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Book Review: Summer Days and Summer Nights: 12 Love Stories edited by Stephanie Perkins

I thought about what time is, how we’re being broken every second, we’re losing moments all the time leaking them away like a stuffed animal losing its stuffing, until one day they’re all gone and we lose everything. Forever. And then, at the same time, we’re gaining seconds, moment after moment. Every one is a gift, until at the end of our lives we’re sitting on a rich hoard of moments. Rich beyond imagining. Time was both those things at once.

I have a bad habit when I read short story collections: I start them often but very rarely finish them. I always finish at least one story, usually at least three, but I almost never actually read all of the stories in the book. It’s not that I don’t enjoy reading short stories, I do. It’s more that I feel less compelled to keep reading because when the story ends the book itself—the words on the page, the cover and binding—feels finished. Then I get distracted by something else.

Summer daysA little while ago, some article somewhere (I read a lot of articles, essays, and reviews about books) mentioned that Lev Grossman had a fantastic short story that was published in a book called Summer Days and Summer Nights, which is a collection of short stories by young adult writers, each based in summer romances. I was happy to find that my library had already purchased it, and timed my check out of it so I could read it during the down time of my recent foot surgery.

And, I am happy to say: I read all the stories in this collection!

I didn’t love all of them, but I think that’s to be expected since not all of the writers click with my reading style. But I enjoyed all of them, and loved a couple.

Oddly enough, I think what helped me finish all of them (aside from me purposefully making this book only accessible when I was in the bathroom, and when you’re on crutches, the accessible book is the book you’ll read!) was that I started in the middle instead of the beginning. This kind of tricked my mind because physically I was halfway through the book and I nearly never don’t finish a book I get more than halfway through.

My favorite stories in the collection:

“Inertia” by Veronica Roth: set in a sci-fi future where dying patients can have a “Last Visitation” which allows their mind to connect to a loved one’s even after they no longer have a viable way of surviving their injuries or illnesses.

“Sick Pleasure” by Francesca Lia Block: because the romance reminded me a bit of some of my own high school escapades but mostly because the ending turns everything upside down in a way I didn’t expect.

“The Map of Tiny Perfect Things” by Lev Grossman. A reworking of the “groundhog day” trope, which is actually one of my least-favorite things in stories, but this one, about a boy who is inexplicably relieving August 4, does something new I hadn’t anticipated. I’m glad the story that caused me to check out the book in the first place was as good as it was advertised.

Do you like reading short stories?

(This is book #7 of my Summer Reading Challenge.)

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