Summer Reading: What’s Your Pleasure?

summer_readingThe Memorial Day weekend is upon us and here in the U.S. that means summertime is kicking off. It’s the season of beaches, pools, quiet shady spots, and, for readers like us, the time when we’re all on the lookout for the Perfect Summer Read.

When I was a kid, a highlight of summer was always the championship levels I achieved in the local library’s reading club – you know, the kind of thing where you got a different colored construction paper star for the number of books you read? Believe me, I was always on the top rung.

But as we grow up, most of us don’t have the entire summer to do as we please.  (It sucks, doesn’t it?) We’re limited to a week or two of vacation and weekends as lazy as we can possibly make them.

I’ve always had a problem reading on the beach since there’s so much to see and experience that I have a hard time concentrating for any length of time.  I’m full of big plans about the books I’ll read and take w-a-a-a-a-y too many, but I get most of my vacation reading done in my room or sitting in a quiet, shaded spot sipping a Corona.

I remember, though, one moment on a perfect beach finding what was to me the Perfect Summer Read.

I was in Jamaica and, if you’ve ever been there, you know that the turquoise waters and white beaches are about as perfect as perfect can be, so the setting was heavy on distraction potential. The book: Daring to Dream by Nora Roberts.  I’d bought it because I knew Roberts as the author of some of my very favorite series romances, but I’d never tried her single titles before. (I was a big MacGregor junkie.  Big.)  I think it was the glamour of the setting, the larger than life characters, and the page-turning storytelling that triumphed and kept my attention focused despite the tempting distractions of that perfect beach.  A monumental author glom was born.

Generally, I want big in the summer – books that feature lives far more interesting and glamorous than my own. Still, in total contradiction to what I just wrote,  it’s a rare summer when I don’t get around to re-reading Welcome to Temptation by Jennifer Crusie.  The steamy heat of that late Ohio summer seems even more steamy when I’m sitting on my balcony, kicking back with the book and a glass of wine in the midst of my own steamy (!) summer.

Despite the way many books are marketed as “perfect summer reads,” I think that each of us has our very own definition of just what that is.  For every Nora Roberts fan, there’s somebody at the pool reading (or, perhaps more accurately, pretending to read) Ulysses.

So, here’s the question of the day:  What makes a Perfect Summer Read for you?  Are there any favorites you re-read when the hot weather hits?

- Sandy AAR

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24 Responses to “Summer Reading: What’s Your Pleasure?”

  1. Magdalen says:

    Thrillers are good in the summer, I think — with all the windows open and the anodyne sounds of a calm world filtering through, I am happy to read about murder and mayhem. I’m hoping the new Lee Child will deliver the goods, but if not, I’ve still got three of Dana Stabenow’s Liam Campbell books to do the job.

    Other than that, well, I have a well upholstered “TBR bench” of books clamoring for my attention.

  2. Judith Keating says:

    To me, it matters not what the season for reading.
    My reading time consists mostly of evening hours, I find it difficult to read in public settings unless at the auto mechanic or medical appointment.
    At the moment I’m reading Christine Feehans “Wild Fire”. I am not crazy about the male/female characters but I am only into the first third of the book.
    My next book will be Christina Dodds ” In Bed With The Duke”.
    Hope you all have a wonderful and safe summer.

  3. LinnieGayl says:

    I generally prefer lighter books in the summer, so don’t read many heavy mysteries or angst-filled romances. Contemporary romances and series romances seem to fit my mood most summers.

    Generally, I try to reread Nora Roberts’ Quinn brothers series in the summer. The water-front setting is exactly where I’d like to be in the summer, so I can pretend I’m there with Cameron, Phillip, and the others.

    That being said, on unbearably hot days (I mean 90+), I’ll often turn to an old Amanda Quick book or two (Rendezvous is a particular favorite). I guess because I know her characters weren’t going to be suffering from the heat quite as much as I am. Quite a few years ago, I spent a lovely 5 days on the beach in Aruba reading (and then rereading) about 4 old Amanda Quicks.

  4. TeeLo says:

    Like LinnieGayl above, I find myself seeking out contemporaries and romantic suspense in the summer. I think that its because I live in the northeast and I finally find myself outside (and letting the outside in). For me, the summer doesn’t evoke stuffy drawing rooms and ballrooms! I seek out Lisa Gardner, Brockmann, Gibson, Roberts (of course!), Karen Rose and new-to-me Roxanne St. Clair.

    But I also find myself drawn to re-reading some titles off my keeper shelf. For instance, I’m currently re-reading Deanna Raybournes Julia Grey series. Loved it and continually drawn to her writing.

  5. maggie b. says:

    I don’t change my reading by season except around Christmas. At Christmas I want cold reads with lots of hot chocolate, snow, lit fireplaces etc. And I don’t want a Christmas or winter book in the summer. At all.

    maggie b

  6. I read the same type of books all year round *boring right?* *grin* I love to read all sub-genres of romance…paranormal, romantic suspense, erotic, sci-fi/futuristic, historical, contemporary…all over the spectrum. I also love to re-read old faves…Shades of Twilight by Linda Howard, Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts, Megan’s Mark by Lora Leigh, all of Lisa Jackson’s backlist.

  7. LinnieGayl says:

    I should say that summer reading holds a very special place in my heart. My very first memory (very fuzzy), is of sitting on a pretty blanket in the back yard surrounded by picture books, with my mother. Guess I was destined to be a reader. As a young girl, some of my favorite memories are sitting on our huge screened-in-back porch surrounded again by books (this time Nancy Drew & Trixie Belden), reading again, with my mother.

  8. kathy says:

    I like to reread old favorites during the Summer. This Summer I’m going to reread “The Windflower”. I can hardly wait.

  9. enesbit5 says:

    I’m planning to go to California next month and will bring along at least two of my James Bond books as what could be better than reading James Bond while pool side or at the beach! I’m also planning to bring Changeless as I purposely kept it aside just for this holiday.

    I love reading at any time of the year, but especially during the summer months as it brings back memories of my early childhood spending long summer days at the library reading to my heart’s content.

  10. Lea AAR says:

    Well, I haven’t really thought all that much about what I actually prefer to read when on a summer vacation or a day at the lake, etc. but now that I do, I must say that my preferences for such times definitely lean towards contemporary. A reread of Linda Howard’s To Die For or Julie James’ Practice Makes Perfect or Rachel Gibson’s True Confessions all sound comforting and summerish to me. So, I’m likely to look for a new book along those lines if I’m not in the mood for a reread. I recall several years ago getting all caught up in Howard’s Death Angel (a romantic suspense that feels like a contemporary to me) while in the mountains vacationing. When we returned to that same vacation spot the following year, nothing but a reread of Death Angel would satisfy me. Right now I’m saving Rachel Gibson’s Nothing But Trouble for a trip over the summer.

  11. Lynn says:

    My one summer constant is reading the newest Janet Evanovich (always comes out in June!) by the pool and laughing out loud. We have a pool in our yard and my favorite thing in the whole world is to be neck deep in the water reading any book on a really hot day.

  12. maggie b. says:

    When I was a kid I always did the Summer Reading Roundup at our library. This year I’ve heard they are doing an adult reading program. I’ll be signing up for that one, so it won’t change the books I read but it’ll add a different element to my reading.

    maggie b.

  13. Pat Henshaw says:

    I’m usually a little more eclectic in my choices during the summer than I am during the rest of the year. I “discovered” Sharon Shinn and Connie Willis during one summer and really enjoyed Archangel and Doomsday Book, two books I wouldn’t have read otherwise. Last summer I discovered Maggie Osborne and shared my discovery with my husband, who had read Jane Eyre and no other women’s fiction. (He’s slowly being converted to romance!)

    (As an aside, I was a library page and then library aide in the past and can vividly remember checking in and reshelving books that smelled like suntan lotion and chlorine in the summer. Consequently, these two smells remind me more about books than summer itself.)

  14. Lydia says:

    I normally read whatever is coming out in the summertime. Although I do remember the summer I turned 13, I checked out Gone With the Wind from the library (and renewed it several times) and spent the summer with Scarlett and Rhett. The thing I remember most is the onion skin quality of the paper and the crackling it made as I turned the pages.

  15. Ellen AAR says:

    My reading is the pretty much the same all year along except for winter, when I read Christmas romances. I’ve just finished my vacation and I read Jasper Fforde’s Thursday Next series and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series.

    Oddly, I never took part in summer reading programs at the library, although I read a lot. I got my library card when I was 6.

  16. Summer has always been the time I’ve set aside to read things that require large chunks of time. Possibly this is a habit from my school days when one would read the following year’s set texts for English. Then at university pleasure reading time during term was limited because of all the stuff I had to read for lectures. So again, summer was for big reads. It was the same when I was teaching. I had time for longer reads during holidays. It’s the same now. The boys are out of school so I’m not writing much and I still take the time to read longer books, or books that otherwise require extended concentration. It might be Dickens or a Bronte or Greek tragedy. It might also be a total re-read of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Also, we often spend time with my sister at her beach house in the summer and while there I read her books. I’ve been doing this for years and yet I STILL pack a bag of books for the trip. You’d think I’d learn. She’s coming over in a couple of weeks and I still have a book of hers to read from last summer; The Flanders Panel, by Arturo Perez-Reverte. She gave it to our father years ago, and she’s wondering what he made of all the sex!

  17. JMBaja says:

    I tend more towards books with humor in the summer, especially during vacation or holiday time. I want my reading to be light and to make me smile or laugh when I’m on vacation. I have plenty of stress when I’m working, and one of the best ways to relieve stress is to laugh.

  18. Blythe says:

    What a fun topic. When I was growing up, my absolute favorite thing about summer was that I could read all day.

    Like others, I don’t change what I read much during the summer. But I do have books I associate strongly with vacation. I too read Gone with the Wind during the summer. I also read Laura Kinsale’s The Shadow and the Star at a beach house in San Clemente. It doesn’t sound like your typical beach read, but it was perfect. Elizabeth George’s books seem to come out in the summertime too, and those are must reads for me (the new one is on my nightstand right now, waiting for the right moment).

  19. elainec says:

    This summer I’ll be reading the ten historicals I bought in the last month. I just finished Mary Balogh’s “A Secret Affair” and liked it a lot. It brought out lots of feelings and emotions. I cried during many passages.
    I love reading hardcovers, so as soon as it came (I pre-ordered it back in January), I dropped everything else to read it.
    I also bought five mystery hardcovers by Elizabeth Peters, Martha Grimes, Elizabeth George, and and Laurie R. King (2). We have a pool, but I never take books into it. They might get wet!!!
    Right now I’m nearly through Gwyn Cready’s “Flirting with Forever”. Her time travels are so delightful. I find myself laughing out loud. Her work is different and creative and wonderful.
    I guess I just love reading romantic fantasy. Whether I laugh or cry, I’m transported to lives outside mine and times beyond my own. It’s a wild ride sometimes.

  20. Mitzi H. says:

    I love all kinds of books and switch between historical romance to contemps for a change of pace. This summer I’m looking forward to my aunt’s visit. She’s bringing her kindle and is going to let me read it for a couple weeks. I don’t know what I’ll be reading but I’m sure will be good. We both love hot romance novels.

  21. Linda says:

    During the summer I try to read one of the authors on my “I always meant to read her books ” list. This year it is Lynn Kurland. So far so good. One of the things I am liking about her books is that she doesn’t need to describe in great detail the sex in the book. Thank you Lynn. I may be older but not so old that I need a refresher course every other page like some authors seem to think!

  22. Ann Stephens says:

    For summer I go for light and fluffy. I live in the midwest & angsty, brooding heroes don’t work for me when the temp & the humidity are both in the 90s. Julia Quinn’s Bridgerton series is nice then, as is Celeste Bradley. I seem to have less time to myself then, so it’s the time of year when I read the most Harlequins.

  23. Robin says:

    Love this topic- it brings good memories back. I spent so many hours every day at the library during summer break that they “let” me shelve returned books and straighten the stacks. My parents limited me to 5 books at a time, so I would hide books I wanted to read in the space between the floor and the bottom of the book shelves. Twenty-something years later the library was modernized with new shelving units. I nearly died when my best friend (a librarian) told me they just didn’t understand with they kept finding old books under the old stacks that had been removed from the inventory years ago.

    In summer I enjoy lighter books that make me laugh. I usually read more contemporary, rather than historicals. For some reason, it’s also the season I will explore other genres and authors more than another time of year. Guess that stuck from the kids’ summer book clubs.

  24. elainec says:

    Robin,
    That is one funny story!!!
    I’ve volunteered to both shelve and “weed” at my library in Michigan. It was hard on the knees – all that up and down on the ladder. I loved helping in tech services getting tapes and cd’s ready to go out. Since that took only part of my mind, I also listened to recorded books while I worked. That library had everything you could want. I never bought recorded books the way I do now.
    Libraries can be great places to meet people and talk about books. Now, reading each other’s thoughts on a blog such as this one is the main way to hear what others love and hate in the book world. Several of my friends read mysteries, but none read romances.

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