The summer beach read is a great way to unplug and mindlessly gobble up books that may or may not be of great literary significance, whether it’s frothy romances or celebrity tell-alls or whatever your secret bookish vice is. The phenomenon dates all the way back to the nineteenth century, when idle hours were a signifier of social status. Almost immediately, a backlash ensued and summer reading was seen as a threat to the minds of impressionable young women. Donna Harrington-Lueker recently released Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading* (University of Massachusetts Press), and she’ll explain some of the story in the final installment of the Redwood Library’s spring Life of the Mind salon series.
*If you buy the book through IndieBound you’re supporting local booksellers and also giving me a little referral fee.