Books in short episodes also suit the season: The Pillow Book of Sei Sh┼Źnagon thrills me with Sh┼Źnagon's wit and lively mind. Maggie Nelson's Bluets is a hybrid of poetry and essays, opening with the confession that the narrator has fallen in love with the color blue. Toward the end of this book composed of numbered statements and references to the many shades of blue found in nature, art, and literature, the narrator tells us: "I am writing all this down in blue ink, so as to remember that all words, not just some, are written in water." This is a work I appreciate in all seasons, but I wonder whether Nelson finished writing it in summer, when the only way to prevent time (and words) from evaporating is by keeping both in casual but thoughtful view.

Helen Oyeyemi is the author of five novels, most recently Boy, Snow, Bird. She lives in Prague.


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