Jack Merry here. The Hedgehog, the in-house newsletter for our staff, has a fascinating article on what our staffers re-read in the summer. It won't surprise any of you that our staffers are varaicious readers, nor will it be a surprise that summer is a time for them to devote themselves to reading as much as they can! (Me favourite summer re-readings are the two Evenmere novels, The High House and The False House, by James Stoddard, as they are the perfect fantasies in their Englishness to read on a hot summers evening. I'm also fond of Simon Green's Forest Kingdom series for the similar reasons.) So here are some selections from that article. . . .
Denise Dutton, a Potter fan, said, 'It's a tossup; Stephen King's The Stand or Dante's Purgatorio (translated). But since this is The Year of Book Six, I'll be re-reading Harry Potter 1-5 as well.' She stuck her head back into the Editor's lounge after Rachel Brown mentioned Mikal Gilmore's Shot to the Heart to add, 'Oh! I remember when that came out; I read an exerpt published in Rolling Stone. I meant to pick it up, but I was moving so often at that time that I forgot about it. I've got to add that to my 'books I wanted to read but forgot about, then was reminded' list.'
But Robert M. Tilendis took a different slant on this question: 'I'm not sure I can characterize it that way -- summer is more that I'm sitting outside reading, rather than what I'm reading. And my several 'old friends' on the bookshelf are likely to get reread any old time. However, a short list would be Patricia McKillip's Riddle-Master trilogy; Lord of the Rings; Jim Grimsley's Kirith Kirin; and probably C. J. Cherryh's Fortress series. Strangely enough, at least two (Grimsley and Cherryh) have a strong 'winter' element to them -- maybe my substitute for air conditioning, which I hate.'
Over a pint in the Pub later the afternoon Iain was doing this survey, he noted 'Thinking about it some more, I'm likely to reread anything that I don't have to think about very much -- the classic 'lolling on the beach watching the world go by' summer reading thing. So it's probably not going to be Patricia A. McKillip, since there's always something that I haven't figured out yet. It's likely to be something light and not very challenging -- say Lynn Flewelling or Tanya Huff -- or something so completely mesmerizing that I can't put it down, like Sean Russell's Initiate Brother / Gatherer of Clouds or Michelle West's Sun Sword.'
David Kidney quickly said he's 'got too much new stuff to read . . . won't be re-reading anything . . . but if I did . . . it might be E.L. Doctorow's Ragtime, or Paul Quarrington's Home Game.'
Richard Condon won't be going on vacation for a while yet, so: 'Since my vacation won't begin for nearly 7 weeks hence I haven't really decided, but if I feel like laughing it could be the Barrytown trilogy by Roddy Doyle: The Commitments, The Snapper, The Van. The only problem is that it annoys my travelling companions when I sit there sniggering, giggling and occasionally guffawing. Books a litte outside GMR's line, but I must confess that most of my reading is.''
Vonnie Carts-Powell has children, which naturally effects her summertime reading: 'Much of my reading is based on having someone with whom to talk the books over. My son is 10, so I'm rereading many of the books he's reading for the first time. We've just finished Wrinkle in Time and Dark is Rising. Next, probably, will be T.H. White (I'll start him with Sword in the Stone while I'm rereading the Once & Future King). Then on to Heinlein's juveniles, and Diane Wynn Jones, and Robin McKinley, and maybe LeGuin's.'
From Kelly Sedinger came these comments: 'I don't really 're-read', but I do find that my tastes change -- in summer I tend to want to read more comic novels (comic as in 'funny', not graphic novels, which I'll read anytime depending on the subject matter) and SF, with an emphasis on whiz-bang space opera. I suspect this traces back to those wonderful summers of my youth when each third summer saw a new Star Wars movie out. In fall and winter, I tend to want to read more horror and fantasy. But this isn't totally iron-clad, since I'll read some fantasies of the 'non-European' variety in summer, and I'll read some SF in the fall. I basically re-read whenever I feel like re-reading; re-reading for me isn't keyed to the seasons. It's more of looking at my shelves, picking up a book, and saying, 'Hey there, I haven't seen YOU in a while, old friend!''
Gary Whitehouse noted: 'I don't re-read many books lately, but I find myself more drawn to science fiction in the summer than at other times of the year, and I suspect that, like my colleague Kelly, it's because I read lots of it during summer breaks when I was in school. I got lucky this year, when a new installment in the Man-Kzin Wars series created by Larry Niven came out in late spring, and a new Niven collaboration, Building Harlequin's Moon hit the shelves in June. Every few years I'll go back to my shelf of Niven's known space books and re-read a few, especially the collections of short stories. Niven's Beowulf Shaeffer and Louis Wu are two of my favorite characters.'
Rachael Brown who just moved into a new flat said, 'Each summer, like each winter, fall, and spring, I re-read as catches my fancy. This summer I've re-read the entire run of Kazuya Minekura's manga Saiyuki, a gorgeously drawn and whacked-out re-telling of the Chinese legend, The Journey Into the West; Peter Kramer's Listening to Prozac, a thoughtful meditation on mental illness, medication, and the nature of identity; Mikal Gilmore's Shot in the Heart, a gut-wrenching account of a destroyed family by the murderer Gary Gilmore's younger brother; and Diana Wynne Jones' touching and strange Dogsbody, in which the spirit of the Dog Star is reincarnated into the body of an actual dog. Next on my summer re-read schedule is Diana Wynne Jones' Howl's Moving Castle to see how the Miyazaki movie altered the details; and because one can never re-read Diana Wynne Jones often enough.'