Performing Arts writer Peggy Sue Dunigan
When finding relief from the summer heat, recreational reading might be best if kept short for those sparse moments of relaxation when one half hour is all one has to read. However, “short” reflects page count instead of implying content. Such is the case when revisiting any classic story collections, including those of Pulitzer Prize winning author Edith Wharton (The Age of Innocence). Her delectable tales (especially Roman Fever and Other Stories) ruminate over subjects like relationships, marriage, divorce and societal conventions with timeless clarity. I challenge anyone to stop at reading only one on a sultry afternoon or evening accessorized with an icy drink.
W. Somerset Maugham
The 19th century author W. Somerset Maugham wrote prolifically through his essays, novels, plays and stories, including The Painted Veil and The Moon and Sixpence, his novel based on artist Paul Gauguin’s tumultuous life. This collected works volume offers four more novels that provide brief but compelling studies in human behavior through evocative situations, compiled but unabridged under one hardcover. While capturing history within a very intimate human framework, Maugham often describes the individual versus society’s status quo in his novels. These six Maugham novels provide inviting and intriguing reading for the summer season, especially when depicting The Painted Veil’s steamy Asian setting and complex cholera epidemic.
Contributor and “Unscripted” author Michelle Sieg
Anne Lamott’s Thoughts on Faith series is a group of three non-fiction best sellers, all of which are available in paperback. Although they’re not seasonal, they are engaging enough to keep you company as you lounge under the shade trade, yet light enough that you won’t mentally lug them around with you for the rest of the day. Lamott is a Christian – and a darn funny one, too. The series is best read in sequence but each book is its own compilation of stories about Lamott maintaining (most of) her sanity as a full-time writer, raising a son as a single mom, fighting addiction, coming to faith and somehow surviving the Bush administration (not without protests and a few arrests, however).
With wit, charm, humor, a great deal of humanity and a fair amount of the F word, Lamott takes you from suffering and loss all the way to faith and hope…sometimes within the same chapter – or heck, within the same paragraph. She’s is a bit of a hippie, has some Buddhist tendencies and is most likely a little crazy – but man, can she write. Oh, and there’s a really good chance you’ll walk away from her writing wishing she was one of your closest friends.