Summer has always been my least favorite season, so I was delighted to see an article on Salon.com last week with the blunt title Why I hate summer. The author, Rachel Shukert, shares painful memories of childhood summers spent at camp, where she encountered the “tyranny of enforced merrymaking,” and preferred to hide out in the infirmary, where she “…lay on a lumpy cot, reading “Night” by Elie Wiesel.” This made me laugh out loud; I saw myself in her description, and how weird I must have seemed at the time. Of course, at that age the pain was all too real, and the need to escape “enforced merrymaking” was all-consuming.
It didn’t matter where I spent the summer as a kid, at the lake, in the country, or simply at home, my nose was pretty much always in a book, and when forced outside, I preferred solitary pursuits (walking, swimming) to hanging out with cousins or siblings (although I loved them dearly). That made me a bit of an outsider, but it was the only way I could cope with all the activity going on around me. Plus, I just loved to read. For me, the best part of summer was the license I felt to devour as many books (or comics) as I wanted, sometimes encouraged by library summer reading programs. Forget tag or frisbee; my competitive spirit was best kindled by the challenge of reading as many books as I could during those eight precious weeks of freedom.
Now that I’m an adult, and have more control over my circumstances, I think I’m starting to make peace with summer. I still feel the pressure of “enforced merrymaking” that accompanies the warmer weather, but there are worse things in the world than spending long summer evenings sitting on a cafÃ© terrace in Paris. Plus, I can now give myself permission to spend the entire day inside, beautiful weather or no, enjoying the comforts of a good book.