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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton: The classic young adult novel that somehow I’d never read. Worth it.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- First Days of School by Harry K. Wong and Rosemary T. Wong. Essential reading for a new teacher.
- To Teach by William Ayers: A graphic novel written by the founder of the Weather Underground who, it turns out, also taught kindergarten.
- Life of Pi by Yann Martel: Read this for a book group. Meh.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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?