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Books for Idle Hours: Nineteenth-Century Publishing and the Rise of Summer Reading (Studies in Print Culture and the History of the Book) (Paperback)
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.
About the Author
Donna Harrington-Lueker is professor of English at Salve Regina University.
"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."—Tom Glynn, author of Reading Publics: New York City’s Public Libraries, 1754–1911
"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."—Ardis Cameron, author of Unbuttoning America: A Biography of “Peyton Place”