Thursday, May 19, 2016

Books - "Unalloyed, summer had lingered miraculously into 
late September without a suggestion that autumn 
was at hand." Mark Shorer, 1938, "Boy in the Summer Sun" 

I see the headline in an email, a newspaper article, or a magazine piece which says "Summer Reading" and I perk up and zoom in like some kind of addict. Well, not so much an addict as a bibliophile, a reader, a connoisseur of literature. I'm not so captivated by best seller fare so much, but anything from a new literary experiment in fiction, a novel from a favorite author, a forgotten treasure from New York Review Books, a travel story or a long and challenging classic. Or even the 78-year-old short story which provided the above quote. I remember the huge piles of books we'd take with us on family vacations in the narrow confines of our cabin cruiser where we slept, read, traveled and ate together in a space thirty feet by eight feet. I envied the hammock dwellers who stayed put and didn't have to leap up to handle the lines for docking or anchoring in a new harbor. Retired now, the idea of long, lazy vacation days from school or work has a different meaning in a life where "every day is Saturday" but still the reading freedom is constrained. Part of the imagined constraint is that it must be somewhere other than here. Somewhere with a hammock or a outside recliner or a beach rather than my own backyard which needs weeding. But I continue to stockpile the list, order from the library, run to the bookstore, to get ready for summer reading. I now have  High Dive
High Dive, Eileen by Otessa MoshfeghEileen, the new Chris Cleve Everyone Brave is Forgiven, the new Jenny Diski In Gratitudeand have ordered  a whole spate of new novels by women which Bethanne Patrick mentioned in her Lit Hub column today, "Five Great Beach Reads Wherever You Are,"  Even Bill Gates has a summer reading list this year:
In fact, lots of people have lists: or, best of all, Washington Post's Michael Dirda's (Bound to Please)list from last year

If I would just vanquish the tv with its summer movie collection of film noirs and newest releases, if I would not doze off in the summer sun or post dinner evenings with doors and windows open, I would read every book on my list and still may do so. My book club offered heavy reading this year, ten novels many of them dense and challenging and listed here:

Kelly Corrigan wrote this hymn to summer reading last summer at

  "To the summer reader who snorts with laughter at Tom Perrotta, Tina Fey and P.J. O’Rourke and mops up tears reading Toni Morrison and Frank McCourt, who has walked Rajasthan with Salman Rushdie and the Sudanese desert with Dave Eggers and the New England backwoods with Stephen King, who learned greed from Tom Wolfe, fear from Tobias Wolff, advocacy from Naomi Wolf, who collapsed with Elizabeth Gilbert or cringed with Jeannette Walls, who has thanked God for David Sedaris, Anne Lamott or Anna Quindlen, I say, 'Me, too.'”

I look forward to not reading for purpose and discussion, just soaking up as many books as I can. And we do have a cabin in July on an island. What more does one need?

No comments :