Thursday, June 9, 2011

Summer Reading 2011

Summer Reading

It was Sunday morning and I’d just finished an interesting article about Bunny Mellon when I spied it, lying crisp and unread in the center of the travel section. The N.Y. Times Book Review. Always intriguing, but this time fatter than usual and bearing those two delicious words that are pure catnip to any avid reader: Summer Reading. My heart skipped a beat. Snatching it up like a treasure map, I poured myself another cup of coffee and hurriedly made my way back to bed to appropriately savour this once a year treat.
I suppose if you’ve read this blog for any length of time you’ll know that I consider every season of the year the perfect time for reading. A winter night spent curled up by the fire, with a hot mug of tea at the ready and Edward settled companionably at my feet while the winds blow round the cottage like a tempest.
Autumn, when often the best place to read is outdoors under a crimson tree, snuggled inside a cozy sweater newly released from the wardrobe, with soft sunlight falling down through crisp air, scattering gemstone -coloured shadows all over the grass.
And what could be better than foxglove and tulips trying to read over your shoulder as you read in a garden on a splendid spring day?

Yes, every season is the perfect season for reading. But I have to admit, there is just something about summer books that sets them apart in my mind. Maybe this is a result of my childhood journeys to our big downtown library to choose books for my summer holiday from school. I’d stand there in that cool, cavernous place, utterly awestruck by the sheer volume of choices available to me. Leaving with my arms full of my bounty, I’d discipline myself not to peek inside any till I returned home. Then I would carefully consider the covers of each before choosing the one to read first. I’d tuck that well-chosen book under my arm and make my way to my favourite reading spot - a tall leafy sweetgum tree in the backyard - and summer reading would commence.
That excitement over summer books has continued unabated throughout all my years, and I still search for, not only the perfect book, but the perfect spot to read it, just as I did years ago.
Here are some books I’m dying to read this summer, paired with the places I’d most like to read them. As always when I write about books, I’d absolutely love to hear what you’re planning to read during your summer reading months, so do share!


Chaise Lounge Books
Beside my bed is a chaise lounge that Edward and I often share. It’s a cozy place to read and it's where I retreat with book in hand. Frequently, when dinner is cooking, I’ll settle there for just a quick chapter or two.
These are the books I’ll take there this summer, books easy to dip into and out of on a busy afternoon.


Cafe Books
We are fortunate to have a charming cafe within walking distance. When the weather is pleasant, I often stroll up there with Edward and a fat book. I sit outdoors under the hanging baskets of red flowers, nursing a cool drink, nibbling on a salmon salad and reading the afternoon away.
Edward people watches.
I cannot think of a better locale to read these next three books. Even if my cafe is not on the left bank.

A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway: After finishing McCullough’s book, I know I’ll have to reread this one!
Paris: Made By Hand by Pia Jane Bijkerk


Southern Books
The low country of the south is an enigmatic place in the summertime. It beckons you close with its beauty - greenly waving marshes, live oaks wearing dresses of grey Spanish moss - while at the same time warning you off with its smothering heat and brain-addling humidity. My favourite city in the low country is Beaufort, South Carolina. Beaufort nestles between Savannah and Charleston and abounds with both the gothic mystery of the first and the gracious gentility of the latter. The Songwriter and I have been known to escape to a gem of an inn there even during the most sultry of summers. In this lovely establishment there is a room painted the colour of granny smith apples. In the summertime, when white linen slipcovers replace the brown velvet of winter, ivory orchids catch the light and the air smells of lemons.
Here is where I’d like to be to read these fanciful stories which promise to reflect the otherworldliness of the summertime south.

Swamplandia by Karen Russell
Raney by Clyde Edgerton - A reread, but so southern and so much fun.


Spooky Books
There is an inn of the coast of Scotland that faces the Irish Sea. Surrounded by steep cliffs on three sides, it is stunning place any time of year with a parlor that just happens to be one of the best spots for reading I’ve found. This room would be the ideal place to read spooky stories during a angry summer storm, preferably around midnight, when a flash of August lightning illuminates the waves crashing over the jagged rocks in the cove.
Here are the books I’d reach for on a Scottish summer night like that.

Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson
The Woman In White by Wilkie Collins
Sister by Rosamund Lupton


British Inspiration
When I was in London in February, I met the lovely Jeanne from Collage of Life for breakfast. (I wrote about that visit here) She was kind enough to share with me one of her favourite places to visit in London. “You simply must go”, she said. “And have lunch there! It’s beautiful.”. Fortunately, I took Jeanne’s advice and around lunchtime, I grabbed a cab to the heart of the West End where I had the most delightful lunch in the glass topped cafe of the Wallace Collection.
A true treat, and the perfect place to read these books.


Books To Get Lost Inside
I often escape to an inn on the beach and many, many wonderful books have been read there on its big wooden porch by the sea. This is the view that I have when I chance to lift my eyes from the page.
This setting calls for engrossing stories - sagas, epics and page turners.
Here are the ones I’ll take this year.

The Age of Innocence by Edith Wharton - This one is always by my bed. Time to reread it, again.
A Moment in the Sun by John Sayles: I’ve heard great things about this book. Sayles directed one of my favourite films, The Secret of Roan Inish, and I’m curious to read his work.
Night Waking by Sarah Moss: A writer sequestered in the Hebrides, trying to find time to work. Right up my street.

And finally,
Once again I plan to take down My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell - it's an every summer read!

Remember now, do please share yours!!


  1. I just posted about my summer reading list! Honestly Pam, despite the fact that my work load is double what it normally is and there is no vacation in sight, once summer days arrive, I feel like a kid on summer break. Like you my thoughts turn to my list and making sure my list includes some of the books I didn't get to over the winter.

    Love your lists by category and I'm sure I'll be adding some of your suggestions to my list!

  2. I just wanted to say thank you for getting me started thinking about my summer reads.You got me excited to do my research and I will start browsing your favorite picks first.When it comes to my favorite season to read though it has to be in the cold dark winter.I have always loved books that remind me of works simular to Roseamond Pilchner.Here I go...Denise

  3. I prefer the equivalent of the chaise long for reading, but if its a book I'm stuck into I don't mind where I read. My latest reading enjoyment was 'The Secret Scripture' by Sebastian Barry, and 'Morgans Passing', by Anne Tyler. It had been a long time since I have been able to concentrate on a book. In the past I enjoyed the Mitfords, and EF Bensons Mapp and Lucia,and what did I read on a sunbed in Brittany? Captain Corellis Mandolin! I was no fun on that holiday..crying over the Captain.

  4. one of your's caught my fancy:"What there is to say we have said."sounds wonderful.Thanks again.

  5. These are such good suggestions. I'm especially excited about "Romantic Moderns" which includes Virginia Woolf, my favorite writer. "The Paris Wife" about Hemingway's first wife is supposed to be good. I also plan to read "The Tiger's Wife" which I know you enjoyed. Love all your evocative settings for getting lost in a book. And thank you for the tip about the glass topped cafe at the Wallace Collection. I will be sure to go there when I am in London soon. I also enjoyed the Wolsley restaurant. I agree with you about the New York Times book review "summer issue." I savor it. Great post!

  6. Oh Pamela your house is perfect for reading!

    I love your recommendations. I have noted some down.

    My Family and Other Animals is wonderful, the BBC did an excellent version of it which is available on DVD, I think they've captured it beautifully xx

  7. I loved A Moveable Feast! Right now, I'm enjoying The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass (can't seem to put it down) & just finished The Red Garden by Alice Hoffman (very good).

  8. not reading much these days...sad...but hooked on “life” by Keith Richards...just don’t want to finish it...

  9. These days I read many blogs but love, love books. Currently, I am reading "The Emperor of All Maladies" by Siddhartha Mukherjee. Had been wanting to read it since it came out, then heard a re-broadcast of an interview with Dr. Muckherjee on NPR after this book won the Pulitzer Prize. A biography of cancer, I suggest to anyone starting it to set up a timeline; I wish I had. He writes extremely well and always, always reminds us that the research and treatments developed and tried by physicians and labs were endured by patients - who are the reason and the crux of this book.
    I am also reading "Inside a Dog" by Alexandra Horowitz and "What the Dog Saw" by Malcolm Gladwell, a series of his newspaper columns, not all about dogs :). Thanks for your wonderful list - many of which I have not read.

  10. Lovely post . What a great photo of Edward . A PON in his natural habitat .

  11. Just found you blog and very much enjoyed reading. I too love the Scottish Highlands, we are only about 5 hoours drive away here in Wales, so we get up there as often as possible! I'll send you a picture next time we are there.
    I have added your blog to my inspiration list. Stop by for a visit sometime. I just features a fairytale castle in Wales you might like.

  12. Your reading is considerably more highbrow than mine - I like a good mystery or adventure story but mostly I read books about subjects I'm interested in. Local and family history figure largely as do books about the British Homefront in WW2, I have several fascinating diaries written at the time and published later. I love books about rural life that were written during the 1930s and 40s too. None of these would figure in the New York Times (or any other!) Summer Reading list I fear.

  13. My first pick this summer is:"Summer in Galilee,by Juliette de Bairacli Levy" wonderful Bio of a herbalist Vet.

  14. I really do enjoy your blog! A treat for the senses!

  15. I have just read two novels which I have found most interesting. The first is "The Weather in the Streets" by Rosamond Lehmann - a Modern Virage Classic written in 1936 - entirely about an illicit love affair but so interesting because of the days when it was written.
    The other is "Circles of Deceit" by Nina Bawden which was shortlisted for the Booker Proze in 1987.
    Have you read "The Hare with the Amber Eyes" by Edmund de Vaal? Brilliant.

  16. On a day that is about to break heat records for Chicago in May, this came as a breath of fresh air. I love the settings you have placed for your books, and the books, oh my, what a feast.

    I am wending my way through Molly Peacock's delightful The Paper Garden, which is all about Mary Granville Pendarvis Delaney, who, at the age of 72, invents flower "mosaiks", all while living in the late 18th century!

    I am going to see David MacCoullough next week and hope to get his latest signed. I love his style of writing and how he brings history alive.

  17. Pamela you are so right, something is so special about summertime reading, I have those wonderful memories of going to the library on school break!

    Be sure to come & send friends to enter my amazing $250 Giveaway from Tracy Porter!

    Art by Karena

  18. ..euh I just wanna say that I love your dog!! big, hairy and beautiful!

  19. I haven't completely gathered my list yet,
    but can say, I've read 2 on your "British Inspiration" list...
    Issy Blow's storey and the letters between the Mitford girls.
    Both, I think you will enjoy, and I would love discussing with you.
    I highly recommend the Duchess of Devonshire's new memoir, "Wait for Me".
    She is deadpan, self-deprecating, charming, disarming....
    really, just wonderful!
    kinda, like you!!

  20. I just stumbled upon your Blog a week or two FABULOUS!!! I love to read and was thrilled to add your suggestions to my 2011 Reading List! I read a variety of genres when it comes to books...Some that I'd recommend are...The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova, 1776 by David McCullough, Master by Toni Sorenson, The Help by Kathryn Stockett, I adore all of the Bronte and Austen books, A Tale of Two Cities & A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens,The Traveler's Gift by Andy Andrews, Island of Hope, Island of Tears by David M. Brownstone, Irene M. Franck, & Douglas Brownstone, Light in my Darkness - Helen Keller Revised by Ray Silverman, Sarah's Key by Tatiana De Rosnay, A Patriot's Handbook - Selected by Caroline Kennedy, Mayflower by Nathaniel Philbrick and A Day in the Life of Ancient Rome by Alberto Angela.

  21. Love In The Time Of Cholera, Gabriel Garcia Marquez is a great read any time of year. I am just re-reading it now as on May 5th in the UK it was World Book Night (may have happened where you are too) and I was chosen to give away 50 copies of this book. I was so priveledged to have been chosen and to share one of my favourites with 50 others!
    Loving reading older posts on your blog as I have only just found you. Your Edward is glorious! I have a Sookie who is a mischeif maker - check this out:


  22. Pamela...I loved following you from room to room to a cafe and then to the Wallace Collection! Thank you for your kinds words :)

    Like you I have book for different spaces, different places and different rhythms of my life. Let me count the number of books....too many!

    You have given me lots to think about here. I was thinking this morning of all the coffee table books I have collected over the years and continue to collect.

    Thank you for all these great suggestions...the first one, The Day in the Life of a Smiling Woman has me very intrigued !!

    Best wishes Pamela...

    Jeanne xxx

  23. thanks for the encouragement; yours is a lovely list. mine is at my blog today, June 8.

  24. Other than your dog postings, and the one on movie houses, this is my favorite, so far! I just loved it -the idea of different books for different spaces. I've just bought the Drabble book, and in fact am reading one of hers just now - a sort of memoir called The Pattern in the Carpet. A Moveable Feast is one of my top, top books. I love it. I ache every time I read the part about Hadley getting off the train, with her hair that hasn't been cut, and he knows it is over. He blew it. I know there's a fictional version of her life but I don't want to read it. I own a biography which I really must read soon, just called Hadley. It doesn't look like there is much room for you on the chaise!

  25. Great readers think alike; I was working on my list of summer books when I saw your post. I’ve linked to it in mine so others can find your list.

    This is one of my favorites of all your posts. I love how you paired reading both with a place and time, capturing the experience. You make me want to travel to Scotland or meet you in that café. How nice to have a dog and reader friendly spot in walking distance of your lovely home. Happy reading!

  26. Fabulous blog! We just found you, but we're now fans!

  27. This comment has been removed by the author.

  28. Hello Pamela

    So much to ponder. I love your pictures and how lucky you are to have a cafe with in walking distance to relax and read.

    I will post my book list next week on my blog.

    Take care and have a nice week end!

    Tracy :)

  29. Pamela you've give us a spectacular list for lazy summer reading. As I read your post it vividly brought back memories of going to the library as a child, often by bicycle. The smell of my favorite books (Little Women) and what the sun felt like as I'd sit reading on the back lawn. I adore the photo of Edward and of you. I suspect your home is as comforting as any place in this world, even Scotland! Maybe we'll meet there someday?


  30. Wow, you have it all arranged. Fabulous!

    I look forward to going to the airport where I always allow myself a couple of new books to take away with me as a treat. I never fail to get excited and as I'm off to Norway I will have to write a couple of your suggestions down to hunt down in the airport bookshop!

  31. At the moment i am reading the 23 Psalm, and a half Kaddish, for my Thor. Don't know how i'll get throught this empty day. I will get the book The woman in White, wish I were at the Inn you described.
    Speaking of Inn's I sold my Inn in Saluda NC to Ella Sue Smith. She had a beautiful home on the beach road in Beaufort. I flew Fl. to Savanna,then drove to Beaufort to sign at the closing . Beaufort is Gorgeous. Charleston is a hard social nut to crack I was told.
    almost moved there.
    A man from there owns the Inn at the moment. You live in a beautiful romantic place.

  32. Great post! I just found your blog and love it, esp of course, Edward.

  33. what a wonderful juicy post - filled with book inspiration. the excitement of books, of opening the pages and discovering the mysteries written on there is in my opinion far better than real treasure hunting. i'm very lucky as my man sells second hand books - can you image the excitement when he comes home from another book expedition and i have first pick of the new treasure he's just acquired. Thank you for following my blog - i've got to show my daughter your blog - she is dog insane - she has already made a facebook page for her dog - who has more friends then i do!

  34. My Family and Other Animals by Gerald Durrell is one of my favourite books.... it's SO funny!

  35. There's something about summer reading that feels lighter - less about learning and more about disappearing into another world. I guess it's leftover from school days, which are far enough in the past to have given up their hold, but somehow haven't. Right now I'm reading The Postmistress by Sarah Blake, and French Lessons by Peter Mayle - both good escapes!

  36. Such a delicious list of summer reads and equally delicious spots to read them.

    I just finished OPEN the autobiography of Andre Aggasi. So well written and insightful.


  37. Reading in Scotland, on the coast of Georgia, in London, at home - never a wrong place or time really is there?

    Pamela, I've just finished these -
    Secret Daughter - Shilpi Somaya Gowda. Very good.
    The Calligrapher's Daughter - Eugenia Kim. Amazing.

    Now reading Harper Lee's To Kill A Mockingbird - first time and long overdue. Also, Remembrance of Things Paris - Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet for a tantalizing look at life in Paris from the twenties on.

    Books, wonderful books.

  38. I LOVE your blog. I passed along an award for you! You can get it and read the nice things I said about you and Edward here

  39. I should know better than to read someone else's to-read list! Now I'm about to run off and add these to my list.

  40. I keep coming by to look at this post. It's just so beautiful! Such a lovely way of presenting what long summer days filled with reading feel like. Thank you!

  41. Oh, Pamela! What a perfect post.
    I love the way you divide up your reading by location.

    I was that child who took a big brown grocery bag to the library every week. Yesterday, I started a new book called "Half-Magic" with one of my students. It begins with four children who have just made a trip to the library to get new books. They have just fallen in love with E. Nesbit's enchanted world.

    My Family and Other Animals is very next book I'm going to read. What a funny coincidence . . . but maybe not, if it's the perfect summer book. :)

  42. What a brilliant idea! I have never thought of pairing books with seasons, but it makes perfect sense. I just picked up Fingersmith by Sarah Waters and am absorbed. I don't have a favorite place to read it. I suppose the bathroom floor with the door locked is pretty good. That way I'm not disturbed by the kids. Or maybe in bed, after everyone's asleep.

  43. This fantastic post was very nicely written, and it also incorporates many good facts. I appreciated your skilled means of writing the post. You have made it simple for me to understand. Good and precise info.


I love to read your comments! Each and every one! Though I'm always reading your comments, I may not respond in the comment section. If you want to write me directly, you may do so at Thank you for reading!