As a kid, in the summers I became a reading maniac. I lived on the opposite side of town from my friends, and we only had one car that my dad took to work, so I was a little isolated during those three months. And also, I have always just loved to read.
Each year, I had a subscription to the summer version of My Weekly Reader and eagerly checked the mail each day, waiting for its arrival. Each week, my mom bought two Trixie Belden or Nancy Drew mysteries to last the week. Every few weeks came a parcel of comics and magazines from my English grandmother (with some contraband chocolate bars) with stories about Beryl the Peril and Billy Bunter. And then there was the Bookmobile, that most wonderful invention, bringing books out to us county kids.
So summer has always been a special reading period for me. Each May, I come up with a list of books to read on these hot, sunny days. Here is my list for this summer:
- James K. Polk: The Man Who Transformed the Presidency and America–Walter Borneman. I still have my goal of reading a biography of every president. Unfortunately, I’m getting a little bogged down in the period after Jackson. So if I just get this one read in the next two months, I’ll be happy with myself.
- Life after Life–Kate Atkinson. I can’t believe that this one is still on my to-read list. She’s one of my favorite authors, but somehow she managed to slip out of sight over the past few months. So a definite must-read for summer.
- Bad Haircut–Tom Perotta. These short stories are set in the 70’s, but even if you weren’t born yet, you’ll recognize these characters.
- Bark– Lorrie Moore. I saw her speak this year and was forcefully reminded of how she effortlessly can move from humor to tragedy, never sounding a false note. One of the best short story writers out there.
- Handling Sin–Michael Malone. This was recommended by the dean of Math and Natural Sciences. She promises it’s darkly funny, and she’s darkly funny. So I trust her.
- On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft– Stephen King. Another recommendation from a friend. Chris says it’s the best writing book out there.
So here’s my list. Let me know what books you’ll be taking to the beach or under a shade tree this summer.