Let’s Talk with James M. Jackson

Summer Reading by James M. Jackson

Even though as I am writing this (4/18), winter is still gripping the upper US, and the summer solstice is not until June 21. For many people, the Memorial Day weekend marks the beginning of summer. And warmer months mean Summer Reading. Studies have shown that children who do not read over the summer will lose ground in school compared to their peers who do read. I was always a reader, so that wasn’t an issue for me. The first time I recall having a summer reading requirement was when Lafayette College assigned Robert Penn Warren’s All the King’s Men to all incoming freshman.

For adults, required reading morphs into summer “Beach Reads.” From my online searches, I have gleaned two widely divergent perspectives on what a great beach read is. One school of thought declares “beach read” is shorthand for “a throwaway page-turner.” That typically means a genre book: romance, mystery/suspense/thriller, fantasy, etc.

The other school suggests readers have more time to immerse themselves in a story, and therefore good beach reads will be character-driven literature or stories that evoke a strong sense of place or time—stories in which you linger over the authors’ words. Exactly the opposite of a throwaway-page-turner!

Me? Seasons don’t affect my reading a lick. What about you? Do you have a favorite kind of beach read?

Comments

  1. tinawhittle says:

    I find that I deal better with darker subjects when it’s sunny out, so I save my grittier reads for the beach. Umbrella drinks are a fine complement.

  2. I’ve learned life’s too short to read a book you don’t enjoy. When I want a book, I sort through my to be read piles. Something there usually catches my eye. I’m not one for literary reads, for the most part. Instead, I prefer genre fiction, reading across the board. It’s not so much the story that captivates me as it is the writer’s voice I fall in love with.

  3. I don’t change my reading habits. To me, a ‘beach read’ genre would depend on the beach. A busy, noisy environment calls for something light. If it’s isolated, like the beach we visited on Molokai, then it might be something meatier. But I prefer escape reading year round.

  4. I don’t pick a different kind of book for “beach reading,” although I suppose I do tend to lean toward seasonal, so if I was specifically looking for a “beach read,” I’d probably lean toward something summery and beachy!

  5. I like a mix… some fun stuff, genres of mystery (lots of John D MacDonald’s Travis McGee), thriller and sci-fi; then the old standards: Moby Dick, some Hemingway stuff, etc. Finally, when I’m stuck indoors due to stormy weather, our Public Library is always clean, dry and well lit so who knows what I’ll find to read, watch or listen to! Of course, author pals and favorites might just pique my interest and surprise me when I least expect it. Dickens, I save for Winter.

  6. I like fast-paced genre fiction at any time of year. This is usually what I associate with a good beach read, though. Goes along with the summer vibe of fun and relaxation.