Friday, June 22, 2012

The Books of Summer

Photo by Hans F. Meier/
A warm day, a shady spot, a good book... life doesn't get much better than that, no? Here's a grab bag of summer reading I've enjoyed, past and present. Share your favorites in the comments, below!

Ray Bradbury, who passed away this month, wrote many fine books, but Dandelion Wine is particularly appropriate for summer: it's about summer, a collection of short stories with recurring themes and characters. Nostalgic and bittersweet.

I devoured Alexandre Dumas' Three Musketeers books when I was a kid. Rollicking good adventures, they're highly entertaining and not in the least stuffy. I actually have not yet read The Count of Monte Cristo (I know, I know, watching Revenge doesn't count), but hope to get to it this year.

One assigned summer reading book during high school made a big impact on me: Josephine Tey's The Daughter of Time. A mystery where the detective's stuck in a hospital bed, the book's about how history is written by the winners. Largely due to his depiction in Shakespeare's play, Richard III is remembered as a murderous monster -- a political convenience for the Tudors, the victors of the War of the Roses. But as The Daughter of Time's bedridden investigator finds, there's no evidence to back this up. Will you feel sorry for the guy Shakespeare's Queen Margaret calls an "elvish-mark'd, abortive, rooting hog"? You just might.

I spent one summer working at a theater in a town in central Maine -- literally a one-stoplight town -- whose tiny library was full of Stephen King books (no surprise, since King lives just up the road in Bangor). I hadn't read much King before that year, but I snarfed these down like potato chips. Carrie, Salem's Lot, Misery, The Shining... nothing chills down a muggy Maine July like a good scare.

Looking for more current recommendations? A few newer books I can suggest for those looking for a beach/hammock read: Neal Stephenson's Reamde is a globetrotting action-adventure with a dash of MMO geekery and international terrorism for spice. Laini Taylor's YA novel Daughter of Smoke and Bone is imaginative, romantic, and heartbreaking. Ready Player One is a love letter to Generation X, especially the geek and gamer subspecies -- it's fun to play spot-the-reference in Ernest Cline's past-as-prologue book about a dystopian Earth and the virtual reality game everyone jacks into to escape it. I'm biased, but my publisher Coliloquy's slate of interactive ebooks offers something juicy for everyone, from a starcrossed romance between witch and warlock to the war of good and evil playing out on the unlikely battlefield of two lonely souls lost in time.

And for me, summer means not just reading but writing. I'm busy wrapping up with Season 2 of Alphas on the Syfy Channel -- we premiere Monday, July 23 -- as well as working on the second book of my Parish Mail series of interactive YA mysteries. If you have a Kindle or an Android device, might I suggest you add Parish Mail Book 1, Dead Letter Office, to your summer reading list?

I'd love to hear your bookish memories and recommendations. Any childhood summer reading that stuck with you? What are you reading this summer?


m said...

So, I thought about what books I read in the summers of my childhood (ie 11-15) and realize what a fucked up kid I was.

I read one of the Quiller books, I remember a book on the Mossad team assigned to retaliate for the Munich 72 Olympics, and all the Douglas Adams I could lay my hands on

This summer, I've just cracked into Alpha by Greg Rucka, a delightfully self aware spec ops thriller in an amusement park. And I expect I'll hit Redshirts by Scalzi before long.

Kira Snyder said...

That's quite a list for a tween! I'm looking forward to Redshirts as well -- thanks for the Alpha rec. I'm a Rucka fan.

David Anaxagoras said...

Dandelion Wine is quintessential summer reading and I'm glad I'm not the only one who loves this book.

I also (mis)spent many summers of my youth reading Stephen King, especially the Dark Tower series. Something about a post-apocalyptic western just screams summer.

Anything set in the 70s takes me back to long, long summers as a kid. I enjoyed YA novels When You Reach Me and am currently reading Lizard Music.