Summer Reading

For the first time since I was a freshman in High School, I don’t have any assigned summer reading. I have never felt such liberation. After 6 years I am finally starting to make some headway on my To-Read List. 3 weeks and 5 books into summer, I’ve decided that this is going to be a very successful 3 months. I’ve read a variety of books since I started 3 weeks ago–from contemporary novels, to young adult books, to classics. Maybe you can find your next summer read from my list!

The first book I decided to read, it would actually be more accurate to say finish, this summer was The Help by Kathryn Stockett. I started this book over Christmas break and then college commitments kept me from it but I didn’t have any trouble jumping right back in to the middle of Jackson, Mississippi. As much as I hate to admit that I broke one of my biggest rules as an avid reader, I saw the movie before I read this book. That being said, I am almost glad I did. While the movie was fantastic, the book was so much more satisfying. Stockett’s ability to explore such the serious issue of the racial turmoil in the South in the 1960’s with grace and humor makes this novel truly wonderful. The characters are so well developed, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t see a little bit of myself in Skeeter. If you have seen the movie but haven’t read the book, I really encourage you to do so. It’s a great beach book and once you’re sucked into the life of Aibileen, Minny, and Skeeter it is difficult to put it down. If you haven’t seen the movie and you are looking for a book that will make you both laugh and cry, this is a book that will do it.

I’ve already blogged about the second book I read this summer: Ridley Pearson’s Kingdom Keepers 6: Dark Passage. This whole series is great to read aloud with kids or for older ones to read on their own. While I was slightly disappointed with this one, this series still remains as one of my favorites. A seventh book is in the works and Pearson is calling on fans and readers of the series to help him write it. If the youngsters in your life (or you) really enjoy this book, writing a small section for Pearson would be a great way to have your say in the story. While I think this is a great way to get fans involved, it makes me worry about the fate of the series. There is also some buzz about Disney picking up the book series as a movie, so now may be the time to get started on these. While they are written for children and young adults, grown-ups will get some satisfaction from them as well–especially avid Disney fans.

Luckily, I never saw the movie Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close. After reading Jonathan Safran Foer’s book, I’m not quite sure how this would transfer into a movie that really captures Oskar’s character but I guess I will have to watch it and find out! Although Oskar knows that his father died in 9/11, he spends the whole novel trying to find out the specifics and ends up meeting people that change his life. The whole time I was reading the novel I was reminded of Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time; a novel about a boy with Asperger’s who investigates the murder of his neighbor’s dog.  Although it is never made clear in the text that Oskar has ADD or Autism, it certainly comes across that way. The novel also explores the relationship between Oskar’s grandparents (his father’s parents) that made me scratch my head in bewilderment at times. While it certainly is confusing, there is a fantastic “AH-HA!” moment at the end of the novel that makes all the confusion entirely worth it.

Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has been on my To-Read List since junior year of high school. I must say, I was slightly disappointed. I’ve never been a huge fan of dystopian novels to begin with, but every now and then one catches my fancy and I was hoping this one would too. It really didn’t. While I enjoyed the female narrative perspective–unusual for dystopian novels–I felt as though I was always waiting for the plot to pick up or for someone to at least show some serious anger about the new government that only values women for their childbearing ability. Don’t get me wrong–there were some dramatic twists and turns but I closed the book with more of an “Eh” than a “Whoa!” It definitely is a book worth reading simply because the new world is pretty creepy, especially for women, but I don’t promise complete satisfaction. This is one I may I read again in a couple of years to see if my view has changed with age and experience.

The next book on my list is J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye (I know, I know, I should have read this already). I am really looking forward to this one and I hope it doesn’t disappoint. Thanks for reading!