Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Waiting for the Bird to Sing: A Summer Reading LIst

Waiting for the Bird to Sing
A Summer Reading List

It often commences around two in the morning.  A song as lyrical as any angel’s, it drifts out of the trees almost casually, as though the singer has no idea how magical it is.  It is a song of pure joy, its lilts and trills like laughter through the darkness.  I often slip from the cool linen and go to the window seat - to listen, to marvel, to applaud.  I have no idea what sort of bird this is, or even if anyone else can hear him.  Perhaps he sings for me alone, a spectral creature visiting one he knows is awake and listening.  
And of course I am awake.
I am reading.

Summer nights, when the air is still as a stare and sits heavy on the cottage roof, I am often to be found reading.  The stack of new books by my bed is a teetering tower of temptations that I found impossible to resist.  There are books I brought home from John Sandoe’s in London, braving the risk of overweight luggage fees without so much as a thought.  ( I made it just fine.)  There are new books, and some old ones I missed.  There are suggestions from Instagram friends and one recommended by writer Anne Lamott when I heard her speak a couple of months ago.  I am making my way through the stack as though it were a box of favorite chocolates, each one more delicious than the last.
In these troubled times I find I'm reaching for both comfort and escape.  Perhaps you are as well.  
For escape there’s always Daphne DuMaurier or Agatha Christie. For comfort, I often find it in John O’Donohue, Mary Oliver, Wendell Berry and the aforementioned Anne Lamott.
I hope you’ll find a bit of both comfort and escape on this summer reading list of mine.
And maybe a few laughs, which are always welcome.
Just click on book photo to see more.

As for me, tonight I’ll be reading again,
 waiting for the bird to sing.

1.  The Essex Serpent
by Sarah Perry
I saw this in the window of John Sandoe’s in London.
Could not resist it.

2.  The Riders 
by Tim Winton

3.  My Cousin Rachel
by Daphne du Maurier
Read the book before seeing the movie.

4.  Churchill and Orwell
The Fight for Freedom
by Thomas E. Ricks

5.  Happy All the Time
by Laurie Colwin
Anne Lamott was right.
This book is wonderful.

6.  Grief Cottage
by Gail Godwin

7.  Theft by Finding
Diaries 1977-2002
by David Sedaris
Always witty and laugh out loud funny.

8. The Purple Swamp Hen and Other Stories
by Penelope Lively

9.  The Chilbury Ladies Choir 
by Jennifer Ryan

10.  Al Franken, Giant of the Senate
by Al Franken
Funny, smart, and wise.

11.  The World-Ending Fire
The Essential Wendell Berry
Selected by Paul Kingsnorth

12.  Sherlock Holmes
by Arthur Conan Doyle and read by Stephen Fry
A treat to be sure.

13.  Weatherland
by Alexandra Harris

14.  Highland Retreats
The Architecture and Interiors of Scotland’s Most Romantic North
by Mary Meirs

15.  For Love of Country
A Journey Through the Hebrides
by Madeleine Bunting


  1. Thank you. My summer reading list is slim to none. FYI, last time I was coming home from Paris, I handed in my list of purchases to the guy at customs and told him I was over the spending limit. He said not a word, just wrote OVER on the slip and I proceeded to the people who decide which travelers to look through their luggage. I handed them the slip, feeling like a criminal, and they smiled and waved me through.

  2. I love the lists people put as summer reading. You get so many new ideas, new books and new authors its dazzling!

  3. Such a splendid list, as ever! Both you and Ann Lamott have exquisite taste! Oddly, the Essex Serpent is next on my list to reading arrived two days ago in the post. I grew up in Essex and wrote a little children’s book bout the Essex Serpent some years ago. The Churchill and Orwell book sounds really interesting, if a little more challenging. I finally finished the 800 pages of Trollope’s The Way we Live Now which I highly recommend for its rather contemporary themes.
    Happy reading, dear Pamela.

  4. I too have a stack that I can't wait to read -- reading is truly the most wonderful form of escapism! My stack tends more towards mysteries - donna leon, cara black, etc. especially anything with Paris in it!!! I love your blog and am anticipating any future books of yours - the two I have are always on my living room table! Best wishes, Laura

  5. Thank you your recommendations are always such good reads and as you say they are books you can escape into.

  6. Wonderful list. I'm reading My Cousin Rachel now. I have a couple of these on my list, too. I read Happy All the Time way back in the 80's and should revisit sometime. I heard the author of Churchill & Orwell on Fresh Air, as well as saw him on tv - it sounds very interesting to compare the times with now.

  7. So full of tempting possibilities, your reading lists are always a wonderful treat. That is a lovely description of your unseen singer. May you enjoy each book on your summer reading list!

  8. Thank you! And have a trip to Scotland coming up, so, maybe I will even get organized to get a couple of these in advance:).

  9. Dangerous to read your lists...there always something that makes me go "oh, yes, need that one too"; for comfort reading, I find myself re-visiting Miss Read's Fairacre and Mma Ramotswe in Botswana...and Father Tim in Mitford...Thank you,too, for sharing your Edward and Apple~they make me smile :) ....Sheila C-G

  10. I don't know how many times I have put my hands on The Essex Serpent and have then put it down Pamela.
    Keep telling myself to deal with the books bought and stacked at home already.
    As for Love of Country..........stunning.

    Thank you Pamela xx

  11. Great list! I ordered a few and got a few from the library. Summer isn't over yet!


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 pamela@pamelaterry.net. Thank you for reading!