There is a particular sweetness to reading in the summertime.
All throughout my school years, summertime meant freedom in more than a few ways, but especially when it came to reading. I no longer needed to force myself through the required pages of an anthology or a book I hadn’t chosen for myself.
In the summer, a whole realm of possibility awaits as you open a new paperback, a laminated library find, or a digital copy of the latest best-seller.
Although summer doesn’t mean quite the same things to me now as it did when I was younger, I still look forward to the excitement over new releases and the decision of what to read on this year’s beach trip.
On a recent podcast episode of What Should I Read Next?, Anne Bogel (Modern Mrs. Darcy) discussed summer reading with one of her assistants. At the end of the episode, they answered a series of questions about summer reading and books in general. I thought it might be fun to write a post answering those very questions as we approach summer. So, let’s get to it!
1. What is your best summer reading memory?
My grandmother, my dad’s mom, has been a huge influence on my reading life. She was an English teacher and a huge reader herself, so she has always encouraged me to read anything and everything. One of my favorite things to do when we would visit her house in the summer was to take a trip to Books-a-Million and pick out a new book.
My choices changed as I got older. I went from Wishbone classics in my elementary age to Sarah Dessen as a teenager, but no matter what I chose, I had my nose in it immediately. There were times I wouldn’t stop reading until the very last page, even if I was up until the wee hours of the morning.
Those were the days — no need for an alarm, no need for a bookmark.
(Another fun summer reading memory from high school — devouring the Twilight series during a week in Montana. No shame.)
2. Paper or electronic?
If you asked me this about a year ago, I would have said paper without even thinking.
I still love reading in print, but my darling husband got me a Kindle Paperwhite for Mother’s Day, and I am LOVING it. It’s thin and tiny and portable, and it’s so easy to hold while I’m nursing.
So, my answer to this question is both!
3. Paperback or hardcover?
I love a good hardcover, especially a brand new one. But when it comes to paperbacks, there’s something about them — you can really tell when it’s been read and enjoyed. The cracks in the spine, the dog-eared pages, maybe even a coffee stain or two. And you can flip through it easily to see if there are any highlights or under-linings, the bits that the reader found the most compelling.
I don’t know. Maybe I’m romanticizing it a little too much, but overall, as long as it’s a good book, the cover doesn’t matter so much to me.
4. Fiction or non-fiction?
I go through phases. More often than not, though, I opt for fiction. I love to escape into a different world for a while. On the other hand, sometimes I need to hear truth from memoir or research or personal essays. Non-fiction usually takes me longer to read because I’m not as likely to become as immersed in it as I would a solid work of fiction. There are always exceptions, though.
5. What is the last great book you read?
When Jesse was born, it took a while for me to feel like a real person again. I didn’t have the mental or physical capacity to do much besides watch Netflix on my couch between and during his feedings. But eventually, once I felt more comfortable running errands with him, I decided it was time to go to the library.
On the day I decided to go, Jesse was having a rough time. He was going through a growth spurt, so he was extra fussy and I knew I had a limited amount of time before I had to feed him again. I thought maybe a walk would do him some good, and I knew a riveting novel would definitely do me some good. So I got him into the stroller, grabbed the diaper bag, and off we went.
We made it to the library without any issues, but of course, as soon as I wheeled the stroller into the fiction section, Jesse woke up and started crying. I had to choose something fast.
I track my to-read list on Goodreads, so I was frantically scrolling the app and strolling the aisles to find anything I might want to read. Then I came across the shelf of Ann Patchett’s books. I’d never read anything by her before, but I remembered a friend said Commonwealth was one of her favorite stories, so I decided to try Patchett out. I was drawn to the cover of State of Wonder, so I grabbed it and quickly checked out.
Oooohhh my goodness, I loved this book. L O V E D it. I couldn’t stop reading, had to know what was going to happen, had to find out every last detail I could about the characters, the plot, everything.
Amazon describes the book this way:
“In State of Wonder, pharmaceutical researcher Dr. Marina Singh sets off into the Amazon jungle to find the remains and effects of a colleague who recently died under somewhat mysterious circumstances. But first she must locate Dr. Anneck Swenson, a renowned gynecologist who has spent years looking at the reproductive habits of a local tribe where women can conceive well into their middle ages and beyond.
Eccentric and notoriously tough, Swenson is paid to find the key to this longstanding childbearing ability by the same company for which Dr. Singh works. Yet that isn’t their only connection: both have an overlapping professional past that Dr. Singh has long tried to forget…Emotional, vivid, and a work of literature that will surely resonate with readers in the weeks and months to come, State of Wonder truly is a thing of beauty and mystery, much like the Amazon jungle itself.”
So good, guys. So good. I’m looking forward to reading more by Patchett in the future.
6. What books are on your nightstand right now?
I can really only read one book at a time these days, so my nightstand is pretty empty. I’m currently reading Swing Time by Zadie Smith on my Kindle, which is a fascinating book with complex characters and important themes for this day and age. Every chapter surprises me, and I continuously wonder where the story is going to go. It certainly keeps me on my toes, so I’m interested to see how it ends.
I just finished You Are Free by Rebekah Lyons — the whole book was good, and the last few chapters were just what I needed to hear. Not sure what I want to read next, but I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.
7. How do you organize your books?
Since we just moved into a new house about two months ago, our books are shelved wherever they fit until we find the time to actually organize them. I usually like to organize some by color, as you can see in the photo to the left from our previous apartment, so I’ll probably do that again at some point.
Currently, we don’t have enough shelf space for all of our books, so some have found their place on the floor in our living room. I don’t mind the look of it, actually!
8. If you could take a reading vacation anywhere, where would it be?
There are so many answers to this question, but the first thing that came to my mind was a peaceful cabin in the mountains — probably the Rockies — where I could drink my wine and look up from my book to a grand view.
Okay, maybe I should start planning that trip ASAP.
What are some of your answers to these questions? Let me know by commenting below!