Welcome to the first, and longest, day of summer. Are you prepared for the long, languid days ahead? You will be by the time you finish here — I’ve compiled a list. Did a little scouting around, too, sussed out the absolute necessities in advance.
Books, for instance. Everyone needs a beach read, especially poor schmos like me who live light years from the nearest beach. Unless you count Lake Michigan and I don’t. To qualify as a beach you need an ocean. Something on the scale of the Atlantic, the Mediterranean, or the Caribbean, vast and churning. Rivers and lakes and ponds, no. Sorry.
Heck, in a pinch, I’ll settle for a kiddie pool. I’ve even resorted to a garden hose once or twice. I draw the line at lawn sprinklers, however; they’re unbecoming. I know, standing under a garden hose isn’t exactly the height of elegance. I can’t explain the distinction, only give voice to a personal bias. Sprinklers seem sort of last-ditch, as if that’s the best you could do. A hose, meanwhile, could pass as a convenience, an afterthought — you’re hot, it’s there, why not?
You’ll need sunglasses, of course. A hammock, sunblock, flip-flops, a screened in porch, and a convertible. The weather alone is everything I need. I’m perfectly content just listening to lawns being mowed and motorcycles rumbling, birds twittering, snatches of music, dogs barking. Ahh, that’s the soundtrack to life.
Okay, enough. Beach reads. You’ll need at least one to dive into and here are a few titles to consider. Then, too, wandering the aisles of a book store is a terrific way to spend a leisurely afternoon. You don’t need sunblock, but there aren’t any seashells, either. Endless possibilities, though. Off you go …
B O O K S
The Swimmer — Joakim Zander
Nice segue, huh? Swimmer, summer. Except it’s winter in Scandinavia and evil is afoot. Spies and secrets and cold-blooded mercenaries and romance, this is a gripping thriller in the Le Carre tradition (according to the blurbs). I thought it was outstanding.
Seveneves — Neal Stephenson
The moon explodes. Mankind races to come up with a plan to survive. Five thousand years later, the progeny embark on another journey into the unknown. Now, I’ve only just started this one, but it’s terrific so far.
The Invisible Bridge — Julie Orringer
The characters bring this one to life. World War II Europe, the camps and deprivation and struggle, of course, but the story encompasses so much more than that. It’s ennobling and hopeful and infuriating.
Blood on Snow — Jo Nesbo
A disappointment. The story and the characters are flat, but at least it’s short. I didn’t think Jo Nesbo could write a dull book; I was wrong. The main character is a ‘fixer,’ aka a hit man, assigned to kill the wife of his boss. Good premise, dull story.
Go Set a Watchman — Harper Lee
Don’t forget, this will be released on July 14th. Personally, I’m still dithering. I don’t want to discover this is an embarrassment to Harper Lee and To Kill A Mockingbird. I want it to be wonderful, a lyrical tribute to her talent as a writer and a person. So I dither on whether to read it or hold fast to undimmed admiration.
When Flip Flops Won’t Do
Try a pair of Vans, featuring artwork by Takashi Murakami. Available June 27.
And When They Will
Bernardo Sandals are pricey, but totally worth it. They’re classic and last forever, plus they look fabulous with absolutely anything. $99 at Neimann Marcus