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It’s that time of the year when you let it all hang loose and not care about whether what you’re reading is ‘literature’ or not. For some strange reasons, the hot summer months, the taking leave of work and school, the temporal evasion of chores and responsibilities seem to have emboldened us to new adventures, legitimizing ‘escape reading’. But my question is why only in the summer? Do seasons regulate our choices? Should ‘summer reading’ differ from that of the other 10 months in the year? Has the term “Beach Read” been coined merely to jack up book sales?

A look at some current writers’ “summer reading” casts even more doubts on arriving at a clear cut definition of “Beach Reads”. Dan Zak of Washington Post interviewed a sample of them and surveyed their summer reads. Here’s what he found:

  • Mary Higgins Clark: Gift from the Sea by Anne Morrow Lindbergh
  • Susan Choi: War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy
  • Janet Evanovich: The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Thomas Mallon: Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens
  • Sue Monk Kidd: The Grimke Sisters From South Carolina: Pioneers for Women’s Rights and Abolition by Gerda Lerner.

… and so on and so forth. Click here to read more of Dan Zak’s article on summer reading.

And here’s Arti’s list. I’m currently reading Lisa Scottoline’s Lady Killer, which should satisfy a ‘traditional’ definition of a ‘beach read’. Other than that, I’m also re-reading Jane Austen’s Persuasion, and still plowing through two of Robert K. Johnston’s books, Reel Spirituality: Theology and Film In Dialogue and Reframing Theology and Film. If a ‘beach read’ is defined as a fast pace, plot-driven page-turner, these definitely don’t qualify.

I’ve just finished The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls, which is one dynamite read, a wild ride any time of the year. It deserves a whole new post. But to categorize it as a ‘beach read’ would seem to have down-graded its quality and impact.

A few titles I plan on getting hold of this summer:

  • Then She Found Me by Elinor Lipman. After watching the film, I’m really interested to find out how a writer instills spirituality into the narrative of everyday living.
  •  Away by Amy Bloom. I’ve wanted to know more about her through her reading. So far I’ve only read one thing from her: Introduction to Jane Austen’s novel Persuasion.
  • The Savior by Eugene Drucker, founding member of the renowned Emerson String Quartet. In this debut novel, he dispels the myth of the saving power of music, using a Holocaust death camp as the backdrop. Should be one poignant read.

What’s your summer reading list like? Typical ‘beach read’ or evidence shattering its existence?

Summer Reading 2009 Click Here.

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