Proper Introductions: Summer Suggestions

A Woman Reading, Claude Monet, 1872

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! :) )

Proper Introductions is a series dedicated to highlighting some of the titles that can be found on the shelves at Lanier’s Books.

8 Responses to “Proper Introductions: Summer Suggestions”

  1. JOY says:

    Thank you for all for the lovely titles. I love when someone shares the books they love.

  2. Marie (from France) says:

    Dear Lanier,

    You’re right: summer means books! I’ve discovered so many thanks to you. For once, let me introduce you to my most recent discovery. A novel by a contemporary spanish author, Natalia Sanmartin Fenollera. It’s called “The awakening of Miss Prim”. It’ll be released on July 8th in the US. I’ll be so glad if you could do me the honor of reading it and give me your opinion. For me, it’s a real gem…

    Bel été et bonne lecture chère amie!

    Marie

  3. Dianne L says:

    Thank you for this list. You and I like a lot of the same authors. One of my very favorite books is “The Shepherd of the Hills” by Harold Bell Wright. I have read it many times.

  4. Martina says:

    Thanks for your recommendations – how I look forward to reading when it’s too hot to do anything else!
    Lately, I enjoyed the “Diary of a Provincial Lady” by E.M. Delafield. It’s very light reading, but perfect for summerdays, I would say.

  5. Josie Ray says:

    “Summer means…bare feet”…beautiful.

    Even more than your recommendations, I love your relationship with reading.

    My reading…

    The Power of Truth, William George Jordan (1864-1928); I eat up these writings; their razor sharpness of truth and leveling-to-the-true-foundation ability is, to me, second only to the Bible:

    “In speech, the man who makes Truth his watchword is careful in his words, he seeks to be accurate, neither understating nor over-coloring. He never states as a fact that of which he is not sure. What he says has the ring of sincerity, the hallmark of pure gold. If he praises you, you accept his statement as “net,” you do not have to work out a problem in mental arithmetic on the side to see what discount you ought to make before you accept his judgment.”

    “Let us fill the world around us with love, brightness, sweetness, gentleness, helpfulness, courage and sympathy, as if they were the only legal tender and we were Monte Cristos with untold treasures of such gold ever at our call.”

    “Reputation is what the world thinks a man is; character is what he really is….Character is the sword; reputation is the scabbard….Reputation is the shell a man discards when he leaves life for immortality. His character he takes with him.”

    And also, the gentle voice of Leo the Great in his “On the Feast of the Nativity” Sermons:

    “Christian, acknowledge thy dignity, and becoming a partner in the Divine nature, refuse to return to the old baseness by degenerate conduct….By the mystery of Baptism thou wert made the temple of the Holy Ghost: do not put such a denizen to flight from thee by base acts, and subject thyself once more to the devil’s thralldom: because thy purchase money is the blood of Christ…”

    And, always in the summer, Sigurd Olson, this time his “Reflections from the North Country.”

    “One day in the Far North, I paddled many miles down a great waterway. The wind was behind me, just a breath, but enough to make paddling easy and almost effortless….The notes I had chosen from my wallet to read that day were about the primitive written of by Owen Barfield.”

    Interspersed with an occasionally LMM short story, an Emily Dickinson poem, and the history of Virginia.

    Thank you for reminding me of the “reading sisterhood.” Now as I read here, I will think of you and your readers reading where you are, reclining in at least a mental hammock.

  6. Josie Ray says:

    p.s. I see that my summer reading is not sweet and light, but it is sweet, nevertheless. :-) Perhaps if I hadn’t read “light” all winter, I would not be reading “heavy” in the summer.

    While ’tis still summer, I also hope to read The Cotswolds: A Cultural History, by Jane Bingham (2009, Oxford Press).

  7. JOY says:

    I just read “Confessions of a Mega Church Pastor” in a matter of hours. LOVED it. I am reading “The Story Of Edgar Sawtelle”. I have an eclectic taste. I just don’t do “vampire, zombie, lord of the rings, type books. One of my favorite authors was Victoria Holt. I’ve read all of her books. Sad that there will be no more.

  8. [...] Proper Introductions: Summer Suggestions – Lanier has some ideas of what you might want to read this summer. She always has a unique list. Plus her new puppy is named Bonnie Blue — how cute is that?! [...]

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