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Summertime (And the Readin' is Heavy)
In the Deep South, Summer comes right on the heels of the resurrected Jesus. There is usually a cool snap right before Easter, followed by just enough Spring for college freshmen to run down to Florabama for a week in order to make ever-lovin’ fools out of themselves, then the heat sets in.
This means that we book lovers are approaching the sweet spot for preparing those Summer reading lists. And if you’ll allow me, I’d like to help you prepare.
Readers love book recommendations in the Summer. But they seem to only want “light reading.” This strikes me as odd. Summer is the perfect time for heavy books. A heavy book keeps one anchored in place, discouraging one from getting up and pouring another G & T. I’d wager that more than a few have been saved from alcoholism because Dostoyevsky was sitting in their lap pinning them down. And as long as you keep them in front of your face, thick books won’t leave tan lines.
There are those who say that they don’t do much sitting around reading in the Summer. But they lie. That is, prostrate themselves in a supine position. And understandably so. It’s hot outside. (With all due respect to Mr. Eliot, July is a helluva lot meaner than April). So they tend to use their books as much for shade as for entertainment. Big books make for bigger shade. Trust the science.
Summer reading should work up a sweat. That seems only natural. So tackle something alluring yet intimidating. Pursue a novel that doesn’t flash its slip and has been playing hard to get for years. Like Faulkner. Imagine trying to make sense of Light in August in February in Manitoba.
If you have “Bucket List Books,” Summer is the season for digging them out. Autumn is no time to go hunting Melville’s White Whale. On the other hand, when will you be in a better place to get into whaling than while sitting on a beach? And if you aren’t accustomed to harsh Russian winters, you’ve got little chance of making it through War and Peace during the Christmas holidays. You’ll need sunshine and finger sandwiches for that.
Finally, I think most would agree that ordinary people can’t do heavy reading and work for a living at the same time. So save that tome on Deconstructionism and the Aesthetic Consequences of Cryptocurrency for the first heat wave.