In this time of summer reading lists, I've been thinking about the seasonality of books. Are books really seasonal, and, if so, what makes a book a good "summer read"? Or are the seasons exploited by publishers and booksellers as merely another way to market books?
I starting thinking about these questions when I ran across a recent advertisement in an electronic newsletter geared towards booksellers marketing Samantha Hunt's The Invention of Everything Else (by all accounts, a great book) as "The Perfect Summer Read." This novel is about an actual historical figure--inventor Nikola Tesla--and his unlikely friendship with a young chambermaid in a New York hotel. There is nothing particularly summery about this book. In apparent recognition of this fact, the original hardcover edition was published in February 2008, and the more recent paperback edition was released in March of this year. In many parts of the world, February and March are decidely un-summery. The only reason I can see to market this paperback edition as a "summer read" is the fact that the calendar says it's June, almost July. The Invention of Everything Else may be the perfect summer read, but that's because it's a good book and not because it's somehow seasonal, like a ripe tomato or a dip in the ocean.