It's summer! Which means hot beach weather, vacations, barbeques, and reading.
When I was a kid, the first day of summer vacation was marked by a visit to the local library. Reading list, in hand. You remember those, don't you? The list the teacher gave you the last day of school with the books you were expected to read before classes resumed again in the fall (In my case, the list was tucked inside our report card envelope).
Along with the required books, we always picked out the books we wanted to read (Nancy Drew mysteries when I was younger, a bit more sophisticated stuff when I was older). Maybe it was the geek (or the future writer) in me, but I came to look forward to those " required books ". Without those lists, I'm not sure if my pre-teen self would have had the smarts to have picked up Anne of Green Gables (Oh, Gilbert!) or Little Women (Oh, Laurie!) or later, read classics like The Count of Monte Cristo. I still remember the summer I was *forced* to read Pride and Prejudice. Talk about a life altering book.
Like most writers, I'm a voracious reader. I try to read within all genres: a) Because you never know what gems you are going to come across, and, b) if you only read within the genre you write in, then you're never going to be exposed to the richness of other worlds.
Lately, I've been reading a lot of YA. I recently finished What I Saw and How I Lied, a book I probably would have never have picked up on my own, except that the leader for my local writing group used excerpts from the novel to discuss writing dialogue. I guess you could say it was on my "adult reading list." I began it at 10 pm one night and finished it by 4 in the morning. Who would have guessed I wouldn't be able to put it down once I started reading? Not me, that's for sure. But boy am I glad I did. The novel itself was a lesson in how to write tight.
A few summers ago, I decided to go back to my "reading list" roots and create my own list, of sorts. It had been years since I'd read The Great Gatsby and The Catcher in the Rye and I decided to reread them at the beach during vacation. Interestingly enough, my reaction to both novels as an adult was similar to my reaction as a teenager. Hated Gatsby, loved Catcher. But I did come to appreciate the beauty of Fitzgerald's prose and understand the simplicity of how a sympathetic character (Holden Caulfield) can carry a novel.
Since then, I've done the same every summer. This year's list includes: To Kill A Mockingbird (shamefully, I've never read it) and Persuasion (yes, I've read it many times, but I'm convinced, you can never read Jane Austen often enough).
What's on your summer reading list?
(And if you want to put a smile on your face, click on the video below. I promise, if you love books, you won't be disappointed!)
Maria Geraci writes contemporary romance and women’s fiction with a happy ending. Her fourth novel, A Girl Like You, was released last August by Berkley, Penguin, USA and is a 2013 RITA nominee. You can connect with Maria by visiting her website, www.mariageraci.com