Friday, June 12, 2009

Summer Reading

When I look for a good fiction book I think I am like everyone else and I look for something that will grab my attention right away, someone who tells a good story, characters with many emotional layers, at least decent writing, and the list can go on and on. However, I believe that books, like food, coats, and bathing suits have seasons where they fit best. Certain books fit comfortably into specific seasons with ease and grace. Since we are in the midst of the summer holiday from school, and the season when most people take vacations, I think I have two books that are perfect for summer reading.

Something to keep in mind about me is that I don't usually care for books that others would label 'beach reads'. This is especially true about the summer. Hypothetically speaking, if I were going to read a 'beach read', I would read one during the winter when my brain gets bogged down and I have too much to do for my classes. Anyway, getting back to what I believe makes a good 'summer read' . . .

During the summer, after my senior year in high school I read one of my very favorite books. This book changed my perspective on entertaining fiction. Maybe this is due to the fact that I felt that I was at a crossroads in my life and I needed something that would take me from one stage of my life to the next. That summer I read The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. This book is a great piece of feminist fiction that tells the story of King Arthur from the point of view of the important women in his life. Bradley changed literary history by re-writing one of the greatest legends ever told. It is a moving piece about the roles that women embody in a world dominated by patriarchy. However, it is so much more than the words on the page. To me, this is what makes up a good summer read. Good summer reading should be something that makes you think that you have just read the epitome of perfect fiction.

It has been five and a half years since I graduated from high school. I am now getting ready to start my last semester of my bachelors degree. I am also in the process of applying to library science school for my masters degree. This summer is also a crossroads in my life. At the beginning of my summer hiatus I was struggling to find something that I could completely fall into just as I did with The Mists of Avalon. When I started looking for a book to read I did not know I was looking for something similar to Mists. However, when I finished Outlander by Diana Gabaldon I realized it was exactly what I was looking for. Outlander has much in common with Mists. It is written from the feminine perspective, with emphasis on the independence of women. It balances the perfect historical novel with the perfect fantasy novel. It was exactly what I was looking for and so much more.

For me, The Mists of Avalon and Outlander are perfect summer reads. They are written well and are just plain entertaining. In my life these novels represent so much more than just good fiction. These books are seasons in my life that I will always remember. I am proud to carry them as part of my reading history and would recommend them to anyone.

If you are interested in purchasing either of these books at your local, independently owned bookstore, or borrowing them from the local library here are the ISBN numbers:

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon, ISBN: 9780440212560

The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley, ISBN: 9780345350497

Happy Summer Reading! - Greth

1 comment:

limine said...

MZB -- she is so very missed. and what a great book. time to re-read that perhaps! thanks for the suggestion.