Saturday, June 23, 2012

Next Stop...The Temperate Zone

"There is a temperate zone in the mind, between luxurious indolence and exacting work; and it is to this region, just between laziness and labor, that summer reading belongs."—Henry Ward Beecher

If the summers of my childhood blur in my memory, it's probably because I was almost always in motion. There was YMCA Day Camp, where I learned to fish, played softball and kickball, and made useless lanyards and wallets out of bits of plastic and leather. There were camping trips with friends, family picnics, swimming at one of the nearby lakes, drive-in movies, and the county fair. And if I wasn't doing anything else, I was either riding my bike or running (never walking) all over the neighborhood.

Unless I was reading a book.

The clearest and best memories of my childhood summers have to do with books. The faint odor of Coppertone wafting from the pages of an old paperback can still take me back to the Indiana lake cottage my uncle and aunts rented all those summers ago. And if I close my eyes, I can remember...
Sitting on the glider on Grandma Shorter’s front porch, hanging on every word as Aunt Vonna reads aloud to my sister and me from the abridged version of Tom Sawyer she bought us on our visit to Hannibal, Missouri.

Reading my father’s old children’s edition of The Arabian Nights as we cruise the Great Lakes, imagining myself aboard Sinbad’s ship instead of the top bunk in a tiny cabin on the S.S. South American.

Lying on our living room floor in front of the fan one humid summer evening, a thunderstorm rumbling in the distance, pleasantly shivering over the book of ghost stories my parents bought me at Marshall Field's on a recent trip to Chicago.
As I do every summer, I plan to spend a good part of this summer reading. I just downloaded the first four books of George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire to my Kindle. That should keep me busy through summer and beyond. (And when the third season of Game of Thrones airs, maybe I'll finally be able to keep all those characters straight.)

What books will you be taking to the temperate zone this year?

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