You are lounging at the beach, or you’re swinging in the backyard hammock, or just relaxing on the porch….The sun is shining….The scents of summer surround you. You’re on your second glass of your favorite beverage. All you want is a book that doesn’t make you work too hard. Or really, at all. You want one of those books that if you put it down, you can easily pick it back up again.
There are few things that go together as well as a relaxing day and a good read. It is in the summer time that I find myself most able to enjoyably devour books. I don’t know if it’s my inner child coming out and telling me it’s time to pursue that summer reading list (remember those from middle school?). But the summertime is definitely the time of the year when I read the most.
Who doesn’t want to lose herself in a good book then? And why is it important to pick the right book for relaxation? The key difference for summer reading is the word, “relaxation.” That’s the word that delineates summer light reading from heavier novels, mystery thrillers, or heart-pounding adventure sagas. Themed short-story collections, romance, art/gardening, and positive motivational books tend to fill summer reading lists.
So what type of books fit that “relax in the summer” description for you? If you haven’t decided yet, I’ll share my list—certainly not as extensive as Oprah’s, but definitely sufficient to bring me joy. And therein is the key…what are the summer reading books that just want to jump off the shelves and find their way into your hands and heart?
I’m re-reading (again) Rosamunde Pilcher’s “Flowers in the Rain” and “The Blue Bedroom”…(short story collections). Beatriz William’s fast-paced love story, “A Hundred Summers” is on my list. Paula McLain’s “The Paris Wife” of Ernest Hemingway’s days, should prove to be an intriguing historical novel. “Monet’s Passion”—Ideas, Inspirations and Insights from the Painter’s Gardens, by Elizabeth Murray will stay on my porch side-table all summer. As part of my health focus, I have “The Complete Guide to Women’s Heart Health” (American Heart Association) as a new protocol read, and in my continued pursuit for a meaningful life, I’ve added “And Never Stop Dancing” by Gordon Livingston to the list…which may go to the front of the line! It is important to continually hone my consulting skills, so books on “Influencing with Integrity”, “Coping with Difficult People” and “Emotional Intelligence 2.0” round out my reading list!
I would be remiss if I did not bring up my own best-selling book, “Lights On! A Reflective Journey…Illuminations to Move Your Life Forward with Ease” as a suggested “positive lifting read” for your summer list. It meets the criteria: Wisdom-filled Vignettes, Heart-warming stories, Reflections on Everyday Life, Bursts of Positivity, and Guidance for women and women in business leadership roles…all of which are intended to propel you forward with your Lights On!. It became an Amazon best-seller 18 months ago. I’m pleased to share that “Lights On!” has been recommended for summer reading by the On-Line Healing Circle/The Heart Speaks (Atlanta, GA), specifically because it is a compendium of positive, self-help, articles that propel you forward. How neat is that?
I grew up in the country – on a farm in Western New York. My parents were dairy farmers. And our summers were busy. We had one of those big old farm houses with a wrap-around porch. And when my siblings and I were not working—fulfilling those assigned and demanding chores and being responsible…guess where we were? And what we were doing?
Yes, we were on the front porch. And if that front porch could talk, it would share stories of many pitchers of lemonade, comfy chairs and always, always, good books to read!
A wonderful memory I have of my Dad was that he always asked us, when we finished a book, to tell him about the most important piece of the book—specifically how and in what way did it speak to us? In modern day language, that means, “what did we take away from the book.” I think of Summer reading books, as those books that generally “lift us up a bit”—are gentle like the breeze, bring smiles and sunshine—positivity in to our lives, or transport us to those emotional levels of joy, peace, tranquility, and comfort.
Perhaps there is something about “summer” being not just a season, but also a metaphor for light, warmth, and sunshine…..and soft breezes. (Unlike the harshness of winter, or the renewal of spring, or the readiness of Fall. Summer is about our softer, gentler side of rejuvenation. )
Lastly, there’s another great reason for light reading in the summer for relaxation. And this is to stimulate deep, abdominal breathing. Yes, if you nod off , while relaxing and reading on the hammock or the chaises lounge, did you know that having a small book on your stomach, actually helps to make visible the rise and fall of one’s diaphragm…and the more the diaphragm works with our breathing, the deeper our breathing becomes—a practiced relaxation technique. (Shallow breathing…be gone! Bring on the diaphragm expansion technique! After all, It’s summer!) Lights On!