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July 6, 2009

Books from the Bottom of my Pool Bag

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Summer romances can take more forms than one, as any fan of Edward Cullen and Chuck Bass can attest. Below, Teenreads.com intern Allie Bodack looks back on some of her literary first loves, and falls back on an old flame she's happy to revisit time and time again.


For the past five summers, I have been working as a lifeguard at the pool of an apartment complex. Let me first clear something up before you get the wrong idea. When I say “lifeguard”, I am not referring to spending strenuous hours sweating high up on a lifeguard stand, attentively watching to ensure the safety of children playing pool-side, or that no one is holding their friend’s head under the water for too long. No, that is not what I am doing at all. My duties fall at the complete other end of the spectrum. My normal clientele consists of about five elderly women who enjoy spending endless hours lying in the sun, ordering take-out, and playing cards. Don’t get me wrong --- I love these women, but they do not necessarily make my nine-hour pool days pass quickly. On an eighty-degree, not-a-cloud-in-the-sky summer day, I’ll be lucky if one person ventures into the pool beyond the occasional “quick dip” that my reliable girls take hourly to ensure they are getting perfectly golden tans during their games of Rummy. So how do I pass the lonely hours? Huddled under the shade of an umbrella, I read…a lot.

Sometime during my early years of lifeguarding, I fell in love. Actually, to be quite honest, I fell in love a few times. First, it was with the number one “it” girl, Blair Waldorf, and the gorgeous Nate Archibald. There was something about her endless supply of Manolo shoes…or was it his flawlessly tanned lacrosse body? Regardless, I ended up soaring through the Gossip Girl series, one book after the next. Then it was the awkward, but still somehow loveable, Lee Fiora from Curtis Sittenfeld’s novel PREP. Oh, and of course, my ultimate go-to crush, Marcus Flutie, from Megan McCafferty’s Jessica Darling series. Somewhere along the way, I also discovered my love for J. K. Rowling’s infamous trio, Harry Potter, Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, a series that truly spanned across my years at the pool. Alright, I guess I fell in love more than just few times.

Nearly five years later, I look around the pool and realize that not much has changed. I still see my five girls chatting away as they deal out the cards, and an empty pool in front of me. I then look into my pool bag, where HARRY POTTER AND THE DEATHLY HALLOWS lies on the top. Would you judge me if it was my third read-through? Don’t get me wrong, I read new books all the time, and not just from the YA, teenage girl-coming-of-age genre. There is something comforting about falling back into the adventures that I have grown up with and have learned to know so well, especially after the third reading. I definitely will be picking up a few of this summer’s “must reads”, but for now, the books buried deep in my pool bag from years past feel just right.

-- Allie Bodack