Monday, June 17, 2013

It’s Eighty Degrees, the Sun Is Shining – High Time to Pull Out That Paperback

Although I did remember the waterproof sunscreen, I forgot to bring a book to the beach yesterday. I didn’t end up needing either, but books are like tubes of lip balm or packs of chewing gum. I get uneasy when I’m out and about without having one on me.

My second-least favorite aspect about summertime is having to constantly see and hear the term “Beach Reads.” Do non-compulsive readers turn more pages in the summer months than during colder-weather seasons? I don’t come across nearly as many lists and chatfests about the premier “Fireside Reads.” I just noticed a “What NYT reporters and editors will be reading this summer” tweet, and would rather know which hardcover Dave Itzkoff plans to hunker down with amid the opening flurries of a Nor’easter.  

An acquaintance recently asked me for a set of specific “summer-reading” suggestions when I was too hot and tired to think straight, so the only title I offered on the spot was Meg Wolitzer’s The Interestings. I’ve suddenly thought up some others, which might seem more fireside-y than beach-y, but can be basked in year-round:

*We Take Me Apart – Molly Gaudry
*What Remains – Carole Radziwill
*This Is How You Lose Her – Junot Diaz
*The Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell
*Unaccustomed Earth – Jhumpa Lahiri
*Just Kids – Patti Smith
*Re-read The Great Gatsby - F. Scott Fitzgerald (the words meant little to me in my eleventh-grade English class and mean everything to me now)
*The Godfather – Mario Puzo (an excellent prelude to the next season of Mob Wives)
*Anything by Jeannette Walls, including her latest
*Anything by David Sedaris, including his latest
*At least one major literary classic that you haven’t met up with yet


  1. I love David Sedaris, and his latest _Let's Explore Diabetes with Owls_ is definitely on my hit list.

    You make an interesting point about summer reading. You'd think that winter would be THE time to hunker down with a good book since our outdoor activity is minimized, but I think it's the "feel" of summer -- people seem to think it's O.K. if I read now -- that gets the list making going.

    Here's some more for the list happy -

    The Book of Lost Things - by John Connolly (fairy tales told anew for grown-ups with interesting reflections on loss and life as you follow a young boy on his quest between the real world during WWII London and a land of imagination)

    The Good Earth - by Pearl S. Buck (because if you want to travel without the price tag that comes with it, this is your ticket)

    Half the Sky_ by Nicolas D. Kristof (no one said summmer reading HAS to be light, and this is a real page turner since it's written with a journalist's eye. It humanizes world issues and reminds you how lucky many of us are)

    The Bean Trees - by Barbara Kingsolver (follow a young woman as she leaves her rural town with nothing but a beat up car and her mother's love to keep push her forward -- a great examination of the love between women, leaps of faith, and how our best life is always more than we can imagine for ourselves)

  2. I love reading but must admit that I can't read something that doesn't capture my attention from the very beginning - whether it's summer or winter. Speaking of which, I am a tad envious that you're on the beach when I'm battling off the flu here in mid winter *sigh* Enjoy it :)

  3. Summer-reading.... What does that mean, right? It almost sounds like some people need a bit of sunshine to be able to enjoy a book.

    The Great Gatsby... the words meant little to you in your eleventh-grade English class and mean everything to you now. Why is that?

    1. Because of the kinds of life experiences I've had since the eleventh grade!

      I've had a Nick Carraway complex since 2006 or 2007. A lot of Midwesterners who relocate to the Northeast could probably say the same.

  4. I would like to recommend "Gone Girl" by Gillian Flynn. Absolutely one of the most riveting mystery/thriller novels I have ever read. Could not put it down. It was popular during the summer of 2012.

    Lately I have been on a Phillipa Gregory kick (she of "The Other Boleyn Girl," novel and movie). If you like English kings and queens of the Middle Ages, Phillipa is your gal. I just read three in a row about the War of the Roses (The Houses of York and Lancaster duked it out--one was represented by the symbol of the red rose, the other by the white rose--I always forget which is which.) At any rate, here are the three: "The Kingmaker's Daughter," "The Red Queen," and "The White Queen." Loads of fun, but I'm a little tired of that era now, so I'll give it a rest for a while, even though a fourth one in the series has arrived. Recently I saw a novel at the library that was set in the Napoleonic era--hmmm...maybe I'll give that era a try.