Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading

Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading

by Donna Harrington-Lueker


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The publishing phenomenon of summer reading, often focused on novels set in vacation destinations, started in the nineteenth century, as both print culture and tourist culture expanded in the United States. As an emerging middle class increasingly embraced summer leisure as a marker of social status, book publishers sought new market opportunities, authors discovered a growing readership, and more readers indulged in lighter fare.

Drawing on publishing records, book reviews, readers’ diaries, and popular novels of the period, Donna Harrington-Lueker explores the beginning of summer reading and the backlash against it. Countering fears about the dangers of leisurely reading—especially for young women—publishers framed summer reading not as a disreputable habit but as a respectable pastime and welcome respite. Books for Idle Hours sheds new light on an ongoing seasonal publishing tradition.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781625343833
Publisher: University of Massachusetts Press
Publication date: 12/12/2018
Series: Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book
Pages: 248
Sales rank: 1,043,106
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Donna Harrington-Lueker is professor of English at Salve Regina University.

Table of Contents

Preface ix

Abbreviations xiii

Introduction: On Summer Books and Summer Reading 1

Chapter 1 Nineteenth-Century Travel, Tourism, and Summer Leisure 14

Chapter 2 "As Welcome and Grateful as the Girls hi Muslin": Nineteenth-Century Periodicals and the Marketing of Summer Reading 35

Chapter 3 Society and Saturnalia: The Cultural Work of the American Summer Novel 61

Chapter 4 "Hurrying … Forward for the Summer Trade": William Dean Howells's Dialogue with the Popular Summer Novel 88

Chapter 5 "This Is Why I Do Not Board": The Role of Place and Space in Victorian Summer Reading 120

Chapter 6 Chautauqua Assemblies, Summer Schools, and Catholic Reading Circles: The Case for Serious Summer Reading 152

Epilogue: Changing Times, Persistent Practices 176

Appendix A American Summer Novels, 1867-1915 181

Appendix B The Summer Novels of William Dean Howells 185

Notes 187

Index 219

What People are Saying About This

Ardis Cameron

This book's research is impressive, including summaries of popular literature, both by known and unknown authors; the economics of nineteenth-century publishing; discourses generated by the literary press and marketing strategies; and the exploration of space and reading practices.

Tom Glynn

Books for Idle Hours is a well-written, carefully researched work on the history of the summer novel and summer reading. This is an important topic in the history of reading in America that has received little scholarly attention.

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