Summertime, And The Readin' Is Easy

June 3, 2004
What are your favorite summer books? 
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What's a summer book? It's one that transports you to that state of suspended animation you experienced when you first learned you loved to read. Remember? Back when you had gobs of deliciously uncluttered time. It was summer. An eternity of long, lazy, hazy days rolled out before you with no school in sight. It was way too hot and humid for anyone to expect you to actually do anything. So, you stretched out on the cool pink bedspread in your grandmom's back room with a book. And the sweet summer boredom, the sultry heat, the rhythm of the oscillating fan and the hum of the bugs outside the open window made you a little drunk. Your sense of time and place melted, the pages of the book melted and at some point, it didn't make any difference where you stopped and the story started. And when your mom called you for dinner, you didn't even hear her. Here are some of my all-time favorite summer reads: Their Eyes Were Watching God (Zora Neale Hurston) - My favorite line: "It's uh known fact, Pheoby, you got tuh go there tuh know there. Yo' papa and yo' mama and nobody else can't tell yuh and show yuh. Two things everybody's got tuh do fuh theyselves. They got tuh go tuh God, and they got tuh find out about livin' fuh themselves." Zorba the Greek(Nikos Kazantzakis) -- If you can read this book and not end up spending more of your life dancing and singing, you are made of steadier stuff than I am. Song of Solomon(Toni Morrison) -- My favorite character's dying words: "I wish I'd a knowed more people. I would of loved 'em all. If I'd a knowed more, I would a loved more." Jayber Crow (Wendell Berry) -- Jayber leaves the seminary as a young man because he "couldn't open a Bible without setting off a great jangling and wrangling of questions that almost deafened me." Then he spends the rest of his life as a small-town barber living out the answers to his questions. Cry Me a River (T.R. Pearson) -- Hilarious and profound, if you can read it. I tried to give it to my dad for Father's Day, but he gave it back to me a couple of months later because, in his words, "I can't read that book -- it's like chasing squirrels." Like Water for Chocolate (Laura Esquivel) -- The magic that weaves its way through this story is that miracles are as common as tears and love. Love in the Time of Cholera (Gabriel Garcia Marquez) -- Another great quote: "The Captain looked at Fermina Daza and saw on her eyelashes the first glimmer of wintry frost. Then he looked at Florentino Ariza, his invincible power, his intrepid love, and he was overwhelmed by the belated suspicion that it is life, more than death, that has no limits." Peace Like a River (Leif Enger) -- I can't sum up in just a few words how great this book is, but it's the best one I've read in a long time. Just read it. If you don't like it, you can gripe at me about it later. Have a great summer. Melt into a book. 

Thornton, BA '83, assistant vice president and director of Professional and Organizational Development at Baylor, is an avid reader who has led book studies at her church.