Hmmm. I'm not much of a summer-books-beach-reader.
I didn't read Fifty Shades of Gray on a camp chair, feet in the sand, an Arnold Palmer in the cup holder. Truth is, I didn't read Fifty Shades of Gray at all. And I've never had an Arnold Palmer. I'm pretty sure I wouldn't like it. But I do have a couple of camp chairs.
When I have done summer reading, it's been more like this: I tore through John Kelly's The Great Mortality a few summers back. It's a comprehensive history of the Black Plague and its cultural and economic effects on medieval Europe. Whoo-hoo!
And one summer I tackled a book of Guy de Maupassant's short stories. In French. It was slow-going. I got sunburned. But it was worth it--though a weird undertaking. That I would happily do again.
And since I'm a bit of a World War II geek, I finished up The Fall of Berlin, 1945, British historian Antony Beevor's final book in his war trilogy, in the summer of 2014.
I get it. By now you're not likely to take my advice on summer reading. But wait!! Because if I could put together my own personal fantasy book club, it would involve reading Jill LePore's magnificent one volume American history book called These Truths.
In my fantasy book club, each person would present on some aspect of US history they had researched as a way to amplify and expand in more detail on Jill's work. (Okay, we're not on a first-name basis, but she's been rocking my world so I feel as though we could be. Note to self: write a fan letter to ask.)
What makes These Truths so valuable is that as she traces the evolution of American history and culture, she is always, always looking at it through the lens of gender and racial bias, as well. Don't worry--she is not preachy, not at all. She simply holds up valid perspectives we absolutely did not get in our junior high and high school social studies classes. I saw American history from new and stirring vantage points.
In the absence of the existence of my fantasy book club, I encourage you to pick up Jill LePore's These Truths and give it a go. (I listened to it through Audible.com because I love audiobooks and I'm too restless to sit still and read as much as I probably should. But I also bought a copy of the book so that I could underline parts and passages that struck me as particularly important.)
It is totally worth making the commitment to These Truths (it's a big book) because you will find yourself rapt by learning new stuff about stuff you already thought you knew.
Take it to the lake!