Last week, I extolled the virtues of “hard” reading. I swore that this summer I would be focused on tough books and challenging myself intellectually. The past week has proven that I’m a big liar.
Because in the past two weeks I’ve finished two books, neither of which could be considered “tough.” I thought about why that was. Why was it that, despite my decision to focus on challenging texts that would push me to my intellectual limits, I was spending my first precious week of summer reading books that were not (at least intellectually–emotionally is another story) challenging?
And I’ve decided that this has a lot to do with the fact that these two books (13 Reasons Why, which was excellent and Two Kisses for Maddie which was…not. You’ll hear more about both of these this weekend.) were my first reads of the summer. The summer. The glorious summer. The time when days stretch before me endlessly and when my only concern is if I have to get up to refill my tea. (OK, that’s not my ONLY concern, but it’s a MAJOR one.)
Historically, at least for me, summer reading has been light and fluffy. Check out those summer reading tables at your local book store: I bet they’re full of chick lit and mysteries. The best summer books are the ones you can race through on the beach, pausing only to cool yourself off with a swim. My favorite books in middle and high school to read during the summer were mysteries by people like Agatha Christie and Mary Higgins Clark. I saved my tough “school books” for August.
So although I have a pile of books that are “tough” and “literary” calling my name, I’m allowing myself to indulge in some lighter reading during these first glorious weeks of summer. No that’s not true. I’m allowing myself to read whatever strikes my fancy during these first few weeks of summer. Right now, that’s The Shallows by Nicholas Carr. Next it will most definitely be the new Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants Book. Because the summer, especially the beginning of the summer, is all about reminding myself of the joy reading can bring, the lose-yourself-in-the-pages joy of reading anything you want whenever you want.
So go ahead, read that Nelson Demille that you bought in the airport one day. It’s July (or at least it’s 15 minutes until July where I’m from). You’re allowed to. And remember what summer reading really can be all about.