Return to Dandelion Wine (thing)

Beautiful, semi-autobiographical novel written by Ray Bradbury and published in 1957. This evocative and nostalgic (but almost plotless) book details the Summer of 1928 in a small town in Illinois, focusing on a boy named Douglas Spaulding.

Bradbury's writing is extremely rich and very sensory-oriented: the reader will get the feeling that he or she knows, from the writing alone, exactly what fox grapes smell like, what new sneakers feel like, what homemade lemonade tastes like on a hot day, what an old baseball glove smells like, what it's like to be afraid of the dark for no good reason, what a caterpillar feels like when it crawls on your arm, what it's like to get up early in the morning just to watch the world wake up...

It's also, sometimes, a scary and sad book. Bradbury's thoughts, even at their most optimistic, never stray too far from the darkness, and even Douglas Spaulding's perfect summer is marred by fear and panics, by failed magics, by loss and death. Douglas begins the novel by realizing, for the first time, that he's alive, and the downside of that is learning about mortality.

More than likely, no one ever had a summer this wonderful as a child, but it's the summer that we all should have had. It's most fun to read this book in the dead of winter -- You can almost feel the snow melting around you as you read...