summer reading

Summer Reading: A Place for Us

In summers long past, my friend Jill and I would cajole my grandfather or my aunt to drive us to the local library at least once a week where we stocked up on reading for the long summer days. We always registered early for the annual Summer Reading Program, obtained our reading log sheets, and dutifully completed them to drop into the collection box on the librarian’s desk. I still recall with great fondness my favorites from those summers, and I often re-read them before moving on to other things. Maud Hart Lovelace’s Besty-Tacy books, anything by Madeleine L’Engle, Trixie Belden, the Little House series - classics in a time where there wasn’t a lot of choices in children’s or young adult literature. 

Years went by, I had a child of my own who loved to read, and he would also register for summer reading (at the very same library, by the way, a nice bit of serendipity for me.) So back we’d go to the library, often riding our bikes (we lived closer than I had as a child) and stopping a nearby donut shop on the way home.

Thus, summer and reading are intrinsically linked in my mind. Already this summer I’ve happened across some wonderful new books, and I thought to write about them occasionally here.

The Sunday Salon: Summer Time

Summertime, and the livin' is easy...

MTB070685027  01It is, isn't it? Anyone who has ever been a slave to the school year (student, parent, teacher) has a special affinity for those precious three months of freedom. Days are loooonnng, creating a seemingly infinite number of possibilities. When I was a child, it meant staying outside until 9:00 at night, it meant hours riding my bicycle side by side with a girlfriend, not going anywhere particular,  just riding around talking and gossiping companionably. It meant queuing up for the Good Humor truck, slurping rainbow popsicles or Nutty Buddies. It meant slathering on Coppertone suntan lotion and jumping into the neighbor's pool or running through the backyard sprinkler.

But even as a child, reading was an important part of my summer fun. I always joined the library summer reading program, and usually cajoled several of my friends into joining me. We made weekly trips to the library, our carefully completed summer reading logs in hand, and picked out even more books which we'd bring home and pile up next to our chaise loungers under a shade tree. I would carry my reading on far into the night (or as far as my sleepy eyes would let me), my book propped surreptitiously under my pillow with only a tiny flashlight to guide me along its pages.

I noticed our local library has started a summer reading program for adults, in addition to their programs for children and teens. Reading is usually a solitary activity, but it's human nature to be drawn toward a group so there's something enticing about the idea of sharing this pastime with other readers. Probably why we like book clubs and readalongs, why I can so easily start conversations with strangers if they've got a book in hand. We recognize our compatriots and gravitate toward them.

Sometimes I make plans for my summer reading, but this year I'm winging it - whatever takes my fancy on trips to the library or bookstore. Right now I'm engrossed in Wild, Cheryl Strayed's breathtaking memoir about finding herself on the Pacific Crest Trail. It's an inspiring allegory for  life in general, and I highly recommend it if you haven't yet read it.

How about you? Do you read more in the summer? What's on your reading list?The Sunday