Flipping the calendar to September may signal a change in seasons, but it doesn’t mean the summer’s dead yet. With a bit of optimism and a last-minute trip – or a travel book that’s just as adventurous – you can stretch things out a little bit longer.
These nine stories, both old and new, feature summer jaunts that threaten to end with autumn leaves. Yet each one shows how to turn those sunshine moments into a year-round affair. So don’t pull out the sweaters yet. August is just getting better. . .
1. The Loose Ends List, Carrie Firestone – “The end” seems faster when it’s not just the season that’s passing away, but your own grandmother. Maddie’s fun summer disappears when she finds out Gram has cancer, and wants the family to join her on a “death with dignity” cruise. Foreign destinations can’t distract Maddie from the tender lesson that goodbye is never a simple word. (Young Adult genre at it’s lovable, laughable best).
2. Free Air, Sinclair Lewis – 1920s America isn’t ready for a feisty heroine like Claire Boltwood. The East Coast socialite drives her dad West for relaxing scenery and (you guessed it) free air. Comical mishaps befall their journey; love blossoms between Claire and a Midwestern mechanic. Will autumn end their journey, or prove that love transcends seasons and class divides? (A vintage rom com told with typical Lewis wit).
3. Telling Our Way To The Sea, Aaron Hirsch – Memoir meets scientific study in this story, which follows a student group to Baja Penninsula’s Sea of Cortez. While snorkeling and interacting with locals, the group examines the effects of tourism and climate change on a rare, diverse ecosystem. (Students and sea life tug at the heartstrings of anti-environmentalists).
4. 800 Grapes, Laura Dave – Georgia doesn’t return to her family’s Sonoma County vineyard just for the end-of-summer harvest; she also needs to sort out her disastrous love life. While seeking solace in familiar faces, the bride-to-be learns that no relationship is that straightforward. And ‘home’ doesn’t require four walls – merely space where things make sense again. (Like a bottle of moderately priced wine, sample before judging).
5. Between The Woods And The Water, Patrick Leigh Fermor – What began in 1933 as a trek from England to Constantinople (in A Time of Gifts) continues in the second of Fermor’s travel reflections. This time, the confident youth crosses the Danube and dances with gypsies during Central Europe’s hottest months. Undaunted by deadlines, he keeps walking. (A must-have on everyone’s travel library list. Promise).
6. Kon-Tiki, Thor Heyerdahl – Few academics believed Heyerdahl’s theory that Polynesians originally crossed the Pacific from Peru. So the Norwegian explorer proved it was possible, heading west with five crew members and a giant balsa raft. In August 1947, the courageous gang landed at the Tuamotu Islands, after 104 days at sea. Acclaim and awards followed. (Real diary entries read like an action-packed script).
7. The Vacationers, Emma Straub – Paradise doesn’t hide human imperfections, as noted in this tale of a family vacation in Mallorca. What’s meant to be a wedding anniversary celebration quickly turns into squabbles, resentment and secrets revealed as everyone spends way too much time together. Luckily, blood bonds remain long after the harried holiday is over. (Save for after your next family reunion).
8. The Summer of My Greek Taverna, Tom Stone – This is one man’s love story with a place, and an example of what happens when we allow ourselves to stay. Intending to live on Patmos for a single summer, Stone meets a woman, eventually buys a taverna and stays on the Grecian isle for over two decades. Naturally, cultural challenges and tasty recipes follow. (Manly, Hellenic version of acclimation through eating).
9. One Summer, Bill Bryson – Learn about the summer of 1927, when a series of new and exciting events forever altered America’s presence on the world stage. From Lindbergh’s flight across the Atlantic to the production of the first film with sound, those three months – and the consequences still felt today – take on new importance. (Coated with humor, this history lesson is an easy pill to swallow).
What’s on your end of summer reading list?