the sunday salon: after the books of summer have gone

The Sunday Salon


It’s here. The unofficial end of summer.

Let’s have a moment of silence for what has gone before, please.

In general, I had a fantastic summer reading season – which we all know goes from Memorial Day to Labor Day. Many of the 24 books I read were –  like those perfect days with 75 degree temperatures poolside – pure perfection and an absolute joy. And we were lucky to have more than a few of those perfect 75 degree days.

Oh, just relax about the 24 books already. It’s not I languished about reading the likes of War and Peace. For whatever reason, this was The Summer of The Fairly Short Book.

Which means that I am going to be a summer school dropout in the 2013 Big Book Summer Reading Challenge hosted by Sue at Book by Book.

It happens. I’m pleased that a lot of the books I read over the past few months are going to land on my Best Books I’ve Read This Year List for 2013.

The Other Typist, by Suzanne Rindell.

The Illusion of Separateness, by Simon Van Booy.

The Dangers of Proximal Alphabets, by Kathleen Alcott.

(if you wrote a book with “the” as the first word in the title and I read it this summer, play the lottery.)

The Virgin Cure, by Ami McKay.

The Grievers, by Marc Shuster.

Sea Creatures, by Susanna Daniel.

There were books that helped me think about my new approach to eating (My Beef with Meat) and that taught me something new about someone I thought I knew (Helen Keller in Love).

And there were the books by some of my favorite authors, like George Saunders (In Persuasion Nation), Elizabeth Strout (The Burgess Boys), and Colum McCann (Songdogs).

And a book by a favorite singer/songwriter (Love is the Cure: On Life, Loss, and the End of AIDS, by Elton John).

This was the summer of poetry. As I said, I was all about the short book and the idea of sitting by the beach with Mary Oliver (West Wind) or at the pool with Mark Doty (Still Life with Oysters and Lemon; Sweet Machine) was heaven.

Some of that poetry, as the genre tends to do, left me a little …meh. (Annie Dillard’s Mornings Like This; Mary Oliver’s Swan, Poems and Prose Poems.) There were poems by an author who I only knew by her fiction. (Baptism of Fire; Jacklight, both by Louise Erdrich).

There was the book that I read for the Post-Gazette (The Light in the Ruins), which is always fun.

And there was the book I read in preparation for editing a client’s new novel (Blood Type). I’m so excited and honored to be starting work this week on Melissa Luznicky Garrett’s sequel, Blood Draw. Thanks so much, Melissa, for trusting me with your words.

Into each summer some rain must fall. There were those books that, in hindsight, I wish I could reset time and get those days back (E Street Shuffle; Down the Up Escalator) and those I expected much more from (Anne Lamott’s Help, Thanks, Wow).

And those that I declared part of the elite Did Not Finish club.

As for saying farewell to the summer of 2013, it’s a rainout of a Labor Day weekend here. Perfect for reading. Last night I finished Down the Up Escalator: How the 99% Live in the Recession, and I thought Labor Day would be an apropos time to run that review.  I’m also hoping to finish Mark Doty’s Paragon Park and to perhaps start Colum McCann’s Zoli or Dirty Love by Andre Dubus III.

OK. Enough prattling on. I’m prolonging the inevitable.

Say goodbye to the summer, Gracie.


Strathmere Bay, Strathmere, NJ
June 2013
Photo Credit: Melissa Firman


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4 thoughts on “the sunday salon: after the books of summer have gone

  1. Shannon @ River City Reading

    Oh, I SO loved The Illusion of Separateness. I think I’ll be coming back to that book quite a bit in the future. I’m really curious what you’re thoughts will be on Down the Up Escalator, it sounds like it has an interesting starting point, but non-fiction can have that way of taking fascinating topics and making them…not.

    1. Melissa Firman Post author

      That’s EXACTLY how I felt about DOWN THE UP ESCALATOR, Shannon. It started out pretty good, but got on my nerves as it went on.

  2. Bryan G.

    Well, it’s pretty warm here so can’t complain about the end of summer anyway…well, can 🙂 but won’t.

    I’ve been reading mostly short books too. In fact, I just finished one: The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman. It was a pretty good one too.

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