Photo by Salt Water New England

Sunday, December 18, 2022

Do you read different genres in winter than summer?

 Reader Question:  


 Dear Editor,

I was wondering if your readers reading changes with the seasons?  Over the winter I read more of the Lake poets and Sherlock Holmes for the unknown amount of times.  Maybe I get nostalgic with the colder months.  I do not read as many books that are real “heavy”.  That is odd because the colder weather prevents me from doing more outside and I have more time.

I hope you and yours have a good holiday.

 

Also, in The Washington Post today:

What to do with old books is a quandary that collectors, no matter what age, eventually face — or leave to their heirs who, truly, do not want the bulk of them. 

- Karen Heller, We’re drowning in old books. But getting rid of them is heartbreaking. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/2022/12/19/used-books-stores-donation-fran-lebowitz/>

34 comments:

  1. Other than feeling a compulsion to read the Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time in fall (which I have overcome for several years), my reading does not seem to track the seasons. After a couple of degrees in English, there are truly great books I go back to and savor again (Invisible Man, Ulysses and Finnegan's Wake, Shakespeare (especially the histories), and Collected Poems of Eliot, Donne, and Stevens), books I checked out on (Tristram Shandy, poetry of Wordsworth, and bunches of Russian novelists) that are actually darned good, and books that might have been good once but are now offensive and disappointing (much D. H. Lawrence). I intersperse good issues of the Atlantic and New Yorker, along with bubble gum reading like Janet Evanovich and, slightly above that, Louise Penny and the like. Heck, I read whatever is shoved my way by my wife, and she reads three or four books a week. I am pondering other subscriptions. .

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is an interesting phenomenon, this desire to read the LOTR every fall. I also have it...hmmm...

      Delete
    2. Every few years I start the Hobbit on Thanksgiving, and run through it and the LOTR. Most of the time I can finish it by Christmas.

      Delete
  2. As an avid reader and author of military histories, my library shelves and floor is groaning under the weight of my lust for knowledge and recreational reading. My difficulty is that for every book I finish, three more are purchased. With no heirs to bequeath them to, with sufficient endowment funding our local public library has accepted my collection.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. After reading the article yesterday, I went through my books and am donating quite a few of them. Looking at purchasing an e-reader to avoid "mission creep" and the restocking of the house with new books. It seems the older I grow, the less I need or want.

      Delete
  3. I read books and watch movies that complement or contrast wildly with the weather outside--Dr. Zhivago or Lawrence of Arabia when I think winter is trying to hurt me, Shackleton's memoirs, Dune, or Titanic when summer gets torrid.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read the "Seven Pillars of Wisdom." For something really different, read "Trader Horn."

      Delete
    2. Good reccies. Thanks

      Delete
  4. Interesting question. Mysteries I read throughout the year. But, I tend to be deliberate in finding good light reading in summer.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I’m a mystery reader year round, but it’s always heavier on ghost stories at Christmas (think MR James.) I’m also a big believer in “a Christie for Christmas.”

    ReplyDelete
  6. Mysteries, an even more mysteries! Happy Holidays!

    ReplyDelete
  7. My father, grandfather, great grandfather and great uncle were voracious readers and collectors. I have a crawlspace full of gorgeous old books that no one wants and we have no room for. It makes me very sad.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Donating well-curated personal libraries to schools can yield magnificent results. I find this example particularly inspiring:
    https://cnu.libguides.com/mackenzie/moreinfo

    ReplyDelete
  9. I have a somewhat nerdy program I've been following for the last five years or so since I realized I might not last forever. During the winter I read only classics or classic authors whom I've somehow missed over the years; last year, for example, I read Anna Karenina, The Ambassadors, Lord Jim, Our Mutual Friend, and Waugh's Sword of Honour Trilogy -- stuff that repays long careful reading over the long winter nights. During the spring and summer I read somewhat easier-to-digest stuff (although I still like serious fiction) -- Kingsley Amis, Penelope Lively, et al.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do this as well! I call it the Big Read and pick an enormous classic that I might otherwise not read. If I hate it I assign myself "homework" and read so many pages each night until I finish it. It's gotten me through many a boat anchor.

      Delete
  10. I like to read Auchincloss, Dickens, Wharton, and mysteries in the colder months.

    I keep many of the books I buy, but not all. We don't have kids so whomever has to clean out my house will have to determine what to do with 13 sets of china, 3 sets of silver flatware, bazillions of wine/water/port et al glassware, copious oriental and Persian rugs, and other "stuff'... and my books.

    I won't be here so it's all good.

    Prost!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thoreau said that when someone passes on, they take the stuff out of their attic and put it in someone else's attic. So, when a person dies, they literally kick the dust. But it's not all good. Someone will miss you.

      Delete
  11. I've started reading "The Last Place On Earth" by Roland Huntford. I read it almost every winter as an antidote to the season's cold, snow and ice. It's a deeply researched recounting of the race to reach the South Pole comparing Roald Amundsen's and Robert Falcon Scott's expeditions. The author delves into the differences in their character makeup and leadership competencies that enabled one to succeed and lead the other to fail.

    ReplyDelete
  12. In summer my favorite 'reread' is "The Great Gatsby".

    ReplyDelete
  13. Each Summer I read, "The Big House: A Century In The Life Of A Summer Home" written by author George Howe Colt

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I definitely need to reread that book. It's a winner.

      Delete
    2. Oh, I'm terrified of that book. Aren't they selling a summer home that's been in the family for over a century? My personal nightmare. I have all of the documentation detailing the drama of an "almost sale" and accompany family drama from our summer home which has also been in the family for over 100 years. Broken "irrevocable" trusts and infighting and intrigue. In real life. Ugh.

      Delete
  14. In winter I tend towards re-reading familiar, favorite books that are the equivalent of comfort food - some lighter fiction, some mysteries, some memoir, some non-fiction, but mostly British.

    ReplyDelete
  15. On the subject of old books, especially inherited books, it is a mixed lot. Some are collectible. I have no idea why I hang not them with shelf space being at a premium. Some are just good to read be they the little Temple edition Shakespeare, Thurber, or GBS. The biggest bunch is stuff from my great grandfather’s club. Around the turn of the century he and his pals started a club that wrote plays and performed them in their place among the redwoods. There is a reason they never became known as playwrights, but I keep them for sentimental reasons.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We hang onto many things for no good reason. We do have a ton (probably) of books, few of which are novels, and probably none of which are collectible, although I have one book signed by the author (I married adventure" by Osa Johnson). One category we have a fair number of are books on local history, all of Virginia, and particularly of Alexandria, Virginia, as well as Civil War history. Appropriately for history books, most of them are old, although one was written by one of my wife's cousins.

      Delete
    2. Bluetrain, apropos of nothing I went to high school in Alexandria and loved the local history of the whole area and the way it had been folded into present day. For example the ninth green at Army Navy was constructed in a civil war fortification!

      Delete
    3. Although my wife was born in the District in the same hospital where her father grew up (and across the street from where we were married), she attended public schools in Alexandria, graduating from T.C. Williams, as it was called then. It has not only been renamed as Alexandria City High School, it has also been rebuilt and even has a parking garage. Imagine that! She was there when it was going through the mill when the school system was reorganized. The movie "Remember the Titans" was based on those events. She hates the movie.

      She grew up a couple of blocks from Episcopal High School, a boarding school. A cousin who lived next door went to St. Stephen's, before the merge. He was the one who wrote the book I mentioned. He has about two hundred copies of it in his bedroom.

      Delete
    4. I meant to say that my wife was born in the same hospital where her father was born. I think I got everything else right or nearly so.

      Delete
  16. Patrick Leigh Fermor. We reread him at this time of year. His work is a reminder; yesterday may have been simpler, but no less complicated.

    ReplyDelete
  17. The coziest and most elegant winter writers for me are Robert Macfarlane, Peter Davidson and most beloved of all, Ronald Blythe. Put the kettle on and sit by a warm fire as you read them.

    ReplyDelete
  18. As a litigator who reads all day for work and parent of two children under three, I have far less time and optical energy to read now than I have previously had and, hopefully, will one day have again. That said, the two temporal habits I have in my reading is: 1) in October I read an assortment of Irving and Poe and other similarly spooky tales; and 2) come winter I pull out Sherlock Holmes (and newer contributions to the Holmesian universe, such as by Larry Millet, Kareem Abdul-Jabaar, or Anthony Horowitz, which I am currently reading).

    Beyond that, I will agree with a prior commenter re Gatsby in the summer. I do not often reread that title, but generally have consigned Fitzgerald to the summer as his works often seem to feature some sweltering. And if I am to reread a childhood favorite of mine, A Separate Piece, it has to be in the fall per the demands of the educational calendar!

    ReplyDelete
  19. Reading and books are a tradition in western civilization. We today are, in fact, intellectual 90 pound weaklings compared to those who came before, spoke and read in multiple languages. They did not have television, of course. Would that our society were better if we knew more about Tolstoy and less about Seinfeld. But I am the chief of all sinners in these respects.

    My books are precious to me, and having them in every room is quite comforting. American history, especially Virginia and Southern history; Church history and works in theology - the wonderful Keil and Delitzsch commentaries, Edersheim’s landmark work on the life of Christ; current political writings; biographies of the men and women who changed the world: and my cherished John Grisham novels, the only fiction I read. The wife gets me his new thriller for Christmas each year and I relish reading it beginning on Dec. 26. There are also practical reasons, for instance, my brother is a self protection professional and tells me that a bookshelf filled with encyclopedias is the best barrier behind which to hide during a home invasion, should, heaven forbid, one be faced with that. -JDV

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We might be better off if we knew our next-door neighbors better than Seinfeld.

      Delete
  20. Well, SWNE has completely ruined me, (and happily so). I live outside New England in Montana,but my wife is from New England and over the years I've become addicted to this site and New England. From Arthur Beale sweaters, (their customer service, quality and affordability are really that good), to Barbour, (currently have 3 of the Northumbria...we reached 36 below last week and 51 with the wind chill.) and now this particular comment thread on books. Last week I cleaned out my bookcase and am donating several, and I checked out the Complete Works of Sherlock Holmes, based on the recommendation above (just what I need, a new addiction!). Thank you all for your comments and recommendations. I read them regularly and enjoy being included from afar, until we return to New England again.

    ReplyDelete