The thermometer tells us it's 100 degrees today, (thank you, Mercury, god of thermometers).
The cat is conked out on her back in the shade, too tired to harass the birds. I'm listening to my heatstroke playlist. That's the one that starts with the Beachboy's Kokomo, ("Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take ya to …") and shimmies on to the Lovin' Spoonful's Summer in the City, ("Doesn't seem to be a shadow in the City").
Summer is upon us.
So let me ask, "What books would you take to the beach this summer? Old friends? New discoveries?"
There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs.
Henry Ward Beecher
Here in the South we know all about the heat index creeping stealthily up toward the triple digits. We've raised 'doing nothing' to a graceful art form. It's an art practiced by the swimming pool or a big 'ole lake, or at least in company with a hose spraying around the backyard. Bonus points for the lifestyle include barbecued ribs and cold Mountain Dew. And beer.
For me, any day of the simmering summer is incomplete without a book in the bag. Or a couple books, since you never know exactly how the spirit will move you. Summer reading needs the background noise of kids running around barefoot and yelling about nothing at all. It needs a shady porch or umbrella and maybe a dragonfly hovering just off the port side of the hammock.
I'll tuck an old friend in the straw bag — Kai-Lung's Golden Hours by Ernest Bramah. There's a funny, clever, dreamy, irrationality to it that suits hot weather and lying by the pool. I own it in paperback, but it's free on e-readers, being out of copyright an' all.
(Go ahead and click on any of these book names for more information 'bout the book.)
Jennifer Crusie always picks me up. Funny, funny woman. I haven't had a chance to read, Tell Me Lies yet, and I'm looking forward to it. Susan Elizabeth Phillips has a new book out in July — The Great Escape: A Novel. I might top those two off with rum and coke and Grace Burrowes' most recent book, Lady Maggie's Secret Scandal.
In one of those fortunate happenstances, the ARCs for Mischief and Mistletoe are wending their way Wenchward, so I have that to look forward to. A cool read in so many ways.
Mary Jo Putney says:
I am a Reader for All Seasons, and certainly can’t evoke languid summer reading times as well as Joanna can. (The dragonfly is a nice touch. <G>)
But a favorite I just reread fits the summer reading theme: White Lies by Jayne Ann Krentz. The book is one of her Arcane Society romantic suspense novels, and it’s set in blazing summer heat in Arizona as the heroine, Clare Lancaster, becomes involved with murder, mayhem, and a hot alpha hunter named Jake. I like the characters and the plot—Clare is a human lie detector, which gives her an unusual philosophy of life. And I like the JAK banter.
I also like the way the book makes a reader feel the Arizona heat. The burning steering wheels and the blasts of air conditioning when entering a building. The deliciousness of a desert night, with softly slinking coyotes and giant stars on a dark velvet sky. The crunch of bruschetta and the cool wine that follows. Perfect summer reading if one is lounging on a shaded patio.
But in general, any good story will do, summer or winter!
(Teacup attrib merdeglace, girl with hose attrib clapstar, bookshelves charliebrewer)
Nicola Cornick, who is not suffering the Virginia swelter or even Arizona's At-Least-It's-A-Dry-Heat desert, says:
There is a saying that summer in the UK consists of three hot days and then a thunderstorm, but this year it’s been so cool and damp we’ve barely had three hot days in a row and not much in the way of humidity. So when my thoughts turn to summer reads they tend provoke ideas of pale sandy beaches and cool breezes off the sea and me sitting behind a wind break as I try to read, cradling a cup of tea from the flask to warm me up!
Maybe that’s one of the reasons I’m looking forward to reading The Cornish House by Liz Fenwick. It sounds wonderfully evocative of the county, its coastline, its history and its atmosphere. I love holidays in Cornwall and one of my all time favourite books is Frenchman’s Creek by Daphne Du Maurier, which evokes the spirit of time and place in Cornwall so beautifully. I was even lucky enough to stay in Daphne Du Maurier's house at Frenchman's Creek one year and I could feel the ghosts all around me.
Which brings me neatly to my other hotly anticipated summer read. This is The Silent Touch of Shadows by HWW Christina Courtenay, a time slip book set in the present and the 15th century. I love time travel books and can never find enough of them to read. There's a pdf file with an extract from the here. It's out in a couple of weeks and I can't wait to pick it up!
Susan King brings us three recommendations and a garden:
I'm a dedicated year-round reader, though I tend to read a little more during the summer, with the pace of the household quieter, the Guys being busy and not around as much — I'll find an air-conditioned corner, curl up with the dog, and make a dent in the TBR pile. If it's not too hot 'n buggy, I love sitting out to read on the shady side of the deck. But summer or winter, the reading situation depends on the deadline situation, but with my deadline a ways off yet (I'm time-dyslexic, ahem), this summer I have serious Reading Intentions.
I've just started The Distant Hours by Kate Morton, and then I've got my eye on A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness. At the same time (because who reads just one book), I'm catching up with some Wench novels (Mary Jo's delicious No Longer A Gentleman is toppling the stack). I've also loaded up the Kindle with lots of books and good intentions — mysteries, romance, a couple of YAs.
In a few weeks, when we'll be at Lake George for a bit, I'll find time to sit out on the breezy porch and read for hours. There's always the bottomless stack of research books, notes, and pages to read/revise — that sort of reading never stops!
It's a lovely thing, reading. I couldn't get through a summer (fall, winter, spring) or a lifetime without it!
The library in summer is the most wonderful thing because there you get books on any subject and read them each for only as long as they hold your interest, abandoning any that don't, halfway or a quarter of the way through if you like, and store up all that knowledge in the happy corners of your mind for your own self and not to show off how much you know or spit it back at your teacher on a test paper.
Andrea Pickens brings us a couple few interesting suggestions, including our only hit on nonfiction:
It’s been a little hard to think of summer reads because here in the northeast where I live, it’s been unseasonably cool. But the vernal equinox seems to be bringing in a wave of sun and heat, so am looking forward to stretching out under a beach umbrella and diving into some of the books on my TBR pile.
I can highly recommend one that I just finished. Anatomy of Murder, by Imogen Robertson, is the second in her Georgian-set mystery series and it features fascinating characters, a compelling plot and wonderfully gritty description of life in London. It’s a compelling read that’s very hard to put down. I’ve also got Past Wench Loretta Chase’s new release, Scandal Wears Satin, in my beach bag, for her pithy humor is perfect for making me laugh on a lazy summer day.
Now, I know it’s the season for light reads, but I thought you all might get a laugh at what else I’m currently reading. A dear friend of mine is fascinated by physics—about which I know less than nothing. However, he finds the subject so interesting that I recently read The Clockwork Universe, which was about Isaac Newton, the Royal Society and the making of the modern world of science, so I could talk to him about it. To my surprise, I found it fascinating. However, I’ve now opened Pandora’s Box, because he just gave me Quantum, a book on quantum physics. I have started it—and feel like I’m back in school because I’ve started taking notes so I can try to understand some of the concepts. To my utter shock, I am enjoying learning about something that is utterly alien to me. And given that we want young people to get excited about science as well as reading, I feel I’m doing my bit. (If I don’t surface for the rest of the summer, you will know why!)
Jo Beverley points out:
I've never understood the concept of summer reads. To many it seems to mean a time when they're allowed to goof off and read the books they actually enjoy instead of the ought-to tomes. Come on now, break free and read for pleasure all year long!
Next, I'm not sure people have the most reading time in summer. Why should that be? Surely many people spend their summer holidays places they enjoy, not escaping to somewhere else in fiction. Now a long winter evening — that sounds like good reading time!
Anyway, I've never liked reading in the sun. However, that might not be a problem, given the weather summer's starting with here in England!
Do you read more in summer?
And we round it off with suggestions from Anne Gracie:
It's a lovely idea — summer reads — but it's a bit hard to wrap my head around at the moment, because where I am (downunder) it's cold and wet and wintry, so I'm thinking more of reading curled up in front of the fire, or snuggling down under the bedclothes with a good book. In any case, I'm like Jo — I don't much like reading on the beach. Too bright and glarey to read, and I always end up with sand in the pages. Give me a shady garden with a hammock and a long, cool glass standing by, any time.
I'm actually not reading a lot at the moment because I'm on deadline, and at such times I reread, more than read, but I have a lovely pile of new books ready on my TBR pile, and a few more on order.
So, there you are — round about two dozen books for your delectation and enjoyment. Have you read any of these? Would you second the recommendations?
Is summer your time for light reading and a lot of it? Are you expecting to get much reading done over the next few weeks?