Monday, July 9, 2012

documenting summer//a reading list

some of my summertime memories—so indelible that i can still taste the salt and sunscreen in my mouth, still feel the waft of air from the ceiling fan over my overheated skin, still remember the omelette K made by dumping things from the fridge into a skillet (the girl who saw her mother baking plenty, but cooking, rather less often, watched agog with wonder at this)—are inseparable from the books i remember reading at the time.

they were pivotal, monumental summers. summers which led me to believe that perfection lay somewhere between a tragic romance and the juice of an orange running down one's arm, the perfect tan and the musical genius of carl davis, midday summer rain, God and black coffee. and i am convinced it had not a little to do with the books i was reading at the time. i can almost map out the last decade of my life by what i was feeling while reading these books.

 anna karenina :: "where love ends, hate begins." 
becomes true, while sleeping under the stars and the open sails of a schooner sailing the u.s. virgin islands, learning about addiction, discovering freedom, eating carribbean food, beginning the morning coffee habit, coming to decisions, enduring the abomination of dominos or kfc every night during that week of vacation, moving on, and moving out.

the knowledge of life :: "our experience of Christ can transform us until we are like Him"
is a life-changing revelation, while back at the ranch there is a french class by correspondence, a spare room, krav maga, tennis lessons, solitary bike rides, midday thunderstorms, new red sheets, the memphis belle, lipstick drawings on mirrors, seeking God, working out, road trips, house-building, running from demons, and hamburger eating.

love in the time of cholera :: "we have killed the tiger"
but not before house-sitting, reruns (watched for the first time) of sex and the city late at night, mini powdery donuts, bubble bath jacuzzi parties, love letters, pantry-pilfering, recipes for the perfect martini, tan lines from pool-cabana-server shorts, giant ice cream cookies and camping trips.

jane austen's complete collection :: "if things are going untowardly one month, they are sure to mend the next," and "there is nothing like staying at home for real comfort" (Emma)
for awhile, while one is also showing visiting friends around austin, taking in dr. seuss art, frequenting coffee houses, juicing oranges by the bushels, looking for real work/working the 6am shift at B&N, drinking coffee-black, learning to write again, having family tea parties, discovering starbucks chantico and double-shot, short americanos with lots of room, watercoloring, and convalescing at home.

bonjour tristesse :: "it seemed to me that my heart stopped beating"
and yet, there was nyc in may, forgetting, a love note, long movie nights, freshly picked flowers, the back of a car, a Georgetown play, brick walls, angry geese, a three-day orange kitten named thor, fourth of july fireworks from the summer architecture studio, short hair, a strange bird, sweetish bakery in the morning/quacks at night, love and photography.

the fountainhead :: "naked at the edge of a cliff"
while learning to draw, going vegetarian, the late night merchandising shift at the san marcos j.crew outlet, sunbathing on the balcony (earrings and sheets make good screens in a pinch), stargate atlantis and battlestar galactica, celebrating what you don't have, a stars and stripes cake, the best sushi on our first anniversary, and choosing to believe that life is a metamorphosis.

possession ::"our days weave together the simple pleasures of daily life...never take for granted"
crunchy mexican tacos, a breeze on the wrightsville beach, the best vacation ever (although this summer's vies for that spot now), nighttime photography, our third anniversary, a summer movie class, beginning my novel, late nights, unbearable heat, a fourth of july picnic inside, a movie about bedtime, lots of good books, running my first 5k, and moving into an almost house.

i'm convinced that there is a perfect summer in each of these books (and i highly recommend them all). and also that there must be another perfect summer waiting for me in a book somewhere, if i can only find it.

what is one of your favorite summertime memories? did it have anything to do with what you were reading? any favorite summer books?

this is not a comprehensive list of my favorite books...but those are for another season.


  1. Becca, i love this post. I never comment here... but this was so enjoyable to read, i had to let you know!
    I've always gone back to the great gatsby over the summer time. I'm not sure why, but it is my favorite springs-side-read.

  2. thank you andrea! i've been meaning to tell you that i've been reading your blog as well, and you are a beautiful mother! also, your baby is super super scrumptious! :)