I read ALL the time. Most of it occurs for school. I read professional development books. I read classical literature. I read YA. I read fantasy. I read Sci-FI. I read. But as a teacher and a mother of still small children, I rarely get to read for myself. Luckily, I have summer. Summer is when I get to read for me.
Last summer I read Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind and A Wise Man’s Fear. They’re large books. They took up most of my summer, but they were well-worth the commitment. I’m sad I didn’t have another Rothfuss book to devote my summer nights, but I have found some books I have enjoyed or will enjoy in the next month.
Seraphina by Rachel Hartman. I LOVE dragons, so it’s no surprise that I love this book. Hartman writes about a complicated relationship between humans and dragons with an exciting mystery. It’s beautifully composed and world building at its best. It was my favorite book of the summer. I can’t wait to read the second book.
The Road by Cormac McCarthy. Okay. This was part of the assigned AP summer reading. But it was so enjoyable, that I had to include it. I hadn’t read it before now. I had considered it for summer reading last year, but my husband said, “Oh, no. That’s too dark and depressing. There’s no hope in that book. You might get parent emails.” (I teach at a charter school. I get a lot of parent emails about a lot of weird things.) So instead of teaching, The Road, I went for All the Pretty Horses only to hear my seniors ask me, “Why didn’t you pick The Road?”
I picked it for this year. My husband still claiming the same issues as last summer. But I disagree with him. There is hope in that book, and it isn’t about a hopeless world. It’s a love story about a father and his boy. There is hope there, and I kind of want to know what happens to the boy.
I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest. I read a lot of YA because my students do. I like to know what they are reading so that I can recommend other books, make connections between classical texts and what they’re interested in, and to share their excitement when they’re reading something they love.
I picked up this book after seeing it on GoodReads. I love graphic novels as well as mysteries so this instantly had me. Part graphic novel, part story, I Am Princess X entertains without the sappy teenage, angst-ridden love story. (Yes, I love John Green, and he makes an appearance on this list). It’s far-fetched (but not as far fetched as two teenagers going to Amsterdam and meeting a reclusive author), but thrilling to the end. It’s great for a read by the pool.
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I picked up this book after a friend of mine told me I would not be able to figure it out until the end. I did, but there were times I was uncertain that I was right. It’s not because the book is predictable although it is a slightly different take on the thriller genre. The narrator is completely annoying and mostly unreliable. But a strong, critical reader will notice changes in voice that will lead him directly to the killer. Even though a lot of this book annoyed me, I still stayed up all night to finish it.
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. My AP students will tell you that I LOVE Ishiguro. My favorite story to teach is his “A Family Supper.” The Buried Giant is largely a departure for Ishiguro even though most of his novels differ from one another. It’s a fantasy set in Arthurian England. The protagonists even meet up with Sir Gawain in the story. It’s beautiful not in language but in how he weaves the theme through the plot like a threads in an intricate tapestry.
Paper Towns by John Green. This is a guilty pleasure read. I read The Fault in Our Stars last year at the urging of my students. I liked how Green handled cancer and death, but I did not like how far fetched a lot of the book was. Two teenagers in Amsterdam to visit a reclusive author??? It just didn’t fit or add up to me. I think it would have been an altogether better book without it. While not a perfect book, I enjoyed this one much more than the other. This a wonderful book for an eight-hour road trip.
Ready Player One Ernest Kline. I’m a child of the eighties, and the premise of this book appeals to my love of nostalgia. I can remember a lot of the pop culture allusions, which makes the book fun. But it’s better than just a trip down memory lane, it’s essentially a virtual treasure hunt. Who doesn’t love a good treasure hunt. This is another great by-the-pool read.
Blog, Inc. by Joy Cho. I’m still working my way through this book, but it’s been helpful in beginning the blogging process. I usually read a chapter and work on that particular skill. Right now I’m struggling with a posting schedule because I’m heading back to school. As a busy working mom of two, I’m learning to carve out time for writing. I just learned that I can write multiple posts in a weekend and schedule them to upload during the week. I’d love to be able to write every day, but I’m not sure that’s going to happen.
Contested Will by John Shapiro. This is one of the most interesting reads of the summer. I love Shakespeare, and while I’m not a conspiracy theorist, I enjoyed this book. It doesn’t address the authorship question as whether or not Shakespeare wrote his plays (which I believe he did) but why the question has arisen. This book appeals to the English nerd in me.
I realize that it’s a short list this year, but between my children and other projects, I do feel that I got my personal reading fix this summer. What did you read?