Summer reading…

There have been many insightful posts on Independent Ideas this year; I have learned so much from our colleagues at schools across North America. This is my last AISL blog post for a while; I’m heading off for a one year maternity leave (Hazzard#2 is due in late June), and before I leave I wanted to talk about something close to the hearts of many librarians…

What are YOU planning to read this summer?

Like so many of you, I am a voracious reader, and plan my summer reading from about mid-April onwards. I’ll share a couple of titles I’m planning to read this year below, and invite you to add your own recommendations in the comments section…

Far from the Tree by Andrew Solomon

I have read nothing but good reviews of this book. Solomon focuses on all our different types of children, from those with disabilities, to prodigies, to children of rape, to transgender children and on. When I picked up my copy at the bookstore, one of the blurbs on the back suggested it was ‘required reading for all parents and teachers’.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton

It won many prizes this year, and it’s about 800 pages long. Too heavy for my daily commute, but perfect summer reading. It’s a murder mystery, set in 19th century New Zealand, and everyone I know who has read it has loved it.

Anything by Jennifer Brown

On a fellow librarian’s recommendation I have just read Thousand Words by Jennifer Brown. It’s about a girl called Ashleigh who sends a naked selfie of herself to her boyfriend – and her boyfriend forwards it on, and those people forward it on… It’s about the implications of social media, privacy, consequences, teens, and is terrifying and compelling. I had never read anything by Brown before but am looking forward to devouring her backlist – up next: The Hate List.

Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen

I’m cheating here a little bit because I’ve actually just finished reading this book. It’s wonderful – a great memoir for teens. High school sophomore van Wagenen uses a 1950s guide to style and beauty throughout her eighth grade year to enhance her life. From embracing pearls to making a commitment to sit next to someone different at lunch time, this is a lovely look at the life of a girl who is just a little bit different (and a lot like the teen girls we know). The book is full of Maya’s tips, and even as adults, we would do well to live by these small tidbits of advice…

Archduke Franz Ferdinand Lives! A World without World War I by Richard Ned Lebow

I love alternate histories. One of my favourite novels is Fatherland by Robert Harris (set in Berlin in 1964 after a German World War II victory), and I just finished reading Dominion by C.J. Sansom (if Germany had won the Second World War from a British perspective). Lebow takes a look at how the world would be different if there had been no assassination, and no subsequent war in 1914.

Will I get to all these? I hope so! You can follow my reading life on Twitter, and I’m on Library Thing!

Happy reading, all!

8 thoughts on “Summer reading…

  1. Series fiction — Danny Dunn, Mushroom Planet, Nancy Drew — was my saving grace growing up as a military child: the characters easily packed up and came along with each new posting of my father’s. The same is true in my adult life, and I turn again and again to series fiction — especially mysteries — to sustain me during the school year. I have about a dozen series that I read, and each new book is like a welcome visit with old friends (Inspector Gamache, Harry Hole, Lori Shepherd, Harry Harristeen, Sister Jane Arnold, Precious Ramotswe, Hamish Macbeth, Bernie Little and Chet, Goldy Schultz, and Mary Russell are among my closest fictional friends). Given that I usually fall asleep while reading and have to re-read a good bit of what I “read” the night before, the shorthand of friendship makes it easy to maintain the details of narrative in series fiction.

    But, summers are different: I have the leisure of indulging in more challenging reads given that I have extended time to read instead of limiting my reading to after dinner has been made and the kitchen cleaned. I usually set a theme for myself or choose to focus on a particular author. A few summers ago, I read books about women adventurers; another summer, I consumed Iain Pears’ books; and I spent another re-reading titles from my college, English Lit days (The Razor’s Edge held up better than most all others).

    Luckily, we don’t have a required faculty read this summer and have been encouraged to read that which ignites our passion, our creativity — or even watch movies! I’m still deciding about this summer, but I have it narrowed down to two: I’m going to read either all of Mary Roach’s wonderfully comic science non-fiction or an assortment of natural history titles (The Path, Cultivating Delight, I Have Landed, The View from Lazypoint, etc.).

  2. I have four books lined up so far but hope to choose more as the frenzy of the next few weeks abates:
    Sutton by J. R. Moehringer
    We Were Liars by E Lockhart
    The Weight of Blood by Laura McHugh
    Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

  3. Dear Claire,

    Wishing you much happiness and many moments for bonding with the upcoming birth of your second child.
    I saw Andrew Solomon speak last fall at Nashville’s Southern Festival of Books. His book sounds like a fascinating sharing of family experiences across all spectrums of love. Below are a few favorite comments from his author presentation:

    There are things as a parent you work to change in a child, but give children a sense of sureness in who they are.

    Dignity found in anathema experiences. Situations that seem impossible often become situations that are possible when you live them.

    Process of caring for someone creates a bond.

    Important: Choose to look for meaning.

    How you negotiate difference is what unites us–how much love and joy even when things seem to go wrong.

    Only accept additive models of love.

    People isolate themselves because of the perception of stigma. Find a community so that you know others who are going through these things.

    And finally, this wisdom from Solomon’s mother: “The love you have for a child is like no other love in the world, and until you have a child, you do not understand this.”

  4. Congrats Claire! Thank you for this great list. Please keep in touch and must include photos of your new little nugget!

  5. I love this question of our own summer reading. I don’t have a cohesive plan, but I always like to have a non-fiction going at the same time as a fiction book. Last summer I read Quiet by Susan Cain — and really loved it. This weekend I couldn’t put down Full Rip 9.0 by about the science of earthquakes, and specifically how it applies to the Pacific Northwest. We are going to put it on our list for our AP English Language. That is always a serendipity of summer reading — new things to recommend! I am half way through Luminaries by Elizabeth Catton, and will finish it. It is beautifully written, but slow as molasses — reads like Elizabeth was reincarnated from Charles Dickens.

    Two other books I have read and would heartily recommend. We Need New Names by Noviolet Bulawayo and A Constellation of Vital Phenomena: A Novel by Anthony Marra. Both of these are about difficult topics — but they are somehow uplifting and great reads.

    I like the idea of themes for my summer reading — I would like to take on memoirs, especially ones involving travel. Any suggestions?
    I am very much looking forward to reading the books on your lists — so thank you very much.

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