Since everyone around me (under the age of 21, anyway) is wading through vast lists of required books, tackling their summer reading assignments as best they can, I thought I'd do a little post on my own summer reading. The subject of today's post may or may not have anything to do with the fact that the problems I discussed in last week's post are still unfortunately relevant, or with the fact that I seem to be suffering from an alarming lack of motivation this season, and am having difficulty making myself do much of anything besides reading.
(Is it just me, or is everyone suffering from the same issue right now? It's like the summer version of SAD - working, writing, and any other activity not involving playing outside or reading make me depressed. No? Just me? Oh. Moving on, then.)
It's a possibility that these things are affecting my posts right now. Perhaps.
At any rate, I've gotten a ton of reading done this summer. Here's what I've been tackling myself:
The One and Only Ivan, by Katherine Applegate
Gasp, what's this??? I'm reading MG?? I KNOW, it's amazing! I think all of my blogging buddies are finally wearing off on me. (Ok, and my partner is a teacher, and made me read this.) I admit I was a little hesitant at first, but I loved it. It's the story of a gorilla named Ivan, and a baby elephant named Ruby, and it is smart, funny, sad, and extremely well done. My one complaint is that it starts off very slow - I wish I could edit the first fifty or so pages - but once it gets into the main action, it's so wonderful and heart-strings-pulling that the slow start doesn't matter. I may, in fact, have cried at the end. Maybe.
Kissing the Witch, by Emma Donoghue
This was described to me by a client as 'gay fairy tales', which is only half-true, and that's if I'm being generous. These are fairy tales, but they're about as gay as the originals (i.e. a few hints, but not much else). What they are, in fact, are Donoghue's retelling of the classics. They are funny, desperate, and terribly sad; they are imaginatively wrought and gorgeously written; and each one is brief and lovely and engaging, so that you can read one tale in a few minutes, or delve into the whole world for a few thoughtful, wonderful hours. Oh, and as for the gay part - there are tiny mentions of same-sex relationships in two of the thirteen stories, so if that sort of thing offends you...oh, read it anyway. It's very brief, not remotely graphic, and quite lovely.
Truth and Beauty, by Ann Patchett
I am becoming a huge Ann Patchett fan in my old age; I also read her collection of essays recently, but as I already talked about that, I'll leave them out for now (but go read them. Seriously.) This one is another piece of non-fiction: it's about the late writer Lucy Grealy, and Ann's friendship with her. Like everything Patchett writes, this is engaging and very funny, with gems of hidden beauty and truth (yes, I may have done that on purpose), and also heartbreaking. I lost my dearest friend, also a writer, years ago, and this book was in some ways like reading our story, too.
Atonement, by Ian McEwan
Ok, confession time. I'm embarrassed to admit this, but in the spirit of honesty that I try to maintain on this blog, here goes: I know this is an award-winning book, and is considered a masterpiece by many; but I cannot get through it. Yes, the writing is wonderful, and the characters are so clearly drawn that they spring off of the page; yes, it's literary and character-driven, and therefore a bit slow; but I still can't get through it. I like slow, literary books sometimes, but this one is so slow that I feel like I'm suffering from the same heatstroke as the characters. Plus, when things do start to happen, they're so awful and so frustrating and unfair that I want to bury my head in the sand and pretend they're not happening. Which is what I've actually been doing, since I stopped reading it and have yet to pick it back up. Not without a good bit of shame, I should add.
I've also been revisiting The Dragonriders of Pern series for my annual dose of nostalgic childhood reading, and it's providing the wonderful, engaging escape that I hoped it would. I have realized, though, that my summer reading list is made up of Western white people. How did that happen??? I need to diversify, and I'll gladly take suggestions!
What are you reading this summer? Any recommendations? Should I keep reading Atonement, or give up completely?