Monday, June 24, 2013

Book Week, Day 1: What should you be reading this summer? I have no idea...guides from around the internets

It's finally actually summer, which means that I do get a few chances here and there to read books that I haven't read before that also aren't cookbooks. I got to read (and finish) The Paris Wife while we were camping over two weekends ago, so that was big for me. But summer really lends itself to reading, which is why there are summer reading lists and programs at like every single library in the country. What I read tends to be, um, well I usually shy away from the best-sellers and the James Pattersons and the book club selections...mostly. I tend towards the NPR-recommended (yeah, really), graphic novels, and nonfiction.

So I won't tell you what to read. But here's what I'm going to do instead this week: I'll give you a few lists that some other people (other smart people) have recommended, talk about how the summer of 100 books is going, let you know about a few books I've read lately, tell you what I intend to read, and a few other fun surprises. Today, I'm tackling the "summer reading guides" part, so here goes nothing.

First, a little background on how I read: 
I'm always looking for something new to read, but it takes me a while to get into a book, and I've found that if I'm not engaged by a few pages in I'm not likely to enjoy it in the long haul (though this is not always the case...I do try to go about 50 pages or so before giving up hope completely). At this stage of my life too I have limited time to read and so if I'm not loving something, I'll no longer spend precious minutes of naptime trying to make myself get into something I'm clearly not digging. So instead I like to cast a wide net, have lots of options, and ditch what I can't deal with or get into right that second. Here are a few lists to provide yuo with literally hundreds of choices. Have at it, kids!

  • Click on over to Modern Mrs. Darcy for the "Ultimate Beach Reading Guide," which she'll actually e-mail to you so that you don't have to troll around the internets all day. All you need to do is sign up. Plus, her reviews are usually so blessedly honest (she'll tell you if and why she puts a book down and doesn't pick it back up, even if it's a bestseller) that it's pretty refreshing. Highly recommended. 
  • Wanna learn something new on your time off? Who doesn't? (Me. It's Summer. But I might give it a go anyhow.) Head to Science Friday's blog and take a gander at some great new and classic non-fiction, plus some sci-fi, if you're into that. I am, sometimes. 
  • So do you know what you already like? Then use this handy-dandy guide from PureWow to find something similar from the list of "Literary Doppelgangers." Just click on the book you liked, and a book you might like as well pops up in its place. This is especially helpful if you are taking a last-minute trip and and are on your way to the library and have no direction (literarily speaking, of course), or don't want to do a lot of searching on your own. 
  • And of course, Oprah's official summer reading list. This one's from last year (I'm still catching up anyway). I'm not generally the hugest Oprah fan, but I've got to tell you that her lists are great because they give you pretty good little snippets for each book, and there are a lot of good books that make the list every year. It's hard to sort through all of the new books that come out in the world every year unless you've got minions, and O's got them in spades, so I suppose it works.
  • Oh, and there are also the classics, as compiled in this list by the Cincinnati Library. Most of these are great standbys, and things you should probably read anyway. But be wary: every year I try to read Anna Karenina (which didn't make this list) and forget that it's totally not beach reading, but by that time I'm stuck with whatever gossip rag magazines my mom and my sister have brought with them, and that's even more disappointing. Just remember that even though something is a classic, that doesn't make it beach reading. Some of these books are better kept for an evening when it's pouring outside and you've got a very large glass of cabernet sauvignon  (or cognac, or seltzer if you're knocked up like me I guess)  to keep you company. 
Also check with you local library. My library mostly has programs for little kids and school-aged folk, but lots of libraries have programs for adults too. The NY Public Library is pretty awesome for that sort of thing, but you know, you have to live in New York and whatnot.

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