How to Survive Required Summer Reading

I’m a big fan of summer vacation – not because of summer itself, but because I really, really like having the excuse to do a whole lot of nothing. A whole lot of nothing in my personal vernacular translates to “read all the books.” I take “summer reading” to a whole new level.

The thing I never could stand as a teenager was being told I had to read something. I wanted to read whatever I laid my hands on but as soon as a teacher put it in writing that I had to read a book over summer vacation, I immediately wanted to read anything but. This lead to a lot of hemming and hawing between my binge reading of everything else in the house except the stack of library books that was resentfully gathering dust next to my book bag.

Come August, the end of the family vacation, and the impending doom of the first day of school, I would stomp around and finally settle down to speed read a few titles on the list in the last days of freedom.

I wish I had understood my own reading appetite then as I do now. I really should have been reading those books all summer, with the occasional palate cleanser between to keep it interesting. So here are a few palate cleansers for all the students. Pick them up when you just can’t read another dull tome that they tell you simply MUST read before fall.

Read something completely and totally out of your comfort zone. Make sure you don’t spend more than $5.99 on it, and if you can get it at a dollar store, all the better. I like to pick up a good romance novel in these instances. Sometimes I just read too many bricks filled with dark metaphor, flowery language, and convoluted plots. I just want something I can fly through with really good world-building, the occasional steamy love scene and a predictable resolution in the end. The latest in my purse was Dragon Bound by Thea Harrison. Dragons, magic and fated romance? Yes, please.

Revisit an old classic. Grab something you’ve already read and miss. I like to reread Harry Potter every few years. Rowling’s saga is a great distraction for a solid week of a heat wave when all you really can do is lie on your back in front of a fan with a book held over your head.

And it’s a little bit of a progressing workout. Those books are not little and as you get further into the series, they get bigger and heavy and more likely to knock you out if you drift off and drop one on yourself.

Trust me. I know.

Go back to elementary school, and read something that everybody else already read but you somehow managed to miss. I recommend The Westing Game for this. Because it’s awesome and there is a lot of fun and excitement in it that you have probably forgotten about if you did manage to get it read in third grade. I look at this kind of thing as a different sort of reread than Harry Potter. It’s more of a “wow, I totally forgot how awesome this story is,” rather than “I know this book will be good and I just want something good.”

Read something brand new. This takes a little bit of forethought. I don’t like buying hardcovers either, but if I know that something is coming out in the summer, I will run right over to my local library and get my name on the wait list for the release so that I can get it as soon as it comes out. I did it with the final book in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series and devoured it in less than 3 days. TOTALLY WORTH IT. (I swear, it was rainy all of those days. Really.)

These are my recommendations for cleansing your reading palette and getting through the assigned summer reading list blues. I hope you find a way to keep it interesting in the coming weeks.

I have embedded a multitude of reading lists within this blog through links. Click around if you need inspiration.

Image via Kennedy Library Outloud (psst there’s a reading list behind that link too)

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