Summer reading? As long as I can nap beneath the pages, that'll do - Laura Waddell

It is the week before a holiday, I attend to my to-do list, attempting to put things in order so I do not come home from a couple of weeks off duty to a domestic disaster zone and the shrill screech of reality.

To be kind to future me, I will do my laundry and clear out the fridge of lurking bits of lettuce. I will also, to mark clearly the dividing line between pre and post summer, finish the books still waiting on my to-read pile.

The first of these is Cold Enough for Snow by Jessica Au, an introspective, intelligent novella following an adult woman and her mother as they walk and talk their way around the galleries and cafes of Tokyo in rainy autumn, probing at the same time the pathways of memory and association.

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The other is Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds, and Shape Our Futures by Melvin Sheldrake, an already much applauded account of the wonderful world of fungi. I picked it up to learn more about psilocybin, the active ingredient in magic mushrooms, currently being studied in promising clinical trials as a treatment of long-term, persistent depression. I leave convinced fungi is the future. Remarkable is the fact alone that fungi can break down tough and tricky substances such as crude oil, and play a key role in regenerating environments after nuclear disaster. How much we still have to learn about the world under our very feet.

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Opinion is divided on what makes a book a ‘summer read’, a marketing phrase that evokes frothiness, promoting as a virtue books that make few demands on their readers. People should read whatever they choose; some casual consumers might only be tempted to purchase an airport blockbuster if it promises upfront not to feel like the work they’re holidaying from. But these promotions sound sometimes like convincing a child to eat their vegetables by hiding them on the plate: you won’t feel it going down, honest.In my mind’s eye, I have strong memories of particular books that made an impression on me in the leisurely months of summer, whether it’s something I’ve carted around in a tote bag bashing up against sunglasses cases and sticky sunscreen or those long voracious summers of reading anything I could get my hands on as a child, chain-reading Enid Blyton at the caravan park.But my primary criteria for what books to pack when off duty nowadays are books that I don’t plan to write about and won’t be reviewing. No highlighters within reach, no scribbled notes in the margins. Well worn classics fit the bill, and novels from a few years ago that I never got around to at the time. I can’t wait for sunny afternoons ending in a nap beneath their pages.



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