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The Truths (and Myths) of Summer Reading

The truths (and myths) of summer reading

The following is a personal screed from the paranoid and insomniatic mind of Corey Redekop: author, editor, and GLE social media guru. 

Ah, summer 2017. Long days, short nights, and nothing but vacations, daycations, staycations, and [insert rhyme with "ay"]-cations to look forward to.

And also: reading!

Your brain on booksFor many of us, vacations are the only time we get to truly sit back and devour a novel whole. While the importance of summer reading for children has been well documented, never discount how vital it is that we adults also find ourselves the time to kick back and immerse ourselves in someone else's written world.

But what to read when the days are hot and (seemingly) limitless hours of leisure stretch out before you? The conventional answer appears to be along the lines of "Something easy that dulls the senses and fogs the mind" (all opinions mine, BTW, and yes, I'm editorializing with a severe bias here).

This... is a MYTH!

Not that there's anything wrong with reading that doesn't exactly challenge your intellectual acuity. If your idea of seasonal heaven is to lean back into your Adirondack, twist open a Canadian, and lapse into a James Patterson-induced coma, I say go for it, and more power to you, my friend. Unlike smoking, you're only harming yourself. 

(Incidentally, if anyone can find a report on the dangers of second-hand reading [ink lung?], drop me a line.)

Let us all, however, now gird our loins and take a potentially risky walk down the opposite path.

This (below)... is a TRUTH!

Reading for summer pleasure need not result in a descent into paperback tedium and brain tissue dilapidation. Now, I do not intend to hector. (ED: oh yes I do) I shall not attempt to dissuade any reader (ED: you'd better believe I will) from picking up the latest 50 Shades of Monotony or Twinkly Bloodsuckers or Alex Cross Delivers a Cease and Desist Order. If you are reading, then I are happy.

(And if you should find yourself reading a Goose Lane book (shameless plug for my employer!), I'm all the happier.)

I will, however, ask, nay, implore you to consider somewhat more challenging versions of those tales.

Instead of 50 Unlikely Sexual Scenarios, wrap your head around the sensuality of Marian Engel's Bear or the searing sexuality of J.G. Ballard's Crash.

Rather than revisit Mopey Vampires in the Sun, move yourself on over to the exotic Nosferatu (Nosferats? Nosferati?) of Silvia Moreno Garcia's Certain Dark ThingsStephen King's 'Salem's Lotand/or Michael Rowe's Enter, Night.

Instead of James Patterson mysteries, consider the sterling puzzle-boxes of authors such as Raymond Chandler, Linwood Barclay, or P.D. James.  

That pile of books you've been meaning to get to one dayBetter yet, I double dog dare you to turn your weary head toward that huge pile of books you (you meaning, the communal you) have been meaning to get to for, like, forever.

Those brawny hardcovers that weigh upwards of ten pounds each.

Those acclaimed, edgy, avant-garde yarns you're ashamed to admit you're afraid of. 

Those heady literary masterpieces that taunt you with the intensity of Shakespeare at his most cutting.

“Methink’st thou art a general offence and every man should beat thee.” All’s Well That Ends Well, Act 2, Scene 3.

Why do we purchase them? Because books fill a hole. They satiate a need. And just having them in the house, within arm's reach, it makes you feel like a better person, if not for reading them, then for having the intention to read them some day should the desire overwhelm you.

And thus is my summer reading challenge to you: make a dent in your reading pile. Doesn't have to be a big dent, but by the very definition of the term, it must be, at the very least, a small dent. I am not asking you to avoid purchasing new books (by all means, purchase away!). I simply want you to stop avoiding your obligations. An author spent countess years writing that book, and you're just going to let it sit there unread? For shame! I will say good day to you, sir!

For myself? An autographed copy of Neal Stephenson's enormous Seveneves has been lollygagging about on my shelf for a few years now. Nalo Hopkinson's Skin Folk and Victor LaValle's Big Machine are definite possibles. And (to keep it in the Goose Lane family) my copies of Bruce McNab's The Metamorphosis, Debra Komar's The Ballad of Jacob Peck, and Chris Hutchinson's Jonas in Frames have all gone unread by me up to now.

So I hereby pledge that this summer I shall at long last find my bottle opener, crack open a local craft beer of my choosing, and settle back with at least one of the previous paragraph's choices. I beseech you, with your personal collection of books, to do likewise.

I'll check back with you come September. And I'd better see some results, mister!

Books reading summer reading Vacations

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