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Savor the Season with a Picnic of Good Books

Summer reading graphic

Which metaphor can best describe what we'll do this summer with the books piling up on our desks, or growing into small mountains on the floor?

As a writer, I should (I hope) be able to find the right image for that enterprise. Is it a journey we'll take into fictional worlds? An adventure into the lives of other minds? A meditation on various representations of reality? All of these at once?

Before we had books, we in the West lived in a world of oral poetry. At seasonal intervals in the year, audiences listened to the chanting of poets who spoke epic lines about all the things they believed to be true: gods and monsters and the human beings in between. Similes illustrated the hidden connections between, for example, the Iliad's Greek soldiers and the sea: They cheered "like waves/ on some high headland when south winds hurl them/ against a crag that the billows batter/ ceaselessly from one side or another."

Soldiers cheering, like waves hurled against rocks? The poets chanted it, and a new way of thinking was born. Now, thousands of years later, we still employ language in that same poetic fashion, linking seemingly dissimilar things.

So, back to the question. How to describe a selection of the season's best books, along with some literary classics? My list is not as broad in its offerings as a smorgasbord, but it might be a summer picnic with a number of good things to taste and savor... or perhaps a mix of old wine and new?

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