That's what mother used to say.
She loved to lie in the sun and read paperback novels while my younger siblings and I splashed about in a kiddie pool in the backyard.
Mother was a compulsive reader. And every time she finished a book she would proudly proclaim, "That was the best book I have ever read." Until she finished another book then that became the best book she had ever read.
So the cycle continued, each day, for an entire summer ... reading, splashing, sunburns and paperback novels flapping in the wind.
Of all the books mother ever read, the one that sticks out most in my memory is Herman Wouk's The Winds of War. (It's hard to forget a novel as big as that lying around for weeks on end. And mother seemed to enjoy it.)
One tranquil summer afternoon, sprinklers swishing and lawnmowers humming in the distance, mother put her swimsuit on and went outside to sunbathe and finish The Winds of War.
Hours passed while my younger siblings and I frolicked about, until finally, down to the very last page, mother got up for just a moment - as many avid readers do, in order to give reverence and pause before finishing a good book - and when she returned, iced tea in hand, our Jack Russell Terrier, Deacon, was gnawing and slobbering all over The Winds of War and the last page was missing.
This was tragic, I remember thinking to myself. Up until that point in time Old Yeller had been the longest book I had ever read and it seemed like a tome. I couldn't imagine what it must have felt like to have read something so long as this and not be able to finish the last page. "Whatever will you do?" I remember asking my mother. We had no money to buy a new book and the library was closed. And lord knew no one else in our nonliterary circle of friends had this atrociously long novel lying about.
But mother was a sly one. Swiftly she threw on a blouse and some flip flops, hurried me and my brother and sister into the station wagon and nary a word, drove like a mad woman down to the local drugstore where she strutted in, sunburned, bare-legged and resolute, three soggy kids in tow, straight toward a spinning rack of books where she promptly picked up The Winds Of War, read the very last page, then gently placed it back upon the rack and turned and strutted back out the door again.
Three elderly townsmen stared, jaws agape, at this spectacle they had just witnessed. And as we eased away, mother boldly proclaimed, "Now that was the best book I have ever read."
I was impressed with my mother that day and never forgot The Winds of War. And years later, during a late night game of Trivial Pursuit, before my husband's drunken college buddy could slur the words out of his mouth, I knew the answer to "Who wrote The Winds of War?"
It was rare moments like these when I cherished my kooky, crafty mother the most. She didn't give me much, but she instilled in me a love of reading and a love of books and for that I will be eternally grateful.
So what's on your summer reading list?
Nothing so long as The Winds Of War, I hope.
I am in need of some ideas.
These are the books I have read thus far and am happy to report that I recommend all three:
If you haven't read Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day then you are in for a treat.
The Optimist's Daughter is a classic that does not disappoint.
And My Cousin Rachel was worth feeling like a zombie the next day after staying up all night to finish.