8 great places to read this summer. Forget the beach, how about a backyard hammock? – Chicago Tribune

The “beach read” category of books was invented out of thin air for marketing purposes a few decades ago, but that doesn’t mean it’s meaningless.

The reason it’s stuck around is because it describes a genuine phenomenon, people gravitating toward a book that fits a mood or occasion. Going to the beach? You need something that engenders that feeling of escape, a good page-turner that will keep you thickened or transport you to an exotic locale, or perhaps put you in a different state of mind entirely, like you had one too many Mai Tais.

I have no objection to the beach read as a description of a quasi-genre of book, but as we head into beach read season, I would like to suggest that when it comes to places you can escape to in order to read, the beach is, frankly, not great.

Hot, sandy, crowded, children cavorting about, sunburn, sudden storms and have you seen the new “Spikeball” game that has people hurling themselves about in order to hit a ball against something that looks like a mini-trampoline on the ground? They’re calling it the next cornhole on ESPN2.

Does this sound like a good place to read?

As a public service, I’ve decided to provide you with a list of places to read your escapist books that are far better than the beach.

Hammock on the back porch: Quiet, ideally accompanied by a gentle breeze that makes your hammock sway gently. A bit of a view is a bonus so your eyes can take an occasional break from the page.

Air-conditioned library: Sort of the reverse of the beach. Quiet, subdued lighting, temperature-controlled, comfortable furniture and surrounded by books.

Airplane cabin with no one sitting next to you: Once upon a time, plans were my favorite reading spot, but this has eroded a bit over the years. Used to be that even non-readers needed to break out a book (or magazine) if they wanted something to do, but now it seems like half the plane is streaming “Bridgerton.” The pandemic has also made air travel more fraught for various reasons, but if you can get on an uncrowded flight with a little elbow room around you, there’s nothing like getting lost in a book and not waking up from the spell until the wheels touch the ground.

Cabin in the woods: Seemed to work out all right for Thoreau, who not only spent a lot of time reading, but managed to write “Walden,” which is not exactly a beach read, but is nonetheless a bestseller.

Nearly empty bar in the mid-afternoon: It’s like a library, but with more beer and fewer books.

Screened porch when a good summer storm is coming down outside: As long as thunder and lightning aren’t involved, there’s nothing like being safe under cover, listening to the rain drum down, with a book as your companion. The weather means you can’t do anything else, anyway, so might as well sink into the pages.

Front stop: When I lived in the city, if the temperature was just right, it was nice to spend an hour or two sitting on the stoop, elbows on knees, book in hands, reading as the world moved past me.

Hammock stretched between two trees in the woods: Combines both Thoreau’s place of solitude and the gentle swaying like a rocking cradle. If you’re lucky, there are friends and loved ones nearby, but not too nearby, starting a fire on which you’ll later roast a few marshmallows for delicious, gooey s’mores, which will be worth putting your book down for, since you’ll need both hands.

John Warner is the author of “Why They Can’t Write: Killing the Five-Paragraph Essay and Other Necessities.”

Twitter @biblioracle

Book recommendations from the Biblioracle

John Warner tells you what to read based on the last five books you’ve read

1. “The Woman in Cabin 10″ by Ruth Ware

2. “The Searcher” by Tana French

3. “The Lincoln Highway” by Amor Towles

4. “Nobody’s Fool” by Richard Russo

5. “This Will Not Pass: Trump, Biden and the Battle for America’s Future” by Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns

— Hilary P., St. Louis

Hilary obviously likes a good mystery, so it’s fortunate that Lisa Lutz has a new book out, “The Accomplice.”

1. “Little Women” by Louisa May Alcott

2. “Girl, Woman, Other” by Bernardine Evaristo

3. “Flights” Olga Tokarczuk

4. “Shuggie Bain” by Douglas Stuart

5. “To Paradise” by Hanya Yanagihara

— Nancy R., Indianapolis

There is some tough, emotionally grueling material in this list. I guess that’s what Nancy is drawn toward, but I want to lean into that while providing at least a little bit of light: “Olive Kitteridge” by Elizabeth Strout.

1. “Ancestor Trouble: A Reckoning and a Reconciliation” by Maud Newton

2. “The Premonition: A Pandemic Story” by Michael Lewis

3. “The Storyteller: Tales of Life and Music” by Dave Grohl

4. “Neil Young’s Harvest” by Sam Inglis

5. “Crying in H-Mart” by Michelle Zauner

— Lainey M., Chicago

All nonfiction in this list, so I feel compelled to stick in that territory. An interest in personal stories that intersect with culture and history seems apparent, which bring to mind, “Born a Crime: Stories from a South African” by Trevor Noah.

Get a reading from the Biblioracle

Send a list of the last five books you’ve read and your hometown to [email protected].

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