I love summer reading.
I don't know if its from our Canadian summers being so short, but what I read in the summer seems to enhance how I feel during the beautiful heat, while the gorgeous weather leaves vivid memories of the books I've read on hot summer days. And since summer is but a brief burst of beautiful weather here, I feel strongly that summer reading shouldn't be wasted! No dreary memoirs, no modern novels of relativism with unsatisfying endings, no trendy (but boring!) non-fiction. Summer days should be filled with books that are enjoyable for their own sake, fun, and leave your soul feeling refreshed and dare I say....happy!
So here's my top commandments for summer reading, you won't regret trying them!
An Agatha Christie does a world of good!
Mysteries are really the most entertaining genre to read. The reader is purposefully engaged in the story, dared to discover what the author has hidden. At the same time there is something of infinite comfort in a mystery and knowing that the evildoer will be discovered and found out, problems will be solved, answers found.
For those who have only heard of Agatha Christie but have never read her, YOU'VE GOT TO READ HER! Yes she's very popular, but I find that because of her huge popularity in the past, people now assume they know how Christie writes when they just don't. Her mysteries are masterful not simply formulaic, and her characterization skills are amazing, intricate, and realistic. Plus, the small world of the English country estate or quaint village where Christie usually sets her mysteries are so charming and a great fictional world in which to live, unless of course you're the murder victim!
Some great ones to start out with are: A Body in the Library, Murder at the Vicarage, 4.50 from Paddington, and The Murder of Roger Ackroyd.
If you've enjoyed Agatha Christie in the past then you must try the other Queens of Crime writers such as Margery Allingham and The Fashion of Shrouds, Ngaio Marsh's Vintage Murder, and Dorothy Sayer's Clouds of Witness, to name but a few by these great authors.
One P.G. Wodehouse a year!
A beloved biology(?) professor once told me that every Catholic should read at least one P.G. Wodehouse book a year in order to keep a sense of humour. There is really no better way to preserve a sense of the absurd than to read a P.G. Wodehouse, any P.G. Wodehouse! His wit and writing are absolutely crisp, his wordplay unmatched, his characters hilarious! You'll laugh and you'll love it.
And it really doesn't matter which book you read although Right Ho, Jeeves, Quick Service, and The Luck of the Bodkins are all great, I've never read one I didn't like...a lot!
Go Back to a Classic!
There is just something blissful in sitting and reading an old favourite during the summer. A Jane Austen is perfection while sitting on a blanket in the shade of a huge green tree, or lying on the beach. Or how bout Anne of Green Gables on a long road trip/plane ride? Summer is also a time where its nice to slow down, and step away from the contemporary novel as well as the rush of our usual schedule, and ease back to a classic that stands the test of time.
Everything Jane Austen is perfect for the summer. (I read Persuasion on my honeymoon, and have wonderful memories now whenever I read it!) If you haven't read Elizabeth Gaskell you must. And as soon as possible. Wives and Daughters, Cranford, and North and South are all excellent Gaskell novels!
And a Little Junk Food!
And finally, just to top off your summer reading with a little not-so-real-whipped-cream-like-product, I think you have to read a little junk. Some chick lit, some cheesy romance, some silly paperback. If you're in the mood for a little Mauve Binchey, Nora Roberts, Emily Giffin, Nicholas Sparks, etc. you've got to fit some in or else summer just wouldn't feel like summer.
Reading some junk in the summer gets it out of your system for the rest of the year when you only read wholesome and edifying works, right ;) ?? Summer goes hand in hand with the silly paperback from summers off from school when you needed a break from the huge tomes of literature you were being forced to plug through. It seems like an easy entertaining diversion, which isn't terrible when its a once a year habit.
So there you have it. What I believe every summer should be filled with; great books, great memories, an alcoholic beverage, and beautiful sunshine.