In the June 26 Times Literary Supplement, well-known writers list the books they're reading this summer.
The TLS feature, matching a holiday reading survey, gives a voyeuristic thrill. The cheerful comments of authors like Hilary Mantel, Joyce Carol Oates and Anne Enright make them seem just like us.
A common motif is that because of the coronavirus, authors will be doing their summer reading at home this year rather than at exotic beaches or idyllic country retreats. Another theme is reading children's books to sons and daughters unable to go to school.
While the authors do seem like regular folks, they don't go in for the light reading associated with the lazy, sun-dazzled season. Oates, for example, is embarking upon Dostoevsky after finishing "War and Peace" and other Tolstoy tomes.
With the coronavirus out of control, Trump's daily outrages, and racial turmoil, the old idea of pleasurable summer reading looks superfluous. Yet, I more and more seek to escape the news, especially the gloom bearers of MSNBC. I agree with them of course, but the strident Chris Hayes and Rachel Maddow get my a-fib a-fibbing.
Spurred by the ambitious reading of the TLS authors, I might try again to finish "The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire." But Gibbon would seem too much like cable news.