The summer vacation season is finally here, and with it trips to the beach, the mountains, a cabin, or just to a shady spot on your deck or in your yard with a cool drink and, if you are a reader like me, a good book.
For many people “summer reads” and “beach reads” are synonymous. Usually this is light reading–a page turner that holds your attention, or even if you doze off, memorable enough to pick up where you left off. It could be a romance (not my thing) or an action thriller or spy novel or mystery or maybe some Young Adult fiction. Some people would call this “mind candy” and look down on it. I would suggest that while you don’t want to live on candy, sometimes candy is just the right thing!
I have a few other thoughts, not so much about particular books as about types of books you might consider for summer reads. All you need to do is Google “summer reads” to find several lists of suggestions.
1. If you will be “stay-cationing” this summer, you might consider reading a travel book or other history of another country. Learning about a part of the world you can’t visit may not be as fun as going there, but sometimes the trips we take in our minds can be pretty good.
2. If you have children, check with your librarian about some age-appropriate read aloud books you can take on trips or have around for rainy days. If your family never read aloud, this might be the time to start and make some good memories around good books.
3. Pick a book in the category of “I’ve always wondered about…” This could be a book on anything from particle physics to the paintings of Van Gogh.
4. Along this same vein, you might think of reading a book in the category of “I’ve always wanted to learn how to…”
5. The last category I would suggest might be a book or two that you will read slowly because it is a great work of beauty or thought to be savored. Perhaps this is the summer to pull that impressive copy of War and Peace off the shelves and actually read Tolstoy’s masterpiece (hint: figure out a way to keep track of the names). Perhaps it might be a work of great spiritual depth like Augustine’s Confessions or Abraham Heschel’s work on the prophets.
Look for a post soon of some of the books I hope to read this summer.
Your local library probably has a summer reading program and can offer great recommendations in all these categories. As a kid, I used to come home with stacks of library books to read on our shady front porch when I wasn’t at the pool.
We often think of summer as a time of physical refreshment. A few good books can make it mentally refreshing as well. So here’s to a cool breeze, a shady spot, a comfortable chair, and a great book that is even better than it looked when you picked it up!