Summer reading, depending on your definition, could be anything from beach brain candy to something heavy that you need more time and space and sunlight to get into. What does your reading list look like?
These days my summer list looks like a list from any other season — it depends on my mood, what is available, and other hard-to-define factors. I’ve been looking at other people’s lists for ideas (as usual), so here are some lists that I’ve looked at for your own amusement.
Ten unlikely heroes of children’s literature. I just finished Wizard of Earthsea for the first time, so I’ve just met Ged. I must admit that I’ve not met many of these unlikely heroes. I may have to work on that.
Books people think they’ll actually finish this summer. This list comes from readers responding to a Powell’s bookshop enquiry about the state of their summer reading. The photo of the Harry Potter books in this list is so great. I like my collected-over-time Potter set, but I think I’d trade it for this set, just for the look on the shelf. Check it out.
CBC’s list of 100 books (plus 10 more) that make you proud to be Canadian. To be honest, I saw the plus ten list first and I was a little shocked that some of these weren’t on the original 100! Who doesn’t put Anne of Green Gables on a list of 100 proudly Canadian books?!? Of the plus 10, I’ve read 4, and of the original 100 I’ve read 12, though I have many of the others on my shelf with good intentions. I should get on those good intentions and be a little more intentionally Canadian for part 2 of summer reading.
If you are looking for a new place to read this summer, this article suggests a bar between meals when it is only you and the bartender. I’m actually better with a coffee shop, though a mostly empty diner also works well for that isolation factor.
How’s your reading this summer? Anything good? What do you recommend?
A bit ago I posted a rant-like paragraph or two in this space about summer reading. I’ve found other people who are worried by the idea of required summer reading for kids in school. It is a bit of a no-win situation. Some kids like to read and will read all summer. They may be put off books that are required reading that they might otherwise like. On the other hand, some people get turned on to reading because someone made them read a book that they ended up loving.
I think one big issue is the way literature is taught in school. I speak as a teacher, but not a teacher of literature. I like to use novels in my teaching, but I’ve never studied how to talk about books. I just have students talk about books. This seems to work. I’m not saying that studying literature is a bad idea – but I think studying literature and criticism too soon is a bad idea. I wonder if classes can become communities of readers? Maybe that would prevent the studied hatred of poetry discussed in this poem.
What makes summer reading good reading? Is it a book? Are you reading it? Good.
So what IS summer reading exactly?
Lots of websites see summer reading as kid-specific, something to keep the brain active over the long vacation, or to get them ready for the fall term. If a school has a reading list for the summer, that just seems cruel. Isn’t a vacation supposed to mean no homework? Apparently not. Won’t this approach to summer reading make kids hate books more than they already do? Maybe. I hope there’s some choice involved, something to make the process engaging. I hope some kids who hate reading get at least a little break from the whole thing.
For those whose schedule doesn’t change for the summer, perhaps we should talk about vacation reading instead of summer reading. What kinds of books do people read on vacation? Fluff? Books that take more time or are more challenging? Some kind of combination?
I think of summer reading as reading I’ve been meaning to do but haven’t yet. Sometimes I know a book will absorb me in a way I don’t have time for when I’m not on vacation, so I save it for a spot when I’ll have the time to dive in. Sometimes summer reading means books that take more concentration. Then there are times when it is just fun to dive into some fantasy series and disappear to another world.
I don’t own a hammock or a muskoka chair, but those are the places I’d like to read a book in the summer. Maybe I’d change my mind if I did own such things, but I don’t think so. I’ve read books in a muskoka chair and it is always a good summer experience.
What about you? What do you think of when someone says “summer reading”?
Reading an article about summer reading I came across the felicitous phrase “summer binge-reading.” I’m not sure the hyphen needs to be there, so I took it out in my title. Let me give you the context:
“I had discovered the pleasures of summer binge-reading when I was twelve or thirteen, in the public library and its many shelves filled with science fiction and apparently endless supply of mysteries by Agatha Christie.”
I read this sentence and was instantly transported back to summer reading in my parents’ basement. Please understand that my Afamily lived in the South of Southwestern Ontario, in a city where one drove north to get to the Canada-US border crossing. Really. It was humid in the summer, humid like a swamp, probably because the city was built on a swamp, one the French settlers called Grand Marais. The only place in our house that was cool was the basement. It was still damp down there, but cool and damp, not sticky hot and sweaty. In the basement was a large yellow recliner. I’m not sure what it was made of, but lets call it fake leather. It got kind of sticky in the summer. When I was 12 and 13 I spent all possible moments of the summer in this chair in the basement reading library books and eating potato chips. This drove AMom a little crazy. “It is sunny and nice out, why aren’t you outside instead of stuck here in the basement?” “Too hot,” I’d mumble, eat another chip, and turn the page. Of course I wasn’t stuck in the basement at all. I was off on some adventure in space or in another world.
This is what I think of when I think summer reading. Now I know what my summer reading expectations are. Lots of books from the library, a large chair, and a cool spot to sit. And potato chips.