Friday 9 August 2019

Bed in Summer - a select selection of Summer reading

Bed in Summer

In winter I get up at night

And dress by yellow candle-light.

In summer, quite the other way,

I have to go to bed by day.

I have to go to bed and see

The birds still hopping on the tree,

Or hear the grown-up people's feet

Still going past me in the street.

And does it not seem hard to you,

When all the sky is clear and blue,

And I should like so much to play,

To have to go to bed by day?

R.L. Stevenson

I remember coming across this poem in an ancient copy of A Child's Garden of Verses. It was actually the Summer holidays and I was at my grandparent's house and yes, it was still light. I was cross about being in bed when it was warm and light and the poem spoke for me about having to do something I didn't want to do and the thing I did want to do, tantalisingly just out of the window, out of reach.

I loved all those night-time adventure stories where children braver than me would explore and discover secrets about others and about themselves. So, here's a selection of Summer night time reading from my past ...

I used to love reading science fiction whereas now I prefer to watch it.

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Tom's Midnight Garden. What a wondrous and delicious adventure for those warm Summer nights; sneaking outside with your PJs on and your eyes wide open to magic.

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Okay, so this fantastic series is more of a Winter read but I think I read it all year round. I think it's akin to reading Alan Garner. The Weirdstone of Brisingamen was a special favourite along with, The Owl Service.

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 This book of fairy tales is one of my first books and I ADORED it. I read it over and over. I especially loved the story of The Children of Lir from Ireland in which the four children were turned into swans by a wicked stepmother (of course). These stories led me to the brothers Grimm and the story of the brothers cursed to be swans but saved (mostly) by their human sister making nettle shirts before the curse was complete (ouch). So brilliant and brave. I think the boys were grateful.

On the subject of boys, I used to devour short stories of any sort but back in the day, the anthologies for girls were all schools and horses. I wanted stuff to stir!

I don't have any of the boys stories anthologies but the above gives you a flavour.

And yes, The Hardy Boys was a favourite as well. I chomped my way through all the library copies one Summer.

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Oh, The Three Musketeers! How I longed to join their ranks! And how confused I used to be by the misleading title!

I thought I'd end my brief tour of books from my Summer's past with a quote. What I was looking for when I read was adventure and excitement and a way to really feel what I could not do as a child. Books were my refuge, my joy and a door into my many worlds. 

Did you ever read a sentence you loved the way you love your favorite animal? My favorite animal is a lioness; how she doesn’t have a mane but she always has some blood around her mouth. And how the lionesses work together like good friends when they want to kill something. I’ve never seen a lioness in person or touched one or slept in the same bushes where a lioness lives, but I’ve known since I was a little kid that I love them the most.

Sometimes when I’m reading a good book and I’m under a blanket and no one’s trying to talk to me, I forget that I’m reading. The tall grass of the story grows up around me, and I’m just another silent creature whose heart beats in that world. If I sit still and keep reading that way, sometimes a sentence stalks by as lovely as a lioness. Blood around its mouth; that fresh, that killer. I read it once, and I know I have to read it again, not look away, watch closely how it moves.

And then I start to notice my eye muscles moving my eyeballs back and forth again, and see the black of the letters on the gray of the page, and I’m just plain reading under a blanket. It’s still fun. But the reason I read is for the lionesses. For the sentences that pull me in with all their teeth.

Farmer, poet, doula, and performer Laura Brown-Lavoie

in we go ...


  1. Beautiful. This is my favourite poem of all time. As one of the youngest in my family I remember lying in bed in summer when I knew everyone else was still out playing. I also remember reading a lot of Hardy Boys, science fiction and fairy tale books - in fact any books I could get my hands on whether they belonged to my brothers or not. Thank you, this was a walk down a favourite memory lane.

  2. OOh I love that poem too! It taps into something so universal! I remember long hot boring summer school holidays where we were all booted out the house to play unless....I hid behind the wash basket in the bathroom with a book.

  3. I remember being thrown outside because it was sooooo much healthier than being indoors.


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