Everybody knows summer is for reading (I mean, so are winter and fall and spring… but you know what I mean). School’s out, vacations mean you’ve finally got free time, and the sun is out long enough for you to actually enjoy the post-work hours. It’s the perfect time to get to that book you’ve been trying (unsuccessfully) to get through since September of last year.
When we think of summer reading we tend to imagine ourselves immersed in something slightly frivolous while baking in a bikini at the beach. But you don’t have to strip down and sunscreen up just to get in some good reading this summer. The summer’s perfect weather opens up many much more interesting places to read than the beach (not that the beach is all that bad!).
Getting creative with where you read can enhance your reading experience in so many interesting ways. So scour some of those “summer reading” lists, loud up your iPod, get out of the house, and make the world your reading playground (readground?). There’s hardly anywhere you can’t read. But here are some of the places where you just have to try reading this summer.
Bars With a Patio
Books and beer, books and Bordeaux, books and bourbon… Books and booze go together like... well, books and booze. Sure you can grab a beer and a book anytime, but there’s something about reading outside, in public, where the beer comes to you. Besides, reading at bar is totally sexy, especially when you’re outside and get to don that chic summer hat and sunglasses. Fair warning: you can’t glam and be all mysterious-stranger-who-reads-at-the-bar without expecting at least one liquid-couraged soul to try to spark up a conversation, so maybe bring a book you wouldn’t mind too much being interrupted from.
Back of a Pickup Truck
If you have one, I guess. Does ZipCar do pickup trucks? ‘Cause if you haven’t filled the bed of a pickup truck with blankets and driven out to the countryside to enjoy a starry night or sun-filled afternoon away from it all, well...then, you’re probably like most people. But it’s super-fun and sort of makes you feel like a little kid camping, but without all the bug spray and bad sleep, and instead with a nice clean comfy pallet (maybe a stash of wine in a thermos), and definitely a good book.
Doesn’t seem too intuitive at first, I know, but hear me out. There are some books that are just perfect for a little zoo reading, like all those books about animals. Can you imagine tearing through Life of Pi while sitting with only a tall wall between you and a real live tiger? Not to mention, getting immersed in a book while surrounded by animals you don't see every day can make you feel like you're worlds away. And if you want to be extra awesome, make sure you’re supporting a zoo dedicated to the rescue and rehabilitation of animals.
You probably already do this one, but it’s so so much better in the summer. Summer is all about being outdoors, getting sun. But there’s such a thing as too much sun (it’s called sunburn), or at least too much icky terrible humidity. And a good bath is a perfect solution to both! A cool bath (apparently with vinegar) is a great way to soothe that sunburn. Bring a book and soak away the burn as you get lost in a story full of glamorous characters who never have such mundane troubles as sunburn.
At a Farm
If you don’t have a farm share, get one. If you have a farm share, see if your farm allows volunteers. Some farms let farm share participants come to the farm and put in some hours weeding or harvesting or even seeding. There’s nothing more rewarding after a hard day’s work tilling the soil than to lay down in that same soil and read a book under the sun, surrounded by nothing but veggies and dirt. Don’t knock it ‘til you try it.
At The Top of a Mountain
Speaking of hard work, you don’t have to play in the dirt to get some hard work in. Lots of hikers get to the top of a mountain, look around and take a few Instagram photos and then just head right back down. This time try packing your backpack with a good book before you take a trek up the mountain, and, once you get to the top, take in the sights and thin air with one of your favorite books. This is extra amazing if you’re in the middle of a book where the main character is overcoming some obstacle. Can you imagine reading the resolution of Becky Sharp’s social climbing fate in Vanity Fair after you just huffed and puffed your way up a mountain? You might understand her struggle a little.
At the Lake
Beaches are full of sand and screaming kids and dude bros who need to be reminded that bikinis aren’t about them. When all you want to do is get lost in the new Judy Blume novel without getting sand in the pages, your local lake just might be the serene water-side spot you’re looking for. And, even better, you can hop on a boat or a canoe, or even add a fishing pole to the mix and bring home dinner!
Outdoor Concert/Next To Your Favorite Street Musician
Outdoor concerts are definitely a summer staple. There are the free ones at the park and there are the big teenager-heavy ones that scream (literally) of spilled beer and shirtlessness. The small free ones in parks and the sort are the good ones for reading. It’s like being at home with your Spotify playlist, but you get to be outside, the music is new, and you don’t have to put up with commercials every five songs. If you can’t find a good concert to your liking, then go to that corner where you always see your favorite saxophone player, throw a couple of bucks in his instrument case, and hang out with a book. Don’t sit so close you steal their limelight, of course, but hang out long enough and you might even make a musically talented friend out of it.
Anywhere You Can See the Sunrise/Sunset
Bring a book lamp, post up, and read while you wait for the first rays to lighten the sky. It’s a great way to start (or end!) the day. If you can get away from the city, do. If not, maybe bring your headphones and some appropriately themed sunrise music (clearly, that means Richard Strauss’s "Dawn" from 2001: A Space Odyssey if you’re reading anything sci-fi). But the sunrise is beautiful no matter what you’re reading, and a book just makes it that much better.