Summertime and the livin’ is easy, according to Porgy and Bess. Sometimes, at the end of a tough semester, what you really need to unwind is a nice big stack of sentimental romance novels, heart-rending memoirs, and thrillers calculated to trigger exactly the same neurons as a Steven Seagal action flick.
For me, the most agreeable indulgence at any time of year is detective fiction set during World War II (like the St. Cyr-Kohler series by J. Robert Janes, but I’m always looking for new titles) or a Cold War spy novel like those by John Le Carre. If I’m really living the high life, I’ll seek out a hybrid of these sub-genres, like the Arkady Renko novels by Martin Cruz Smith.
Twentieth-century military exploits do not play a big role in my workaday life so I’m not sure why they are so pervasively distributed throughout my paperback library. But there you go—summer reading often sanctions a departure from routine pursuits. If you are on an academic calendar, you might actually have more free time; if not, it might just be the increased daylight that makes it seem like you do. Either way, summer can make you feel relaxed enough to dig in to comfortable old interests that aren’t usually a part of your 9 to 5.
Our collection is oriented towards academic materials, so we are not going to have all the latest, greatest YA fantasy novels or best-selling mass-market fiction titles. But you can definitely extract some satisfying–and deeply relaxing!–summertime reads from the stacks.
- Maybe all this talk about detective stories is making you hanker for a classic English mystery? If you like Sherlock Holmes, try Wilkie Collins, G. K. Chesterton, Dorothy Sayers or P. G. Wodehouse’s “Jeeves” novels.
- …or a classic American mystery, inflected by mid-century “noir”: Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Patricia Highsmith, Walter Mosley.
- Read cinematically, backwards: books that have been transformed into the Anglophile film fantasies you love, like Brideshead Revisited: The Sacred and Profane Memories of Captain Charles Ryder by Evelyn Waugh, which was the basis for the landmark BBC series. Of course you can take your pick of novels by Jane Austen and E. M. Forster that have been made into movies.
- Is science fiction your thing? Lately I’ve been catching up on the William Gibson oeuvre. But I should let my colleague and resident sci-fi expert Sue Vazakas tell you more about this genre…