Classes are over. Grades are in. Flip-flops are, once again, weather-appropriate, and everyone has switched back to iced coffee.
It is June. It is summer. The most exciting time of the year, the time for Summer Reading!
Ever since I was a nerdy, pale-skinned child, summer has always felt like the best time for books. No homework or assigned reading to get in the way, lots of time to visit the library, and the luxury of sleeping in late after nights spent in a delirious, page-flipping frenzy, reading “just one more chapter.” Even warm weather adventures that take you out of the house seem to require reading accompaniment: books for car trips, books for planes, books to read while lounging by the body of water of your choosing.
But what books to read? In my opinion, summer reading requires summer books. Here are some types of books that I find myself reading summer after summer:
Books That Are the Opposite of What I’ve Been Reading Lately
English and literature classes have somewhat dictated my school-year reading. Beginning in May, I start to resent my life choices, reject the books that I usually like, and run screaming from whatever genre that I’ve been forced to write a paper about.
In college, I read a lot of short stories, poetry, and plays; summer was the time I could shelve the anthologies and pick up novels. Now that my grad program requires so much novel-reading, I’m jonesing for something short. This summer – along with some YARN archives, of course – I’m hoping to finally read David Foster Wallace’s Brief Interviews with Hideous Men.
Books That You Can Read in One Day
Reading for school can be mentally exhausting. Not to be judgmental of any particular books or genres, but after studying and writing and studying and writing, it’s nice to read something straightforward. Something that needs no analyzing – a story that just carries you away.
I am somewhat embarrassed to say that despite my discomfort with this whole “my ex-boyfriend is keeping tabs on me by reading my mind” plotline, after two days of reading I am almost 300-pages into New Moon. It’s not my fault – the pages fly by before I can acknowledge that I’ve read them.
Books That Have Beaches and Drama
Everywhere I have lived, summer is good for sun, but also for stifling humidity, days of hot rain storms, mosquito bites, and other such unpleasantries that keep me cooped up indoors with AC. The best part about “classic” summer books is that every day is gorgeous, the beach is nearby, and everyone’s too in love to notice they are sweating through their clothing.
My favorite book which I like to read and re-read (just like Shannon!) every time I lay in some sand is Summer Sisters by Judy Blume. Powerhouse Blume might be more well-known for her YA and middle grade books, but this story of two best friends/enemies coming of age, falling in love, and stabbing each other in the back while summering in Martha’s Vineyard will always be my go-to beach book.
Books That Feel Like Homework (or are actually homework)
Even after I am done with school and summers are less urgent, I think I will always feel like summer is a time to read books that are more “required reading” than fun reading. I try to read a classic or two, to catch up on that canon I skimmed over in high school in college in favor of my favorite YA titles. I’ve read Their Eyes Were Watching God, The Bluest Eye, and The Awakening in previous years; last summer, I even read Maureen Daly’s Seventeenth Summer, published in 1942, because I knew I had to read it for class the next semester. Much like reading other classics, I enjoyed this one more than I expected. It was arguably the first YA book ever published, but maybe also the first YA summer book as well!