Thursday, 3 July 2014

Summertime Reading

It is hot. Hot, that is by Netherlands standards: ie, it's 24C (75F) and everyone is in shorts and dresses, drinking beer on terraces, and looking chic in their sunglasses. Tomorrow it is meant to be even hotter. The attic room is setting a course towards sweltering, and I'm sat dreaming of ice creams and lemonade (not together, obviously). And with a weekend of nice weather, playing music, bbqs, and time with friends looming, I'm one happy camper. I love summertime for all the above reasons (yes, even the sweltering...), but most of all, I love summer because it means time for reading.

As a young girl I spent my summers running wild as only one can in the middle of the Colorado mountains. I have extremely fond memories of it all. Equally, I distinctly remember going to the library as soon as summer vacation started to sign up for the Summer Reading Programme. My mother and I would go every week to collect books from the library. I was allowed to take out seven at a time, which I thought was heaps and I dutifully raced through them all each week. The idea of the programme was to log each book you read, and if you reached the goal, at the end you would get a goody pack with a free book based on your reading history, bookmarks, and other random items.

I think about this each summer, and really wish there was a reading programme for those over the age of ten...Can you imagine!? I doubt I'd be racing through seven books a week at this stage, but still, the idea of that voracious reading you do as a child is a pleasant memory. I used to find all sorts of ways to keep reading (usually involving a torch after lights out...), and can remember being sprawled in the most unladylike fashions in chairs, eating ice cream with a nose in my book.

And do you know, I remember all those books - those summertime reads that kept me company as the July rains rolled in across the mountains. I will never forget reading Little Women for the first time and wanting to be just like Jo; or being really chuffed I suffered through The Count of Monte Cristo, even though I doubt I understand half it; or re-reading the first three Harry Potter's (yes, there were only three at that time!), delighting in all things Hogwarts and wizardry. Falling in love with Tarzan of the Apes, and re-reading all of Enid Blyton's stories, wishing I too could go off on cycling holidays with ginger beer and tinned peaches...

So, sitting here, feeling rather hot and sticky in my attic room, with a stretch of free time ahead, and plenty of my old favourites sitting on the bookshelf, I think I shall enrol myself in my very own Summer Reading Programme. I'll be sure to try to sit in unladylike fashions and keep plenty of lemonade to hand (honestly, is there anything better?); I'll read both "trashy" and classic books with untethered glee, and make sure my torches have new batteries. In this rush and madness of the adult world, there are times when escaping with a book is just the ticket.

The Independent, and indeed many other newspapers, have recently released this year's summer reading list, but I shan't read any they suggest. a) Because access to new English books isn't exactly as easy as it used to be and b) they all sound rather odd.

 I would however, be interested to know what YOU are reading this summer. Happy reading!