Monday, June 28, 2010

Summer Reading

It's true that newspapers and magazines and publishers have been releasing "summer reading" lists since the beginning of May, but I prefer to hold off until summer has actually arrived. According to the calendar, that happened last week and since July 1st is just around the corner, I think it's safe to declare the season of summer reading open.

For me, summertime reading is about picking up forgotten books from around the house – books I've been meaning to read, books I stumble upon when rearranging and want to read again and, of course, those books that have achieved annual read status. Summer reading is also about books found at yardsales, picked up in borrowed or rented cottages and/or swapped with friends. In short, despite what most publications would have you believe, I am convinced that summer belongs to the well-loved and battered books, not the new blockbuster bestsellers.

So, what will I be reading? Here's my realistic list (that is, books I have and can read in the space of two months):
The Princess Bride by William Goldman – This has been an annual read for a long time now; I don't see that changing any time soon.     
Summer Sisters by Judy Bloom – It's been a few years since I read this and I'm ready to dig it out again.     
Labyrinths by Jorge Luis Borges – A birthday gift; I do love short fiction.     
Imperium by Ryszard Kapuscinski – Some journalistic non-fiction for good measure.     
Bloom by Michael Lista – Summer is a great time for poetry, because you can read it at a leisurely pace.
I figure a book every two weeks is an achievable goal. Generally, though, I read faster than that, so if I get a chance, I'll read some of the other books on my to-read list, which never seems to get any shorter.

Now, besides what's on my little list, I would recommend the following as great holiday/beach/cottage/hammock reads:
The Boy in the Moon by Ian Brown – Engaging and award-winning.     
Mister Pip by Lloyd Jones – Be prepared to pick this up and not be able to put it back down.
Lives of Girls and Women by Alice Munro – It's a short-story novel and it's a classic of CanLit for a reason.     
Three Day Road by Joseph Boyden – Gripping stories deserve the space and time afforded by long summer weekends.     
Not Wanted on the Voyage by Timothy Findlay – Dramatic and suspenseful, it's brings a little weight to the sometimes too light/sweet summer fare.      
The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel – It's a little smutty, but that's well balanced by the engrossing story well-imagined pre-historic setting.

For other, perhaps more contemporary, summer reading lists, check out The Walrus, NPR, Salon, The Globe and Mail, The Gazette and The New York Times. 

Image shown a photo of books at a yardsale, on sale for $1 a piece.

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