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Sharon Chisvin

 
THE READ HEAD: SUMMER READING LIST

By Sharon Chisvin, May 21, 2010

With the approach of the May long weekend and the official start of cottage season here in Manitoba, I've begun to sort through my collection of unread books in order to determine which ones will make it on to my official summer reading list.

Reading at the cottage in the summer is one of my favourite indulgences. While I read for pleasure all year round, it is only at the cottage that I read for pleasure without guilt or distraction. Sitting in my verandah or out on the deck, with a cup of coffee and a good book in hand, I don't think or worry that I should be doing something else, something more productive or more important. It also happens that at the cottage I don't have other forms of entertainment vying for my attention. There is no computer or internet, the television only offers three channels, one of them in French, and the DVD player works sporadically at best. 

Each summer both my sister and I bring a stack of books out to the cottage. We call dibs on certain ones, and the rest are piled up on the veranda bookcase to be read at our leisure. Anyone who walks into our cottage is welcome to borrow a book, although we try to steer them to ones we have already read, just in case, as sometimes happens, we never get them back.

While I know that many book aficionados prefer to keep their reading light in the summer, I am of the opposite mindset. For me the long days and carefree hours of summer lend themselves to heavier tomes, to the books that really demand concentration, to the books that are likely to prove too intriguing or engaging to put down, no matter how late the hour.

The ones that I have selected so far for this upcoming season primarily fall into that category. They include Anne Michaels Winter Vault, Elie Wiesel’s A Mad Desire to Dance, and The Lacuna, a novel from one of my favourite authors, Barbara Kingsolver. I also have two Israeli novels on the list, Meir Shalev’s critically acclaimed, award winning love story, A Pigeon and A Boy, and a political thriller by Assaf Gavron, eerily called Almost Dead. For a lighter note (I think) I have added to the list Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry and a couple of collections by David Sedaris.

At the end of the season most of the books we have brought out will make it back to the city with us, although one or two will likely be consigned to remain year round in the cottage bookcase. There really is no rhyme or reason why certain books get left behind each summer, but there is a certain comfort to be had from knowing that just in case my sister or I were ever to arrive at the cottage without our stack of summer reading, there would still be something for us to read. Even if we had read it before!

 
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