Anita's Haven

books, thoughts, stories, poetry, interviews, writing

​There’s no magic trick quite like reading

on 08/07/2017

When you are a bookworm, like me, and reading for you constitutes pleasure, relaxation and escape, then it is only logical that reading in the summertime is somewhat synonymous with a holiday.

Even my early childhood memories of the beach and the summer break always involve some sort of reading, be that of magazines, comic books or adventure books. As life moved onwards, and the days of vacation and free time grew shorter, I found it fascinating how my favourite summer reads had become longer, more detailed books, even series of books. From Jean Auel’s Clan of the Cave Bear to binge reading Harry Potter and several recently discovered indie authors, reading has become my magical vacation within a vacation, adding a new, extradimensional journey beyond commonplace time and place, free of travelling expenses, packing or congested roads. And I relish it.

It was always unclear to me how some people say summer reading is difficult for them, they can’t concentrate on the beach and it only unnerves them. But, as always, it may simply be a matter of making the wrong choice. Let me explain.

Last summer I started observing people’s reading habits on a family-oriented beach where we spent our holidays. I had picked up a collection of indie short stories and, to my joy, discovered that reading great short stories on the beach was a special treat; it became my ritual – a story a day, and several novels before bedtime and at early sunrise (because who needs sleep on holidays, right?). Short stories are a charming way to get a tan without counting the tanning minutes; you mentally disappear into worlds and situations, and yet finish just in time to go for a swim, have a cocktail or build a sandcastle with your kid. Furthermore, I enjoyed recommending the stories to my friends, who took interest in reading something that was a quality read, and yet short enough not to be time or attention consuming.

Giddy about discovering that ‘no-strings attached’ short-story beach thrill, I was somewhat disappointed to see other people reading long novels on the beach; they were mostly battling with thrillers or romance novels. Battling, I say, because they would either read without even getting into the story (shame, shame, shame), mostly holding their books or devices as sunshade, or truly did get into the story but were then agitated at every interruption from friends, children, other tourists… Nobody shared my short-story fad!? Apparently not. But hey – here is my chance to educate, right?

As this year’s holidays approach, be it on a beach, garden deck chair or just our home terrace, I am already looking forward to choosing a short story collection for the brief moments of lounging between active relaxing or social interactions, and also extensive novels for the blissful alone-time when everyone falls asleep or just before they wake up. Mind you, some of those extensive novels will be by authors I discovered through their short stories – by ‘sampling the dish’ in a way. Like the Extension Charm to my holiday, short stories will add one dimension, novels another, and a week’s vacation will suddenly seem like an amazing fortnight at least.

My suggestion to you? Find your favourite read, whichever length or genre it may be. Add dimension to your holiday. And by all means, share the joy with other people, be they people you’ve already met or those you’d like to. Books do offer excellent conversation starters, you know? And who knows to which dimension that can lead.

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