Reading is my oldest and favorite hobby. I literally can’t remember a time in my life when I didn’t love to curl up with a good book. Here are my reads for August, 2021.
Chesapeake, by James A. Michener – I first picked up this doorstopper (metaphorically; I read it on my kindle) back in early July, while camping in Chincoteague, and have been picking at it for two months. It’s engaging and well-written, but almost comically long. The novel follows the life of the Eastern Shore and the Chesapeake Bay from the 1500s to 1978, through the stories of a few local families over the generations. I enjoyed it and never found it to be really a slog, but it just took me forever. I’ve got a blog post percolating about the experience of reading Michener, so watch for that.
The Swiss Summer, by Stella Gibbons – Needing a major reading refresher after that doorstopper, Chesapeake, I turned to one of the books I really hoped to get to this summer – Stella Gibbons’ The Swiss Summer, recently reprinted by Dean Street Press. I have enjoyed every single Dean Street Press title I’ve picked up, and this one was no different. Lucy Cottrell, wealthy and beloved by her husband but childless, is looking for a change of pace and finds it when she is invited to join Freda Blandish, companion to the aristocratic Lady Daeglish, at the latter’s Swiss chalet for a summer of cataloguing the library. Lucy’s plans for a peaceful summer of books and Alpine flowers are shattered when the chalet is invaded by half a dozen noisy guests. Shenanigans and romance ensue. It was a total delight and just what I needed.
A Month in the Country, by J. L. Carr – Another one from my summer reading list – I’ve been meaning to get to Carr’s slim novel for years and it absolutely lived up to the hype. Tom Birkin, broken in body (from the trenches of World War I) and spirit (from a failed marriage) plods into the northern village of Oxgodby with a commission to uncover what is believed to be a medieval masterpiece under centuries of limewash on the church wall. As the painting gradually reveals itself, Tom begins to shed his layers of heartache and come back to the world. This book was absolutely gorgeous.
Summer: An Anthology for the Changing Seasons (Seasonal Quartet #2), ed. Melissa Harrison – I’ve loved each of the Melissa Harrison seasonal anthologies (having read Winter and Spring in their respective seasons). This one was just as much of a delight – mingling poetry, excerpts from classic novels and nature volumes, and modern writing on the season commissioned specifically for this anthology. It was all lovely, but my favorite piece was an essay by a twelve-year-old birding enthusiast on being taken by his dad to view a rare specimen – totally charming.
The Adventurous Summer, by Mabel Esther Allan – I’ve recently gotten into collecting the classic children’s novels reprinted by Girls Gone By Press and I’ve accumulated quite a stack. This is one of the most recent reprints, and was a delight. Nick and Sorrel are Londoners who come to stay with their aunt and uncle in the Cotswolds while their parents are in America (touring with the father’s orchestra). Although disgruntled about the plan at first, they quickly make friends and dive into country life. I flew through this in two days and couldn’t put it down – couldn’t wait to see what the Adventure Club friends would do next. Such a fun way to wrap up the season!
Well! Five books may not look like much, but I got my reading mojo back in a big way. After spending more than six weeks plodding my way through Chesapeake, I slammed four books in the last week-and-a-half of the month, and enjoyed each one thoroughly. I’m not even sure I could pick a highlight from among the latter four. They were all absolutely wonderful. I guess the real highlight of the reading month is starting to get excited about books again. I always go through a bit of a dry spell in summer – that’s normal – but I’m looking forward to some long reading evenings and weekends in the colder months that are looming around the corner.
What did you read in August?