Summer Reading Lists
As weather heats up this year, I find myself nostalgically thinking back on the various summer reading lists I used to get as a middle schooler. There were the crinkled print-out copies from school — multi-page manifestos stapled in one corner and hopefully passed out at the end of the school year by optimistic teachers with the request to try and read at least one book on the list.
There were the glossier pamphlets from the public library, where there was an annual summer reading contest that awarded much-coveted stickers if you read a certain number of books.
And then there was my own personal reading list, full of a mixture of aspirational books I thought I ought to read (one misguided summer at age twelve I attempted John Updike’s Rabbit, Run and was much chagrined to discover it had nothing to do with rabbits) and as many Baby-Sitter Club books as I could get my hands on.
While I remember being mostly annoyed by at least the school reading lists — something along the lines of “how dare they tell me what to read?!” with a dash of “why can’t they trust me to read of my own volition?!” — I look back on them fondly now. It was kind of nice to have those thin pages to flip through at the start of each summer and think about three glorious months worth of possible reads. The summer reading list was a guidepost and a starting point signaling what was out there beyond whatever I’d usually pick up.
And, of course, it always felt good to check things off the list, tallying up how much of the list I managed to devour before the weather turned cool once again and it was back to homework and assigned reading all the time.
I’ve been poking around lately to see what’s available nowadays in terms of a summer reading list, but the definition seems to have changed when it comes to adult reading. “Summer reading lists” for adults seem to focus mostly on what you might enjoy reading by the beach or something that’s as unstimulating as possible or just the newest releases.
But I’m looking for the gold standard: a big old list in 12-point Times New Roman with everything from the most mindless to the most aspirational. Summer reading has its moods just like any other season of reading and I’m just looking for some inspiration on where to start. Any suggestions out there, dear ether?