Back in high school, I didn’t watch much television or surfed the then-burgeoning Internet (we had basic channels and I had to go next door to check my email). Rather, I devoured books. I read them so quickly, that if I was reading a book whose page count hit the triple digits, I could estimate how many days it would take to read it by taking the first digit of the last page number. That’s about a hundred pages a day, give or take. My mom was even more of a bookworm than I am. When she passed away, my private library swelled by well over a hundred volumes, most of them Koontz, King, and Rice.
However, college happened, and reading for pleasure was mostly relegated to the summer. When college ended, much like with my writing, reading for pleasure became something that proved to be a little difficult to get back into. Some authors and series captured my attention: Butcher’s Dresden Files, anything by Robin McKinley, Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse (until the book before last (I HATE what she’s done to Sookie (seriously, don’t get me started))), Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle, etc.
But now, with my seventh draft of CLARA in its reading/editing stage, I’m ready to fling myself into the sea of pages and ink. Countless authors counsel reading as a way of improving writing. Many take it a step further and say you can’t be a writer at all if you don’t read, which makes sense. To be honest, one of the reasons why I tend to be so picky about books is because half of my brain is analyzing the writer’s craft. I hit something I don’t like, then I see it on every page and suspension of disbelief takes a flying leap out the window.
So, in my bid to be a better writer, and because my birthday last month has made me nostalgic for those days I spent all day reading, I’ve written up a list of books I’m going to read over the summer. Some of these are volumes that have been collecting dust at home and need to be read before the mice find them. Some are books I’ve been told I should read if I want to claim to have any good taste at all. Some I’ve seen on the shelf of my local bookstore or library and just can’t help myself anymore.
My summer reading will officially begin on June 1st and run to Labor Day (Sept. 3). I chose Labor Day because I remember when that was considered the unofficial end of summer. Pools closed, kids accepted the inevitability of school, etc. (In some places, I hear it begins to cool off, but I think that’s just a horrible rumor Yankees tell “gullible” Southerners to mock them.) I’ll also be blogging about the books I’m reading. They may not be actual book reviews but most likely will just be my thoughts on them, about them, related to them, what have you. I’ll try to keep it interesting.
So, without further ado, here is my summer reading list, which may or may not be read in the order in which it is given here (I will try very hard to not let myself get distracted or add too much to the list (I’m easily excited)):
1. AMERICAN GODS by Neil Gaiman.
One, it’s Neil freaking Gaiman. Two, I’ve seen this book referenced so much, I’m pretty sure it’s a modern classic. Three, Loki. Four, my husband bought it for my birthday so I’m contractually bound to read it.
2. DANDELION WINE by Ray Bradbury
The only book on this list that I’ve read before. I remember really liking it in high school but that I had trouble understanding all of the themes. Maybe my age will pay off and I’ll be able to appreciate it more now.
3. COLD SASSY TREE by Olive Ann Burns
I saw it on a school summer reading list and thought, “Hey, lets get classical!”
4. THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald
It’s a personal challenge to actually finish this book. (I don’t count it as ‘already been read’ since I’ve never finished it.)
5. THE GLASS MENAGERIE by Tennessee Williams
I think I’ll have to turn in my American citizenship if I don’t read Williams. And Tom Hiddleston read one of his stories on stage and, for some crazy reason, that makes me want to read Williams even more. No, I don’t understand my reasoning, either. Yes, I realize this is a play, which leads me to…
6. OTHELLO by Will Shakespeare
The story of the play has always fascinated me and I’ve been meaning to read it for a while.
7. FIRE and WATER by Robin McKinley and Peter Dickinson
Technically, these are two books (collections of short stories), but I’m a big fan of McKinley. So, any excuse to read her work, even if it’s in collaboration. I’m not much of a fan of short stories but I think it’ll do me good to read them.
8. ENCHANTED by Orson Scott Card
This book has been taunting me at my local bookstore. I think it’s the cover. And the fact that it’s Orson Scott Card (I loved ENDER’S GAME).
9. THE SUN ALSO RISES by Ernest Hemingway
I once read Hemingway’s short story “The Killers”, which has gone a long way in inspiring how I do dialogue in my stories. And the man’s personal story is absolutely fascinating. A friend recommended I read this book, so I shall.
10. THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss
This is another book that’s fascinated me at my bookstore. The back cover reads like the main character toes the line between villainy and hero and those are my favorite kinds of stories (*cough*Loki*cough*).
11. THE VIOLENT BEAR IT AWAY by Flannery O’Connor
I’m rather ashamed that I haven’t read more of O’Connor. I’ve read one or two of her short stories and very much enjoyed them. This is the second of the only two novels she’s written. If I can’t make it through this novel, I will at least read two or three of her short stories.
12. JESUS OF NAZARETH and THE APOSTLE PAUL by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI
Two books and nonfiction but they’ve been sitting on my shelf for some time now. It seems like I should read them. I think I’ll save JESUS OF NAZARETH for last because His Holiness writes in a rather academic style and this book is long, so you do the math.
So, we’ll see if I can make it through this list. If anyone has any advice, or wants to suggest a book, let me know! We still have a couple of weeks before the beginning of June, so there’s still time to tweak this list, though I feel like it’s pretty well set in stone at this point.