BY MAGGIE BEAMGUARD
For some, it was Nancy Drew or the Hardy Boys. For me, it was, by necessity, Trixie Belden who introduced me to the joys of summer reading. The girl-detective mystery novels originally belonged to my two older sisters, evidenced by aging bookplates on the inside front covers.
Those sisters were off doing whatever exciting things college students do during summer break. And I was a 9-year old stuck at home. The Belden series they left behind became my primary form of entertainment, having exhausted my own supply of Beverly Cleary titles. I related to Trixie — a girl in the throes of summer boredom, abandoned by older siblings. A girl looking for adventure.
That summer between third and fourth grade, I read all 16 books on hand. It was an era before our home had cable television, a home computer or even an Atari gaming system. So it was up to the written word to captivate my imagination and provide an escape from playing in the heat and humidity of the lowcountry summer.
Thirty-seven years later, I’m still a sucker for a storyline with a strong female protagonist and some light intrigue.
Not all summer reading is created equal. If you’ve ever had a merciless English teacher impose on your summer break, then you know what I mean. Let’s be honest, no one wants to read “The Lord of the Flies” while listening to the soothing waves at the beach. We can agree “The Bell Jar,” “Heart of Darkness,” “The Grapes of Wrath,” “Fahrenheit 451” and “The Fountainhead”are each literary achievements, but they are not likely what you willingly take on your tropical cruise.
After consulting with a few fellow bibliophiles, I’ve honed in on some basic criteria for making your best summer selection. A summer book must be entertaining, not too serious and have zero instructional value. It will not overly tax your brain. As one friend said, she wants a “Mystery solved. Bad guy in jail. Happy Ending.” kind of paperback while poolside.
Any novel that eliminates the possibility of redemption removes it from qualification.
Whatever genre appeals to you — be it romance, humor, science or historical fiction, autobiography or something else — make it a quick, easy read, something that is easy to slide back into between golf rounds and naps. A collection of short stories or poems might be the way to go.
If your summer includes travel, consider taking something along that is set in the place you are visiting.
Bottom line, a good author is a good author, so read what you enjoy. It is summer after all. As for me, I’m looking for a little adventure to fill my mind and my library.
SUGGESTIONS FOR YOUR SUMMER READING
Looking for a Mystery? Try: Mouth to Mouth by Antoine Wilson
Looking for a Romance? Try: Nora Goes Off Script by Annabel Monaghan
Looking for a Historical Fiction? Try: Carolina Built by Kianna Alexander
Looking for Science Fiction? Try: Gallant by V. E. Schwab
Looking for Humor? Try: Happy Go Lucky by David Sedaris
Looking for Local Flavor? Try: The Hamlet Fire by Bryant Simon
Contributed by Kimberly Daniels Taws at The Country Bookshop.