Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Summer Reading

There's something about summer that seems to call for light reading. Is it the indolence that comes with warmth? Or a sense of holiday, left over from school days? Perhaps it's because we're spending more time outside, which leaves less mental energy to expend on serious books.

Some of my favourite read-every-summer books are by Peter Mayle:  A Year in Provence, Toujours Provence, and Hotel Pastis (the first two are memoirs, the third a novel). Like a good meal, they have lots of ingredients I enjoy: descriptions of food, a bit of cycling, dashes of French conversation, some natural history, a slight but agreeable amount of suspense (in the novel), and a happy air of escapism throughout. They're sunny, cheerful, humorous books - altogether perfect for reading in the sun.

Speaking of the sun, here's another great summer read - "Under the Tuscan Sun" by Frances Mayes. Also a memoir, it too contains some favourite ingredients: cooking, the idea of living in a country not one's own, dashes of foreign language and culture (Italian this time), with some flowers and poetry and house renovation thrown in.  Its sequel "Bella Tuscany" continues the pleasurable journey.

You might think I'd prefer to read these lovely summery books in the wintertime - but the contrast to my own weather situation would be too great, and might lead to discontent. So I save them for warmer weather, when I can revel in their descriptions of shimmering heat while soaking up some long-awaited rays of my own.

A bit of introspection:  I seem to be drawn to books about starting life anew in a different country.  Is this because I long to do so myself - or because I already have?  (Moving from Southern California to Wisconsin was very much like moving to a different country.)  I'll have to ponder that one.

What's your favourite summer read?

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  1. I almost bought a copy of Under the Tuscan Sun but I got a vision
    of Diane Lane and passed.

    I wish I bought it now.

  2. I think you are drawn to books of life anew in new countries because... well, okay, I won't say that. I've sworn to keep politics off my blog!!!

    I love books because of where they transport me. I love that they have the power to transport me!

  3. Hello, I have just discovered your blog and have immediately become a follower, I think I shall like it here as we share a taste in books. I have all those that you mentioned but my favourite is 'Bon Appetit! Travels though France with Knife, Fork and Corkscrew' Have you read any of MFK Fisher? She was a wonderful writer about food and France.

  4. Lolly - get the book. Or at least check it out from the library. The movie was dreadful (I thought) and really nothing like the book. In fact I think the books would be right up your alley. She's a poet too.

    Deb - I have sworn off personal politics (I'm sick of the whole circus.) So feel free to say what you like, if you like, because you won't offend me either way. There are strengths and weaknesses on every side as far as I'm concerned. But that's okay, because my hope is in Someone else. :)

    Toffeeapple - welcome! Yes, I've read ALL of Peter Mayle's delightful books (but I happen to own the ones in the picture and they're also my favourites). I haven't got to MFK Fisher yet. Isn't there someone else who writes about Provence? Elizabeth somebody? I need to get my nose out of the computer and down to the library.

  5. My absolute favorite summer read is Pride and Prejudice - I have no idea why, but every few years I read it, always in the summer.

    I have also read Peter Mayle's books and both Under the Tuscan Sun and it's sequel. They are absolutely delightful even though the movies were so sorry.

  6. Cynthia - P&P is my ALL-TIME FAVOURITE book. I first read it when I was about 7 or 8 in a Reader's Digest Best-Loved Books condensation and fell headlong over heels in love with Darcy and Elizabeth. I graduated to the full-length version as a teenager. I can quote paragraphs from that book by heart! So glad to hear someone else loves it too. The Colin Firth/BBC movie is the best film version in my opinion because they kept all the characters and used almost all original dialogue.

    Thanks for commenting!


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