In winter, I try to be disciplined and force myself to read only books I should be reading, novels somehow related to work and biographies of people I really should know more about. Or at least that is what I tell myself, as I put aside a treatise on peace in the Middle East for a fat life of Mordecai Richler or a novel by Julian Barnes. In summer, quite the other way, I indulge myself with the comfort of old favourites and the dazzle of new books that have been waiting patiently on my bedside table, and dip into the police procedurals and Scandinavian crime fiction that I have tucked away in the cold, austere working months.
But not everyone feels that way, as the following responses from Globe readers make clear.
Despite his rampant republicanism, I like the work of Australian novelist Thomas Keneally, who is probably best known for Schindler’s List. But I want this summer to reread his earlier Gossip from the Forest, a revealing account of the immediate events leading up to dramatic signing of the Armistice in November, 1918, with a focus on that railway car in the Forest of Compiègne just north of Paris. It seems somehow appropriate as we begin the countdown to the centenary in 2014 of the outbreak of the First World War. – Regor
This is easy: Captain Corelli’s Mandolin, by Louis de Bernières. I’ve read it every summer for the past five years. It’s romantic, it’s beautifully written. And reading on the beach you can imagine you’re in Greece. (Don’t see the movie, please. I'm begging you.) – rosie33
This year, I’ll be doing what I’ve done every year since my son started high school: peeking over his shoulder at his summer reading list and compiling my own list of must-reads. There are always a few titles that I’d read and enjoyed when I was in school: John Wyndham’s The Chrysalids, J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, Pride and Prejudice. Last summer’s offerings included Great Expectations, which had slipped by me. Forty pages in, my son abandoned it for more contemporary fare, but I was happy to pick it up and immerse myself in Dickens’s world. My son’s preferred genre is science fiction, while I love a good murder mystery, but sharing a reading list with him reminds me of all those bedtimes when he was little and I would read the early Harry Potter books aloud to him. This summer, we are both looking forward to Crime and Punishment, James Frey’s A Million Little Pieces and Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner. – Rosie
The Good Earth, by Pearl S. Buck. Although it is more than 80 years old, the story is wonderful. I can read this over and over again. The characters are strong and the life lessons still apply today. I also read The Berlin Boxing Club, by Robert Sharenow. It may be junior fiction, but adults will enjoy it. – Mary N
I am rediscovering the books of Robert E. Howard (1906-1936). His sword-and-sorcery tales ( Conan,Kull,Solomon Kane) are wonderful escapist jaunts. And his writing is infinitely superior to a lot of what's published today. His use of language, imagery and narrative pacing are superb. Highly recommended summertime reading. – Paul Ratte
George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Fire and Ice series has taken over my life this summer, as it has so many others. Nothing like a little escapism to go well with a beer on the back deck! – Rae