Making Summer Reading Lists

As the school year comes to a close, I begin looking forward to the summer by crafting a reading list.  I know, I know, this sounds like it’s making work out of fun, but there’s an art to the reading, particularly the different types of reading, I want to do over the summer.  I want the ebb and flow of challenging books and light reading, fiction and nonfiction, and genre and literary.

Also, I like what creating a reading list tells me about my own tastes, and how those tastes reflect back on the choices I make as a writer. If my novel were sitting on my shelf, would I be reaching for it? (I hope so … but it’s a good question to ask.)

I also like it as a log of my development as a reader and a way to reflect on the influences on my writing.  Over the years, I’ve read books—The Blind Assassin, The Big Sleep, etc.—that have had powerful impact on my work; however, it’s only been since I’ve consciously curated my reading that I’ve started to understand my tastes better: fiction with female protagonists; stories with a historical milieu; morally ambiguous characters; dark emotional terrain; rich, at times lyrical description, but not as the expense of plot—and never sentimental.  Unsurprisingly, my writing embodies my reading tastes.

However—and what interests me the most—are the outlier books, works that don’t easily fit in.  For instance, I placed Ali Smith’s Artful on my summer reading list, a genre-bending book, part novel, part collection of essays.  Am I curious even now why I was initially attracted to this book?  In part, it’s because of its lovely cover (no joke) and in part its because I’ve heard so many intriguing things about Smith’s writing.

Most of all, my reading list is a declaration to myself that I’m free to read what I want (for the most part) after a year of reading for school.  As much as writing, it’s a form of self-expression and requires that freedom to survive.

So, here it is .. and of course it can (and will) change.  (If you have any suggestions, respond to this blog or be my friend of Goodreads.)

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4 Comments

Filed under Classic Novels/Mysteries, Contemporary Novels/Thrillers, Marketing You and Your Work, Teaching and Writing

4 responses to “Making Summer Reading Lists

  1. Maddie

    I know exactly how you feel and, frankly, I do much the same thing. My problem as a list maker is that, too often, my list becomes too long to tackle successfully (I add new books to the curriculum, people suggest titles, kids tell me I just have to read…something…etc.). Still, a good, long list is better than no list at all. I will also tell you that you have two great choices in your pile – I loved – LOVED – Rules of Ciivility and liked Z, too. Have fun and, if you need a few more, I have suggestions!

    • I know. My lists are too long and always getting shuffled and reshuffled. I’d love more suggestions, though. I’ve made my Amazon Wish List and, to a certain degree, my Goodreads “to-read” list suggestion banks.

  2. Margo

    Interesting, I made my summer reading list saturday morning; just getting it on paper made me feel as if I was emptying my “overloaded brain.” I have two columns, professional and personal. Professional is a lot longer than personal, something tells me that is a bad sign. Although, one that has been on the personal for awhile, I moved to professional cause I saw it on the US list: Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. I am starting with that (audio book) then moving to the Alchemist (on the beach), and then girlchild (sounds very difficult/sad – but recommended by all my cousins). Reading and writing are separate domains in my brain, I don’t connect them anymore, possibly because I am not an English teacher?

    • You know, I didn’t include my professional reading on my list, because it often doesn’t inform me as a writer. It influences me as a teacher, of course, but it doesn’t really reveal me to myself. That doesn’t mean I’m not interested or won’t get a lot out of that reading, it’s just that it says little about my tastes. Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks is so interesting!

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