Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer Reading Plans

Everyone in the book blogging world is posting about their summer reading plans. I love reading all your lists and seeing your ambitious goals!

I've been thinking a lot about my own reading plans for this summer. This is the first summer in quite a while that I've actually had a lot of time to read. I don't have any required readings for classes, so I can actually read whatever I want for once without anyone breathing down my neck.

I feel obligated to use this time to tackle some big, chunky, difficult classics. I rarely read them for school because they don't fit well on a single-semester syllabus--teachers don't like having to devote an entire semester to a single book--and I finally have time to slowly work through them. I could read War and Peace! Or Moby Dick! (With Adam's readalong going on, I was really tempted.) Or Ulysses! (Okay...barf.) I could do that readalong of Les Miserables I've been wanting to do forever!

As fun as it would be to finally be able to say I've read some tough chunksters (or, hey, even some shorter classics), the honest truth is that I don't have much enthusiasm for them this summer. After 3 1/2 years of studying literature in college, I can finally read for fun. Reading difficult classics, as wonderful as they are, would just drain the fun right out of it.



Don't get me wrong; I think it's a good idea for us all to push ourselves and read things that aren't necessarily fun. But pushing myself to read out of my comfort zone (not to mention having a lot of other people pushing me) is what I do all the time in school. I just need a break.

In addition--and this is probably more important--although I often feel how many classics I haven't read, I feel even stronger how much I lack in the contemporary department. I want to be a writer, and although classics can teach me a lot about writing, what they can't teach me is what the current, living masters are doing, and what the best writing is like today. I spend so much time on dead authors that I hardly know who's worth looking up to in my own world.

That's not to say I'm going to spend the summer reading fluffy novels and "just having fun." I probably will read a few fluffy novels, but I mostly want to spend my time looking for contemporary authors and books to love, and falling in love with reading again. I want to experience the joy of not being able to put a book down, reading late into the night because I just want to read one more chapter. As wonderful as challenging classics are, I think I'm going to put them aside for a while.

(But classics aren't completely off the table. I'm actually in the middle of a lovely re-read of Pride and Prejudice, and I have my eye on a copy of Wives and Daughters I snagged at the library book sale last week. But I think I'm still going to stick to these fun classics for a while.)

I have one more semester of school, which I'm slightly dreading, so I want to fill my last summer with fun reading before...well...my life changes completely.

So, I'm not making a list. I'm going to spend a lot of time at the library this summer, seeing where the wind blows me.

Happy summer!

12 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good plan. It's summer, and you should enjoy what you are reading, especially after several semesters of being told what to read.

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    1. Thank you! It's nice to be validated. :)

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  2. I've heard of many people who have somehow lost the love of reading after going through university. I think that it's wise of you to give yourself a break. Too much of a good thing is sometimes …… too much. Have a great reading summer, Emily!

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    1. Oh, I would hate for that to happen to me! But I only have one semester left (and no plans for graduate school), so I don't think it will. But that's a good reason to take a break!

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  3. Sounds like a good plan to me! Variety is good for the mind and soul, and you shouldn't treat a summer break like another literature class. This is actually how I got into sewing and quilting--after each semester of reading reading reading, I would make a quilt and use other parts of myself. Completely refreshing. I always read, of course, but I probably chose very different books. I do remember reading a mid-19th-century copy of The Mysteries of Udolpho and having some truly strange dreams, though.

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    1. I agree! And I think it's a good idea to try taking up some hobbies other than reading, too. I'll have to look for something. And, funny about Mysteries of Udolpho :)

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  4. Ah, Les Mis - love that one :)

    I'm *thinking* about reading Ulysses this month. But only thinking.

    My big summer challenge is to finish my Classics Club list, I'm left with all the ones I've been putting off for the past two years :S

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    1. I love it too. :) I'd be very interested to see what you think of Ulysses. I am shamelessly avoiding it. Good luck with your plans! I hope the ones you've been putting off turn out to be pleasant surprises.

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  5. I fully support your decision! I hope you'll find a lot of great contemporaries, and I'm looking forward to reading what you think of them! :) I'm also planning to continue reading more "relaxed" stuff, even if it means abandoning some of my projects for now. But summer is for fun and relaxation! :)

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    1. Definitely! Especially those of us in school!

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  6. When I finished college, my greatest joy was that I could finally read what I wanted to all the time instead of what I had to read for classes. My first summer, I read everything Raymond Chandler ever wrote. Just inhaled all his novels, short stories, articles on writing... everything that was in this set from the library called "The Complete Raymond Chandler" or something. Now, that wasn't necessarily the wisest course, as by the end, all the books and stories had blurred together a bit, and I couldn't really remember what individual ones were about. But it was like this amazing cleanse for my reading system, and definitely rejuvenated my love for books.

    In other words, go for it!

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