Remember those summer reading lists we used to get when we were in school—books that were either required or “recommended” for us to read before school started the next year? Even though I’ve always loved reading, I used to hate those lists. Rarely did they contain something I wanted to read, and somehow it took some of the fun out of reading when it was assigned. Even now, I’m an extremely random reader—drifting from book to book as suits my mood. I don’t often plan out a course of reading, though I admire those who do, and I love to see other people’s reading lists (like Danielle’s at A Work in Progress) and summer reading recommendations (click here for some fun ones).
This summer, to make the most of what I hope will be extra reading time (when most people are preparing to get outdoors more in summer, here in central Florida, I’m planning ways to stay indoors as much as I can—it’s just too dang hot and humid), I thought I’d try making up my own reading list in an effort to read more widely and carefully instead of just reading more.
I started my list with books from the pattern that has emerged the past couple of years. For instance, every summer, I read a biography or autobiography of a writer. In past years, I’ve read about Edna St. Vincent Millay, Louisa May Alcott and Elizabeth Barrett and Robert Browning. This summer, I’ve picked up a volume of L.M. Montgomery’s journals (she’s the author of the Anne of Green Gables series, see below), and I think I might also tackle Mark Twain’s autobiography.
Interestingly, for the past two summers I’ve read a book by Wilkie Collins (The Moonstone and The Woman in White). This year, it’s No Name, the story of Magdalen and Norah Vanstone, who find themselves orphaned and penniless when their inheritance goes to their uncle.
I also like to pick up a classic. I’m already working on The Three Musketeers (which I started months ago—not a reflection on the story, but on the fact that I’m reading it on my tablet, which I dislike for reading). I’m also considering Eudora Welty’s Delta Wedding, which is described on Amazon as “A vivid and charming portrait of a large southern family, the Fairchilds, who live on a plantation in the
delta. The story…[is] centered around the visit of a
young relative, Laura McRaven, and the family’s preparations for her cousin
Dabney’s wedding.” I’m just discovering Welty’s work, and so far I’ve loved
everything I’ve read. Mississippi
I’ll continue with my vintage mystery challenge—with Ngaio Marsh’s Spinsters in Jeopardy—what a great title!—up next. I’ll probably also sneak in another Georgette Heyer mystery. I’m working my way through the Sourcebooks Landmark editions with their terrific vintage covers.
What would summer be like without a comfort reread (or two…or more!)? I’m thinking of revisiting Mary Stewart’s The Moon-Spinners (especially for the Cretan setting), and Anne’s House of Dreams, the fifth book in Anne of Green Gables series. And I think it’s about time I reread an Agatha Christie mystery.
And lest you think I’m eternally stuck in the past, I also want to read Barbara Kingsolver’s newest novel Flight Behavior, I’m working on the fourth Maisie Dobbs mystery, Messenger of Truth and I’m already more than halfway through Jenny Lawson’s Let’s Pretend This Never Happened. (Jenny is better known as The Bloggess.)
My summer list also includes Dave Barry’s I’ll Mature When I’m Dead and Val Frankel’s memoir, It’s Hard Not to Hate You, as well as Debbie Macomber’s Between Friends and Patricia Wentworth’s The Catherine Wheel, another vintage mystery.
Whew. That should more than take me through the summer! And if it doesn’t, I still have quite a mountain of choices on my shelves, despite my efforts to whittle them down. (Tip: in order to effectively reduce one’s total “mountain” of books, one must quit buying books. So much easier said than done.)