Sunny day and a good book a great mix

Photo by Jim Hendricks

Photo by Jim Hendricks

Summer's here, regardless of the assertion on the calendar that it's still a good week away.

Schools are out; people are vacationing. Some of that vitamin D we were all missing when the snow hit a few months back is being replenished at a rapid rate.

Life in Southwest Georgia slows down a bit when temperatures climb with the tenacity of Edmund Hillary into the triple digits. If the guy who invented air conditioning hasn't been granted sainthood, there needs to be a recount on the voting.

As a kid growing up down the road a ways in Newton, this time of year was consumed by bike riding, baseball playing, Co-Cola and lemonade drinking and ice cream churning. And once a week, my buddies and I descended on the bookmobile from the DeSoto Trail Regional Lbirary that came across the river from Camilla.

A moving library was a thing of wonder, full of books and stories, and specially delivered to you. The book mobile parked by the courthouse in the old downtown square, and if it was late we were waiting. Inside it were stories about anything you could imagine, from Huck Finn to a novel about a kid my age who was learning how to play baseball.

Like fishing, there was a "catch limit" on how many of these books you could take with you at any one time. I can't remember the total count, but it was pretty close to an armload. If you went through 25 or so for the summer, you even got a certificate fit for framing if you were disposed to do that sort of thing.

There was something about being able to choose what you wanted to read instead of having it assigned to you that was particularly appealing then. We'd grouse about having to read something for class, especially since we had to do book reports, but we'd sometimes give verbal reports on something we read that we particularly liked while choosing up sides for a baseball game at the diamond behind the peanut mill.

Unanticipated education, it seems, is especially sneaky in the broad daylight.

Even now, I'm a whole lot more likely to burn through a book when the weather's hot. Nothing passes more pleasurably than kicking back in a chair by the umbrella table on the back patio in the morning and mixing coffee drinking and newspaper and book reading.

So, a few weeks ago I asked our Bookin' columnists, whose reviews of books appear on a rotating basis in The Herald on Fridays, and some Herald staffers to recommend some books for folks who might be looking for a good read this summer.

We divided the list into three categories:

-- LIT: Literature that you may have been exposed to in school or college but didn't really appreciate at the time because you were being required to read it. With the pressure of reviews, tests and grades off -- plus a few years of living -- you might want to give these titles another shot and see if you enjoy them more.

-- LIKES: These are simply favorite books of the participants. Any genre was acceptable.

-- LITE: Think of beach reads. The books on this list won't change your perspective in all likelihood, but they should be fun.

Each suggestion includes a short commentary from the person making the recommendation. I appreciate the folks who participating in compiling these lists: Gloria Barton, Lee County Library librarian; Gary Barton, Dougherty County Northwest Library branch head librarian; Mary Braswell, Herald librarian and researcher; Danny Carter, managing editor; Carlton Fletcher, metro editor; David Fry, electronic resource librarian at Darton College; Karen M. Liebert, media specialist at International Studies Elementary Charter School in Albany; Jim Soos, owner of Books & More in Moultrie; Bill Strickland, Herald I.T. director, and J.D. Sumner, government reporter.

Everyone complains that despite hundreds of TV channels these days that there's nothing worth watching. Well, there are shelves filled with books worth your while. And a slow, lazy summer day -- whether you're sitting by your umbrella at your patio table or under an umbrella at the beach -- is a perfect time to catch up on what you've been missing.