Top 5 Literary Summers

June 6, 2011 at 12:00 am 4 comments

It’s the beginning of June now which means one glorious thing: summer is here! While this may not mean much for those of us no longer in school, it still conjures up visions of glorious sunny days spent doing absolutely nothing. And even if we’re no longer given our summers off to spend in merry frolicking and reading, fortunately we still have books to turn to for our summery freedom fix. So here is a list of my top five literary summers. Let me know if I left off your favorite!

5. A tie between Portrait of a Lady and A Room with a View for their descriptions of lovely Italian summers spent touristing. Henry James also gives us this lovely moment of English summer:

“The implements of the little feast [tea] had been disposed upon the lawn of an old English country-house, in what I should call the perfect middle of a splendid summer afternoon. Part of the afternoon had waned, but much of it was left, and what was left was of the finest and rarest quality. Real dusk would not arrive for many hours; but the flood of summer light had begun to ebb, the air had grown mellow, the shadows were long upon the smooth, dense turf.”

4. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen – Elizabeth’s summer jaunt to Derbyshire ranks up there in my top summer holidays of literature, definitely. A lot of good times are to be had during summer in the Austen canon, though, so chime in with your favorite below.

“Everything wore a happier aspect. The families who had been in town for the winter came back again, and summer finery and summer engagements arose….The Gardiners stayed only one night at Longbourn, and set off the next morning with Elizabeth in pursuit of novelty and amusement. One enjoyment was certain—that of suitableness of companions; a suitableness which comprehended health and temper to bear inconveniences—cheerfulness to enhance every pleasure—and affection and intelligence, which might supply it among themselves if there were disappointments abroad.”

3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain – This book just evokes pure summery hijinks for me, probably because of the memorable whitewashing scene:

“Saturday morning was come, and all the summer world was bright and fresh, and brimming with life. There was a song in every heart; and if the heart was young the music issued at the lips. There was cheer in every face and a spring in every step. The locust-trees were in bloom and the fragrance of the blossoms filled the air. Cardiff Hill, beyond the village and above it, was green with vegetation and it lay just far enough away to seem a Delectable Land, dreamy, reposeful, and inviting.”

2. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery – The book actually covers a few different summers, all of which filled to the brim with classic Anne Shirley joie de vivre:

“‘What a splendid day!’ said Anne, drawing a long breath. ‘Isn’t it good just to be alive on a day like this? I pity the people who aren’t born yet for missing it. They may have good days, of course, but they can never have this one.'”

1. The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald – Nothing says summer like a crazy bunch of shenanigans in the fictionalized Hamptons.

“And so with the sunshine and the great bursts of leaves growing on the trees–just as things grow in fast movies–I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer.”

So what about you, dear readers? What are your favorite literary summers?



Entry filed under: Musings and Essays, Top Ten. Tags: , , , , , .

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4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Emily  |  June 6, 2011 at 12:26 am

    I was riding home from summer va-cay in DC in the front middle seat of my parents’ car (yes, they had front middle seats back then), and I was reading “Bridge to Terabithia.” That was the first time I cried while reading a book, and that will always be the first distinctly Summer book memory I have: where she drowns and he throws the paper in the river… Whatever; don’t care if it’s totally inline with your prompt, it was heart-breaking to any tween who ever existed, and it’s mine. That, and the opening chapters of “The Bell Jar” when she is overheated & overwhelmed in NYC.

    • 2. Corey  |  June 6, 2011 at 1:46 am

      I find that a lot of tween reading is super-summery in that it either takes places in the summer or it has really strong memories of summer for me, but I’m not sure why that is. Perhaps tween authors assume all the dramatic stuff in a tween’s life happens during the summer when they’re out of school so they all focus on that part of the year?

      And ‘The Bell Jar’ is an excellent choice! I forgot about how summery and New York sizzle the beginning is.

  • 3. anothercookiecrumbles  |  June 10, 2011 at 2:07 am

    Barring Portait of a Lady and Room With A View, I’ve read and enjoyed all the books mentioned.

    I’d add I Capture The Castle to the list as well – one of my all-time favourites.

    • 4. Corey  |  June 10, 2011 at 2:48 am

      Ooo, ‘I Capture the Castle’ has been on my list for ages! I’m thrilled to hear it’s a good summer read!


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