Summer Reading Hell

Or is it something a little better?

I don’t know about everyone else, but I’ve always had good experiences with summer reading.  Well, in retrospect, they were good experiences.  At the very least, they were all rewarding.  In fact, my only regret about my high school education was that it didn’t require more reading.

Before my junior year, in which I took British and World Literature, I read London by Edward Rutherford.  A large and formidable book, it outlined the history of London through chapter-long anecdotes from each significant age in the city’s history.  It was very, very long, but afterwards I realized–beyond all reason–that I enjoyed it.  It was a surprising pick, especially among all the formidable tomes from the English canon that my teachers could have chosen.  But it really helped put everything I’ve ever read in during my English career in perspective.

Before my senior year, AP English, we read Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky.  I haven’t read another book by the Russian author since, but that’s not saying I haven’t wanted to.  And reading Crime and Punishment contributed that that strange desire–shared by many lovers of readings–to ‘read the Russians.’

What I wish I had, during my schooling years, was something like the Bank Street Children’s Library, and their unique and wide-ranging summer reading list.  The New York Times‘ Paper Cuts blog says the list strays away from the ‘good-for-you’ classics and introduces some new volumes to the reading list.  I don’t know if I agree with that–I really do believe those ‘good-for-you’ volume are, well, good for you. But it’s good to see our librarians encouraging kids to read something different.

So what about you?  Did you love or despise your summer reading list?

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