Summer Reading

My husband and I are voracious readers year round. I love to read. Always have. Biographies of historical figures, Victorian novels (Wilkie Collins–of the time–and Michael Cox–in the style of the time), mysteries, almost all the books by Iain Pears, Rebecca Wells, Van Reid, Ann Patchett, Tina McElroy Ansa, Amy Tan, the first five books by Jasper Fforde, many of Barbara Kingsolver’s books, Vernor Vinge, Dan Brown, Jostein Gaarder, a number by Haruki Murakami, War and Peace, and one or two books by Kate Atkinson, Sue Monk Kid, Garth Stein, Anita Diamant, Arundhati Roy, Khaled Hosseini, Umberto Eco, Takashi Matsuoka, John Berendt, Marisha Pessl, Virginia Woolf, Charlotte Perkins Gilman, and Audre Lorde, to name but a very few. Not to mention the extensive array of books read for professional edification and satisfaction. (That’s one set of shelves above, my desk shelf below, there are more throughout our house, and we just donated 12 cartons of books to a local library, disposed of 4 other cartons, and vowed to make greater use of our school and local libraries!)

Yup, that’s a bit of author~title name dropping, just enough to give you the sense that I read a lot, year round, and with a bit of variety. I’ve kept book journals – the first in an AppleWorks word processing document. When it reached over 50 pages, I decided to stop the journal. I was on journal hiatus for awhile, until my older son gave me a hard cover journal as a gift on one of his trips home. Been keeping that journal fairly consistently for the past year.

I’ve belonged to book groups but after the second metamorphosis of the group, I decided to become a group of one because I like to determine what I am going to read.

Now I find myself in the curious position of having a number of books assigned to me to be read this summer. In general, I am not a fan of assigned summer reading, at least not for myself, because, as you may have already gathered, I like to choose what I read. If I had my druthers, rather than assigning reading to faculty or kids, I would solicit from all of them input on their favorite books and what they planned to read for themselves, and then share a list of those titles with everyone as a way of enlarging our overall repertoire from which to choose.

However, I am a fan, on occasion, of suggested reading, especially if it will complement a topic that will be the focus of the school year, or as a way of ensuring that everyone has been exposed to the basic tenets of the topic at hand. And even better if the suggested reading provides a list from which to choose, rather than have everyone read the same book.

And so it is in this spirit that I approach my summer reading. Here is what I am going to devour and digest this summer, in addition to continuing with the very large and detailed book on human anatomy that accompanies Marian Diamond’s lectures. I’d love to know what you are reading; please feel free to share the titles in a comment.

  • 5 Minds for the Future by Howard Gardner – required reading for our faculty
  • Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen – required of all our 7th and 8th graders and their advisors (of which I am one)
  • The Complete Guide to Service Learning by Cathryn Berger Kaye (plus two related pdfs) – required for each of us on my school’s Public Purpose Task Force
  • Yardsticks by Chip Wood – a professional book purchased for myself back in April, read at that time to fill in some gaps, and the remainder saved to enjoy over the summer
  • the imperfectionists by Tom Rachman – quite enjoyed the NYT book review so added the book to my summer stash
  • The Passionate Fact by Susan Strauss – a book about storytelling, given to me by my older son, begun awhile ago and I’d like to finish it this summer
  • The Help by Kathryn Stockett – purchased at my school’s Spring Book Fair on the recommendation of a number of folks at the fair

and for the 40 hour, one week intensive YogaEd course I’ll be taking in August, just two of the many suggested readings:

By the way, the New York City Public Library even has a Summer Reading site that struck my eye because the URL is no less than  http://www.summerreading.org/ ! AND thanks to the feature of WordPress that generates related posts, here’s the She Reads blog chronicling one person’s efforts to read a book a week. Though she hasn’t managed to stay current with that goal, I enjoyed Jade’s refreshing critiques, discovering books I have not read, and the honesty in her writing.

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4 thoughts on “Summer Reading

  1. synapsesensations Post author

    Hi Sarah,

    Many thanks for your comment! I encourage you to add Flipped to your list; it does not take long to read (or it takes as long as you want it to take 🙂 and knowing your interest in books, including books for kids, I suspect you will be glad you read it.

    I do have an account on Good Reads, but only once added books I had read to my shelf. I’ve stayed on Good Reads because my 26 year old has an account, and I get to see his book suggestions (he lives in Brussels). What is your name on Good Reads? Mine is “Laurie Bartels”. Now that you’ve asked, I will spend some time this summer tinkering with Good Reads and see about getting it up to date. Thanks for the suggestion!

    Since we just had two days of online PD, and one of the tools I was highlighting was Posterous, I posted a quick review of both books there.
    Flipped: http://laurieslens.posterous.com/flipped-wendelin-van-draanen
    5 Minds: http://laurieslens.posterous.com/5-minds-for-the-future-howard-gardner

    Like you, I found 5 Minds a slow read, and a not-too-enjoyable one, at that. I was disappointed with the writing and the content.

    By the way, I quite enjoy following your tweets! Your posts often get me thinking or smiling or wondering “how the heck does a mom with young kids find the time ;-)”

    Good luck at your new school!

    Cheers,
    Laurie

  2. Sarah

    Hi Laurie–
    What a great list of books/authors! Now I want to add Flipped to my summer list, but it overflowing already. I’ve been reading 5 Minds for months now–but moving very slowly. I’ll be interested in what you think.

    Do you participate on Good Reads or one of the others? I’m sort of liking it for documenting what I read. There are a few people who I follow there too. I would follow you for sure 🙂
    Sarah

  3. synapsesensations Post author

    Just jotting down an idea shared by Demetri, a colleage on the isenet.ning, as an alternative to Summer Reading. His summer project resonated with me. Each teacher was asked to contribute something that they created “an essay or a page to a book that was then bound and given to new teachers at the school.”

    I would expand the project to share it with all the teachers, as it seems a warm way to welcome people back to school, ease new faculty into the school’s culture, introduce folks to one another (maybe new faculty could also be asked to contribute an entry), and show a side of people that probably doesn’t get much opportunity for expression during the school year.

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