Call me weird, but I get excited when my daughter brings home her summer reading list. I can’t wait to see which books the teachers selected. And I feel a certain vindication when one of my favorites makes the cut.
I’m always tempted to read one of the books on the list as a way to connect with my daughter. But after the Twilight mother-daughter book club debacle – I read all four books and she decided after the first one they were too boring – I realized she doesn’t share my enthusiasm for reading. Not to mention the fact that most of the books on her list get read two weeks before school starts in a rush mode that doesn’t invite much conversation. So this year I’ve decided to create my own summer reading list.
Last weekend I read through the New York Times book section for ideas, but nothing jumped out at me. I almost abandoned the idea, but then it occurred to me that my daughter’s list had a plan behind it. The teachers develop the list as a gateway to the coming school year. It’s designed to engage the mind and challenges thinking. Of course the planning and foresight is often lost on high school students, but the premise of using the lazy days of summer to contemplate new ideas is inspiring.
So here is The Confident Writer’s summer reading list to nurture our inner writer. The list focuses more on categories than specific books. If the books listed don’t interest you, pick another one. The idea is to challenge your thinking and enrich your craft. Read one from each category or pick your favorites. Here’s the list:
- A classic. I know there is some debate about what actually constitutes a classic, butthat doesn’t really matter for our purposes. What’s important is reading somethingthat has stood the test of time. I plan to read either House of Mirth (Edith Wharton) or Lady Chatterley’s Lover (D. H. Lawrence). My only motivation for choosing these two books is that they are both currently on my bookshelf unread.
- A book on craft. The summer is the perfect time to commit to reading an instructional book, because we are more open to try new ideas. And though this blog is about writing, there are craft books for whatever you like to do. I plan to read either Turning Life into Fiction (Robin Hemley) or Writers and Their Notebooks (Diana Raab).
- A memoir/autobiography. The idea of this category is to read about someone else’s life. I’m drawn to memoir because they read like fiction, but I might pushmyself to read an autobiography. My choices are Regina’s Closet: Finding My Grandmother’s Secret Journal (Diana Raab) or The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt (Eleanor Roosevelt).
- A collection of stories or essays. I’ve been dabbling in this genre with my own writing so I need to read more of it. I’m particularly interested pieces about relationships between men and women as well as suburbia. The nice thing about reading a collection is that you can read it in tiny snippets. My two picks are either How to Be Alone (Jonathan Franzen) or Eleven Kinds of Loneliness (Richard Yates).
- Something purely for fun (aka – a beach book). This is the hardest category for me. I tend to gravitate to heart-wrenching stories, but would love to add a feel-good book to the bunch. Something like Where the Heart is (Billie Letts) or The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society (Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows). I’m thinking about perhaps The Chaperone (Laura Moriarty), because I absolutely loved The Center of Everything, or maybe One Sunday Morning (Amy Ephron). I read A Cup of Tea (Ephron) in 24 hours.
Can you think of other books or categories that would be good to add to the list? It’ll be fun to see what everyone is interested in. Share what you’re planning to read this summer.