Summer 2016 Reading List, Addendum

It is June 9. There is just one more Monday left in the school year. The countdown is really on now–but with the decreasing number of days, there is an ever-increasing number of books on my summer to-read list. I mentioned in my initial Summer To-Read post that I would likely end up writing an addendum. Well, here it is!

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Why I want to read it:

The movie trailers for the film version of this novel are intriguing, and I have heard the book is phenomenal–touching, poignant, thought-provoking.

How I heard of it:

When I first saw the movie trailers for The Help, I wanted to see it, but I follow a strict book-first policy that mandates I read a book before I see its movie, so, when I found out the film was based on a novel, I couldn’t see it: I had (still have) to read the book first.

The Sun Also Rises, by Ernest Hemingway

Why I want to read it:

One of the famous six-toed cats living at Hemingway Home, August 2014

Quite simply, I love the line “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” At least, I think I love it. I can’t really say for sure until I have read the book. The line can stand alone, and mean a million different things, but I want to know what it means in the context of the book.

In addition, I already know I admire and enjoy Hemingway’s writing. In high school, I found A Farewell to Arms deliciously depressing and tragic. I also relish his short stories, with their clipped and realistic dialog, their symbolism, their tragedy, their flawed characters and ambiguities.

Finally, I feel drawn to Hemingway in that I have close ties to his two haunts, Michigan and Florida. I spent the early days of my childhood in Michigan, and still visit at least once a year. I have been to Petsokey, Michigan and other areas of the upper peninsula, as well. I also travel to Florida multiple times a year, and in the summer of 2014, drove all the way down to Key West where, among other sites, I toured Hemingway’s home.

One of the famous six-toed cats at the Hemingway Home in Key West, Florida, August 2014

How I heard of it:

Of course I had heard of it in passing–it’s pretty famous and I’m an English teacher. But what really placed it at the forefront of my conscious mind, separating it from the other famous classics we have all heard of at one point or another, was the suggestion that one have the line “Isn’t it pretty to think so?” tattooed somewhere on one’s body. A book line worthy of a tattoo has got to come from a book worthy of a read.

A view of Hemingway’s studio, August 2014. Our tour guide informed us that Hemingway would get up in the morning, spend a few hours writing about 600 words, and then venture out in the afternoon and evening to local bars and restaurants.


The Poisonwood Bible, by Barbara Kingsolver

Why I want to read it:

While I have never read this book in anything close to its entirety, I have been exposed to excerpts enough times to know it tells its story from several different perspectives. My own novel-in-progress attempts something similar, so I think I can learn something from the structure of this piece. In addition, the writing style is rich and the characters of which I do have some knowledge seem diverse and well-developed. I simply want to know more.

How I heard of it:

A leader at one of the workshops I attended at the James River Writers Annual Conference used excerpts of this novel to illustrate various writing techniques and skills. My  parents also read it aloud to each other during a long road trip, and both liked it.

On a Side Note…

My initial Summer To-Read List includes Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman. If you live in or are going to be in the Richmond area next week, you might be interested in Fountain Bookstore‘s Harper Lee Themed Dinner on Wednesday, June 15. It will feature a three-course meal and a discussion on the controversy surrounding Go Set a Watchman, led by Charles Shields, a biographer of American novelists.


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