Search results: "memories of summertime reading"

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!

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!

OLIVE KITTERIDGE by Elizabeth Strout

Please note: My “Reading Reflections” are not reviews. They are simply my thoughts in response to certain passages.

Olive KitteridgeDuring our recent safari, I actually created a new summertime reading memory of my own, one that I think will be a favorite for years to come. Thanks to digital library lending, I had pre-loaded OLIVE KITTERIDGE onto my iPad, and each day during our afternoon siestas, I would lie on the cot in my tent, or sit outside under the shade of a mopane tree, and enjoy a story or two.

Elizabeth Strout’s writing was dense and delicious. For some reason I hadn’t expected this book to be so … small-town, and yet universally relatable. Strout really transported me to this place, made me care about these people. And in telling me their stories, she taught me about myself.

She also inspired me to reconnect with my love of writing short fiction. Reading this book planted a kernel of creative energy that I’ve been doing my best to nurture and grow.

Here are a few of the lines I loved.

You get used to things, he thinks, without getting used to things.

He had thought more and more how provincial New Yorkers were, and how they didn’t know it.

Hope was a cancer inside him. He didn’t want it; he did not want it. He could not bear these shoots of tender green hope springing up within him any longer.

You couldn’t make yourself stop feeling a certain way, no matter what the other person did. You had to just wait. Eventually the feeling went away because others came along. Or sometimes it didn’t go away but got squeezed into something tiny, and hung like a piece of tinsel in the back of your mind.

Olive’s private view is that life depends on what she thinks of as “big bursts” and “little bursts.” Big bursts are things like marriage or children, intimacies that keep you afloat, but these big bursts hold dangerous, unseen currents. Which is why you need the little bursts as well: a friendly clerk at Bradlee’s, let’s say, or the waitress at Dunkin’ Donuts who knows how you like your coffee.

The appetites of the body were private battles.

Lives get knit together like bones, and fractures might not heal.

“All these lives,” she said. “All the stories we never know.”

I think that’s the essence of why I love to read and write. Because I want to know everyone’s stories. Whether people tell me, or I make them up myself.

Olive had a way about her that was absolutely without apology.

I wish this was more true of myself. I’ve made a conscious effort in recent years to be more confident, less concerned with others’ opinions. And I’ve made big strides. But I think I can go even further.

“‘Don’t be scared of your hunger. If you’re scared of your hunger, you’ll just be one more ninny like everyone else.’”

I don’t remember the context of this line, but I believe it’s about passion. About taking that leap of faith, trusting in yourself, your gut instincts. There are all sorts of reasons to take (or not take) certain paths in life, but I think fear is probably the worst reason.

Everyone thinks they know everything, and no one knows a damn thing.

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