I wonder if many people have actually had such mystical summer reading experiences or if they are pretty much limited to these creative writer types. When I was 13 years old, I was still reading Donald Duck and Uncle Scrooge comic books.
Perhaps the closest I’ve ever come to being inspired by a book was when I was a freshman in college, I bought a large volume containing the complete stories of Sherlock Holmes and read it over Christmas vacation.
The Time article also has summer reading suggestions from their book critic and several celebrities, along with a list of the books that they consider to be “The 12 Ultimate Summer Reads” — best-sellers like “Love Story,” “The Exorcist,” “Jaws,” “The DaVinci Code” and “The Girl Who Played with Fire.” I’ve read a lot of these and liked most of them, but they seem a little dated and more like guilty pleasures, rather than truly inspirational or transformational.
In 2009, National Public Radio listeners voted in a “Best Beach Books Ever” poll. NPR’s top 12 beach books overlapped with Time’s “Ultimate 12” only with regard to a Harry Potter book. NPR’s list included more classics such as “Pride and Prejudice,” “To Kill a Mockingbird” and “The Great Gatsby” and also appeared to be more gender balanced, with books like “Bridget Jones’s Diary,” “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood” and “Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café.”
My wife Diane, who manages a used bookstore for the mental health center, says that summer readers usually pick their books in May or June, but may start as early as April, if the weather gets hot, like it did last year. Diane and I usually take some books along with us on vacations, but we seldom have much time to read them.