Some of my very favorite memories of summer are the endless afternoons I spent reading as a girl. Whether sprawled across my bed or tipping lazily in the hammock under the dogwood trees, those blessed hours epitomize the essence of true summertime luxury to me. Unfettered by the duties and responsibilities which attend adulthood, I was free to roam the country of imagination without care—almost without cessation, as I could remain in the thrall of a particularly loved book for days after I’d finished it. There was time then to read fast, to devour books like a hungry vagabond falling upon a feast, to stumble into open pages without a thought of where I might land.
I’m still a greedy bookworm, of course, but the piles on my bedside table and around the house attest to the fact that it takes me a lot longer to get through a book at 39 than it did at 17. I’m haunted yet by the blissful languor that “summer afternoon” meant to me in my youth, and endeavoring to recapture it, at least in spirit (if you could see the weedly state of my garden you would know I am in earnest!). Summer means cool, simple suppers, prepared earlier in the day, and warm, heavy twilights, aglint with the glowing dance of fireflies under the gloom of the trees. It means windows open at dawn and dew-wet grass and bare feet.
And it means—will always mean—books. I choose my summer reads with such care: there must be the perfect blend of captivation and commitment. I want to be carried along, but not mindlessly; I generally require a good recommendation, as the time is too short to waste it on books I’ll never be friends with. (I tried to like The Shell Seekers, y’all, I really did. And The Forgotten Garden. We just couldn’t make it work.) Right now I’m reading Tess of the D’Urbervilles—or, at least I was, until my adorable puppy, Bonnie Blue, ate my copy of it. (Never mind that it was the prettiest little edition I picked up in the Cotswolds: soft blue leather, gilt titles, tissue-thin pages. There was no looking into those chocolate milk eyes, gazing up at me from amid a thorough ruin of Thomas Hardy without instant forgiveness.) Librivox has come to the temporary rescue, however, until I can make it to the library, so I’m still clipping along. (This recording is fantastic, by the way, and one of my favorite readers.)
And in the spirit of summer reading, it’s my pleasure to introduce a few new titles in the shop today with which one might indulge a few hours in the hammock, or on the front porch, lemonade in hand:
Cheaper by the Dozen is the beloved story of the twelve Gilbreth children in the early part of the 20th century and their “efficiency engineer” parents, as told by two of the siblings, Frank and Ernestine. This is such a rollicking read, told with humor and genuine affection. It was made into a movie in 1950.
Katherine Wentworth is a gentle love story by the popular mid-century author, D.E. Stevenson. My friends and I like to call her “Elizabeth Goudge-lite,” as her books have a quality of charm and insight that reflect some of the sensibilities of our beloved Miss Goudge.
My Cousin Rachel is a page-turning Cornish suspense by the author of Rebecca and Jamaica Inn. As always, Du Maurier gives you plenty to think about, even after the covers are closed.
The Circular Staircase and The Man in Lower Ten are the first and second novels, respectively, by the American authoress, Mary Roberts Rinehart. Rinehart was an early pioneer in the mystery writing genre, having developed to great effect the captivating “had I known then what I know now” structure.
The Little Minister is an old friend of mine, and not only because I honeymooned in J. M. Barrie’s part of the world. I’ve written about this one here.
Rose o’ the River is one of Kate Douglas Wiggin’s best-loved tales, as tender and old-fashioned as one might expect from the author of such treasures as The Birds’ Christmas Carol and Rebecca of Sunnybrook Farm. This little gem of a romance is illustrated with pretty tinted plates, appropriate to the sentiments contained therein.
Song of Years is hands-down my favorite Bess Streeter Aldrich book. This is a beautiful story of a pioneering family in the mid-nineteenth century, with a cast of unforgettably Aldrich-esque characters. At the center is the idealistic heroine, Suzanne, whose fortunes I followed with painful eagerness and genuine friendship. Among the rarest of Aldrich titles.
(And don’t forget Temple Bailey and Grace Livingston Hill if you’re looking for something light and lovely with old-fashioned ideals. )
Happy reading, friends! So, what are you perusing these days? Please share–I value your recommendations!
(A note on the new inventory: some of the images uploaded with a line through them—I can’t figure out why that happened, but Philip suspects that it might have something to do with the fact that the jump drive I used had gone through the wash last week in the pocket of my jeans. Keep in mind this is not a defect on the part of the books. Also, the cover images are not oriented correctly. My apologies. One more thing–I prefer to photograph dust jacket-ed books without the clear mylar cover I later provide, as it’s easier to get a shot without glare. However, all the dust jackets in my shop are thus protected–not only does it keep the jacket from incurring further wear, it gives an old book a bright, new face. Remember, to see multiple views of the books, click on the images provided—I usually include at least two. Thank you! )