I was always disappointed every year that my English teachers never assigned us a Summer reading list. The little book geek in me would have been overjoyed that I would have books to read for the Summer. I thought of this when someone on Instagram posted her Summer TBR (to be read) list. She was feeling ambitious and had 12 or so Victorian novels on her list, starting with The Tennant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte. While I admired her moxie, I felt I read enough classics like Mansfield Park by Jane Austen and Brave New World that I feel want a break and read more cheerful books.
I am currently reading Harriet Hume by Rebecca West. I am fascinated by West because she had a 10-year affair with H.G. Welles, which resulted eventually with the birth of her son Anthony. Harriet Hume takes place in London in the 1920’s. Harriet is a concert pianist who lives in Kensington and can seem to read the mind of her lover, the very ambitious politician Arnold Condorex and tries to stop him from a coup in his own party. It’s only 288 pages, so it shouldn’t take me that long to read.
Once I finish this book, I want to read some mystery novels. It’s a genre I always liked since I started reading Agatha Christie in junior high. One book that has made several moves with me is The Moving Toystore by Edmund Crispin. A body is found in a toy shop and seemingly overnight the store is transformed into a grocery store. Who doesn’t want to get to the bottom of that mystery? It was dedicated to the poet Philip Larkin. Another mystery I would love to read is Murder on Astor Place by Victoria Thompson. It’s the beginning of a series that takes place in turn of the century New York City. A midwife and a police sergeant team up to solve a murder in a boarding house. Two different people online have recommended it, so I’m curious about it. I also want to read one of the Marjorie Allingham books I talked about in my blog about book sales.
I also like reading memoirs. A friend of mine gave me years ago Gilda Radner’s autobiography It’s Always Something. Gilda is still my favorite original SNL cast members. The major reason I’ve avoided reading it because there was no happy ending for her. She died very young of cancer. I also have Tab Hunter Confidential about the actor’s years in the closet in Hollywood. He and Anthony Perkins were lovers at one time. To get my Downton Abbey fix, I have a small book called Servant’s Hall by Margaret Powell. The cover says it’s a “real life Upstairs, Downstairs romance”. Then book far from the sedate life of the aristocratic families of England, there’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by Robert M Pursig, who died last year. I’m not much into either motorcycles or Zen Buddhism, but I think every straight boy in high school had a copy and people rave about it.
Finally, I want to read a couple of funny books. I love comic novels and Three Men in a Boat by Jerome K Jerome seems to fit the bill. It’s about three young men and their dog Montorency who travel through England by rowboat. Finally, I also have The World of Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse. I never read any of his Jeeves novels but I’m sure I would enjoy this collection of short stories about the famed butler.
Of course, Summer really shouldn’t be obsessively planned. There’s too much to do in Summer and only a small window to do things you want to. Time to take walks and go to a concert or two. I won’t get mad if I don’t read all the books on this list. And I might wind up reading a long Victorian novel like Middlemarch or David Copperfield just for kicks. I hope your Summer is full of fun books.