Summer reading is a lovely thing, isn’t it? It’s fairy tales and long, dreamy days of being in another world; it’s painted houses and freshly ironed shirts; it’s worlds far away and exotic, set 100 years ago…or only two. Summer reading is a gateway to possibility and an extension of the dreaming state that makes so much of life fun. In so many ways, it doesn’t matter just what I read in the summer…the magic seems to lie as much in the time of my reading as in the subject of my reading. Does this come from my days of tree houses and campfires or the fact that my head’s always had a tendency to be more in the clouds than on my shoulders?

It was in the summer that I discovered the worlds of Narnia, and I remember Middle Earth gripping me right before school started in sixth grade. That cousin of mine who convinced me to try – just try – that first Harry Potter book did it in the summertime, and I distinctly remember sitting in front of a fan while turning pages in at least one of the times I worked my way through Little Women. In those years while I was working on my undergraduate degree, the summers were the only time I had to read, really. And that summer when I took classes? Well, a big sorry to the profs that my priorities couldn’t be altered for something like a grade! It was in grad school that I learned how – finally – to read multiple books at once, and while I’d be doing a disservice to say that was the best thing I got from my Master’s, I’m also tempted.

The Fountainhead was a summer read, and so was Atlas Shrugged, and both of them took my mind and turned it upside down, very nearly emptying it out as I went through pencils and forced myself to go to bed and stop pondering and philosophizing to Rand’s big ideas and observations.

It’s not only fiction in the summer, though that does claim a spot as my first love. Theology of the Body broke into my world in the late summer, and has been cracking things up ever since. Roy Williams and his Wizard of Ads series were springtime recommendations and summer reads, and I can still feel the heat on the back of my neck from reading Mother Tongue and jotting mental reminders as I read Bird by Bird. I’m sure, as long as it took me to read, that Frontiersmen was a summer read (I remember being on the couch for much of it, and being shocked that it wasn’t fiction, as much as I was devouring it).

Summer reading…what a lovely thing. Just a week or so ago, I had an office full of kids who were at that sixth grade-ish age, talking about a movie they had seen (and which I saw the next day). They were nothing less than disdainful about reading the book, and they were pretty down on reading. And I felt a lot of sadness for them.

This is a mindset with no secret membership, no locking door, and no limitation – except that you pick up the book and jump in. What world? You pick. What genre? Your choice. The sky’s the limit…and there are libraries upon libraries and lists upon lists. Nothing on TV can offer me the tantalizing opportunities I find in Amazon’s book section or the stimulation I find when I spend an afternoon at Half-Price Books, Borders, or Barnes & Noble.