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?