Sunday, August 31, 2008

The Sunday Salon: The Books of Summer

I've been going around all day, singing that Don Henley song about the boys of summer (“I feel it in the air / the summer’s out of reach” – watch the video). I always find it so depressing when we come to the end of August – summer’s almost gone (OK, that’s the Doors, not the Eagles). Even though, where we live, summer weather will still be with us for a while longer (at least off and on), the beginning of September undoubtedly will bring with it that feeling of the air getting brisker and life speeding up again. The wonderfully languid days of summer are already fading to a fond memory as I write this.

And speaking of fond memories, we’ve just come home from a week at the beach, and I’ve still got tons of laundry calling me away from other more enjoyable activities. So I haven’t done much reading today – just a couple more chapters of The Gargoyle, out by the pool this morning (a really good book, but a really long one). And the book review supplements in the Sunday papers, of course. The Washington Post has a “Fall Preview” section in today’s Book World – I love fall previews, even TV Guide and the fashion mags can keep me riveted for hours when I have no intention of watching any of the new shows or wearing any of the new designer offerings.

My only other bookish activity today has been to pull together a list of the books I read this summer. Thirteen books, counting the one I’m reading at the moment (which I should be able to finish tonight).

Hmmmm. Thirteen. Well, just to avoid bad luck, I guess I better try to sneak in another title or two before Labor Day is over. Maybe a couple of the children’s books I’ve got on my list for the Young Readers Challenge – they should go quickly, right? I’ve also got an ARC of American Wife (another chunkster) that I was planning to read this summer, but still haven’t managed to start. I know it’s officially out this month. I still fully intend to read it – but that’s not gonna happen between now and the end of the Labor Day holiday. (What can I say? I’m old but I’m slow.)

Anyway, here’s the list – my books of the summer of 2008:

The Bookman’s Wake, by John Dunning
Greenwitch, by Susan Cooper [see review]
The Grey King, by Susan Cooper [see review]
My Fantoms, by Theophile Gautier [see review]
The Fires, by Alan Cheuse [see review]
2010: Odyssey Two, by Arthur C. Clarke
Wish You Were Here, by Rita Mae Brown
The Aviary Gate, by Katie Hickman [see review]
The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows [see review]
So Long at the Fair, by Christina Schwarz
Summer Reading, by Hilma Wolitzer
Love and the Incredibly Old Man, by Lee Siegel [see review]
The Gargoyle, by Andrew Davidson

I'd be hard pressed to say which was my favorite. There were really no clinkers in the bunch. I think, of all of them, the only one I was disappointed with was So Long at the Fair (review to come this week – maybe it just wasn’t my kind of book.) The book that I was most surprised by was The Aviary Gate. It really reminded me that the old warning about not judging books by covers is not to be forgotten. But I guess if I had to choose just one as my favorite, it would have to be The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society – in fact, I think I may have to add it to my life list of favorites. It’s always nice when a book sneaks up on you and lands a killer punch to your heartstrings just when you’re not expecting it.

So that’s my summer’s list. And how many books did you get through this summer? Any favorites to recommend? New discoveries? Warnings about books to avoid? Now I guess it’s time to start planning those “Books to Read” lists for autumn. A little personal “Fall Preview” for the season ahead.


  1. Glad you're enjoying The Gargoyle and you're right--for such a compulsively readable book, it does feel quite long.

    I just posted my review of American Wife this morning...didn't love it as much as I'd hoped to, but I thought it was interesting.

  2. Well, except for all these children's books, I have pretty much been reading what YOU have been reading! Except for "London". Ok, I am officially on sabbatical with "London". But, I am enjoying "The Lace Reader" and have sworn off children's books for the rest of the year -- well, except for the three "Dear America" books I have here. Sigh.

  3. Reading your Sunday Salon post has made me realize that even though I read a lot, there is still more books that I have yet to read. All the books you listed for your summer reading are ones that I've never heard of. I like it when I hear/read about books that are new to me. Helps me branch out and discover new genres/authors.

  4. It does feel like the end of summer is close at hand. Hubby and I are stretching it out as long as we can, waiting until after the kidlets and most travelers have settled in for the fall/winter before we strike out on our getaway.

    Your week at the beach sounds wonderful. I am trying to catch up on laundry as we speak. I'm not sure why I let it pile up so long this time. Usually I am right on it.

    Have a great week, Joy!

  5. I found So Long At the Fair pretty bland as well. Ah well. That's a lot of books! :-)

  6. I was disappointed in So Long at the Fair, too...had high hopes. Glad to see it just wasn't the mood I was in!


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