8 Jun 2013

Summer Reads - What Are They, Anyway?

(A photo from my cottage vacation last summer up in beautiful, peaceful Combermere, Ontario)

Now that the summer is here (perhaps not officially as per the calendar, but to me it is), everyone is asking for/recommending/talking about their summer picks. Working in a bookstore has me hearing about summer reads every day, but I have a confession:

I don't have any 'summer' picks. I don't want to strictly read 'beach' books (light romances, quick reads, etc). I read whatever piques my interest, and the time of year doesn't change that. I also find the term 'summer reads' to be very confusing. Do the books have to be about summer? What defines a book as a 'light' or 'beach' read, anyway?

(Me, in apparent deep concentration as I rock red pants and a sweater and read The Power of Six by Pittacus Lore. Taken - without my knowing until I went through my camera later - last year on my summer cottage vacation. Do aliens count in the summer reads category? Because they were a part of my summer!)

As a (preferably) YA reader, I walked up and down the YA shelves at the bookstore, reading synopses of books that I thought might qualify as a summer read. The few I found I picked because they were romance-y reads (some that take place during the summer). But as I read the back, all I could think was

I'd rather read this in the winter when I'm missing the summer.

The YA 'summer' reads all felt like novels that would raise my expectations of summer. If I spent my summer living vicariously through the characters finding summer love in between the pages of these so-called summer books, I'd finish the summer with a lump of disappointment in my stomach. *insert whiny voice here* How come I didn't go on a road trip/camping adventure/meet a hot guy on the beach who swept me off my feet?

It might sound ridiculous - I mean, I don't think like this when I read whatever else I usually read any other time of the year (probably because I don't often read books that are strictly romance-y - I like some fantasy/paranormal/etc to my reads).

I should add that not all 'summer reads' lists are entirely composted of contemporary romance novels. I've seen some novels I'd enjoy on these lists, but that just further confuses me on this topic. What exactly makes a book fit into a 'summer read' category?

Some people act as if these novels are great reads during the summer months especially. Why? What makes these books different from others that make them seemingly more enjoyable in the summer? Is it just a marketing thing? If so, it really doesn't make much sense to me.

Perhaps I'm looking too much into it since the term is surrounding me. I have customers coming in asking me to recommend them beach reads, and most of them walk away with something from the romance section, or a contemporary novel from the fiction section (usually a Sophie Kinsella novel or an Emily Giffin - chick lit, anyway).

I don't have the males of our species coming in asking for 'beach' reads, so is this just a female thing? When guys come in asking for books for their vacation, they want something they'd normally read. Some walk away with mysteries or thrillers or biographies or true crime novels. Some with sci-fi or horror or fantasy. So maybe the question I should be asking is is it just a women thing?

I'm sure there are females out there who are like me and read any and every genre any time of year. So maybe that's what is confusing me. Maybe it's just because it's summer and people are going on vacation and thus have more time to read, someone coined the term summer read and publishers and bookstores and book buyers have bought into the idea of a summer read?

This post has gone absolutely no where, but it was not really meant to.

What I want to ask you, whoever is reading this word-vomit of a blog post, is what the heck do you consider to be a summer read? And is that what you like to read in the summer? What are you reading now?

I'd love for you to weigh in on this, because I've no answers. Perhaps there isn't one. It's likely that the definition of 'summer/beach reads' is entirely subjective. But there you have it.
So. What do you think?


  1. I agree with you...I don't get the summer read concept. I read whatever I'm in the mood for at the time all year long. It's my mood and state of mind that dictates my book choice at any given time. And yes, in the winter it's great to read a book that takes place in summer or a hot climate to forget the months and months (usually 7 in Alberta) of winter we endure.

    1. It seems everyone has a different definition of 'summer/beach' read as well. Must day light reads, buy that brings up the question: What qualifies as a light read? Something that doesn't make you think? Then what's the point in reading it? Fluff? Well fluff can still make you think.

      I think it's all just subjective.

    2. 'Must day' was meant to be 'Most say'*

  2. I've also noticed this and for a while I actually told myself to read summer books during that time. But now I don't bother, whatever sounds good or looks good is what I read no matter what time of the year it is. Great post :)

    1. I'm the same; I just read whatever sounds good no matter what time of year it is.
      Thanks for stopping by :)


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