5 Summer Reading Books I Should Have Read

When I was in high school I liked books and reading but I didn’t have things like tumblr and amazon.com recommendations. Most of my friends were more into punk shows and being mall rats than curling up with a good story. The only recommendations I got were assigned summer reading lists from teachers yet to be met. I just plain wasn’t interested in doing work over the summer. I’ll read the books for English class when I have an English class to answer to.

“I can’t fail if I don’t read a book over the summer. If I could there’d be no need for a teacher,” I told my mother when she challenged my dismissal of all but the more interesting looking (read: smaller) summer reading books.

Unfortunately, some of those dismissed summer reading books actually turned out to be some of my favorite stories.

Now that that I’m out of high school, there have been books that I’ve stumbled upon and loved immensely only to realize I had the opportunity to read and discuss these stories during my semi-formative years.

I’m not sure if I feel regret about this or not because for one, I still passed all of high school and college despite being pedantic about how “required” our required reading really was. And for two, those guided, in-class discussions always made me want to stab myself in the eye…

Summer Reading I Should (Have) Read:

1. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Le Blurb:

Seconds before the Earth is demolished for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is saved by Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised Guide. Together they stick out their thumbs to the stars and begin a wild journey through time and space.

To be fair. I didn’t see the plain ole HHGG on the shelf, I saw The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy which is a  massive 832 pages that I just couldn’t even consider over the summer before 10th grade. Later in life I did buy The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and read it on my own during my subway-filled commute to work and I LOVED every page.

I say, splurge and go for the big book. It’s worth it.

2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

What it do:

Aldous Huxley’s tour de force, Brave New World is a darkly satiric vision of a “utopian” future—where humans are genetically bred and pharmaceutically anesthetized to passively serve a ruling order. A powerful work of speculative fiction that has enthralled and terrified readers for generations, it remains remarkably relevant to this day as both a warning to be heeded as we head into tomorrow and as thought-provoking, satisfying entertainment.”

I haven’t read it… I will though. Really I will.

This is a link to the graphic novel adaptation because OMIGAWD there’s a graphic novel adaptation of my favorite book!?

3. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Words about the story:

“Monday burn Millay, Wednesday Whitman, Friday Faulkner, burn ’em to ashes, then burn the ashes.”

 For Guy Montag, a career fireman for whom kerosene is perfume, this is not just an official slogan. It is a mantra, a duty, a way of life in a tightly monitored world where thinking is dangerous and books are forbidden.

I read this book on my own in college, I think, and I loved it so much I made my dad read it. It’s visually striking in it’s descriptions and a fascinating dystopian future to consider. It’s also quite small.

I don’t know if it’s the writing or the story or the content but it’s so easy to  be there and empathize with not only Guy, the main character, but also the rigid world and listless characters around him that help bring his complexity to life.

4. The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

What ‘chu know about that:

Celebrated novel traces the moral degeneration of a handsome young Londoner from an innocent fop into a cruel and reckless pursuer of pleasure and, ultimately, a murderer. As Dorian Gray sinks into depravity, his body retains perfect youth and vigor while his recently painted portrait reflects the ravages of crime and sensuality.

Um, I still haven’t actually read this… I watched the movie on Netflix and was all like HUWAT!? I’ve been missing this shit all along? For Shame! Why hadn’t anyone ever told me?

Honestly I kept confusing Dorian Gray with Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton, which I did have to read and it was mind numbing and made me want to crash into a tree but we all know how that ends up…

5. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Listen to this:

Offred is a Handmaid in the Republic of Gilead, serving in the household of the enigmatic Commander and his bitter wife. She may go out once a day to markets whose signs are now pictures because women are not allowed to read. She must pray that the Commander makes her pregnant, for in a time of declining birthrates her value lies in her fertility, and failure means exile to the dangerously polluted Colonies. Offred can remember a time when she lived with her husband and daughter and had a job, before she lost even her own name. Now she navigates the intimate secrets of those who control her every move, risking her life in breaking the rules. 

Like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World and George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four, The Handmaid’s Tale has endured not only as a literary landmark but as a warning of a possible future that is still chillingly relevant.

So every time I want to read this book I decide I’m not ready yet. It’s some seriously deep shit. A dystopia where the upper class used lower class women as “breeders” and some other disturbing stuff. It’s an important read considering all the politics of late where it seems some people believe a woman’s rights and body should be up for debate.

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