It’s that time of year again. Sprinklers dot the sidewalks with water. Fresh cut grass sticks to flip-flops. And the air thickens with anticipation (oh and humidity).
It may still be spring, but summer is coming.
Not just another season…
In theory, as an adult, summer is no different than any other season, just hotter. (And it gets hotter every year. Thanks, climate change!) In the scorching dog days, my routine remains the same: get up, work, eat, take out the dog, hang with family, write, read and go back to sleep. (My life is totally exciting, right?)
Even though my head knows summer isn’t special, I still have this leftover feeling from childhood. My own Peter Pan pixie dust sticking to the edges of my heart. Each fleck is a tiny memory, a little magic dream of bicycles, fireflies and the smell of chlorine as I dove down to the bottom of a pool. (Before the adult buzz-kill version of me realized pools are disgusting cesspools. It’s true. And I’m sorry. If you’d like I can ruin dolphins for you too? Maybe next time.)
Summer’s best qualities: pinky toes and appendixes?
All the years of counting down to the end of school and bursting through the doors on the last day left an imprint of anticipation inside me. It’s a vestigial reflex, useless as an adult, but there nonetheless, like an appendix or a pinky toe. (Because when people think of summer they always think of pinky toes and appendixes. Or appendixi? Not sure what the plural of appendix is…I think it’s actually appendices, but that just doesn’t sound right. Like culs-de-sac. Just no.)
This summer-lovin’ sensation is permanent. I can’t wash it away or cover it up. Like a tattoo, it’s there and I can’t change it. And, mostly, I wouldn’t want to because this yearly affliction serves as a reminder. In a world of work/sleep/repeat, sometimes I need to take a little break. In which case, maybe it’s not so vestigial. Perhaps that leftover feeling does serve a purpose.
I break for summer (and books)
The blissful, responsibility-free summer months of waking up late and lounging around are far (very far) in my rear view mirror. But with the warm weather breaking open the frozen doors of winter, there are new and fun ways I can appease my Peter Pan pixie dust summer desires.
I can read on the porch.
I can read by the pool. (But I never, ever get in and I make a WIDE berth around anyone shaking off or shedding fluid of any type.)
I can read by a lake.
I can read at a park.
I think you get the picture. But, honestly, what did you expect? In the hierarchy of life, my priorities are family, writing, reading, throwing away anything that’s been on the kitchen counter for more than 2 days, and everything else.
The summer, with its breezy warm days and sunshine, offers more opportunities to pull my book out of my purse and enjoy reading in new, wonderful surroundings.
Taking a break while on a hike with the family? Pull out a book! Spending the day at the beach? Definitely requires a book. Waiting for your daughter to get out of a pool so you can throw her a towel while screaming “stay the hell away from me”? Yep, you know it, book time.
Listless and list-full summer
Basically, I associate reading with summer. But I’m hardly the only one. You can barely sneeze on the internet without coming across a summer reading list.
No one makes fall reading lists or spring reading lists. Why is this? (Because those are lame seasons that wish they were as great as summer?)
Perhaps it’s because I’m not the only one with a sprinkle of summer pixie dust nostalgia. Maybe we all retain that little childhood part of us who camped out in the backyard with a flashlight and a book. (Or in my case in a plastic yellow tent in my playroom because I’ve never really been a fan of camping. I loved that tent. It blew up like an inner-tube. It was the best.)
And while I could make my own summer reading list or beach reading list of the latest books, there are plenty of those out there. Instead, I’ve decided to make a brief summer nostalgia reading list. These are the books I remember reading as a kid, huddled up during the summer in my plastic tent.
Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson
Memory: I balled my eyes out over several summer days with this book and I’m not sure I was ever the same again. It was the first book I found confounding because it was heartbreaking and heartwarming at the same time. But it made me fall further in love with books.
The Witching Hour by Anne Rice
Memory: I stayed up all night one summer reading this entire book (note: it’s a pretty hefty book. If you hit someone over the head with it, it would hurt. However, I do not condone using books for violence, just for the record.) I even remember the sun peeking through the blinds of our den as I tried to hold my eyes open to finish the last chapter.
Salem’s Lot by Stephen King
Memory: I jumped every time a branch tapped my bedroom window for an entire summer (and kinda loved it.)
Communion by Whitley Strieber
Memory: I put the book in the closet because I thought somehow that would keep me safe! My friend told me her mother put it in the freezer. (Glad I’m not the only one.) It might be the scariest book I’ve ever read.
[Insert Any Book Title] by Christopher Pike
Memory: I read so many of Pike’s books when I was young, they’ve all merged into one book in my mind. But I remember staying up late on summer nights, flipping pages with trembling and anxious fingers. (Clearly, I liked scary books when I was younger!)
The Babysitters Club series by Ann M. Martin
Memory: First, I totally had this exact book, cover and all, and those bangs. (Clearly, I was a child of the 80s and 90s.) Second, these were a staple of my bedside table and read over many summers. I always wanted to be Claudia! She was so smart and cool!
A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
Memory: Giggling and falling in love with poetry while hiding away in my playroom on a rainy summer day.
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Memory: Driving in a car down to Florida. (I think it was Florida. It might have been the Carolinas. And it may have been Spring Break and not summer. But close enough! It’s hard to remember these details from 25+ years ago!) I do vividly remember sitting in the car, book in hand, listening to Led Zeppelin on my CD player. And I will now and forever associate this book with both “The Battle of Evermore” and summer car trips.
Do you feel nostalgic for summer? What are your summer reading nostalgia books?