Our Reading Lives

A Love Letter to My Mediocre Summer Read

O, mediocre summer read! You are a big hardback book I picked up for exactly two reasons: 1) your lurid cover, and 2) if you get dropped in the bath or ruined at the pool, I will be kind of bummed, but not too upset.

Those may have been my reasons for picking you up, but now that I’ve been reading you for a week, they are not the ONLY reasons I love you.

You’re perfect for my summer, a time when I am juggling both work and childcare yet, for various reasons, I also seem to be sitting outside for long periods of time.

Why do I love thee, uninspired summer read? Let me count the ways:

You’re 600 pages, but you read like 150. A book as big as you makes me look smart, but let’s be real: I am only using 40 percent of my brain to read you. The rest of my attention is on my kid and my inbox.

Your chapters are 15 pages long, max. You make me feel like a speed reader.

You are not stressing me out. Your sex isn’t that sexy, your gore isn’t that gory, and nobody stays dead. I mean, there’s a lot going on with your plot, but I’m not really worried by any of it. I don’t feel a lot when I read you, in fact. The only thing you do make me feel is curiosity, because every single one of your 10-page chapters ends in a soap-opera-level cliffhanger.

Your characters are predictable, but your convoluted plots make up for it. I know these people! I’ve met them before. In fact, I think you stole your lead from a classic that’s now in the public domain. But that’s cool; I liked that character to begin with, and your plots are deliciously, needlessly byzantine. I’ve stopped trying to follow the details, actually. I just go “ooooooh”  at the end of each chapter when the hero is caught in yet another hopeless trap.

You are not stressing me out at all. Our hero is guaranteed to get out of that trap halfway through the first page of the next chapter.

There’s so much more of you (if I ever feel the need). You’re the fifth in a series I haven’t read and a promotional page in your book promises me that the hero will be back next summer.

You really are the antithesis of stress. If he’ll be back next summer, I know he’s not going to die this summer. (At least not permenantly.)

So come spend the summer with me, tolerable novel! Jump in my beach bag! Bake on the passenger seat of my car! Come camping with me! Get perilously close to the kiddie pool! Sit with me while I do my toenails! Come to a million places I might lose you! And if you survive all that, know that there’s one last thing I love about you:

Once our fling is over, we will both be able to move on. If you make it through my summer unscathed, I will happily give you to the library for their fall book sale.

What about you? What are you reading this summer? Is it mediocre? Why do you love it?