In Praise of the Summer Reader

School’s out, summer is in! Well, if you’re like me, summers hold a different vibe than they did in the early aughts, where summer days were spent crisping my skin poolside with my nose in the latest issue of some teen magazine, and then later, devouring the Harry Potter series and Margaret Atwood [1], that is, until my lazy summer days were wasted away working.

Summers of present still hold that enchanted essence of excitement and wonder, but with a bit more responsibility and less rules. I still get excited when I see fireflies flicker in the warm dusk of a summer eve; the cure for a hot and humid day will always be ice cream in a sugar waffle cone (or a Mint Oreo Blizzard from Dairy Queen); and there’s no better way to relax than beachside (or poolside) with a good book and the occasional dip to cool off on a sunny summer’s day [2].

Maybe it’s that time feels like it stands still during summer; the days blur into each other as one hazy humid afternoon rolls into another. Maybe it’s those magical summer moments, albeit fleeting, that we bottle up and relive through the dark and cold days of winter. Or maybe it’s because summer days are when we are fully present and fully immersed in every minute of the season, not wishing it away or longing for one that just past, but perfectly content in the now of it all.  

Whatever feelings summer evoke, it is definitely my favourite reading season, and below are the books that will keep my company over the next 10+ weeks. (Reading locations TBD, but here’s hoping that one day over the summer season I will get to be a beach bum reader.)

Every Summer After – Carley Fortune[3]
Book Lovers – Emily Henry
This Time Tomorrow – Emma Straub
The House Across the Lake – Riley Sager
The Firekeeper’s Daughter – Angeline Boulley (A summer read recommendation from @medium.lady)
Seven Days in June – Tia Williams
The Messy Lives of People – Phaedra Patrick
Love and Other Words – Christina Lauren
And of course, Carrie Soto is Back by Taylor Jenkins Reid will be my Labour Day read. (I’ve pre-ordered my copy.)

What are you reading this summer?

[1] I recognize how problematic both Rowling and Atwood are as influential creators, who have the platform and the voice to represent those who have oftentimes turned to their works in times of need, yet have failed them. Can we separate the work from those that create it? Can we still love the fictional worlds and characters that these problematic authors have created? Fully loaded questions that I regularly ask myself when I glimpse my HP series that I have stashed in my closet unable to throw away.

[2] A thick slather of SPF is mandatory.

[3] I devoured this book in May, so technically not a summer read for me, but it is the quintessential summer dockside book, and it will be a book that I read again. Add it to your summer reading pile, if it’s not there already.

Summertime sadness is a real thing, yo

This time of year is always bittersweet for me, and I know I’m not alone in that melancholic feeling of summer’s passing faster than preferred. The cooler evenings, late sunrises, and back-to-school jingles are all signs of the changing season – one that I’m not yet ready to embrace. I know, I know, summer is still here for a few more weeks, but the start of September is the month that slowly creeps into fall, and those dogdays of summer slowly revert back into our reverie, becoming a distant blurry memory that is out of reach for another 290-or-so days. Summers are too short, too hazy and too perfect to only last a couple of months. Summer, that’s it, I am putting my foot down, do not leave us yet, it’s just not fair.

I recently read Dirty Work by Anna Maxymiw, and I loved it for many reasons, but the main one being that it brought me back to a time when I was a teen and would venture off to camp as either a helper in the kitchen (holy hell, feeding young kids is hard work), and then as a camp counsellor for the brightest most imaginative souls I have ever met. Maxymiw’s camp work adventures were a bit more strenuous than mine (we’re not comparing cabins to cabins here), but what Maxymiw did do through her book was build a connection to a time in our lives when life was a little less complicated, a little more innocent, the air, at times, fresher, and the food, cheap, greasy and damn delicious, especially after a 12-hour day of non-stop sweaty kitchen chores. If you haven’t read the book, read it. There’s still time this summer to escape to the wilderness, even if it is just through Maxymiw’s words.

Speaking of camp, what screams summer more than camp? Nada! Freedom for a week+ from authority figures, chores and societal rules that bind our day-to-day behaviours. Sign me up. Beach days, sport days, dress-up days; ghost stories, bonfires, week-long crushes that inevitably end when the bus leaves the campground; friendships forged, clothes swapped, numerous rolls of film taken of innocent experiences; laughter, joy, and depending on age, a bit of homesickness that often fades once a friend is made. There is a childhood innocence to summer camp that is fondly remembered, a time when life was easy, carefree and ‘perfect.’ What I would give to relive those days again. Maybe that is why those summer adult camping experiences are such a hit, but this time, a bit of booze is added to the mix. And as we all now, the best stories are made with a little, or a lot, of liquid courage.

Summer is so sweet because that thick humid air wafts nostalgia from summers past. It’s in the fireflies dancing during dusk, the lazy afternoon soundtrack of cicadas in the trees, the endless pool parties, slumber parties, sticky ice cream fingers, grass stains, camping, fireside stories and roasted smores. It’s those memories that we want to relive every year, and every year the season is too short to experience those summers of our childhood past. That 9-5 hussle is great when it comes to making bank (hah) and adult decisions, but it also means saying “summer, bye” to sweet August and July. Mind you, summer 2019 was one for the books – the best book (see #vanderlaenderstietheknot & #vanderlaendersinhawaii), it still evaporated faster than my money in Aritzia. Much like buyer’s remorse is a real thing, so is summertime sadness. So give me all that nostalgic summer memorabilia and let me relive memories of the past to help me imagine the summer memories I will make in the future. I only have 10 months to daydream.Camping