As a student (back in the day) I was required to read three to five assigned books every summer. Then I was expected, on my first day back for the next semester, to hand in written book reports on at least two of them (I was given extra credit if I turned in all five reports...that never happened.) Many of my classmates went right to work, reading and getting the horrid assignment finished. I, on the other hand, found the teacher selected book titles onerous, boring, and most important, I resented the school for invading my summer vacation with “homework”.
Who wanted to be away at sailing or tennis camp or lying with a glass of lemonade on a sunny beach somewhere and have to struggle through the pages of the Iliad by Homer, Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, or Paradise Lost by John Milton. Those were all on my list throughout the years. I thought the task qualified as cruel and unusual punishment. And I deeply resented the intrusion into my free time. All I wanted to do was immerse myself in fun books like the Nancy Drew Mysteries by Carolyn Keene, Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier.
Usually about two weeks before school was scheduled to begin again, I got the Cliffs Notes on my summer reading list and wrote the reports as best I could without ever having read the torturous novels or poems. I don’t think that I fooled my teachers but at least I turned in the assignment on time and got credit for that.
Since those days, I have done a 180 degree turn on how I feel about reading lists. Now I deliberately seek them out, especially the New York Times Best Seller list. I read the carefully constructed blurbs, and if the book seems appealing, I purchase it (usually on Amazon). Every week in the ‘Life’ section of The USA Today there are one or two pages highlighting new books that make the titles or the authors seem enticing. People Magazine had a regular feature page describing new books usually centered around a single topic, but not always.
Now that I am an author too, I long to see one of my seven books on such as list. So far that has not happened, but there’s always hope. Summer is often touted as the best time to sell (in my case) or read books. The selections are numerous… some are hot-blooded love stories, others intriguing mysteries or biographies of interesting characters. But no matter what, most people who enjoy reading for pleasure, find the summer market appealing. My latest novel, Loss of Innocence was published last month (August), so I think that qualifies it as ‘a summer read’. I hope if you haven’t read it yet, that you will.
If you have the time, I’d love to hear from you to learn the book you disliked the most in your youth. I can honestly say that mine was Heart of Darkness. (Apologies to any living relatives or friends of the author.)
Until my next inspiration…ciao.