Finally – finally! – the days are longer and we can revel in the fact that evenings are brighter, lighter and so much nicer. As we approach midsummer, or more specifically the longest day of the year on the 21st of June, we can look forward to spending more time outside and as we all know, daylight does make us feel much better. It is a brightness that, down the years, has been reflected by many onto the page…
There are some brilliant examples of literature linked to this time of year. First up: Shakespeare’s wonderfully magical A Midsummer Night’s Dream – a fantastical tale of potions, love, confusion, characters called Bottom and much more. Of course, this is one of the Bard’s most well-known comedies so if you don’t know it, it is well worth digging deeper and enjoying this play at the height of summer.
It’s not just Shakespeare, though. In Greek mythology, the summer solstice was the first day of the year in the Greek calendar. Many writers have explored the beauty of midsummer through their work. Derek Walcott, in Midsummer, Tobago, includes a perfect couplet when he says, ‘White heat/A green river’ – this sums up the middle of the year in a beautifully simplistic way. Canadian writer Margaret Atwood describes the solstice as ‘… the still point of the sun… where the past lets go of and becomes the future…’ By saying this, she is highlighting how such a pivotal time of year can have such a profound impact on people. Tove Jansson – most famous for being the creator of the Moomins – captures summer brilliantly in The Summer Book, set on a Finnish island. Although it isn’t strictly autobiographical, it is a great read which captures this time of year.
If fiction isn’t your thing, and you like reading non-fiction or memoir, you could try Laurie Lee’s As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning. Laurie Lee is particularly well-known for writing Cider with Rosie about his life in the Cotswolds. Or, inspired by Lee’s Midsummer book, you might enjoy Alastair Humphreys’ My Midsummer Morning – this was written more recently (2019) and focuses on his violin busking adventure through Spain! Reading about summer adventures can be a great way of getting you in the summer mood. And you never know – it might inspire you to have your own amazing adventure!
So, if you are at a loss as to how to occupy yourself in midsummer, may I suggest settling down somewhere with a good book. You never know where it could take you.