How Do You Define “Summer Read”?

On a recent trip to the library, I mentioned off-hand to my brother that I was looking for a good summer read. It’s summer time, and I figured that would communicate enough to him what I was looking for.

Instead, he said, “What do you mean?”

“What do you mean, what do I mean? I’m looking for something light, you know, fun, airy. Low commitment. The kind of thing you could bring to the beach or read in a hammock.”

He thought about that for a second and then said, “Okay. But when I think about what to read over the summer, I think about books that are long and deep. Because I finally have time to actually sink my teeth into them and really read them in the summer.”

I was a little perplexed, because this changed my whole world, momentarily. I’m pretty sure that most people think of my definition when they hear “summer read.” However, my brother’s thought process had a lot of logic to it. I mean, it’s true, I do have more time to read in the summer. It suddenly didn’t make immediate sense to me that I was about to go search for a short, light book.

Ordinarily, if I’m going to pick up a big, thick book to read, I do it in the deep winter months, when I can curl up under blankets and have to tune out the sound of the wind whistling outside. I don’t have a fireplace, but I like to imagine I’m reading long, involved books in front of one. Summer reads, I’ve always thought, were always quick and fleeting, instant gratification-type books.

Why, though?

Obviously, it doesn’t always have to be like that. You can read whatever you want whenever you want, it’s no crime. But why, when people typically have time off, do we want to read short things? Maybe it’s the satisfaction of finishing a lot of books, or the feeling that summer is a time of no consequences and not a lot of thinking. Learning is for the school year, not the summer! Even when we’re out of school.

So I don’t know, maybe we should change our thinking…but I’m not going to.

But now that it’s come to my attention, which philosophy camp do you belong to? Short, summer reads, or long summer reads?

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