Summer reading has always had such a horrible ring to it, reminds me of depressing books with kids stranded in the wild or post apocalyptic dramas I was way to young for. I also read a lot of my favourite books during the summer, I spent hours on the beach, long after the sun and my family had gone home, finishing the first Harry Potter with such utter captivation you would have thought it was TV. This was followed by a few classics such as Great Expectations (I always love the homeless orphans) and Sense and Sensibility; which are two of my favourites but they didn’t change my life the way Harry Potter did. But this isn’t a list of books that changed my life or even the 7 books I think everyone should read, these are the 7 books everyone should read if they ever want to have an adventure.
1. In Cold Blood (Truman Capote) – nothing is scarier than the idea of sitting at home and evil knocking at your door, this book tempers your blood and gives you a head for caution, the number one tool in the Marianne Ravenwood knapsack.
2. Pink Boots and a Machete (Mireya Mayor) – Cheerleader turned anthropologist/adventurer Mayor discusses all of the gruesome things that happen to you when you trek through the jungle to tag a baby gibbon (yay holding a baby gibbon nay blood poisoning). It’s also a good read for any woman in a male dominated profession. A few years ago I went to a college reunion with my aunt (she went to an ivy league all women’s school on the East Coast) and they had a panel discussing what the school was like throughout the ages. One woman told the group about when she was in school and they were allowed to attend classes at the men’s school (provided they wore skirts and not their usual trousers). She took them up on it but after two lectures the professor asked her to stop coming as her presence was making the men uncomfortable since they couldn’t act like themselves around a lady. Wouldn’t it be fun to go back in time just for a day and go all Chelsea Handler on those sweethearts?)
3. Darwin Slept Here (Eric Simmons) – He played with FINCHES, saw parts of the world most people even today only dream of, and after his whirl wind adventure he just went home and never left England again, even adventurers eventually want to go home. He also almost didn’t get the job because the ship captain thought people with large noses were useless. Well Humph.
4. The Monster of Florence (Douglas Preston and Mario Spezi) – Don’t get arrested in a foreign country, I don’t care what country, just don’t do it, assume you’re always wrong, and assume you don’t know the law, terrifying… Also don’t make out in cars.
5. The City of Z (David Grann) – A lost city, a real life adventure… everything you could have ever dreamed of.
6. Down Under (Bill Bryson) – I loved every fact and anecdote in this book almost as much as I loved the fact that someone was able to write a book like this and be paid for it.
7. Unsuitable for Ladies (Jane Robinson) – This literary anthology taught me more than anything I ever had to read in school. Above all it teaches that if something is ‘unsuitable for ladies’ it’s incredible.
(Thinking about my childhood summer reading I think about the car rides out to the beach – two hours and an entire duffel bag full of books and CDs. It felt like a caravan ride, everything you would need right at your finger tips, snacks, a blanket, endless entertainment, maybe a Gameboy. The new kids won’t have that. An iPad holds all games, music and books. Kind of great but still makes me a bit sad.)