So, it’s official. School’s out for summer. It’s been a while since I’ve really looked forward to summer break. It didn’t matter if it was Wednesday, Friday, Sunday. One day bled into the next, into the next. My folks would let me play outside with the neighborhood kids until the street lights came on, and sometimes I’d sneak out and play ‘man hunt’ (glorified hide and seek) long after they had gone to bed. Summer break does have an immediate impact for me and my husband Dan. Our commute into Charlottesville may be a bit smoother minus the dreaded yellow bus. During the school year I find myself wondering, often out loud, how long it takes to find your seat and sit in it.
I consider myself a seasonal reader. I don’t mean that I only read during certain times of the year, I mean I read certain types of books during certain times of the year. Summer=lighter fare. Intense subjects and weighty ideas seem not to jive with the heat and humidity. Longer days mean more time outside in the garden or on the river (I am one of the few, proud residents of Howardsville ~ where the Rockfish meets the James)
Now, of course there is the beach vacation. The sand, the surf, the cooler, the book…. But, do you really want to read and reread the same sentence from Thus Spoke Zarathustra?
So by now maybe you’re thinking that I’ll give you a list of what some folks call ‘Chick Lit.’ I find this term slightly offensive. In my opinion, Dan Brown is just as bland as Sophie Kinsella. (and, that is just my opinion, read their stuff and think for yourself) I’m thinking more along the lines of Mary Roach.
I was gifted a copy of Roach’s first book, Stiff: The Curious Life of Human Cadavers, by my sister-in-law. As a July baby, the book fit perfectly into my less-is-more mantra for summer reading. Who could go wrong with chapters titled ‘Crimes of Anatomy: Body snatching and other sordid tales from the dawn of human dissection’ and ‘Dead Man Driving: Human crash test dummies and the ghastly, necessary science of impact tolerance.’ I can presume that the chapter ‘How to Know if You’re Dead: Beating-heart cadavers, live burial, and the scientific search for the soul,’ led her to her next book: Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife. There’s a local connection in this story: UVA’s Division of Perceptual Studies is tapped for their work on reincarnation and near-death studies. Her third book, Bonk: The Curious Coupling of Science and Sex, is, well, not very Victorian-esque. I won’t re-cap chapters here. Perhaps Pamela Paul, reviewing the book for the New York Times, said it best: “In short, she takes an entertaining topic and showcases its creepier side. And then she makes the creepy funny.”
So there you have it. A first installment of suggested summer reading fun; technically, we have until September 22nd until we switch our seasonal gears to fall.
(book covers courtesy of Baker & Taylor)