Things move fast these days. Someone recently mentioned to me “it’s mid-April, which means it’s almost May, which means it’s almost summer.” Yikes! Is that true? I’m still in the midst of (extremely unusual for Southern California) April wind and rain storms, the heart of hay fever, and school plays and projects. Summer seems awfully far away. But I looked at my calendar for my Rediscovering the Classics class and was shocked to find that there are only two meetings left of our “school year.” My forward looking friend is correct, summer is almost upon us.
I have a love/hate relationship with summer. I hate how dry my flower beds get. I hate sweating when I take the dog for a walk at 8am. I hate that my oldest daughter stays up all night and sleeps all day, I hate using the air conditioner, and worrying about Southern California wildfires. And I hate, hate, hate putting on all that sunscreen before beach days and pool dates. That said… I really think that when it comes to summer it’s more good than bad. I love that I don’t have to wake up at a certain time to get the kids to school, I love not making school lunches, I love having my girls home with me, I love barbecuing and traveling and going to the beach and seeing Shakespeare in the park. And I love, love, love having all that time to read.
Now, most people hear “summer reading” and they think “light reading”: fluffy novels, chick lit, magazines. Somehow people got the impression that reading in the summer heat (at the beach, by the pool, in the lounge chair with your Mai-Tai) was way too taxing, and that the general public needed a break from all that heavy classical reading they do during the year. Really? Well, I’m not sure I agree, but I can understand how a thick book like Anna Karenina might not be the one you want weighing down your beach bag or requiring you pay the extra carry-on fee at the airport. Somewhere between People Magazine and War and Peace there must be a summer reading alternative.
Well there is… Short Stories!
The right stories can be perfect summer reading. Generally short enough to finish in an afternoon or two, many short stories nevertheless contain quality content that can keep you mulling them over for weeks. They can be just about anything you want them to be: light and fluffy, cold and frightening, romantic, mysterious, political, moral, religious… you name it, they’ve got it. And the best part is that many well-known authors got their start writing short stories. Do a search on your favorite author and more than likely you’ll find they have a short story or two in their past. (This is especially true for many classic authors.)
And so in the spirit of summer and short stories (and thanks to the brilliant idea of my Lit. Class members), I’m offering a fun and low-pressure summer reading group: Long Summer, Short Stories. We’ll meet (as we do during the rest of the year) two evenings a month and discuss a different short story at every meeting. I’m very excited about this because in all honesty it’s been a long time since I’ve gone on a short story reading spree!
If you have a favorite short story you’d like to recommend, or if you’re in the area and want to join us, please let me know. I’ll be compiling short stories next month and have the “Long Summer, Short Stories” official reading list to share by the beginning of June.
In the meantime, keep an eye out for summer, and happy reading!