Summer may have just started, but is anyone else’s brain already in vacation mode? Are we all ready to be sitting on patios in the sunshine, sipping margaritas? If you need a little inspiration, or if you’re unable to head out into the sunshine just yet, now is a good time to dip your toes into summertime vibes with some hot weather movies. Below, I’ve pulled a list together of some of my all-time films for the summer season that you can find in the VPL catalogue (sorry, no Palm Springs or Fire Island just yet). But this list is by no means exhaustive (keeping it to five was a struggle, as you’ll see), so feel free to share your own favourites in the comments!
Really, any movie in Richard Linklater’s Before trilogy would be a good choice (take your pick of locale: Vienna, Paris, or Greece), but since Before Sunrise is the first in the series, it’s best to start there. The 1995 film takes place on a single summer day. Jesse (American) and Celine (French) are on separate paths, but those paths cross for a moment on a train. Deciding to make the best of fate, they disembark and spend the rest of the day (and night) wandering the streets of Vienna, deep in conversation. That’s literally the whole plot, so your enjoyment of this kind of movie hinges on how much you love listening to people talk. The acting is so naturalistic that it’s easy to mistake Ethan Hawke’s and Julie Delpy’s performances as improvisations. The Before trilogy holds a special place in cinema history for its sequel rollouts: Before Sunset catches up with Jesse and Celine nine years later, this time in Paris. It’s a treat to see how they’ve matured, and we’re gifted another glimpse into their lives with Before Midnight, which takes place another nine years later, this time in Greece. But Before Sunrise holds a special charm owing to Jesse and Celine’s youth, with all their naïve philosophizing, and the will-they-or-won’t-they pull between them. These are two actors who play beautifully off each other, Delpy with a keenly European romanticism (and prettily messy French girl hair) and Hawke with the depth to match it (he has recently come out with what is, in my opinion, the correct take on the “are superhero movies art” debate—something very in line with Jesse!).
Now that the snow has melted and the parks and trails are starting to become green and vibrant again, it’s time to go visit the StoryWalks once more! Starting in late May, you’ll find a nice surprise to greet you at each of the same trails as before, with new StoryWalk panels installed at select parks throughout Vaughan (one in each ward)! These are new titles, so if you made your way through all of them last year, be sure to check them out once again! If you haven’t heard about them before, VPL has partnered with the City of Vaughan’s Department of Parks to offer a different reading experience: you get to read a story as you make your way through the park. Who says reading is an indoor activity?
And while you’re making your way out onto the trails, why not bring along one of our many Nature Backpacks with you? We have 7 different types of Nature Backpacks, each packed with themed activities, including magnifying glasses, binoculars, books and more! Do you go crazy for bugs? Check out Things with Wings, or maybe Creepy, Crawly Critters! Animal lover? You can learn how to identify Who’s Been Here? with our Nature Backpacks, so you’ll be able to figure out who’s visiting your local park or backyard. Or if you love seeing Spring bloom and grow, you might be interested in Buds, Blossoms & Leaves. And if you just love everything there is to know about the outdoors, you’ll want to get your hands on the Explore Outdoors backpack! In fact, the fun doesn’t end once Winter comes around again, so don’t forget about the Winter Outdoor Fun backpacks!
I had a discussion with a friend recently about what makes someone associate a movie with a particular season. This started because I said that Catch Me if You Can is a Christmas movie (despite having little to do with Christmas) and Mean Girls is a Halloween movie (despite having a very famous Christmas scene). Sometimes, it’s simply about the ephemeral phenomena we like to call vibes.It’s not really explainable, but you know it when you see it—or, more accurately, feel it. So what makes a beach read, a beach read? Does it even require a beach?
Since we’re still in summer’s sweaty thrall, it appears a lot of us have beach books on the brain; Book Riot recently posted an article titled “What Makes a Book a Beach Read?” and it got me thinking. Imagine lying on a pineapple blanket in the hot summer sun, the sound of crashing wavessprinkled with the sound of laughter, eating a popsicle and trying to read Anna Karenina. The disconnect is too great. Basically, when you’re stretched out in the sun (or the shade),you don’t want your brain to be doing too much work.
Before I go on, let me address the elephant in the room.Oftentimes, “beach reads” are synonymous with “women’s fiction”: light, fluffy, romantic, nothing too strenuous. Of course, this assumption has blatantly sexist roots, assuming that “books by women, about women, are more likely to be considered “light reading.”’ But let’s say that this flavour of “women’s fiction” actually islight reading—is that even a problem? I did just say I don’t want to use my brain. Perhaps women have just unlocked another level of enjoyment with this genre? The tension between “women’s fiction” and “literary fiction”—and that fact that those are considered two different things—is at the core of Emily Henry’s new novel aptly titled Beach Read. The plot is ripe for rom-com goodness: a struggling writer of women’s fiction moves into the beach house next door to—gasp!—her literary rival since college. Of course, the rival is an attractive, successful man. But Emily Henry uses this tropey set-up to explore what makes something a “beach read”; her main characters agree to swap genres (heavy literary fiction for romance) to overcome their respective writers block, and in doing so learn the value of each. Not just a beach-set rom-com, Beach Read—as its blunt title suggests—is a meta exploration of its genre.