Tuesday, June 03, 2014

Summertime and the reading is easy…

I don’t know what it is with me, but every time the weather gets hot, I seem to get more interested in rereading old favourites rather than making a consistent effort to drop the height of the to-be-read stack of books that’s always on my side of the bed.

There is a bit of good sense involved here. During the summer, I get more time for writing – or at least feel more inclined to take time off from work to do it. We don’t have any sort of real vacation planned for this year, just a few days here and there. But you can be sure I’ll spend any time I can during those periods either at my wife’s laptop or scribbling in a journal, something I do more and more these days. I touch type very well, so transcribing is no big deal. (I should do a post someday on the importance of adding good typing skills to one’s arsenal of writing tools. Mavis Beacon saved my life twenty years ago!)

So one reason I don’t want to start a new book is sensible: if it proves to be a really engrossing read, I will use my spare/vacation time to finish it, rather than working on whatever paying writing project I have ongoing. Since it’s hard to find quality writing time (when I’m creatively rested and able to immerse myself in what I’m doing), I need to jealously guard those periods when I do get them. If I’m rereading something, I can easily put it down and walk away. The siren call of the page is a lot less compelling when you’re just revisiting an old friend. I really hate picking up a new book previously started a few weeks ago, and then having to waste precious time rereading so that I can become familiar with the plot again.

But I also find myself getting nostalgic in the warmer months. I have a lot of memories of glorious summer days spent reading one book after another. I had a job at a Maine resort once. I was the pool boy, and the pool wasn’t used all that much. Can you imagine having a job where your only duties are to sit by a pool (and can dunk yourself periodically when you get too warm), fetch and carry food and beverage orders for guests, keep an eye on the odd kid (it was mostly older couples at this place) — and read? The town of North Bridgton had a good library and the main house of the resort had shelves of books donated/left behind by guests. It was here that I discovered Nero Wolfe, Lord Peter Wimsey, Hercule Poirot, and Spenser. I devoured upwards of a book a day. My girlfriend (the reason I was up there) often worked evenings waitressing at a restaurant down the road, so you’d often find me after hours with my head still in a book. Those were great times for someone like me.

When our family came along, it was hard to read because of demands on my time, so I might pick up something I’d read before, so it wouldn’t be any kind of wrench to put it down at a moment’s notice. Since I find it difficult to give away books I’ve enjoyed, there were a lot on our shelves and in boxes in the attic, so I began pulling out my childhood friends. It was comforting not only for the writing, but also the memories attached to going through Some Buried Caesar or Gaudy Night once again.

So I have a question: what is on your summer reading lists? Are they new books you’ve been too busy to read or are they books you’ve enjoyed previously?


Vicki Delany said...

I almost never reread books. There are just too many new ones to discover. There are exceptions. I have read LOTR maybe 20 times, although not for at least five years now. I have reread An Instance of the Fingerpost at least twice and get something very new out of it each time. I now have The Dream of Scipio (also by Iain Pears) on my to-be-reread pile. But generally, no.

A.M. Guynes/Annikka Woods said...

I've got books on the craft of writing that my library has that I want to read. I have multiple books on the TBR pile. But really? I'll probably read old friends between the working, the writing, and the reading the craft books. Just to give my mind a break.

Donis Casey said...

We have reverse seasons here. Summer is hole up and endure time, like winter in most of the rest of the world. I work a lot more in the summer and only read books that I must read for research or some other career-related reason. Winter is when I tend to read for pleasure. Unless I'm in the midst of self-promotion, that is. I don't really have time to re-read books I love, though I would if I could.

Eileen Goudge said...

My TBR is groaning, it's so huge, but I always make time for Tony Hillerman. His mysteries are a mini-vacay to the Southwest. I'm probably rereading ones I read years ago, but if so, it was so long ago I've forgotten the plots.