I used to think us Texans reserved the right to complain about the heat July through August. Unfortunately, it seems to have spread. More and more of us are rearranging our lives to spend as little time outdoors as possible, and get everything done that absolutely must occur outside before 9:00 a.m.
I’ve always thought of those extra-hot days as the dog days of summer. However, turns out I was wrong. Or at least a little off target.
I thought the dog days described the hottest days, which in Texas is the entire month of August. The use of “dog days,” I assumed, came from the fact that dogs lay about all sprawled and lazy when it’s hot.
Dogs DO sprawl on their back to let heat escape from their exposed belly, but that’s not where the name comes from. It’s astronomical (as in, astronomy, not ginormous). These hot summer days are named after the star Sirius, which is the brightest star in our sky (except for our Sun, of course). Sirius holds a place in the constellation Canis Major, which is Latin for “great dog.” When Sirius (the Dog Star) rises before the sun, that time of year is typically mid- to late-summer. Ancients watched for the appearance of Sirius in the dawning sky to know when the flooding of the Nile River would commence.
So the dog days of summer are tied to the Dog Star, not the behavior of our favorite pets.
Be that as it may, regardless of what we call this period of summer, it’s HOT. This is when my lawn turns brown and the grass gets crunchy. This is when people post pictures of baking cookies or dehydrating fruit inside their cars or frying eggs on their sidewalks. The asphalt in our roads melts, and the sticky sound of the tires on your car as they roll along the road is audible.
So what’s a person to do? Going outside invites a heat stroke. How can we pass our time comfortably ensconced indoors with our AC blowing and every ceiling fan in the house turned on rocket speed? Read a book, of course! And I have a great recommendation for you. It even has the word “summer” in the title, so you can experience the great outdoors vicariously while you read.
What book do I refer to? The Best Summer of Our Lives, written by Rachel Hauck. Here is the blurb from the back of the book:
“Twenty years ago, the summer of ’77 was supposed to be the best summer of Summer Wilde’s life. She and her best friends, Spring, Autumn, and Snow–the Four Seasons–had big plans.
But those plans never had a chance. After a teenage prank gone awry, the Seasons found themselves on a bus to Tumbleweed, “Nowhere,” Oklahoma, to spend eight weeks as camp counselors. All four of them arrived with hidden secrets and buried fears, and the events that unfolded in those two months forever altered their friendships, their lives, and their futures.
Now, thirtysomething Summer is at a crossroads. When her latest girl band leaves her in a motel outside Tulsa, she is forced to face the shadows of her past. Returning to the place where everything changed, she soon learns Tumbleweed is more than a town she never wanted to see again. It’s a place for healing, for reconciling the past with the present, and for finally listening to love’s voice.”
Ooh, there is so much nostalgia written into this story. And when you have chapter titles like “We Can Work It Out,” and “One More For the Road,” the memories of your own best summer with best friends open up and flood your mind.
Rachel had these things to say about writing in general.
PP: Which of your books was your favorite one to write?
RH: Wow, great question. I’ve been sitting here thinking of “which one,” and I can’t say I have a favorite. All of them were fun … until I started writing. Ha! Then reality set in and I had to do the work to find the best story. I guess I’ll say this: my favorite book is the one I’m thinking of next. The creative, inspirational stage is the best. But putting it down on paper is hard.
PP: What has been the most fun part of being a successful writer?
RH: In 2012, I wrote a “bucket list” for a blog I was a part of. In truth, it was more of an impossible list. One of my four things was to “hit the New York Times.” Well, there’s no way I could make that happen on my own. But getting the call from my publisher and hearing, “Rachel, you’re a New York Times bestselling author,” was pretty darn fun.
PP: What has been the biggest challenge about being a successful writer?
RH: As with all success or failures in life, I can’t let them define me. I keep focused on my family and friends, my relationship with the Lord and who He says I am. Writing, at the end of the day, is my job. I love having success, but I don’t let it define me. The year I hit the New York Times, I knew the next year might be slow, quiet, and possibly with no accolades. I determined to cheer on the author who was succeeding, getting the awards and the bestseller.
PP: When you have time to read for pleasure (not reading to keep up on trends in your genre … just for you), which author is your go-to?
RH: I don’t have a go-to author. Rather, I like stories. If the story appeals to me, I’ll read it even if I’ve never read the author before. Of course, over time there are some authors I know will tell a good story every time, but for me it’s about the story itself.
PP: If money was no object, and you had no chance of failure, what would you like to do (other than writing)?
RH: Ooo, I’d love to be one of the sideline reporters for college football.
PP: If you discovered you had one year to live, what three things would rise to the top of your to-do list?
RH: 1. Spend time before the Lord in prayer and worship. 2. Do what He tells me to do. 3. Spend time before the Lord in prayer and worship.
It’s gonna be hot for the next several weeks. Fix yourself a tall glass of iced tea, grab a copy of The Best Summer of Our Lives, and settle in. And enjoy. You can thank me later for the recommendation.
Everyone who comments or shares this will be entered into a drawing to win your own copy of Rachel’s book. Good luck!
And the winner is Lee Carver!