My Friend Susan

I’m (still) traveling–squee! 

But my good friend, the poet Susan Grimm, is here to share some thoughts and memories about  summer reading.  Susan is the author of two poetry collections, Almost Home and Lake Erie Blue, and editor of the collection Weathering the Storm: How to Put Together a Book of Poems.  Susan blogs at

Susan and her sister, fiction writer Mary Grimm, spent their summers writing stories and playing complicated, imaginary games–think the Brontes, minus the moors and the drunken brother. (By the way, Girl of the Limberlost is on my list to re-read, too). Susan writes:

When I was little (but not too little), I would read some books over and over. I read The Dandelion Cottage every summer and The Little White Horse even more frequently. I have a hazy idea of both stories, lo, these many years later, but isn’t that how memory always works—I remember one thing and you another. I remember that the four girls in Dandelion Cottage wallpapered some of the rooms of the deserted cottage. (This must have been a time when I still thought I would be domestically gifted.) And I remember the girl in The Little White Horse had a riding habit and a container of biscuits (English for cookies) at the side of her bed.
I was the sort of child who loved the summer reading club’s recognition of what I did all year long. Stars for the books I gobbled. Maybe those librarians were my first audience as I had to recap the story I read. One time, I was tested by a suspicious woman who didn’t believe I could read words like “sewing machine”!
Nowadays, I still like to make lists of what to read during the summer, although it’s not the adult equivalent of Swallows and Amazons (pemmican, “If not duffers . . .”) or The Valley of Adventure (the glittering eyes of the statues and how those Brits always call blankets “rugs”). Usually, I’m looking for something that might be considered heavy reading by some. A book that I’ve somehow neglected or a book that might give me ideas about my own work. One summer involved Moby Dick, another Middlemarch. Recently, I made my way through American Hybrid: A Norton Anthology of New Poetry.
I haven’t made my list for this year although I guess I could start it with the book of poems by Rae Armantrout that I’m reading now.
But maybe I should revisit the things I read in those early years. Just recently, in an extremely oppositional venue (the office where I work), I read The Five Children and It through Daily Lit. (This was a much better choice than Walt Whitman—who I like—but not in this form of delivery.) Every day I would get a little slice of the five children’s adventures, the Psammead’s perverse wish-granting mischief, and the wry, knowing narrator’s voice, sometimes addressing the reader directly. It was still great!
What else could I revisit? The Little Lame Prince, Hetty: Her First Hundred Years, Anne of Green Gables, Caddie Woodlawn, Girl of the Limberlost, A Wrinkle in Time, The Diamond in the Window, A Treasury of Golden Memories, Return to Gone-Away.