One of the great joys of summer is reading anything and everything.
Just kidding. I do that all year long.
Here are the fiction works I have read so far:
Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad
After discovering that many AP Literature teachers across the nation are teaching this work, I downloaded the free ebook. I have read Achebe’s Things Fall Apart, which is a literary response to Conrad’s story, and I had always wanted to know what all the fuss was about. I found Conrad’s writing beautiful; it’s been a while since I felt compelled to stop and admire a metaphor or a sentence in a piece of writing.
Dracula by Bram Stoker
I started Dracula in college, and then again several years ago. Never underestimate the power of a free ebook edition, for dear readers, I have finished the book. I enjoyed the story (who wouldn’t?) and feeling like an insider to part of the original vampire mythology. I don’t think that this is a work I would ever teach, however. I would probably recommend it for independent reading, but I didn’t find the writing as astonishing as Conrad’s nor the themes as universal and convicting as those in Shelley’s Frankenstein.
Gilead by Marilynne Robinson
Another book I have had on my shelf for quite a while and have finally read. Robinson won the Pulitzer Prize for fiction for this novel in 2005. I found this book understated and profound. There isn’t much of a plot, per se; the novel is told by an old man, John Ames, in letters to his very young son. I just couldn’t stop reading. If you can only read one book this year, I recommend Gilead. I had to stop and read several powerful passages again. Here is one:
“But the Lord is more constant and far more extravagant than it seems to imply. Wherever you turn your eyes the world can shine like transfiguration. You don’t have to bring a thing to it except a little willingness to see. Only, who could have the courage to see it?”
Young Adult Literature
When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt
I listened to this audiobook, read by Will Patton. After hearing him read the Raven Boys series and now this book, I am wondering how I can get Will Patton to read all the books ever so that I can listen to him talk all day. This is a meditatively-paced and character-driven book, probably not for young readers who are impatient or who like a lot of action. In fact, this is one of those books that is written for young adults but probably more accessible to those of us who are no longer young adults. Because of its subtle complexity, it could be a powerful whole-class read. There are plenty of scenes to discuss and help students interpret.
What have you been reading this summer?