Stop texting and give real summer reading a try

June 25, 2013

Lists for summer reading are always in vogue in the bookstores at this time of year. With the official beginning of summer, we find ourselves in the midst of book covers with images of Nantucket-looking homes, surrounded by white picket fences or lots of footprints on the surrounding beaches. Sometimes there is a woman in a long dress sitting on the sand dunes.

Obviously there is a reason for not showing a ticket being written for an expired parking meter, people gnashing what few teeth they have left after winding through a construction zone where no one is working and of course any beach scenes that resemble the movie “Hangover.”

That’s because the plot is usually similar in all the books; they’re always about a woman whose husband or lover has left her in a midlife crisis. It always happens in the summer. Or the woman may have left her husband; the leaving is the beginning of finding themselves. This escape takes place in the only destination where answers to life’s philosophical questions may be found, that place being staring out at the ocean. It’s as if each wave has some sort of follow-your-bliss mantra.

I don’t know where this notion came from, but I have to say it’s impossible. The low probability of success is not because the ocean doesn’t have answers, but because no one has time to read anymore.

Sure it happens, but the summer reading is mostly for coupons. You can no longer enter a store without them, unless you want to feel totally humiliated, giving off the ambiance of you don’t really care enough when the clerk asks for them. Mailboxes are stuffed with coupons to the point where most mailmen have to take at least two weeks of sick leave.

Other big items on the summer reading lists are stuff like text messages, Facebook, Twitter and of course directions on how to hook up a sump pump. I was never big on directions, preferring instead to rip the package open with my teeth and get right to the first stage. It always looks so easy on the box. I should know better, because on the back side, which you will notice when you fling it into the wastebasket, is a note written in microscopic letters that says, “We begged you to read the directions, but you wouldn’t listen.”

So anyway, back to summer reading. Seriously, have you noticed how many people on the beach are carrying books? Well sure, you say, but I mean have you seen them opened?

I’m one of those folks who have good intentions, but with all that sand, I tend to read the same paragraph over and over again. And then there is the guy next to me in the string bikini, no doubt European, walking back and forth. Not that I’m interested, but the contrast between him and whatever else is on the beach is startling, to say the least. And then there is the water, where I will stick my big toe in only to retreat due to all the creatures normally only seen under a microscope in experimental laboratories.

Reading is a lost art for many people on the go, or else it is very specific to their field. But reading a book allows you to unleash that imagination and go to places you never dreamed existed. It can take you out of your comfort zone and help you reach for those dreams that seemed so far away.

It keeps you young and brings new ideas to a stagnant mind. Personally, I like a paperback, where I can spill coffee on it and turn down pages to keep my place. So get in the groove; yes, summer is the perfect time to keep reading or get back to the process. And no, reading your Miranda rights doesn’t count.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.

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