Jun 9, 2015

Summer Reading

Every June, I download lots of books to my Kindle and pile my bedside table with stacks of books I plan to read in all of the “free time” that is supposed to miraculously appear in my schedule because it is suddenly SUMMER. But, like for lots of people, “summer” doesn’t necessarily equal “free time” around here. I have set goals—to rise early every day to write, spend fun and meaningful time with my boys, tackle overdue household projects (those closets are not going to clean themselves), catch up on scrapbooking (aack!), etc.—so this summer I am consciously adding “reading” to my summer “to do” list. Even at my busiest, I read every single day; I can’t go to sleep without reading a few pages at night, and often I will read while I eat my lunch. But this summer I am going to be more intentional about finding time (and giving myself permission) to simply enjoy reading good books!

Along with the various kids' books that I am always reading, right now I'm finishing the latest book in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series, Written in My Own Heart’s Blood. For those of you familiar with the Starz series, the books have much more literary value than what you might assume from the (quite steamy, often disturbing) onscreen representation. But Gabaldon is an extraordinarily talented writer, and I kind of view her as the J.K. Rowling of adult writing. As a writer, I am fascinated by her style, plotting, characterization, and the many threads she weaves in and out of her books. I am convinced that she must have an extremely high IQ!

The next book on my list is C.S. Lewis’ Mere Christianity. I have heard wonderful things about this one, and am looking forward to finally reading it. And just last week I ordered and received The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing by Marie Kondo. (I'll let you know how this goes!) I am looking forward to learning about Kondo’s unconventional approaches to helping her clients “transform their cluttered homes into spaces of serenity and inspiration.”

My boys came home with their own reading lists for summer. This year, all rising sixth through eighth graders at their school must read at least two books off of the SC Junior Book Award Nominees 2015-16 List during summer break, or read one book from this list and another from a list of preapproved classics. For my boys, this won’t be an issue; they are enthusiastic readers and have already selected their books. I will definitely read some books off of these lists, as well—there are some amazing choices here!

SC Junior Book Award Nominees 2015-16 List:
1. Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg - Fiction
2. Boy on the Wooden Box: How the Impossible Became Possible on Schindler’s List by Leon Leyson –Non-Fiction
3. Counting by 7’s by Holly Goldberg Sloan - Fiction
4. Eruption! Volcanoes and the Science of Saving Lives by Elizabeth Rusch –Non-Fiction
5. Falcon in the Glass by Susan Fletcher - Fiction
6. Far Far Away by Tom McNeal - Fiction
7. Gated by Amy Christina Parker -Fiction
8. Great Trouble by Deborah Hopkinson - Fiction
9. The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe by Dan Poblocki -Fiction
10. Jungle of Bones by Ben Mikaelsen -Fiction
11. Lawless by Jeffery Salane -Fiction
12. The President Has Been Shot by James L. Swanson –Non-Fiction
13. Prisoner B-3087 by Alan Gratz - Fiction
14. QB1 by Mike Lupica -Fiction
15. SYLO by D.J. MacHale -Fiction
16. Tesla’s Attic by Neil Shusterman -Fiction
17. Under the Egg by Laura Marx Fitzgerald -Fiction
18. Winner’s Curse by Maria Rutkowski -Fiction
19. Zebra Forest by Adina Gewirtz- Fiction
20. Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi - Fiction

Classics List:  
1. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkein -Fiction
2. Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein-Fiction
3. Fahrenheit 454 by Ray Bradbury-Fiction
4. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes-Fiction
5. Call of the Wild by Jack London-Fiction
6. Dune by Frank Herbert-Fiction
7. A Separate Peace by John Knowles-Fiction
8. Watership Down by Richard Adams-Fiction
9. Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson-Fiction
10. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte-Fiction
11. The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier-Fiction
12. The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane-Fiction
13. Swiss Family Robinson by Johann Wyss-Fiction
14. Old Yeller by Fred Gipson-Fiction
15. Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder-Fiction
16. Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery-Fiction
17. The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis-Fiction
18. Sounder by William Armstrong-Fiction
19. Little Women by Louisa May Alcott-Fiction

What books are on your summer reading list this year? Have a great week, and Happy Writing!


  1. Those are great reading lists. I've got a stack of books I've been telling myself I'd read. I need to get it on. I keep piling additions to it and taking from the top instead. Argh. I'm finishing the MG Spirit Animals series. I've enjoyed most of them so far.

    1. I have had several people recommend the Spirit Animals series for my boys, Johnell. I will have to check them out!

  2. I never had a "summer reading" sort of book list, because as an at-home mom summers were busier than winters as far as allotted reading time.... I endorse Mere Christianity wholeheartedly. So many years later, C.S. Lewis' transcribed talks from the BBC in the 1940-1950 hold up beautifully.

  3. Dear Becky,
    Thanks for sharing your reading list and the SC reading list. I remember reading Sounder and crying my heart out.

    Have fun reading! Family time - read together! The same book or different books. What a great tradition!

  4. Oh hey, I have COUNTING BY 7S on my list, too! (Read UNDER THE EGG some time ago, and it was pretty nice. I hope you and your boys enjoy your reading this summer, Becky. I haven't read the OUTLANDER series though I've heard quite a bit about it.) My list (summer or winter or all year long) for now includes a Joyce Carol Oates book ~ WONDERLAND and a MG ~ BIRD IN A BOX.

    1. We have so many great books to choose from, don't we? = )

  5. Thanks for sharing these lists, Becky. Good resources. Also good to see that one of Alan Gratz's books made the list. I am reading picture books and adult memoirs this summer. Happy summer. I think you're wise to add in more time for reading for pleasure. Enjoy! Enjoy! Enjoy!

    1. Thanks, Linda. My boys both chose Alan's book off the list!

  6. I've got Kwame Alexander's The Crossover and Jandy Nelson's I'll Give You the Sun on my list, among others, but those are the two I really want to get to. I hope you find time for some good summer reading!

  7. I was on the blue boards and your post caught my eye! I'm looking forward to summer reading time as well. I'm going to go and investigate The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing right now.


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