It’s Summer! Here are Four Things to Read When it’s Too Hot to Think

22 June 2016 by 12 Comments


I love classic novels as much as the next gal, but there comes a time in every person’s life when you need to set down the Serious Books and pick up what the literati might call “total nonsense.”

This is especially true during summer — school’s out, work might be a little slow, and people are enjoying vacations.

Plus, I’m from Texas; it is just too damn hot to do anything but lay naked on the living room floor underneath the ceiling fan with a wet rag on my forehead, praying for Christmas. Now is not the time for me to try to muscle my way through Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Woman.

If you can’t stand the thought of reading Tolstoy or Dickens while lolling around on your beach towel, may I suggest some lighter summer reads?

The Grand Sophy (Georgette Heyer)

The Grand Sophy, Georgette HeyerGeorgette Heyer is the mother of the historical romance genre, and her children are plentiful. She wrote over 50 novels, most of which are set in the Regency and Georgian eras — they’re Jane Austen novels with the sass levels turned up to 11.

The Grand Sophy is Heyer’s most popular novel, and it’s hysterical. Ms. Sophy Stanton-Lacy is deposited on her cousins’ doorstep by her distracted father and immediately sees that her family is in distress. Cecilia is in love with a nincompoop poet, Charles is engaged to the most pretentious woman on earth, and Hubert is piling up gambling debts as only a young gentleman can.

Fortunately, Sophy is a masterful busybody and sets about wreaking havoc and scandalizing the ton — all in the name of sorting things as they should be.

This book makes me laugh out loud every time I read it. It’s so well-written and so much fun to read. Other great ones include The Masqueraders and Lady of Quality.

Childhood Favorites


Re-reading can be riskyCharlotte's Web, E.B. White, but for me, there’re fewer greater pleasures in the world than returning to my favorite childhood reads. As Kathleen Kelly says in You’ve Got Mail:

When you read a book as a child, it becomes a part of your identity in a way that no other reading in your whole life does.

Now is a wonderful time to reconnect with the stories that you enjoyed as a kid, when summer days felt endless and you didn’t have to worry about anything except which book to read next.

If you weren’t much of a reader as a kid, I recommend E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Little House series, and Beverly Cleary’s Ramona books.

Xanth “Trilogy” (Piers Anthony)


A Spell for Chameleon, Piers AnthonyI put “trilogy” in quotes because there’s actually more than 30 in the series — it was really hard to stop Anthony once he got on a roll.

Everyone in the land of Xanth has a magical ability, anything from controlling the weather to making a green spot appear on a wall. Some magical powers are useless, but everyone has one…except Bink.

A Spell for Chameleon, the first book in the series, follows Bink as he is exiled to Mundania (a land without magic). There he is captured by an evil magician who once tried to conquer Xanth, and is ready to try again — and he needs Bink’s help.

These books are smart, funny, and so full of so many puns that I almost can’t stand it. Start with A Spell for Chameleon and work your way through. They’re all great.

Romance Novels


The Clan of the Cave Bear, Jean M. AuelThere’s something delicious about reading a naughty novel in public. You know what you’re reading, the gal next to you at the pool or on the bus knows what you’re reading, and you both know the other person knows.

Romance novels are candy for your brain — whether they’re the gentlest of Christian romance or the hardest of hard-core Harlequins. Fluffy romances are always fun (I enjoyed Janet Evanovich’s The Husband List), but if you’re looking for something steamy with a little meat on its bones, check out Jean M. Auel’s Earth’s Children series.

What’s on your reading list this summer? Let me know in the comments!

featured image via simpleinsomnia on flickr

Amy Peveto

Amy picked up her first book as a toddler and hasn’t been spotted without one since. She has an unhealthy obsession with refining her TBR list, and you’ll have to pry her ragged paperback copy of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice out of her cold, dead hands.

12 thoughts on “It’s Summer! Here are Four Things to Read When it’s Too Hot to Think

  1. I loved the Clan of the Cave Bear series, the first half, anyway. The later books were such garbage. She really did her research for these book, but unfortunately wanted to put every, single detail she learned into them.

    Thanks for the recs. Some of these are new to me!

    • Agreed re: the Clan of the Cave Bear series. The first few books were good, but Ayla becomes such a Mary Sue in the later ones, and Auel really crams in all the research she did, which painfully slows down the pace of the story.

      • A thousand times yes with The Clan of the Cave Bear. I feel like Gabaldon’s Outlander series has fallen into the same trap: it’s clear the authors did a lot of research, and felt compelled to include all of it.

  2. I’ve lately been reading the Fables comics. They’re some of the best twisted fairy tales for adults (there’s some naughty language and some sex) I’ve ever read. Hundreds of fairy tale and legendary characters escaped their Homelands after an enemy known only as the Adversary spreads his empire of doom across their worlds. The exiles move to New York City (of course), where they establish a community known as Fabletown (run by Snow White, King Cole and Bigby Wolf), along with an upstate annex known as the Farm (run by Snow White’s naughty sister, Rose Red) for those Fables who can’t pass as human. It’s a lot of fun.

    • I heard about this series several years ago, but couldn’t get my hands on it at the time. It’s nice to see a good review; might be time to check it out.

      • Aaaand now I just read this post on creator Bill Willingham’s behavior toward women and non-white presenters and attendees at a Con, and I’m losing my taste for Fables. And in the latest issue I read, a character makes a snide comment about another male character maybe preferring men to women.

        Well, this sucks.

        • I want to love Fables, cos I feel like it should be exactly my thing, but I just don’t. Like, at all. I hate the art, and the stories bother me. That Willingham is a dick just cements my non-desire to continue reading.

          • I really liked the art and stories, but there were several points where characters got away with stuff too easily. But I might’ve let that go if it wasn’t for the wisecrack about being gay, and Willingham’s dickishness.

        • I read it, and should have liked it (story, art) but I just couldn’t get into it. After reading that post, maybe Willingham’s dickishness was shining through. Now I get why I couldn’t get into Fairest. Women are the main characters.

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