Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Summer Reading

Since I've been out of college, I've not only had more time to read, but more time to enjoy reading, especially in the summertime. There's no rush to a paper deadline, no stress over finding the hidden meaning in something seemingly arbitrary like an apple core, and best of all -- I can appreciate the writing because I'm not forcefully dissecting it.

My dad, who has always made sure I have a book on my night stand, sent me an email a few weeks ago telling me I should begin writing my memoirs now while I'm young and my short life is fresh in my mind. "Pish, posh, Father," I said, "I don't have the patience or the energy to write a book. This is why I blog." But I can certainly appreciate and look on in awe at those who do.

Whenever I'm on the hunt for a fresh read, I always make an effort to choose at least one book that I should have read years ago, or that friends of mine read in high school or for college classes that I never did. I didn't read Jane Eyre and The Old Man and the Sea until last summer, for example. In the end, I figure if a teacher finds a book that's worth spending several weeks discussing, it's got to have some value to my reading it.

I'm also hesitant to go back and reread books -- even some of my absolute favorites -- because I know the number of good ones I haven't read greatly outweigh the ones on my shelf. Although, I am dying to give Watership Down another try because I'm sure I'll find it much more fascinating now than when I read it in 7th grade.

With that in mind, and a week of lazy beach sitting in store for me all next week, Tad and I headed to our local Borders on Sunday. Thanks to the "buy 4 get the 5th book free!" special, I went book crazy and chose two "school" books, two 'fairly' recent NYTimes bestsellers and a old murder mystery, none of which I have read yet:

Life of Pi by Yann Martel

The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan

The Memory Keeper's Daughter by Kim Edwards

Atonement by Ian McEwan

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

I've started off with Life of Pi. If you have any reading suggestions for me, by all means send me a list. I tend to lean towards fiction as my genre of choice and I get wrapped up in novels about art, history and culture, but I'm open to other options. Especially if it comes teacher recommended.


Erin said...

Those are all FANTASTIC books. The Life of Pi is one you need to read twice -- there's a twist at the end that puts the rest of the story in a different light. Also, In Cold Blood was a lot more interesting that I expected. Great beach reads.

Ahhh I miss the LIBRARY. :( :(

(and I do the same thing, trying to balance "classic" books with "fun" reads. that's why I read Watership Down and Atlas Shrugged recently.)

Emily said...

I liked Life of Pi, but not as much as some people did. When it first came out in paperback, everyone went crazy for it, and I just thought it was good, not fantastic.

Joy Luck Club is great. I haven't read it in years, but I really like Amy Tan.

I HATED Atonement. It came highly recommended, I read it at the beach and was not impressed. I think it starts very slowly and that the ending is supremely annoying. The characters are not sympathetic and although it was well-written, I didn't like it. I refused to see the film even though it was well-reviewed. I've tried other Ian McEwans, and I haven't been a fan of those either. Maybe I just have lousy taste. Sigh.

Right now I am reading Twilight, which I also hate, but I'm determined to get through it so I can just say that I read it and didn't like it. I guess I like to be the Devil's Advocate when it comes to literature, because I usually don't like what everyone else loves.

Now for some books that I actually liked:

A couple of summers ago I read Middlesex which was awesome beach reading. A compelling (and crazy story) about a transgendered person. It's a page turner.

In college I read Of Mice and Men for the first time one summer. Even though I was an Orientation Advisor and had a group of students waiting to be advised when I was reading it (it's that good), I started crying at the ending. Nothing like a bunch of college freshmen thinking you're cool!

My all-time favorite book is To Kill a Mockingbird. I'm sure you've read it already.

When in doubt, Harry Potter is great. Even though other people are fans, too :)

As chick-lit goes, I am no fan of the Shopaholic Series, but I do enjoy the Sweet Potato Queens' Guide to Life as well as the Something Borrowed...Something Blue series (okay, I've only read the first one, but it wasn't mind-numbing).

I also am a big fan of childrens' literature. The only books I've ever reread in my life are Roald Dahl titles and I am a huge fan of A Series of Unfortunate Events. They're chock full of literary allusions and great fun to read aloud to anyone.

Next on my list for the summer is Moneyball, a book about the economics of baseball. I'll let you know how that is when I finish (ugh) Twilight.


Lauren Effron said...

I cannot believe you're reading Twilight. I laughed when I read that because my little sister is obsessed with that serious -- she doesn't dress like a vampire girl or anything, but she's in high school so forbidden love is sexy -- and you and her are complete opposites. Let me know how that goes haha.

I heard someone talking about MiddleSex on NPR a few weeks ago and it certainly sounded interesting. I'll keep it in mind, although I don't pick up non-fiction all that much (I did recently make an except with Three Cups of Tea).

I DEFINITELY want to read Of Mice and Men. I was in a community play of it when I was five but never picked up the book so, check for that one.

To Kill a Mockingbird is also my favorite book. My dad is Atticus Finch. And Harry Potter - given. Totally cried through key parts of that series.

I cannot stand chick-lit (I tried to read In Her Shoes once but only got through 50 pages before donating it). The only thing I've read that's come close is The Lovely Bones, which I loved and also cried in (and actually wrote a paper about).

I forgot about the Series of Unfortunate Events but I thought that movie was great so I'll keep that in mind too.

Thanks for all the info/insight! I love talking about books.