Sunday, April 26, 2015

Summer Thoughts

“If one cannot enjoy reading a book over and over again, there is no use in reading it at all.” – Oscar Wilde

My semester is limping to an end. I can’t quite see over the stacks of papers yet to be graded on my office desk, but I know the end will be here soon, so there is hope. What’s getting me through these last dark days?


Lots and lots of thoughts of summer. Long delicious days in the hot Texas sun will be spent doing very little. I’m so ridiculously happy that I live just a few houses up the street from my parents for many reasons, but in the summer, one of those reasons is because they have a pool. One of my favorite things to do is slip out a book I’ve already read a dozen times, hop on a pool float, and just…ahhhhhhh.

(sometimes this may also include a delightfully cold adult beverage)

So these days, when I get overwhelmed with the grading, the students, the administrative paperwork, etc… I fantasize about my summer reading list. I dream about the books I can’t wait to pick up and read yet again. So what’s on my list so far?

1.      Villette by Charlotte Brontë – I adore this book. It’s wonderfully thick. There’s so much depth and narration. I read it for the first time in grad school and I fell in love with it. I read my first copy so much that it broke in half. It was among the first books I replaced after the fire. Of course, it’s Brontë, so this is old-school writing. But, man, this is old-school awesome.
2.      The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams – Many people don’t realize this is actually the first book in a series, but the book can also stand alone itself. I read this one for the first time in high school Spanish when I was a senior. It had nothing to do with the class; he was done teaching for the year and we had to fill up our time with something, so I borrowed the book from someone in the classroom. Seriously, hand to God, I nearly threw up laughing at a couple of parts in this book. I’ve read it a dozen times since.
3.      Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling– any of them. All of them. Strangely, though, there’s a good chance I’ll start with book 7: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. I love it. It’s dark and twisty. And let’s face it, so am I. But it’s also optimistic and uplifting, and I have my moments. Once I’ve read that one, I may plow into the series from beginning to end (yes, I’ll read the last book yet again). Or I’ll read the series in random order depending on which book I feel like reading. I’ve read them all so many times that I can practically recite them line by line. Such great themes and descriptions, such wonderful power in these books. Kid or grown-up, it doesn’t matter. These are great books if you give yourself over to them.
4.      Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen – no one is better with Regency wit and sarcasm than Jane Austen (she was not a Victorian novelist…many people mistakenly believe that). Her characters are a delight, and she writes the best book boyfriends ever. Aside from that, you genuinely root for these characters (well, for most of them…others, you just wish a piano would fall out of the sky and land on them).
5.      On the Street Where You Live by Mary Higgins Clark – this is my favorite Mary Higgins Clark book. There is just something deliciously dark and prickly about it, but not so dark and prickly that it will keep me from sleeping. I have so many of her books, and I become so engrossed in them no matter how many times I read them. Stillwatch; Weep No More, My Lady; While My Pretty One Sleeps; and All around the Town are other favorites that she wrote that I will also probably read this summer.
6.      The Horse and His Boy by C.S. Lewis – this is part of the Chronicles of Narnia series and is my favorite book in that series. I am a huge fan of the entire series, but I always begin with this one. I know The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is many people’s favorite, and it ranks high in the canon of literature, but The Horse and His Boy will always hold my heart. It’s endearing. It’s charming.
7.      Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier – This one I was introduced to waayyyy back in the 8th grade. It’s wistful and haunting and twisted in an old-fashioned way. I knew it was great the first time I read it, when I was 12, but I didn’t realize how great. Only as I’ve gotten older and have re-read it so often do I get the wonderfulness of it.
8.      Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells – This book is funny, and sassy, and sad, and spirited, and so full of life and dysfunction and humor and spite that I can’t help but love it. The idea of friends-to-the-end, no matter what, is fascinating to me. I love the Ya-Yas, warped and twisted as they are. Probably because they are warped and twisted, and have found – and stayed with – each other.
9.      The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins – I’m confused by the classification of these books as “Young Adult” as the themes that permeate the books speak to everyone. Perhaps the publishers felt the dystopian setting would turn off older readers. The books are fantastic: social commentary wrapped up in entertainment. What could be better? This is a trilogy; there are three books in the series. What’s so great about this series is that kids and adults can read and enjoy these books and then have a conversation – together – about them. They aren’t just “kid” books or “adult” books. Universal problems and engaging characters, a book that once it sucks you in you can’t put down: there’s nothing better.
10.  One for the Money by Janet Evanovich – This is the first book in the Stephanie Plum series. They are wonderfully funny and a little bit spicy and remind me of a cheesy 80s movie even when I’m reading the book. I love it. Stephanie Plum is down on her luck and goes to work for her cousin as a bounty hunter. She’s terrible at it and gets in over her head (of course). It’s just super fluffy reading that is perfect for summer.

It’s a diverse list, and it’ll keep me going for a while. It’s by no means complete. I gobble up books the way some people eat pizza: I can read a whole book in one sitting. There are never enough books, and there is never enough time to read as much as I want to. 

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