reading on the beach

Libraries & Summer Reads

by Mary Lee Ashford

reading on the beach Summers and reading are forever linked in my memories. I grew up in a small town and in a time of school consolidation and so that school I attended was in a larger town eight miles away. So while my friends were headed to the pool or getting together at the downtown soda fountain, I was home alone. My parents owned a small business, my siblings are much older so no one at home to hang out with. But thankfully I had books and endless summer days.  Granted once I was old enough to drive some of that changed but by that time I’d already learned the magic of traveling to different places and different times via the pages of a book.

So when I think of summer, I think of hot days, shady trees, and books. My mother was a reader so we had books, but not nearly enough to keep me busy and at the time not the types of books I was interested in. So, once a week we’d take a drive to the library which like my school was the next town over.

I don’t know about you and your experience with libraries, but for me just being surrounded by all those books gave me a thrill. The idea that I could spend time wandering in the stacks and pull something magical off the shelf and take it home with me, was the beginning of a lifelong love of reading that has lasted the test of time and technology. We’d walk the stacks, spend some time making our selections, take them to the desk, and the librarian would pull the card, stamp the due date, and off we’d go.

Shelves of books

Over the years libraries have evolved with the times. I live in a much bigger city and the library is much closer…and bigger. Technology has replace the rubber stamp and the inked due date. But two things that haven’t changed it that you can browse through the books and see what strikes your fancy. I’ve always loved the idea of picking something I know I’m going to love – a favorite genre, a must-read memoir, a go-to author. And then I would pick one book just because. Something different that stretches my brain in different ways, challenges my gray matter, or maybe just makes me remember it’s a great big world out there.

As I pick summer reads this year, I’m trying to do the same thing. I have some favorite authors with new books out. I have my go-to genre (mystery, of course) that I know I’m going to be entertained by, and then I am trying to include some not-my-usual-read books. Because summer. I’ve recently invested in a lightweight Kindle because it makes it so much easier when we’re traveling. And because I read a lot at night, it’s wonderful to be able to adjust the light. But I’m loving the variety of books to choose from and so far my system hasn’t failed me.

How about you? How do you pick your summer reads. Do you stick to your favorites? Are you branching out into new genres or newly discovered authors? Any recommendations?

Whatever you’re reading, I hope you’re having a wonderful summer!

summer scene with books


Mary Lee Ashford is the “Sparkle” half of Sparkle Abbey (Pampered Pets Mysteries) and also writes the Sugar & Spice mysteries.  She is an avid reader and supporter of public libraries. She recently retired from a 30+ career in the public sector and so has much more time for reading. Some days anyway. She loves encouraging other writers and is the founding president of SinC-Iowa, the Iowa chapter of Sisters in Crime. She is also a member of Novelists, Inc., Mystery Writers of America, and the Sisters in Crime Guppies.

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3 replies
  1. Mark
    Mark says:

    I don’t tend to change what I’m reading around the seasons. I try to save a couple of Christmas books for December, but that’s about it.

    Summer does feel like a time to read more. Not that I really do, but happy memories of reading as a kid during the summer contributes to that.

    • Mary Lee Ashford
      Mary Lee Ashford says:

      I don’t know that I change up things very much. Though, like you, I do save some Christmas books for December. But I love Christmas mysteries so I find it hard to wait!

  2. Gay Yellen
    Gay Yellen says:

    When I was growing up, reading was my favorite summer pastime. We had a big mimosa tree in our front yard with strong branches low enough to climb on. I’d hoist myself up there with a book and sit under its cool, leafy canopy where no one could see me and read my Nancy Drews. Now you’ve made me nostalgic. Thanks, Mary Lee!

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