of books! The work they are doing in higher education, museums and reading help millions of people in our state.

  6. I am so proud to know these two exceptional individuals since college days. Their goodness of heart and character was obvious to all, even at such a young age. Tennessee is lucky to have them!
    Kathleen (Levinsky) Wittbold

  7. how lovely to be reminded of the civility and grace that public service should entail–as always, what a beautiful post.

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