Summer Reading

charlie + skating + summer = happiness

Summer’s arrived here at the bloglily household.  There is general happiness, and a movement spearheaded by the non-parents to suspend all routines, including the one that gets everyone into bed before the sun rises.  So far the adolescents and the ten year old who’s actually 40 are winning that one.

If you’re surly enough, and I’ll admit that this describes my general demeanor about half the time, you might trudge through summer without acknowledging its wonderfulness because you, after all, don’t get to suspend all routines.  But at least you get to read summer books, which is way, way better than going to see summer movies.  Summer books, at their best, leave you satisfied.  Summer movies, even at their best, make you feel like you’ve eaten at McDonalds, and although  maybe it was okay at the time, you really wish you hadn’t.

So.  Summer books — for me — mean spy books.  I love spy books.  I like the whole noirish atmosphere of a good spy book.  I love the lone operative, the hero who behaves well, but somehow all the odds are against him.  (Why can’t I think of any spy books where there’s a decent woman spy?)  A couple of days ago I spent the whole day reading, which meant that we had frozen costco lasagne for dinner (here in Berkeley, that’s when they send the child protective services to your house).  What kept me from whipping up an organic, vegetable-filled dinner was Alan Furst.

Spies of the BalkansI really like Alan Furst’s books.  They’re all set in dark, rainy corners of Europe, on the eve of the second world war.  There aren’t any Americans in these books, or hardly any.  The most recent one is called Spies of the Balkans. I will not tell you what happens in it because you could probably guess.  Okay, I’ll tell you some things.  Is there a spy who’s a Greek police officer, who’s ethical, but not above trickery when it’s necessary to protect the innocent?  Check.  The occasional furling and unfurling of an umbrella because it’s always raining in the countries Hitler’s about to invade?  Check.  Sex?  Check.  Daring rescues?  Check. A general atmosphere of a world going to hell, during which tremendous acts of courage occur?  Check.

Like I said, I read the whole thing in one day.  I never do that.  Happy Summer!

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6 thoughts on “Summer Reading

  1. Your post made me smile. Summer isn’t really my thing either since I don’t get to do anything different than I do for the rest of the year. Oh well, I can live vicariously through my 11-year old niece who always manages to have fun. And I’ve only recently discovered spy novels (am making my way through the BBC’s MI-5 at the moment). I have LeCarre’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold out from the library (maybe it’s time to crack it open) and I bet I just might have an Alan Furst novel or two. You definitely should give yourself a few more frozen lasagne days (surely a little fresh fruit afterwords will even things out?). Enjoy your summer!

  2. Ooh I have often wondered what Alan Furst was like – thank you for adding to my stock of summer reads! I love the prospect of summer and then, in the UK, it usually rains and is grey and dreary or else oppressively baking hot, and neither is quite right. And oh do I hear you about bedtime!!! But I give myself permission to do less, on the quiet, which I don’t do in winter. So some days it’s possible to feel the liberation of the season.

  3. Charlotte — I remember Restless! That’s the book that takes place in two time periods. My husband’s reading his recent one — Ordinary Thunderstorms, which he likes a lot. I can tell, because he reads it with his headlamp while I’m falling asleep.

    Dear litlove, Even though he sometimes writes stories that are very difficult to follow, they’re so atmospheric that i don’t even care! I hope you enjoy him.

    I know Lilian. the word “furling” is actually used! I was impressed.

    Danielle — frozen lasagne it is. Followed by other frozen entrees. No one really seems to mind.

  4. I love Alan Furst! Haven’t read that one, though. I just read Winter in Madrid by C.J. Sansom. I don’t think the sun shines once in it. It’s a wonderful spy novel set in Spain immediately following the civil war.

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