It's the First Day of Summer...December 03, 2014

... and reading a book is the last thing you want to do.

It's warm. Expect sunny days during the next few months. If you're from the south, then it won't be too humid outside. So this is not the time to spend more time indoors. If you still can't get enough of Schoolies Week, then this season is another chance. You're excited, as there are many things to do. But think it over.

You may want to read in between what you're doing. You have lots of time, and when the sun is getting to you, there's nothing else better to do than to open a book. You don't have to worry about killing the time, as you know what to do next. It shouldn't be a feature from the travel section of a newspaper, not any book either. Let's not play a game by naming - and reading - any book with "summer" in it. (No one's stopping you from reading "A Midsummer Night's Dream", but seriously.) Pick the titles that gives a sense of place.

Words can't describe a gorgeous place, but writers find a way. Experience has something to do with it, but it only gives a perspective. Some call it armchair travelling, but it's the journey that matters. There are many titles to choose from. Here are some of them:

The Lover (L'Amant). This is one of several books that Marguerite Duras wrote about her affair with a Chinese man. She was an impoverished teenager back then, while the fellow was wealthy and older by a decade. They first met at Mekong River. Some readers couldn't helped but wonder if the humidity played a part, while others wondered if Duras wanted a new experience. Many have come to Vietnam. The pagodas fascinated them, the clothes and food excited them. But Duras saw it differently. She wasn't the same person when she left for France.

Into the Wild. This was about Christopher McCandless's excursion into the Alaskan wilderness - and not coming back. Not a few criticized the young man for not taking the proper precautions, while his defenders pointed out the romantic aspects of his unusual adventure. You may have second thoughts about going on an excursion in Alaska (or the Canadian Rockies, for that matter). The Snowies can be a good alternative. New Zealand is a sea away.

Death in Venice. It's about the plague. It's about the search for beauty. It's about the decay, which prompts artists to be desperate in their search of what is pure and good. But this is about Venice, a lovely metropolis by the Adriatic. If you're a movie enthusiast, then you know why this northern city has been used as a setting. One too many. It's the canals and the gondolas. It's the structures dating back to Medieval time. It's the pigeons. It goes on and on.

Wives and Concubines. Su Tong's novel is about a husband and his four wives, how they manage to live inside a palatial compound in the ancient city of Pingyao, and what happens when jealousy leads to backstabbing and betrayal. Those who read it see it as an allegory against authoritarianism. But let's pass over the political aspect of the novel. The story will recall the Forbidden City, even the Great Wall. They look formidable. There's a sense of order in the structure. They are sights to behold.

Around the World in 80 Days. As the title implies, the novel takes readers to an adventure like no other. But a hot-air balloon can only be seen in places like Anatolia. Need we say more?

It's your turn to excite us with your list.

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