It’s nearly summer on the calendar. My toenails are painted, and my longing for lighter reading is coming alive. Before we look forward to all that joy, just in case you missed any of these classic beach-but-smart-literary enough-reads in the past (and I envy you if you have, because they are ahead for you) here are five favorite summer reads. Pass the Cheetos and Diet Coke and Banana Boat Suntan Oil SPF 15.
My warmer weather reading 2013 began with The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer, an entertaining if not terribly adventurous novel that follows a cast of characters who meet at summer camp in the 1970s. If not a fevered page turner, it is a testament to the interconnectedness of all of humanity, despite dissimilar details and social classes. Most striking to me, Wolitzer has something worth pondering to say about secrets between spouses and secrets between friends.
More difficult and ultimately more rewarding and more informative was Mary Doria Russell’s Dreamers of the Day. I love Russell. Her earlier novel, The Sparrow. The Sparrow, makes my top ten of all time, so you know I’m serious about her talent and her contribution to the world of thinking and reading. Set in Egypt in the days surrounding the 1921 Cairo Peace Conference, Dreamers captures the characters at the center of the conversation on the future of the Middle East as well as the personal awakening of our protagonist, an American traveling the world for the first time, full of grief and hope and a potent belief in humankind even in the aftermath of World War One. Filled with beautiful writing, and no small amount of history and humor, Russell tells a tale that is at once one woman’s story and a tale that the modern world is still coming to terms with and perhaps unraveling.
The sun is shining, put on your sunglasses, meet me on the deck, or porch or park or outdoor coffee shop. Bring a book and some time to enjoy the world around us and the world we explore when we open ourselves to the wonder of reading. Ice tea for me and a paperback, nothing too serious or demanding, always something beautiful that grows my inner world a little.