Summer Reading

Forgive me for being old and nostalgic, but for me memories of summer are tied with the smell of Coppertone, the feel of wet sand and hot sun and a good paperback (which is likely to get damp and damaged).  Books that were meant to be read on the beach, by the pool, on the deck, on the porch...wherever.  "Back in the day" tv was not an option.  Cable didn't exist and even when it finally did, summer rentals didn't get it...at least not for a long time. As a matter of fact I can't recall anything other than antenna tv until my mother purchased a shore home in 1995.

As a result some I have a list of books that are tied to summer memories. When you think about it, it's pretty amazing how the memory of a book bring you back to a time and place.  I can almost feel and smell it.

I think about sitting on the front steps of my house reading Nancy Drew in the warm summer months.  I'd read them non-stop going from one to the other.  I'd started out with my mother's original copies (the ones with dust jackets and only one illustration at the front of the book) to the "new" ones (hardcopy with the yellow back cover, more illustrations and less chapters.)  Any season was good for reading a Nancy Drew, but there was one summer when seem to recall reading them non-stop.  Racing from book to book as if I had to get through the whole series at a frantic pace. Following Nancy Drew, I'd move onto "lesser" series:  the Dana Girls, Judy Bolton and Cherry Ames.  (I say lesser because they are not as well known.)

There several children's/young adult books left at the house we rented at the shore for the first few years.  I can't remember all of them; there are bits and pieces that stick in my mind.  But one I do remember most is The Mystery at Shadow Pond by Mary C. Jane.  It's been over 40 years since I read it.  I still recall its iconic (to me) cover with a hap-hazard robot that looked like the tin man.  (Sadly electronic version I found is not the same.)  I don't remember much of the plot, but I do remember references to Silas Marner, a book I still haven't read and maybe I am prejudiced against because the main character disliked it so much! 


So many summers were spent at various houses at the Jersey Shore.  Different houses, but always in the same town.  The month of July to me means the Jersey shore and young adult paperbacks.  Books that were purchased at stores that no longer exist:  The Book Nook (I think that's the right name) which was in walking distance (no matter where we stayed) on Route 35 North, the book store next the cheese shop on Bridge Street in Bay Head and Waldenbooks in the Ocean County Mall.

It seemed like I spend most of my money over the summer on books.  And I regret that I wasn't able to hold on to such gems as I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan, It's Not the End of the World by Judy Blume, In Summertime It's Tuffy by Judie Angell, It's Not What you Expect by Norma Klein, Hail Hail Camp Timberwood by Ellen Conford, A Billion For Boris by Mary Rogers The Pistachio Prescription by Paula Danziger, Chloris and the Creeps by Kin Platt, Hanging Out With Cici by Francine Pascal.  The list goes on and on; many by the same authors.   I haven't even mentioned Mary Anderson, M.E Kerr, Marilyn Sachs, and Paul Zindel...that list goes on and on too!  (As an aside, these books were "sacrificed" to dampness and mold.  Such is the life of a paperback that ends up on a shelf in the basement.)

I can remember when I got older reading the "risqué" Flowers in the Attic by V.C. Andrews (who might have actually been alive and writing at the time) and purchasing the sequel Petals on the Wind before I even finished it.

For me it's not summer without a "summer book."  I miss the young adult fiction.  (I really need to dig around and see what I can find electronically.)  Those books were and are part of my history and memory.  But I've always got a pile of "adult summer reading" ready.  There's Dorothea Benton Frank, Mary Kay Andrews, Jennifer Crusie, Nancy Thayer, Susan Wiggs...Again the list goes on and on.  

Summer means sand, surf, sunshine and a fun read.  You can't go wrong with that!




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