Summer ended today as the last of my four sons surrendered his Xbox controller, packed up his summer reading files, and entered Middle School peacefully. Structure, discipline, and progress for all. But before completely buttoning up starry nights and car trips, I want to confess my summer reading affairs and relive the attribute that made me fall in love each time.
And then I will move on.
While adjusting to the freedom of no homework and children who sleep all morning, I had a fling with literature. The Imperfectionists by Tom Rachman was indeed original, perspective-altering, and a teensy bit heartbreaking for an old-fashioned reader like me. (Italy was great). Walks With Men by Ann Beattie was edgy for my appetite, but her photo-realistic characters taught me things a writer can use. Solar by Ian McEwan was way better than the NYTBR led me to expect, the potato chip scene alone was worth the read.
While children were away at camp, I slipped off to Nagasaki for a week with David Mitchell and The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, 800 pages of action and adventure with a Dutch Trading Company official in the year 1799. This novel was recommended by my aunt who maintains 18 unread books on her Kindle, a good summer reading safety margin in my opinion.
Husband slept in my reading light while I indulged in romance: Skeletons at the Feast by Chris Bohjalian–WWII with a Russian twist, Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater, a Young Adult writer to watch, and Dracula, My Love by Syrie James, who writes like a native of the 19th century, a book that goes both ways: romance with a Romantic hero. Which leads me to Young Romantics by Daisy Hay, non-fiction I read for research, but include here because it was just so good. Keats, Shelley, and Byron’s 1814 summer of love: mad, bad, and dangerous to know.
But the dalliance that most often made me sneak away, stay up late, and decline the society of real people was the Stieg Larsson trilogy: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, The Girl Who Played With Fire, and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest. I fell in love with Sweden, protagonist Mikael Blomkvist, and the gripping story that fulfilled all my summer reading desires.
Goodbye novels. We’ll always have the summer of 2010.
(Which books carried you away this summer? I will be taking confession in the comment section of this blog).