For high school students, that means two months of late nights and lazy mornings, looooong beach days, binge watching Netflix, and forgetting that school ever existed…until it’s the second week of August and you have yet to do your summer reading. Oh yes, the pest that is the high school english department’s mandatory summer reading list. I know how it goes — it “slips your mind” until you’re three weeks out from the start of the year and still haven’t even purchased your books. I’ve been there, I’ve done that, and it’s dreadful.
BUT there is a light at the end of the tunnel, my friends. As a second year college student, my days of mandatory summer reading are long gone and let me tell you, I don’t miss it. Not even a little bit. We had a mere two months to do what we wanted and not think about school, classes, homework, papers, and reading, and each year it seemed to pass by quicker than the previous.
College, on the other hand, is a whole new world *cue the Aladdin soundtrack.*
We get four, count ’em, FOUR, long summer months (that is, if we’re not taking summer courses which, this summer, I was lucky enough to not have to). That’s double what we got in high school. For the first two months of my summer break, my days went very similarly to how they went during my high school summers: late nights, lazy mornings, picking up shifts at the cafe, and binge watching The Office. Then the months started to behave in a way they never have before…they began to drag. My days were monotonous and boring. So what did I do? I PICKED UP A BOOK! The thing I wanted to do the very least in high school was exactly what I was craving! And I read three times the number of books I was forced to read in high school! How strange!?
So, without further ado, here is a list of the books I read this summer and why I think you should pick them up too:
The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Now I know what you’re thinking: “Chloe are you serious?? I read this in my 10th grade english class?? I like, wrote papers on it and stuff!!” Yes, I know, I did too. But this novel is a classic for a reason, and it’s taught in english classrooms for the very same reason: it’s truly a masterpiece. It is a timeless story of love and hope, or perhaps a lack of either. The characters are so utterly despicable that you can’t help but love to hate them and Fitzgerald’s prose is unmatched by any other. My love for this book escaped me until I read it a second time and I will be reading it a third, fourth, and probably a fifth. Give it another chance and you may appreciate it more (especially without your english teacher hovering over your shoulder!)
Wonder by R. J. Palacio
A children’s coming-of-age novel centered around a boy, Auggie, who suffers from a severe facial deformity and is transitioning from homeschooling to traditional schooling during the worst time in all of our lives: middle school. I picked up this book after seeing the preview for its movie adaptation in the theater a few weeks ago. It’s an easy, quick read with a genuinely sweet plot that will make your heart ache and smile all at the same time.
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
This one is about Craig, a New York City teenager, and his battle with depression and suicide. In the very beginning, Craig attempts to kill himself, fails, and checks himself into a mental hospital where he begins his recovery and meets a few very interesting characters along the way. The thing about this book, for me, is it’s rawness and realness. It does not sugarcoat a single part of Craig’s suffering and recovery but presents it in an uplifting, hopeful way, and I think this is in part due to Vizzini’s own experience with the same demons. It’s an amazing, amazing read.
Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler
I feel like we’ve all gone through a phase where we just want to pack up, move to New York City and never look back, and that’s exactly what Tess does in this novel. She lands a waitressing job in an upscale restaurant where things seem “sweet” in the beginning but take a drastic “bitter” turn…you see the connection there? I couldn’t imagine a better title for this book, it’s an absolutely perfect snapshot of what happens to Tess. Danler’s writing is phenomenal — each page delivers you meticulously crafted sensory overload. Again, another amazing read and a slap in the face to those of us (myself included) with a romanticized view of The City.
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner
THE MOTHER OF ALL TEAR JERKERS. I cried…no, sobbed…like a baby twice while reading this novel. It follows two women: Clara, a nurse on Ellis Island in 1911 who watched the man she loved fall to his death to escape a building fire, and Taryn, a fabric enthusiast, whose husband was killed in the North Tower on September 11, 2001. The novel follows their movement from their “in-between-place” to finally confronting their losses and learning to live again. Read it, but have a box of tissues handy.
My next read will be The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins!
If you liked this kind of book recommendation post, let me know! I’m thinking I could post something similar to this after I get through four-six or so novels and share my opinions of them!
Thanks for stopping by!