I was marveling at the pictures from the Phoenix Mars Lander while I was writing in my personal blog, and, naturally, it brought to mind Ray Bradbury and The Martian Chronicles. Then I started remembering one of my favorite scenes from Dandelion Wine, about new sneakers and the beginning of summer.
Perhaps it’s because all of my books are in boxes in the basement, awaiting an exalted return to newly-painted bookcases, but I’m more than usually nostalgic about summer reading today.
Before college, it was all about finding a new author, and then reading everything by him or her I could find. Here are a few of the authors I remember obsessing about over summers: Louisa May Alcott, Agatha Christie, Arthur Conan Doyle, Ray Bradbury, Robert Heinlein, Robert Graves, Stephen King, and J.R.R. Tolkien.
A painfully obvious, nearly universal, list, but much beloved, if only for the memories of the way the books made me feel then. Some of the them withstood the test of time, and I can enjoy them today; I mourn those that didn’t. Before college, there was a wantonness to reading, and now there isn’t. Then, I would cheerfully give points for what the book had accomplished, without minding what it didn’t achieve. Now, I’m less patient, more demanding about what a writer does with my time, crabbier when it doesn’t work out.
I’m ambivalent about that change. Part of it, I can attribute to my change in career: now that I’m writing fiction, I read non-fiction for fun, and that’s a different experience. And learning discrimination and thoughtful criticism was absolutely necessary, now that I have less time, and it has probably made me a better writer. But, man, do I miss even the idea of that whole-hearted, joyful wallowing.
So I have to ask: what are your favorite summer books?