This holiday weekend while many New Yorkers will flee the steaming asphalt jungle for fancy beach houses in the Hamptons and rustic cabins in the Catskills, I’ll be hanging by the pool with my beach towel and a book. The public pool, that is. I know. I know. You are thinking sheer chaos: crowded locker rooms, hordes of screaming kids jumping on top of each other, pool decks packed with sunbathing bodies.
But I have discovered at my neighborhood pool, the landmarked Asser Levy , that if I arrive at 11 am sharp on Sunday morning I and a few old ladies in flowered swim caps (chin straps optional) have the pool to ourselves. And this summer there is the added bonus of lovely new deck chairs.
So what to read for my first Sunday at the pool? I thought I would start off with my favorite John Cheever short story, "The Swimmer" about a middle-aged man who decides to go home by swimming across the pools of Westchester County. A brilliant study in disillusionment but maybe a bit too melancholy for a poolside read? How about something a little more cheerier. A good choice might be Betsy Carter’s Swim to Me, a charming novel about a young woman who leaves her dysfunctional Bronx family to become a Weeki Watchie mermaid in Florida..
Then for pure excitement and terror, there’s Peter Benchley’s classic fish tale, Jaws, which still puts the fear of the water, even the chlorinated kind, in me. As a soothing antidote to Benchley’s malevolent shark, long-distance swimmer Lynne Cox’s enchanting memoir, Grayson, recalls her "adoption" by a baby whale who had become separated from his mother.
What would you recommend for your own poolside book party? Do you have any other favorite aquatic titles? Wishing you a Happy Fourth. Happy Swimming and Happy Reading!