June Guest Author Tara L. Masih: Summer’s Feeling

Two seasons in the year produce a feeling of anticipation for me. Fall still brings on that excitement that all students feel about a new school year, new clothes, new classes, new friends. It brings on butterflies in the stomach, hope for good teachers, friends in classes, and new romances. Even with all that over, I still feel some of that excitement as Labor Day approaches, the atmosphere sharpens, and nights cool down.

And then there is summer. While fall inspires alertness and anxious anticipation, summer’s feeling is one of relaxation, rebonding with families, and the satisfaction of getting lost in a good book.

When I think of summer, I think of beaches and books. Water, sun, suntan lotion, sea salt, and printed pages that take you far away. As a child, I loved going to the library and taking home a stack of books, usually mysteries, fairy tales, and historical adventure stories. I read all day, almost every day, by the pool and on the beach. And the best books kept me up beyond midnight, when the rest of the house slept and the neighbors’ windows were dark. I’d read as the eyelet curtains gently stirred in the night breezes, and the occasional car whooshed by. Eventually the crickets stopped chirping and the peepers went quiet. I’d still be reading, following some hero or heroine to his or her fictional resolution. I’m sure this love of reading and literary escape inspired my own stories (Where the Dog Star Never Glows), which take readers to other places.

I also had the benefit of an August birthday. This meant two months to plan my gift list of books. Library books were wonderful—there was something special about taking out a book that showed (back then) names and dates of other readers who’d checked it out on the ruled, manila pocket that held the due date card. And my mother always enrolled me in the childrens’ library book club, which promised theme stickers and an end-of-summer party for those kids who finished their sticker tree or pirate ship.

But nothing compared to a brand new book. Crisp, clean, ink still smelling—mine. No due date. Mine to take care of, mine to reread, mine to shelve.

As an adult, I don’t have the luxury to spend an entire day not taking care of something or someone. On the beach, I’m distracted by getting burned, my son going out too far in the ocean, someone’s smoke ruining the fresh air, my older body growing stiff. My ability to get lost for hours is gone. The adult mind is too crowded, responsibilities too numerous.

But even for that hour or so of reading in the sun, feeling its warmth invade me to the bones, feeling the ocean breezes waft over my skin and hair while I read and merge someone else’s life into mine for a brief time, I’m reminded of that complete joy I had as a child. I hope each of you find time this summer to get lost in a good book, so good it might keep you up past your bedtime, keep you reading till all the neighbors’ lights go out and your bedside lamp is the only one left on in what might feel like the whole universe.

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