Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The perfect summer list?

by Chasya
Last week on the blog, Stacey touched on children’s summer reads which got me thinking: what exactly makes something a good summer read? I mean, I’m no stranger to parking myself on the beach with a good book. Last year while reading a manuscript I managed to burn myself so badly I had trouble sitting for a week. Suffice it to say I’ll be back on the beach a lot this year (albeit with a lot more sunscreen and maybe an enormous umbrella for protection—weekend weather permitting) and enjoying holidays with some tome or another. In the past all sorts of things made it into my pile: literary fiction; thrillers; chick-lit; light mysteries; the most touted and well-publicized book of the month; a less obscure book a friend just happened to own and love. There was no rhyme or reason for why something made it into my summer reading pile.

So this year I decided to do some more research to determine what I should be reading. What qualifies as a “good summer read?” Is it the breezy, fast-paced thriller that you can consume in one sitting or the literary epic you don’t have time for all year and finally—finally—get the chance to pick it up on your staycation or on Independence Day weekend?

Well, I did do some research, and suffice it to say that it seems like everyone and their grandmother has submitted their lists for the summer. Salon’s got it’s “nail biting summer reads” made up of riveting thrillersHere NPR lists 15 summer picks of a decidedly more highbrow variety. The Los Angeles Times has got its exhausting and varied 60 Titles for 92 Days list, comprised of new releases. Nina Sankovitch has got her list of six which include both thrillers and epics on HuffPo. According to her, good summer books “tell great stories about unique characters; evoke vernal landscapes of abundant, lush growth or of hot and dusty cobblestones, or of languid humidity; and end with a bang.”

I could go on and on but I’ll stop here. In short, I discovered rather quickly that I’m on a fool’s errand (it’s not the first time, and I doubt it will be the last). When it all comes down to it, it’s what you want to read the most and what will keep your eyes glued to the page for hours that will really lead you to your ultimate summer list. As for me, I love my breezy effortless reads as much as I love hunkering down to those endless and enthralling books that can keep you from getting out of bed for days. I’ve started Kathryn Stockett’s much touted and much lauded novel The Help, which I can already tell fits these criteria and is going to keep me busy for a little while.

So now that I’ve scoured reading lists galore, tell me what’s on yours! I’m also open to suggestions, because there’s no better way to build your reading list than by word-of-mouth!


  1. At the moment I'm reading a David Webber book.
    And here in NC, we call summer reads "easy beach reads," which implies to me light fluff that is easily devoured in a couple days.

  2. I took a look at the NPR link you provided, and I definitely need to check out "The Lonely Polygamist." I've read a few reviews of the novel and it sounds really intriguing.

  3. I'll probably be re-reading this summer.
    Wen Spencer's Ukiah Oregon series.
    Wen Spencer's "A Brother's Price".
    Patricia Briggs Mercy Thompson series.
    Gail Carriger's "Soulless" and "Changless", while figuring out how in the world she's going to resolve the story in "Blameless".

  4. Anything by John D. MacDonald. Most books are set in Florida, he wrote Cape Fear, originally called The Executioners (If you've ever seen the movie with Bobby De niro). The Travis McGee series is wonderful; The Deep Blue Good-by, Nightmare in Pink etc etc. Lots of suspense, good gin and great tans. One of my favorite Trav quotes : "People who censor books are usually illiterate."

    Also, anything Carl Hiaasen is fun for the beach, especially if you are into plots jam packed with crooked politics and zany characters. Nature Girl was a recent favorite of mine :)

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