Monday, May 12, 2008

Summer Reading

Summer is almost here, the time for long days, BBQs, pool parties, walks on the beach, family vacations and, of course, the all-important Summer Reading List. When I was young, my sisters and I would participate in our local library's summer reading challenge. We would set weekly goals as to how many books we would read, and as we met the different goals, we would get different rewards (usually coupons to local restaurants and attractions). While I will by no means be reading the amount of books that I did back then (I usually hit 100 every summer), I have decided to read a set of books this summer that will challenge me in many ways; J. R. R. Tolkein's The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are three main reasons why I find these books so challenging:
  1. I have never read them OR seen the recent films, so the plots are almost completely new to me. Yes, I'm probably crazy to have walked this earth for almost 21 years and to never have even peeked between the covers, but that's the way it is.
  2. They are extremely long. I have read many long books and most of them were great, but challenging nonetheless.
  3. I have a lingering childhood fear of these stories, especially The Hobbit. This is probably the main reason for my having put these books off for so long.

So, this is my reading challenge for Summer 2008. My goal is to finish by Labor Day. I'm not sure what kind of reward I'll give myself if I meet it, so feel free to offer suggestions. Do you have a reading list for this summer? If so, what's on it? If you need some ideas, allow me to suggest a few works that I have enjoyed.

  • The Moonstone. Wilkie Collins tends to be somewhat overshadowed by his famous mentor, Charles Dickens. But Collins had a few successes of his own, and The Moonstone is considered to be one of his best works. It is also the first true detective novel in the English language, and is said to have inspired most of the later detective novels including Sherlock Holmes.
  • The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County and Other Sketches. A collection of Mark Twain's early sketches, many of which will leave you in stitches. My personal favorite is the one where the narrator is trying to get rid of his cold by any means possible. Hilarious.
  • Redwall. The Wind in the Willows meets The Lord of the Rings in this wonderful series by English author Brian Jacques. Though written for older children, these stories are great for adults too. My sisters and I love these books, and we especially like the audio books read by Brian Jacques himself. While not necessarily what some would consider great literature, they are real page turners that will keep you enthralled for many summer days.
  • Anna Karenina. I was introduced to Russian literature by this classic Tolstoy novel. Though not a short read (832 pages), Tolstoy's many characters, themes and plots are beautifully woven together in this literary masterpiece. This story continues to be one of my favorites.

1 comment:

Hannah said...

I started reading The Fellowship of the Ring a few years ago, when a friend gave it to me for graduation. For some reason I stopped not too far into the story. I found it somewhat hard reading. (A review I read compared reading these books to eating a bathtub full of fudge, because they are such rich books.) So, good luck meeting your challenge! I hope you have more determination than I. ;)

When you finish the books, perhaps you could treat yourself to ice cream. Sounds like a nice summer treat to me! =)