I've been reading a lot of my friends' books lately, and it's been a delight. I finally read Orphan Train. (Thank you Christina Baker Kline, for writing something so beautiful--not to mention that the phenomenal success of that book could not have happened to a better person.) I just finished reading my friend Gretchen Rubin's excellent new book Better Than Before, though that was a word doc because it doesn't come out until 2015. I also devoured Julia Fierro's Cutting Teeth--but while that book takes place at a beach house on the last weekend of the summer, I read it in February. So what did I decide to pick up when the weather got warm, flip flops became a viable shoe option again, and the summer reading lists hit the stands?
You heard me. Does anything say "beach book" like Bleak House to you?
The quintessential summer read, of course, is supposed to be light, or a page-turner, at least--as Janet Maslin put it in her summer reading column this year, "we have entered the fun season with the sandy nickname, the one known for books impossible to put down." I've gone in for this trend at times--I read The DaVinci Code on a beach, and can't quite imagine having read it anywhere else. I also, however, read Proust's In Search of Lost Time over three consecutive summers, starting each of the three volumes of the Scott Moncrieff translation whenever the summer arrived, and refraining from embarking upon the next volume until it was warm again, which allowed me to take some much-needed breaks in-between. Proust is probably not most people's idea of a summer read. Or is it? What is a summer read? And can there be such a thing for someone who reads year round?
Summer, of course, is when school is out, and even those of us for whom school is a distant memory can recall the freedom of summer reading, which was when you read what YOU wanted to read, and you read purely for fun. That, I think is the best spirit in which to take the only reading "season" I know of, and Bleak House is what suits my fancy right now. What about you? What is a "summer read" to you? Do you have a summer reading list? If you do, please tell me what's on it! I may finish with Dickens by August...if I can manage to carry it back and forth from the beach.