mona simpson beach reads 2014

Illustration: Thomas Allen

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Because Some Books Are Better Than a Vacation
Henry James once said that the two most beautiful words in the English language are summer afternoon. (F. Scott Fitzgerald also appears to have loved this season: “I had that familiar conviction that life was beginning over again with the summer,” he wrote in The Great Gatsby.) Many of my happiest summer afternoons have been spent inside the ones he created. When Isabel Archer crosses the English lawn to meet her destiny, it thrills me to remember that James was inside his still sitting room, composing the scene, reveling in its imagined splendor.
—Mona Simpson, author of Anywhere but Here, is a Guggenheim Fellow and Whiting award winner whose most recent novel is Casebook.

Read the rest of Mona Simpson's essay on the books that took her on an inner vacation