Monday, June 02, 2008

Summer Reading

Memorial Day last week kicked off the "summer" season (even though summer doesn't technically start until late June), and I've noticed that a lot of reviewers, newspapers and things like that are doing their summer reading lists. They seem to be focusing on books that will be released this summer, but I'm going to do my own list of books I plan/hope to read this summer. Some may be really old, some may be new releases.

One of my (many) quirks is that my reading moods are seasonal. There are some books that can only be properly enjoyed curled up under a blanket on a cold, grey day with a pot of hot tea nearby. And there are some books that can only be properly enjoyed while sitting on the back porch with a glass of iced tea. I can't entirely put my finger on what makes a book a "summer" book or a "winter" book for me. Sometimes it's the fact that the book takes place in that season and evokes that season's feel (though I often like reading science fiction about ice planets in August). Sometimes it's the setting. Most of the time, it's a mood. In the summer, I don't want to read about dark, gloomy things. I lean more toward the light and romantic, preferably funny, or else the pastoral. In recent years, this has been when I devoured chick lit books. That was exactly what I wanted to read in the summer. Lately, though, I seem to have gone off chick lit. I'm not entirely sure if it's a change in my taste or a change in what's being published. After the chick lit bust, the books of that general type they're publishing seem to be pretty different, I guess so that they won't be mistaken for chick lit, but that means they don't scratch that particular itch for me. I liked the good old single-in-the-city, bad job/boss, dating woes books. I don't much care for inserting "issues" or making them edgier. A lot of the authors I used to like have moved on in their lives and are now writing about stuff like marriage, divorce, infertility and babies, none of which I really care to read about. So that means this summer's reading can't be conveniently scooped off the front table at the bookstore. I'll have to dig a little deeper to find what I want. I tried to look up the "coming soon" lists at the online booksellers, but those seem to be almost entirely lead titles (that old self-fulfilling prophecy of potential bestsellers thing again), and searching by individual author did pull up a few summer releases that weren't on the "coming soon" lists, so there is at least one new summer book on my list, but I don't know what else I might be missing.

Now for my summer reading list. First, a couple of disclaimers: Since I haven't read most of these books (except for the re-reads), inclusion on this list doesn't necessarily mean an endorsement. And if I don't later do a "book report" on a book listed here, it doesn't mean I didn't like it. The list is subject to change because you never know what I'll stumble upon or become obsessed with. The list is in no particular order.

The English American by Alison Larkin -- seems kind of chick-litty and may feed my Anglophilia.
The Flamenco Academy by Sarah Bird -- This weekend's reading. I got this one autographed on her last book tour and hadn't gotten around to reading it, and now she's got another book coming out, so I needed to catch up.
How Perfect is That by Sarah Bird -- coming in June, and I may go to her signing. The plot synopsis sounds hysterical, kind of like a slightly older version of Alamo House.
Garden Spells by Sarah Addison Allen -- I feel terribly guilty about not having read this yet, given that Sarah is a friend, I remember when she was writing the first draft of it, and I got an advance copy, but this is definitely one of those books that has to be read on the back porch with a glass of iced tea, and I got it near the end of the summer last year, just before I started writing The Book That Would Not Die and got sidetracked. I've heard wonderful things about it, and it's been hugely successful.
The Godmother by Mercedes Lackey -- I've read a later book in this series and thought I ought to go back to the beginning, since I own it already.
Remember Me by Sophie Kinsella -- I'm on a very long waiting list at the library for this, so I may get it around August. In the meantime, I may re-read The Undomestic Goddess. I don't really enjoy the Shopaholic books (I'm so frugal that they're very stressful reading for me), but I've loved her other books, and they're perfect summer reads. I hope she's not yet another chick lit author who has abandoned me to write about stuff like your husband leaving you while your child has a serious illness.
Tongue in Cheek by Fiona Walker -- I'd bought one of her chick lit books in England ages ago and loved it, but hadn't found any books by her in the US, so I jumped on this one when I found it (a British edition, oddly) on the B&N bargain shelf. It turned out to be more of a saga set in an English village, which wasn't what I wanted to read at the time, so I put it aside. Now, though, I'm more interested in that than in chick lit, so I may give it another go.
The Winter King's War series by Susan Dexter -- I found the first book of this at the library one summer when I was in college and promptly bought the next two books. I hadn't thought of them in ages, when suddenly a week or so ago the titles jumped out at me from my bookcase and I found myself wanting to re-read them. They're long out of print, but I managed to find a copy of the first book at a used bookstore, and this may be my "ice planet" reading for August, as it involves a world enchanted to be really cold.
The Weather Warden series by Rachel Caine -- another case of me being a bad friend. I'm so far behind on this series, and I need to catch up (but I think she writes faster than I read).
I will also likely read something (or a lot of things) by Terry Pratchett. I've got a huge stack of romance novels from writing conference goody bags that I may drag to the swimming pool. I'm giving myself permission to put them aside and donate them to the library if I can't get into them (I can't make myself get rid of them without even trying to read them, but my shelves really need a good clean-out).

Last summer, with all the conventions I went to, I had to put my no-work-on-Sundays policy on hold, which meant less leisurely reading on the patio. I'm looking forward to getting to do more patio time with a good book this summer.

Is there something you're looking forward to reading this summer?

In other news, I made the list of program participants for Denvention (WorldCon) but I don't know what I'll be doing or when. I will likely be doing some time volunteering at the SFWA table, so even if I don't get an official con signing, there will be a time and place where I can easily be found for signing books, and I will post that when I know it.

Meanwhile, I've snagged a blog and now need to figure out what to do with it. There was a blog called The Stealth Geek that seemed to be by an editor working in sf/f. It had been stagnant for a while, but I checked on it this weekend and found that the blog no longer existed, so the name/url was available. Since I wrote the Stealth Geek FAQ, I couldn't resist snagging it. But how should I use it? Cross-post the "geekery" stuff from here? Do more TV/movie/book reviews? Come up with more fun stuff about being the person who always looks out of place at SF conventions -- until I start talking and reveal my true inner geek? Start a group blog with other authors who might fit the stealth geek mold? I guess I'll post the FAQ as a placeholder for now. This is something I could have great fun with (and maybe get some publicity mileage out of it), I think, if I could think of what to do.

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