Wednesday, June 5, 2013

What the Heck Is a "Summer Read?"

Okay, I'm confused (not an unusual state of affairs, I fear).  What the heck is a "summer read?"  Is that a book that you read between June 21 and September 20?  Does that mean if you start a book on September 21 it's now a "fall read?"  What about a book that you start before September 21 but finish after September 20?  I know people who read only a little until summer begins.  My daughter-in-law, Jen, is a school teacher.  She definitely reads during the school year but hits it hard during summer break.  Does that mean that every book she reads during the school hiatus is automatically a "summer read?"

Now that I've been a bit ridiculous, let's look at what most people would consider a "summer read."  I'm talking about books that have uncomplicated, easy-flowing story lines.  Maybe the vocabulary is simple.  Maybe there's a lot of dialogue and very little description.  Maybe they are books that you can concentrate on in noisy, public places, like beaches or lakes or cruise ships or cafes.  Or maybe not.

Come on, people.  Does anybody read a different type of book in the summer than they do the rest of the year?  I sure don't.  And I don't know anybody who makes that distinction.  I think that most people read what they want to read, regardless of what time of year it is.  Yet, right about now, as school is getting out and the weather is warming up, we see the words "summer read" everywhere.  I don't buy it.

So far since January 1, I have read 6 romances.  And it's only June 4!  I have also read a book written by the mother of a 3-term Iraqi war veteran (Minefields of the Heart) - pretty heavy stuff.  And an excellent, very well-written, deeply emotional redemption story about a young woman who copes with multiple foster homes and a really lousy childhood by studying the meaning of flowers (The Language of Flowers).  Did I consider the time of year before I started any of these books?  I did not.  Does anybody else that I know do that?  They do not.  Is it just me (possibly), or are there other people out there that don't make a seasonal distinction when selecting a book?  Let's hear what you have to say.  If I'm wrong, let me have it.  I can take the blows.

EXCEPTION TO THE RULE:  I have to give high school and college students a pass from my diatribe/screed.  It certainly makes sense that a 9-month-per-year student, if he or she reads at all during the summer, is going to read lighter fare.  But students are the only exception.

MEA CULPA:  For those of you who have publicly referred to "summer reads," please accept my apology for being critical.  Your approach is more the norm.  I don't agree with it, but, at the same time, I do think you're espousing the party line.


  1. I absolutely go for summer reads. These compare to summer blockbusters at the movies. These are stories that just give me entertainment. They stay light, etc. I will pick up different reads during the school year (although I read 100 times slower while school is in session). As a teacher, summer represents fun and free times. I will purposefully not choose books with heavy plots during my "light" 9 weeks of summer. On the flip slide, I will read a light read in the school year if it's next in line. I will skip a book in the summer if it's not light, even if it's next on my list.

  2. It doesn't work for me, but I respect your opinion (I have to say that since you're my daughter-in-law).

  3. I generally don't read anything different, unless I'm at the beach. For some reason sitting on the sand in the sun calls for mindless reads for me.

    You do need to plan a trip to BEA - someone needs to represent the male bloggers out there!

  4. You bring up an interesting point. I too am guilty of referring to lighter books as a 'summer read', however I'm not sure why I say it since I don't usually change my reading habits based on the season. Well, maybe I add a few creepy novels around Halloween for the RIP Challenge and I stay away from the heavy stuff on vacation, but that's it. The publishers have done a good job of marketing if enough of us are unconsciously referring to 'summer reads'!

  5. It does appear that it's more a function of marketing than habit or practice. I agree