An Enduring Craving for Summer Mystery

Cover image

Cover image from A Girl of the Limberlost hide caption

toggle caption

Whether it's the indulgent hours or lighter genres, summer reading is characterized by its reverie. In My Summer Books, NPR hosts and reporters talk about their summer reading. Today, senior national correspondent Linda Wertheimer.

Do you have favorite memories of summer reading?

When I was a kid, assembling my summer reading was a major project. I wanted a stack ready to read as soon as school was out. Even then I liked mysteries in the summer — starting with Nancy Drew, Judy Bolton and the Hardy Boys. One summer I concentrated on the English books about adventuring children, Enid Blynton's "Famous Five" series, which I borrowed from an English family down the street. I remember reading Gene Stratton-Porter's books about the Limberlost Swamp in Indiana. Freckles and Girl of the Limberlost were the first ones I read and I loved them. Eventually I read all of her books and I still re-read them occasionally.

How about a place that you connect with decadent summer reading?

Summer reading goes with air conditioning in my mind. Growing up in the desert Southwest, I never went outside in the middle of the day. Instead, when the summer temperature went over 100 and the sun was blazing, we closed the drapes, turned on the swamp cooler and read until it was safe to go out into the evening air. Evaporative cooling would only take the temperature down about 20 degrees — so even inside it didn't pay to move about much.

Do you still read mysteries in the summer?

Yes, and it's the time of year when my favorite thriller writers publish their new books. Unfortunately, this year I cheated and read John Sandford's newest Davenport novel Broken Prey as soon as it was available. Michael Connelly's novel The Closers — where Harry Bosch returns to the LAPD — is also out and also already read. I somehow managed to save Lee Child's new Jack Reacher novel One Shot for the beach.

I think I like these books because admirable characters resolving difficult problems make a nice change from covering politics.

I do have one hard and fast rule when I look for fiction to read in the summer: If the book jacket says the writing is "luminous" I put it right back on the shelf. Books that glow in the dark have never worked for me.



Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the Community rules and Terms of Use. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.

NPR thanks our sponsors

Become an NPR sponsor

Support comes from