In just days, summer as we know it will be over. The triple-digit days that coaxed us to the pool or forced us to close the blinds and binge watch everything on Netflix will be replaced with frantic shopping for school clothes and pencils with erasers. The countdown to Halloween and Christmas will begin.
If you haven’t completed your summer bucket list, it’s time to get busy. And now that I’m anxious just thinking about that, a trip to the library might be my solution.
For weeks, I have chided my 12-year-old granddaughter for having a single summer goal: To see how many books she could read. It started with her end-of-school research paper on The Benefits of Reading and resulted in a personal quest. Reading has become her métier. Apart from last week (when she vacationed on the coast with her mother), reading is all she has done. From the moment she wakes till she falls asleep at night, her nimiety is broken only by chores, hygiene and a forced amount of social interaction.
So far, she has logged 50 books; read more than 20,000 pages and learned hundreds of new words–though the three she uses most are the same as every other 12-year-old: that’s, not and fair. She has traveled by ship to the New World; fallen in love with a vampire; ridden in a pumpkin coach and attended a Cosplay Ball—all without leaving her room.
I, too, love to read and this summer I have read five books.
Reading was not part of my summer wish list, but maybe it should be. Among my granddaughter’s research were studies showing how reading helps people with depression and encourages positive outlooks. Twelve (the nickname and age for my granddaughter) also found a Yale study that tracked the reading habits of people 50 and older.
“Those who read more than 3.5 hours per week lived two years longer,” she read to me and I could no longer argue. So I came up with my own list of what reading might do for me:
Take me away
I haven’t traveled this summer, but I’ve been dreaming about Palmettos and beaches, thanks to C. Hope Clark’s “Lowcountry Bribe” and “Tidewater Murder”, which are set in Lowcountry and Beaufort, South Carolina. In Kentucky I watched as an old woman nearly died, wrestling to shore the largest catfish either of us had ever seen, in Bobbie Ann Mason’s “Clear Springs”.
My granddaughter loves fantasy, so she is almost always in another place (especially if there are chores to be done). It began when she was younger with books like Geronimo Stilton’s “Lost Treasure of the Emerald Isle” and Rick Riordan’s “Percy Jackson and The Olympians” series, but this summer she was transported to “Caraval” by Stephanie Garber and glued to the pages of all three books in Richelle Mead’s “The Glittering Court” series where the adventures in the New World’s “Adoria” are told from the point of view of a different character in each book.
For historical fiction, we both loved Monica Hesse’s “Girl in the Blue Coat”, set in Amsterdam, 1943. And when you really want to go back in time, search the New York Times book list for the bestselling book the year you were born. Mine was Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”.
Help me relax
In my experience, the only thing more relaxing than a bubble bath is a bubble bath and a book. Every June I read Anne Morrow Lindbergh’s “Gift from the Sea”, for a trip to the ocean and to rekindle my connection to quiet.
I grew up on the coast, so my soul lives on the beach no matter how many times my zip code changes
“The beach is not the place to work; to read, write or think,” Lindbergh begins, as she paints the warm air, sand and vastness with her prose.
Before I know it, I am there with her.
Reading for pleasure takes away stress and replaces it with laughs and smiles. I got plenty from Pulitzer Prize winner Diane Marcum’s “The Tenth Island”, a memoir of her move from California to the tiny Azorean Islands of the Atlantic Ocean.
Solve a problem
When you garden, there’s always something growing that you can’t identify or something dying with no explanation. It’s no wonder the most worn books in our library are Howard Garrett’s “Texas Bug Book “and “Plants for Texas”.
But the biggest problem in the garden this summer is 12’s Entomophobia. In fact, her fear of stinging insects has grown faster than she has.
A few weeks ago, Mike replaced the screens on our patio windows. While they were off, a mud dauber laid eggs in the window sill. Yesterday a baby dauber was trapped between the glass and the screen and 12 (who was on the patio) nearly hyperventilated. If you know of a book that can explain “How to not die from seeing a dirt dauber”, I’m sure she would read it.
Teach me something
Anything we read teaches us new words, ideas and concepts, so each year I force myself to thumb through a new cookbook. I detest cooking, but I do love to eat. Plus, being surrounded by people who are passionate about cooking occasionally makes me uncomfortable.
Though I still avoid the kitchen I learn something new from every cookbook I read. Four generations of my family have learned to set a table and bake a proper potato from the kitchen tome “The Joy of Cooking” and “The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays” introduced me to the fruit salad that has replaced all fruit salads. Seriously, I could eat it every day.
If you have a favorite cookbook, please share it. I’m open to anything that might persuade me to turn on the cook top.
What have you been reading this summer?
This post linked to the GRAND Social!