Your memories of summer reading

A few weeks ago, I shared one of my favorite memories of reading in the summertime, then asked you guys to do the same. Here are a few great stories that I received.

Author of the forthcoming novel CHASING THE SUN

When I was nine, my parents turned our living room into my bedroom. I’d just had hip surgery that left me with a cast from my chest to my left ankle, and I couldn’t go up the stairs to my room. This all sounds worse than it is — I was actually really excited because it meant that for the first time in my young life, I’d have a TV in my “bedroom.”

Since there were still a few weeks left of fourth grade, I was being homeschooled. One day, my teacher brought over a copy of Little Women. It was one of those shorter, special edition books for young readers, complete with pictures every few pages and large type. I loved it so much that by the time the school year was over, I had a stack of new books just like it that I couldn’t wait to get through. Call it a self-imposed summer reading list, if you will. I was completely hooked.

I started with the classics. Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe took me to a deserted island where every day was a fight for survival and cannibals lurked dangerously close. I made a new friend in David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, and I remember being fascinated by the gigantic kites that consume so much of Mr. Dick’s time, and the concept of someone actually writing a dictionary. Black Beauty, The Three Musketeers, Heidi, Treasure Island — these stories offered so much for than an adventure and a sense of escape; they made my world bigger.

I forgot that I had a TV right in front of me. I forgot that I could barely move. I may not remember every last detail of every book, but when I think back to that summer, bits of each story swirl together to form a whirlwind memory of swords and fleur de lis and pirates and black stallions and that immense sense of accomplishment that Robinson Crusoe gets when he finally learns to bake bread on the island.

Many, many books have come and gone since that summer, but I’ve never been able to let go of these seven hardcovers. They’re in a box underneath my bed, and I tell myself they’re for my future kids. I suspect they’re really there for my nine-year-old me.

Blogger and friend since high school

For me, it was reading David Copperfield the summer before high school, back when I thought that it was actually required. We took a vacation to a family camp thing in New Mexico, and drove from Houston to get there. Reading in the car on road trips is, in a general sense, one of my fonder childhood memories. This particular road trip, I remember vividly the huge brick of a book that is David Copperfield (I had it in hardback, too). The copy I had was actually quite a nice one, with pictures, which was a plus.

The story itself, typical of Dickens, is full of twists and turns and words out the wazoo. By the time I finished, I felt like I had lived an entire life. And since it followed David Copperfield literally from birth to (presumably) happy ever after, I kind of had.

Women’s fiction writer, beach lover

My summer reading has often been beach reading.  I think the one that stands out most is Maureen Lipinski’s A BUMP IN THE ROAD.  There is just something about that story … that inexplicable quality that draws a reader in … and I sped through it in two days to the exclusion of pretty much everything else.  You know a book is good when you abandon pool/ocean/boardwalk time because you can’t pull yourself from its pages. :)

Former model, current editor and memoirist

My favorite summer reading memory was reading The Secret History by Donna Tartt while hanging out on a beach in India. Wait, that wasn’t summer. It was February. But it felt like summer. It was hot and I was wearing half a bikini and swimming in the Arabian Sea. I never read The Little Friend, but The Secret History was fantastic. Ah, I could go for two months on a beach with nothing to do but practice yoga, read novels, and eat pineapple right about now!

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OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout


  1. I loved this. Mary, nice to see I’m not the only one who shares the same fondness for David Copperfield ;) Really enjoyed reading everyone’s summer reading memories, and am grateful for the chance to contribute!

  2. I love these stories! Especially Natalia’s. I have to check out the book Shari mentioned, too. She has great taste in books, so if she liked it I bet it’s good.

  3. Natalia, the funny thing about David Copperfield is that, while I liked it, I have never once been tempted to pick it up and read it again. Since I read most books at least twice (and often quite a bit more frequently), that’s significant. :) I’m glad I read it, and it is a pretty solid memory of childhood reading, but good golly was it a marathon.

    I too keep books ostensibly for my children one day, but really for my childhood self. There’s something about picking up the exact same book that you read for the first time as a child and reading it again. I have books that are falling apart that I am loathe to replace because the edition I have and love is no longer in print. They’re memories I can hold in my hand, and I never like giving those up.

  4. What a fun idea for a post! Thanks for including me! :)

  5. These are great! So fun to read everyone’s stories! And thanks for including me, too :)

  6. Natalia, Mary, Shari, Meghan-
    Thanks for participating!! I loved reading your anecdotes. :)

    Shari does have good taste in books, doesn’t she? ;)

  7. The summer of ’98, before my senior year of high school, reading The Godfather, watching the World Cup every afternoon, and nursing an intense crush on the Italian team!

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