Every year around this time, publishers, booksellers, and reading sites ask us “What’s on your summer reading list?”
Phooey. Or as Nero Wolfe spelled it, pfui.
This question always takes me back to the 1950s and the olden, golden days of Madison Avenue when everyone lived in NYC. While the working poor were sleeping their summer evenings off on the cool of their fire escapes, the more well-to-do were escaping to their summer digs, where the full-time mom let the children try to drown themselves in the lake or the Atlantic Ocean while she rested in the shade of a tree or umbrella with her lemonade (liberally spiked with vodka) and her Summer Reading.
These days, your summer reading is likely to consist of a paragraph or two on your smart phone hastily crammed into the short few minutes between picking the kids up from summer day camp and the dinner making, laundry doing, bedtime madness to follow.
If you’re lucky, your kids are older and you can get in a few paragraphs or maybe even some pages (!) before bed, preferably with a glass of wine.
But whatever your situation, you are not likely to be considering which book you will lovingly peruse over the next few glorious, slow summer weeks.
Kids have summer reading lists. Everyone else has the next book in their stack left over from spring, which was left over from winter, which was left over from fall, which was…
But we’ll probably never hear the end of the question “What’s on your summer reading list?” It’s a marketing ploy that has petrified roots in the book world. Every year we will be asked this question and those of us old enough to remember back in the day will sigh and hear the faint sounds of ice cubes melting in lemonade with the musical tinkling of wind chimes. And people too young to remember will wonder what the heck they’re talking about.