Summer reading

A couple weeks ago, the New York Times asked a dozen writers to share their memories of reading in the summer. I was not among those invited, hehe, but I’m participating anyway.

Growing up, my parents and I went back to my mother’s homeland every 4 years or so. Just getting there took almost a full day, as we flew from from city to city across the globe. Houston to Taipei by way of Los Angeles, Tokyo, or Seattle. One of these times, I found myself facing a 14-hour flight with nothing to read. I had either forgotten my book at home, or else finished it during the first leg of our travels. Either way, I needed another, so my mother took me to quickly raid the nearest airport shop before it was time to board.

In those days, your cell phone (if you had one) could not tell you what the Amazon or GoodReads reviews were. You just looked at covers, read some jacket copy, and bought the book that sounded the most interesting to you. Crazy, but it worked.

I ended up with MONSOON by Wilbur Smith, an epic story of 3 brothers in the 19th century, spanning from England to Africa to the Middle East, full of sailing, warfare, and sex. It was unlike anything I had ever read before, and I tucked into my window seat and blazed through it nonstop. By the time I finished the 800 or so pages (mass market paperback) we were halfway across the Pacific. Though only hours had passed, I felt older and wiser by years, and excited but weary from battling pirates on the high seas and racing camels across the desert.

I don’t remember anything else about that flight, but I still keep MONSOON by my bed at my parents’ house, so I can relive those adventures time and time again.

Want to share your memories of summertime reading? Email me with brief anecdotes, or post on your own blog and then send me a link, and I’ll publish a roundup!

4 responses to “Summer reading”

  1. Mary Avatar

    I remember reading that book (also on a trans-oceanic trip) when you loaned it to me. It was pretty intense!

    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.

    But when you have a 20+ hour drive (one way) ahead of you, plus a week of intense family time, there’s a lot to be said in favor of bringing along a huge brick of a book. I don’t think I’d have read it under other circumstances, and I’ve never had the desire to read it again.

  2. Shari Avatar

    Oh, what a fun idea!

    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. :)

  3. Meghan Ward Avatar

    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!

  4. Kristan Avatar

    Thanks for sharing, guys! Will include in the roundup. :)

    Omigosh I totally forgot I lent you MONSOON, hahaha!