When we sat down to brainstorm our June newsletter, Roger, James, and I wanted to make a list of good summer reading. The question we struggled with was, what is summer reading about? Is it romance? Fluffy comedy? Edge-of-your-seat suspense? Biography? Could be any of those, depending on the individual. But what we all agreed on was that the most memorable summer reading is the big, fat, book you lug everywhere with you for months on end. During the year, we get busy with work, school, and family and most people are lucky to make it through a 200 pager. In the summer, things lighten up. We go on vacation. We sit by the pool. There are more hours of sun in the day. And therefore, we can read more. So it makes sense to set a summer goal of reading a big honkin’ tome that you’ve been meaning to conquer for ages.
Our list includes some new titles that have already left an indelible mark on the collective readership (1Q84, The Art of Fielding), a fantasy classic (Game of Thrones), sweeping historical fiction (The Crimson Petal and the White), a panoramic novel set in India and one of my personal favorites of all time (A Fine Balance), and more. But honestly, the list is just a jumping off point. What I’d really like to recommend is more specific to you as an individual and where you are in your life at this moment. Because I guarantee that if you pick out a huge book to tackle, you will always remember that the summer of 2012 was that year you had your house remodeled and you spent the hours between choosing door hardware and window casings escaping all your anxieties between the pages of The Pillars of the Earth. (Somehow a house remodel seems less stressful compared to building the greatest Gothic cathedral the world has ever known.)
What I don’t recommend is any huge self-help book that’s going to make you feel inadequate. Save that for fall or even for January New Year’s resolutions. This is summer, after all. Be with your family, enjoy the outdoors, and by all means, laugh and cry with an epic novel that you can brag about conquering for the rest of the year.