Discussion Question: Do your reading habits differ during summer months?

There’s a lot (a massive amount, in fact) of coverage of “summer reading,” which is always interesting to me. Why? I don’t necessarily read more in the summer than in any other season. In fact, I’m more apt to read more in the winter, because it’s cold and I want blankets and books if I’m not snowboarding.

But I do love, love, LOVE looking at vacation reading suggestions, beach reading suggestions, and, though my kids hate them, summer reading lists. I am charmed by the idea that summer is designated somehow as a time for reading – and certainly, when I go on vacation like I did last week, my agenda was “sit, read, drink, eat, go somewhere else and repeat.”

Is ‘summer reading’ a thing for you?

Elyse: My reading doesn’t differ in summer, but when people say “summer reading” I tend to think they mean “vacation reading.” Wisconsin is beautiful in the summer, so most of my vacations happen in the winter when I go somewhere beachy. When I’m planning for vacation reading, I usually download a series to binge. I read about a book a day on vacation, so I need a series that’s at least 5-7 books long. I often have to combine buying ebooks with library downloads to ensure I have the whole series ready to go. Planning is key.

Madison downtown skyline with Wisconsin State Capitol building dome as seen from across lake Monona bay. After sunset sky and downtown skyline reflected in a water. Wooden pier with chairs on a foreground.

A few of my beach-binges have included the Kate Burkholder series by Linda Castillo. This is a mystery series with a formerly Amish chief of police who has to navigate the world between the Amish and the “English” to solve her cases. I’ve also binged Louise Penny’s Chief Inspector Gamache books on vacation, which are set in Quebec. Penny’s prose is just lovely and I feel like I get to savor it when I can dedicate longer periods to reading.

Sworn to Silence
A | BN | K | AB

 Romance series are good too, although I have to find one long enough to last my trip. Most recently I’ve gone back and read Jill Shalvis’ earlier books. I’ve also revisited Lisa Kleypas’ books.

I also love seeing what my hotel or resort has in their take-a-book/leave-a-book library. I’ve found some new-to-me authors that way and some pretty epic Old Skool Romances.

I’m looking at a trip this fall, and I’m thinking Bec McMaster might be my vacation binge.

Aarya: Until very recently, my life was structured around the school year for sixteen years. My family never went to the beach, so summer reading always meant “unlimited reading time now that school/homework obligations are done.” It was the best time of the year to go the library, check out dozens of books, read them all in four days, and repeat the process.

Beautiful English style garden with comfortable hammock on sunny day

I don’t know if every library has this, but my childhood library had reading challenges for kids and teens (honor system). Once you passed a certain milestone (e.g., ten books or twenty five books), you were eligible for prizes and bookmarks. It’s hazy in my memory, but I think I won a t-shirt one year. What I do remember is reading a bunch of romance novels one summer, but lying on the report and claiming that I read YA “age-appropriate” books instead. I was mortified by the idea that some librarian would scan my report and see that I was reading Nora Roberts or Lisa Kleypas!

This is a tangent, but I wish libraries had summer reading challenges for adults, too. I feel like they’re always geared toward kids/teens, and I would 100% participate in an adult-geared summer reading challenge in the library. Does anyone know if such a thing exists?

I never read during vacations to other places; I don’t like to laze around and read all day if I’m in a new location. I’m the type of traveler who gets up at 6 AM, follows a meticulously planned itinerary, and goes to bed at midnight. For my Grand European Adventure a few years back, my sister and I planned out every minute of every day in an Excel sheet, including where to eat and shop. The only time I read during vacations is on the way there/back, and even then I prefer watching TV on airplanes.

Re: what I read, it doesn’t change at all in the summer (vacation or no vacation). It’s always romance novels, no matter what season it is! The one exception is my strange desire for holiday novellas in July and August. I really enjoy snowy/holiday books in the summer, especially when I’m cursing the humidity (I also may listen to Christmas albums in July, don’t hurt me). However, the summer is also a good time to set goals or catch up on something that’s been in my tbr forever. For example, one of my summer reading goals this year is to catch up on the Guild Hunter series by Nalini Singh. I’m six books behind, and am determined to catch up before Archangel’s War comes out in September.

Amanda: I use my library more often during the summer.

I don’t want to go outside? I’ll just see what I can get digitally.

Have I spent three days without leaving my house? I’ll just take a stroll down the street to my local branch, which is less than a five minute walk from my apartment.

Thanks, Somerville Library!

As for my reading tastes, I don’t think those change too much and vacation reading doesn’t exist for me. I’m that person who packs four books and then doesn’t touch a single one.

And Aarya, I believe my library systems do a reading challenge or bingo style thing for the summer, though the challenges aren’t necessarily book focused, like “visit a museum” and things like that.

Silence is golden - a black and white photograph of a bunch of women on a beach in retro suits with umbrellas and a sign that says SILENCE

Sarah: Sidenote, I don’t know if I can tell you how much I want to restage this photo, keep the retro suits, make it more representative of the romance readership, and also use more umbrellas. In part, yes, because I want that beach mattress.)

I’m with Amanda, too. My library usage goes WAY up during the summer, particularly because binge reading often requires deft usage of library holds and pickup schedules.

What about you? How does your reading differ during summer months? Or does it not really vary at all? 

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