1. Sometime in mid-April, realize that the lines you are doodling on your legal pad at work are stacking themselves into the weeks and months of summer.
2. Request your vacation days, squeezing each for maximal sunshine and minimal expense.
3. Unearth the box of your summer clothes with a heavy puff.
4. Survey your bookshelves and wonder about how your summer will be.
5. Add one book that’s almost too heavy to carry around by itself, your summer anchor, the kind of thing you can use to hold a corner of a towel down at the beach, the book that could set the tone for the whole summer — at least you hope so.
6. Pile on three or four books about who you want to be, something bigger than your commute and your vacation plans.
7. Unearth the gifts you opened months ago, still dusty with good feelings.
8. And oh, how about those discoveries you made at bookstores in Houston and Portland, recycling someone else’s hard labors into your own.
9. Top them all with something new that you have been looking forward to the symbolic event of buying, just to carry it out of the store in a paper envelope like a prize.
10. Stack them all precariously on your floor so when you hop out of bed every morning, to roll out your yoga mat on the beach or stand in a meadow in western Massachusetts with two economists and a composer, there they are.
11. Realize at the top of August that there’s no way you could possibly finish all of those books. Take delight in that. Realize in a way that was the point. Wish anyway that summer would never end.