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As the days grow shorter (sigh) and the beginning of school looms, I feel the need to take stock of what I’ve read this summer. My trends: local authors and an embarrassing amount of young adult fiction. (In my defense, I will be teaching fifth graders this fall and need to get myself up on the literature. It is also a pretty fun genre to read.)

Here is what kept me busy this summer, in no particular order:

  1. Swamplandia! by Karen Russell: I got a jump-start on this after reading Susan Szafir’s summer reading post. The concept and setting were captivating and it had some funny bits, but I found the middle to be a little draggy.
  2. Crow Planet by Lyanda Lynn Haupt: A local Seattle author’s take on the role of urban naturalists through a study of neighborhood crows. A week after finishing this book, I watched an eagle raid a crow’s nest in a tree in my backyard and I found myself rooting for the intrepid crows that chased it off.
  3. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter: Any year that gives us a new Jess Walter book is a good year. This is by far his best book yet. If you haven’t read it, go get it now and start reading.
  4. Goodbye for Now by Laurie Frankel: A novel by another local author with an irresistible concept: a computer genius creates an algorithm that lets people e-mail and video chat with dead loved ones. A fun read.
  5. The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton:  The classic young adult novel that somehow I’d never read. Worth it.
  6. Stargirl, Maniac Magee, and Crash by Jerry Spinelli: Reading deep into one author to get a head start on my students. Fun books with authentic voices that deal with topics such as bullying and trying to fit in.
  7. The Pals in Peril series by MT Anderson: Hilarious. I don’t care that they are written at a third grade level. You shouldn’t either. These books gave me many  much-needed  belly laughs.
  8. Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis: Another read for the upcoming school year, this one about a settlement of escaped slaves in Ontario. Charming and funny, written in dialect.
  9. First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong. Essential reading for a new teacher.
  10. To Teach  by William Ayers: A graphic novel written by the founder of the Weather Underground who, it turns out, also taught kindergarten.
  11. Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Read this for a book group. Meh.
  12. Dreamcatcher by Steven King: Don’t read this book. Please. It is terrible. However, it was the perfect thing to help me recover from the last days of my graduate program.
  13. Honey, Baby, Sweetheart by Deb Caletti. Another local author who writes YA for girls. Not really my thing, but this one is well written with a snappy voice.
  14. Torn by Stephanie Guerra: Another book for teen girls with a smart, authentic voice and charming characters.

Works in progress:

Sum by David Eagleman: I’m savoring these imaginative tales of the afterlife. Fascinating.

Far From the Linden Tree by Zinta Sovers: A self-published memoir about the adventurous life of a family friend  who escaped war-torn Latvia to settle in LA, Japan and Oregon.

Citizen Vince by Jess Walter: My current re-read, which I dive into when between books or I need a break. Great book.

What did you read this summer?