24 May 2017

Summer Reading: Reviving a Tradition

I am a voracious reader. I read every night before I go to sleep, first my Bible, then whatever book I'm devouring. For a long time, I had an annual tradition: at the beginning of every summer, I placed an order with Dover Publications. I read year round, but for some reason, that box of books that arrived in time for summer was special. In recent years, I've let my tradition lapse, but this year I decided to revive it. My box of books arrived last week. I now have a little basket of new books right beside my bed, ready and waiting for summer reading. I suppose it's possible that at some point in the future, I'll get something like a Kindle, but honestly? I can't see myself doing it. I love books, not just reading. I loved seeing my box of books on the doorstep. I loved finding a basket for them, so they could neatly wait for me. I love looking at that basket, and wondering if there's a treasure in there that I'll read over and over. I love my bookshelf, books arranged by color and ranging from Viking history to archaeology to vintage cookery to mysteries.

I must admit that I'm a bit of an odd duck when it comes to reading. I don't read modern fiction. I prefer my books to be older than I am (I'm 45), and the older the better. This is why Dover is my favorite place to shop (also, very good prices). I've also recently discovered a book warehouse in our area that stocks new editions of old books, including a lot of Golden Age mysteries, for $4-5 each.  In my summer basket, the most recent book was first published in 1962, the oldest in 1778, with most of the rest falling between the early 1800's and the 1940's. Delicious. The usage of the language is almost as much of a pleasure as the stories themselves. And there's a marked absence of the coarseness that characterizes much modern fiction. 

Here are a few favorites from summer book boxes of years past (all from Dover). This 1917 cookbook/novel is absolutely charming. I confess I have a weakness for vintage cookbooks, and I've been known to read them like novels, but this one actually has a story woven into it--or should I say, there are recipes woven into a tale about a new bride's first year of marriage. It's a fascinating time capsule.

The Country of the Pointed Firs (1896): set in Maine; a bit melancholy, but so beautifully written and engaging that I forgave it for making me cry (only book that's ever made me cry). 
Cranford (1851): adorable, funny, charming, poignant. 

Howard Carter discovered the tomb of Tutankhamen in 1922, and this is his 1923 account of his discovery. Absolutely fascinating. Reminds me I need to read this again. I think I'll pop it into the summer book basket.

I'm a history nerd, so I love old travel journals. This one, published in 1785, is like being transported back to the 1770's and traveling with Johnson and Boswell. And of course, there's Johnson's writing. 

If you've never treated yourself to a little stack of new books, give it a go. It's like sending your mind on summer vacation, and who couldn't use that?


  1. Good for you. I have always been a reader. I just finished one new book and am starting a new one today. I tend to borrow from the library though. (Think zero dollars) I have one more new book on hold. Then it is back to old series for me. I never lack for books!

  2. I love your plans for reading this year Honeybee. I also love books to be arranged a certain way and in bookcases throughout the house. My husband just started writing his own books and they are retro thrillers which cover his background of flying. His first book did very well on Amazon and he is now ready to send his second one off to be published. Like you he likes the older eras.

    I'm not a kindle person either. I love the feel of the book and turning the page and don't think I'll ever change. Looks like you are going to be very busy with reading and getting the Texas basket put together. Enjoy! RJ

  3. Another reader here; not a kindle person either! Thank you for the reminder about Dover books, Honeybee! Have you ever been to Green Valley Book Fair in Mt. Crawford, VA? If you haven't, you should check them out.

  4. What a perfect summer tradition! I totally agree with you that nothing beats an actual physical book, the feel, the smell, all are an integral part of the reading experience. I read a variety of books including those by authors long gone, a particular favourite of mine is C. S. Lewis, such a clever and articulate man! Have you had the pleasure too? Enjoy your summer basket! Helen

  5. I love books. I prefer actual books to my Kindle except when I am traveling. I use my local library often now since we had a change in income, but I love when my mom or one of my children give me books as a gift. I keep those I like/love to read and reread in the future. I like modern books that deal with womens relationships and mild romance. I also enjoy mysteries and historical novels. Some older titles are quite interesting. Enjoy your summer reading.

  6. I always have a book or three on the go. I prefer physical books, but have to admit that my Kindle comes in handy. I would never have bought one, but was gifted my first one and it comes in VERY useful for traveling! No more arguments about hauling my heavy tote bag of books along.

    I don't have a summer reading list per se, but I am doing the Goodreads & Popsugar yearly reading challenges. And I've added a couple of your books to the TBR list! 😀

  7. What a great collection of books. You have a good summer of reading to look forward to. I am always a reader and also read a little each day.

  8. I love getting lost in a good book but haven't had the concentration to read lately, I need to get back. I wonder if the Cranford book was what the tv series was based on. I love all the English Tv shows. I have to have a book in my hand, a kindle doesn't cut it. Enjoy your collection. Mary@stitchingfriendsforever

  9. I love your taste in books I think it is very similar to mine, along with your passion for the decorative pleasure of reading material. We have so many bookshelves everywhere in our home. I know them all, like dear friends. I'm an only child so books have been my constant companion for decades.

  10. I enjoyed this blog entry!

    I love to read too! I prefer "real" books but I read a lot on my Kindle or Kindle app on my iPad. (I travel a good bit now and carrying a "library" on my iPad is preferable to carrying/packing a stack of books for the plane.) Despite my being old(er than you), I lately learned a "new computer trick". I read "These is My Words" by Nancy Turner (from the library) after watching a little video online where Diane Williams designed a cross stitch about the series and presented it to the author. I enjoyed it so much, I wanted to read the next book in the series. The only version our library had was available as an ebook (audio version) and since I was (still am) stitching a model, I downloaded the app and "read" that book as well as the 3rd book in the series via my iPad. Last night I finished listening to another book (A Man Called Ove). Listening to audio books while stitching is a great way to combine 2 of my favorite things I like to do.

    I like to haunt Half Price Books and our local Goodwill and have found lots of good books for $2 and under.

  11. We are soul sisters. We should visit, so we could lend one another books out of our vintage cookbook libraries. I added the "A Thousand Ways..." book to my list, to look for when I scour the used bookstores. Favorite memory from childhood: going to the library with my sisters, checking out as many books as we were allowed and then spending the summer afternoon on blankets outside, reading for hours.