My perfect summer read is Out of Africa by Isak Dinesen. Made into a memorable movie, its descriptions of life and culture on “a farm in Africa” linger in the mind. When it’s hot in the city, the mood is just perfect for it. I read it every summer.
- Robert Landry, Montreal
The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver. It’s the story of a young family transplanted to the Congo by their evangelical father, told through the eyes of his five daughters. These girls are quite unforgettable and you can almost feel the heat of the Congo as you read this novel on a sunny beach.
- Kelsy Wittmann, Vancouver
The Alexandria Quartet by Lawrence Durrell. It’s a beautiful story and is incredibly well written. I only recently read this book though it was recommended to me years ago. Admittedly, it took me a bit of time to get into the book but once I did, it was ‘WOW’! This story carries you away.
- Michele d'Entremont, France
I love Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing. I read it for the first time when I was 14 and we were driving to a festival a couple of towns over. I read it in the car and couldn’t be pulled out to ride the rides or try the funnel cake until I read that all ended well for Hero, Beatrice, Claudio and Benedick.
I was captured by the unique turn of phrase and language and because it was the first comedy by Shakespeare that I had ever encountered. It is a brief, silly and intriguing read full of romance, danger and hilarious misunderstandings.
I read it every summer like a tradition. Believe it or not, William Shakespeare can be a fun beach read!
- Samantha Helmick, Burlington, Iowa
Every summer, since high school, I read To Kill a Mockingbird. Seeing the world through a child’s eyes reminds me of the wonderful, innocent summers growing up in the sixties. My first copy of the book I actually stole from my high school; it was part of our reading curriculum in Grade 11 or 12 and I loved the book so much I didn't return it at the end of the year. That copy is long gone; I have loaned out several other paperbacks (which were never returned to me), then several years ago I found a hard-cover anniversary edition, which I do not lend out.
- Evelyn Schellenberg, Vancouver
I loved The Count of Monte Cristo when I first read it a few summers ago. Its drama, exotic settings, and rich characters make it a delightful tome, long enough to sustain the reader for several lazy afternoons or late evenings. Although Dumas's prose is dense and the relationships between characters complex, the conclusion satisfies. It's the aristocrat's grand tour in a paperback, and all the more affordable for those of us who won't be to Europe anytime soon and whose idea of luxury is hours of reading in the garden.
- Alexander McPherson, Thornhill, Ont.
The Great Gatsby. Forget the movie, which bears almost no resemblance to Fitzgerald's vision, or his style. I first read it on a literature course in my first year at U of T in the early sixties. That era was far from Gatsby's amoral world. Today's society with its political queasiness, superficial celebrities, and wavering values is the perfect context in which to read The Great Gatsby. It is a summery book with all that water and reflecting pools. It's party time, time to fall in love, time to drink and dance.
- Elspeth Cameron, St. Catharines
Anne of Green Gables. I have reread this every summer since I turned eight ... 60 years later it reminds me of the moment when I “joined the reading club” – that great moment in a child’s life when the wondrous world of reading becomes such an ineffable and glorious part of one’s life.
- Dariel Bateman, Calgary
Armistead Maupin’s Tales of the City. The short chapters are perfect for a summer read and turning the pages feels like visiting old friends and family.
- Kevin John McDonald, Toronto
If On a Winter’s Night a Traveller... by Italo Calvino. I read this first when I was 18 and just starting to travel. It was the first Calvino book I’d read and at the time I could only find a handful of his books in Canada, so while travelling Europe, I always had one of his books in hand as I could always find titles there I wasn’t finding here.
I love it as a summer read for two reasons. One is because it reminds me of all the travelling and the spirit at that age and the adventure that parallels with the tone of the book. But I also love it because it feels like not only are you reading about but also watching how people are thinking and moving, like lying on a beach half-awake watching passersby and figures far off in a heat haze in the water.
- Sarah M., Calgary
Pride and Prejudice is my favourite summer book. I first read it the night before my Grade 10 final exam, and I just fell in love with it! I couldn't believe I had put it off for so long! I love that Lizzie has such strong convictions, especially when one considers Austen's time period. That she refuses to marry someone she doesn't love makes her a genuine hero to me. And I love that despite his privileged upbringing, Darcy is completely unaware of how to win Lizzie's heart. Pride and Prejudice is the perfect funny, romantic summer read!
- Christine Hernandez, Mississauga
Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. The title sort of speaks for itself, doesn't it? I read it for the first time the summer I turned 15, after my aunt gifted it to me for my birthday. I was captivated by the relationship between Vix and Caitlin. It just captured where I was in life and what was at the centre of my world: the mischievous, deep and addictive friendships that are only possible in adolescence, when you have little else to do but spend time with one another. When I re-read it two years ago, I felt the best kind of nostalgia and, fittingly, connected to the chapters detailing their early adulthood. It should also be noted that this book is best read somewhere that sand is bound to get stuck to the pages.
- Kate Burgess, Kingston
100 Years of Solitude – I read it over 20 years ago when I first moved to Toronto – I love the multiple story lines and the magic realism which I had never come across before – the uniqueness of the characters – I think I liked reading it in summer because it took place in a hot country, and I felt a similarity between the pace of life in summer and the pacing of the book.
-Joan Koritko, Toronto
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley. Set in the summertime in Britain in the forties. Preteen Flavia is a smart engaging detective, who spends her summer solving a mystery and fitting her family back together. 5 stars!
- Mary Hartling, Belleville
Foundation, by Isaac Asimov. Because whether you are living in a sunset empire, or a sunrise empire, or no empire at all, you can find something to identify with in the series.
- Hasan Murtaza, Toronto