Summer Reading 2011

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Reading

It was Sunday morning and I’d just finished an interesting article about Bunny Mellon when I spied it, lying crisp and unread in the center of the travel section. The N.Y. Times Book Review. Always intriguing, but this time fatter than usual and bearing those two delicious words that are pure catnip to any avid reader: Summer Reading. My heart skipped a beat. Snatching it up like a treasure map, I poured myself another cup of coffee and hurriedly made my way back to bed to appropriately savour this once a year treat.
I suppose if you’ve read this blog for any length of time you’ll know that I consider every season of the year the perfect time for reading. A winter night spent curled up by the fire, with a hot mug of tea at the ready and Edward settled companionably at my feet while the winds blow round the cottage like a tempest.
Autumn, when often the best place to read is outdoors under a crimson tree, snuggled inside a cozy sweater newly released from the wardrobe, with soft sunlight falling down through crisp air, scattering gemstone -coloured shadows all over the grass.
And what could be better than foxglove and tulips trying to read over your shoulder as you read in a garden on a splendid spring day?

Yes, every season is the perfect season for reading. But I have to admit, there is just something about summer books that sets them apart in my mind. Maybe this is a result of my childhood journeys to our big downtown library to choose books for my summer holiday from school. I’d stand there in that cool, cavernous place, utterly awestruck by the sheer volume of choices available to me. Leaving with my arms full of my bounty, I’d discipline myself not to peek inside any till I returned home. Then I would carefully consider the covers of each before choosing the one to read first. I’d tuck that well-chosen book under my arm and make my way to my favourite reading spot - a tall leafy sweetgum tree in the backyard - and summer reading would commence.
That excitement over summer books has continued unabated throughout all my years, and I still search for, not only the perfect book, but the perfect spot to read it, just as I did years ago.
Here are some books I’m dying to read this summer, paired with the places I’d most like to read them. As always when I write about books, I’d absolutely love to hear what you’re planning to read during your summer reading months, so do share!


Chaise Lounge Books
Beside my bed is a chaise lounge that Edward and I often share. It’s a cozy place to read and it's where I retreat with book in hand. Frequently, when dinner is cooking, I’ll settle there for just a quick chapter or two.
These are the books I’ll take there this summer, books easy to dip into and out of on a busy afternoon.


Cafe Books
We are fortunate to have a charming cafe within walking distance. When the weather is pleasant, I often stroll up there with Edward and a fat book. I sit outdoors under the hanging baskets of red flowers, nursing a cool drink, nibbling on a salmon salad and reading the afternoon away.
Edward people watches.
I cannot think of a better locale to read these next three books. Even if my cafe is not on the left bank.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: After finishing McCullough’s book, I know I’ll have to reread this one!
Paris: Made By Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk


Southern Books
The low country of the south is an enigmatic place in the summertime. It beckons you close with its beauty - greenly waving marshes, live oaks wearing dresses of grey Spanish moss - while at the same time warning you off with its smothering heat and brain-addling humidity. My favourite city in the low country is Beaufort, South Carolina. Beaufort nestles between Savannah and Charleston and abounds with both the gothic mystery of the first and the gracious gentility of the latter. The Songwriter and I have been known to escape to a gem of an inn there even during the most sultry of summers. In this lovely establishment there is a room painted the colour of granny smith apples. In the summertime, when white linen slipcovers replace the brown velvet of winter, ivory orchids catch the light and the air smells of lemons.
Here is where I’d like to be to read these fanciful stories which promise to reflect the otherworldliness of the summertime south.

Swamplandia by Karen Russell
Raney by Clyde Edgerton - A reread, but so southern and so much fun.


Spooky Books
There is an inn of the coast of Scotland that faces the Irish Sea. Surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides, it is stunning place any time of year with a parlor that just happens to be one of the best spots for reading I’ve found. This room would be the ideal place to read spooky stories during a angry summer storm, preferably around midnight, when a flash of August lightning illuminates the waves crashing over the jagged rocks in the cove.
Here are the books I’d reach for on a Scottish summer night like that.

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson
The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
Sister by Rosamund Lupton


British Inspiration
When I was in London in February, I met the lovely Jeanne from Collage of Life for breakfast. (I wrote about that visit here) She was kind enough to share with me one of her favourite places to visit in London. “You simply must go”, she said. “And have lunch there! It’s beautiful.”. Fortunately, I took Jeanne’s advice and around lunchtime, I grabbed a cab to the heart of the West End where I had the most delightful lunch in the glass topped cafe of the Wallace Collection.
A true treat, and the perfect place to read these books.


Books To Get Lost Inside
I often escape to an inn on the beach and many, many wonderful books have been read there on its big wooden porch by the sea. This is the view that I have when I chance to lift my eyes from the page.
This setting calls for engrossing stories - sagas, epics and page turners.
Here are the ones I’ll take this year.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - This one is always by my bed. Time to reread it, again.
A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles: I’ve heard great things about this book. Sayles directed one of my favourite films, The Secret of Roan Inish, and I’m curious to read his work.
Night Waking by Sarah Moss: A writer sequestered in the Hebrides, trying to find time to work. Right up my street.

And finally,
Once again I plan to take down My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell - it's an every summer read!

Remember now, do please share yours!!