Published on July 29th, 2016 | by Melissa Rae


A Replacement for Summer Reading Lists

It happens every year around this time, and whether the phrase inspires you or strikes fear into your heart, the SUMMER READING LIST is here to stay. When the kids are out of school and most folks take advantage of extended daylight hours by enjoying the outdoors in the evenings, tackling a list of required reading can fall into second — okay, seventeenth — place behind playing in the wate
r hose with neighborhood rascals or meeting up with your adults-only kickball team.

If I’m making a reading list sound like a chore, understand that it’s not, at least not to me. I’m a bookworm who reads books for a living. I heart reading. I just want to take a break from the seemingly mandatory trend in the publishing markets, bookstores, and schools, one that says you need to write a summer reading list, and then systematically destroy it. It’s assumed that extra time, if you’re lucky enough to have it, should be spent chopping down a list of ten or so carefully curated, but ‘fun’, ‘easy’ reads. They should be summertime-themed tomes, with a mix of adventure and romance, but should also have some dark, brooding titles in there to prove to the librarian that you’re not all fanciful fluff.

So, if you have every intention of making this summer richer and more full because of your reading list, but you know that you’ll fall short of completing your specially selected list, I have a suggestion for you. Drop the list. Seriously. Rip it up and let the paper lantern of your released book guilt float high up into the night sky. Avoid the library fees that you’ll no doubt incur by checking out all ten books at once.

You know what I think you should do instead? I think you should read one, yes, ONE, really long, really intricate book. Make that huge clunker your goal, one that you can whittle away at every night after you’ve exhausted yourself in the heat of the day. I’m reading The New Tsar: The Rise and Reign of Vladimir Putin by Steven Lee Myers and it’s taking forever to finish. That’s ok. That’s my summer book.

Always wanted to read Gabriel García Márquez? This is your summer. Have your eye on that ridiculously long anthology of essays, the novel that you Cliff-Notes’d in high school long ago, or something that’s lingered on the bestsellers list? Take the time to read it slowly, absorbing the nuances and intentions of the writer. You don’t need to rage through someone else’s checklist of books, getting as many as you can under your belt before the first football game of autumn. Read what you like, read it big and slow, and make it a lasting part of this summer’s memories.

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