When I was in the seventh grade, I had to take a class that was just a reading class. We read books, earned points by taking tests over them on the computer, and tried to reach a point goal. At some point in the class, I tried to read Johnny Tremain. I'm not sure if I wanted a challenge, or if I thought I could handle it, or if it was just worth a lot of points, but I ended up hating that book. I didn't understand what was going on and I was clueless when I took the test. After that, I calculated that I could just read easy Goosebumps books, and if I read three times as many books, I could reach my point goal without having to read hard books. Later, I read Gone With The Wind after I saw the movie, and I read Catcher in the Rye in another class, but I don't remember reading any other books on my own. If I did, they didn't have much of an impact on me.
As an adult, I've picked up books here and there that I've heard about and wanted to read, and I went through a phase where I just picked up classic titles at thrift stores so I could decorate my home with them. I've never been a very avid reader, though, and that has bothered me. Stephen King said, "If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot." If I want to be a blogger, I need to be reading and writing regularly.
#43 on my 101 in 1001 list is to read 20 new books. So far, I've read 10 out of 20. I started very slowly, but lately, I've realized how much I enjoy reading, and most importantly, I've given myself permission to read whatever I want. It doesn't have to be a classic, nor does it have to be on Oprah's book club list. For the first time I can remember, I am actually enjoying reading. Here's what I've been reading lately:
Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
Love, love, loved this book. I love reading about eccentric, socially awkward people. This book is written as a series of email, letters, and interviews that fit together perfectly as the story unfolds. I LOLed, but mostly I just loved Bernadette.
Bitter is the New Black by Jen Lancaster
Jen Lancaster is the kind of woman you want for your best friend. She has a hilarious, self-depreciating voice that really puts things into perspective. She spends the whole book spiraling deeper into poverty, and yet this book will crack you up.
The Help by Kathryn Stockett
Everyone I know read this book last summer. I guess I don't read books until I come across them at a garage sale or a used bookstore. It was amazing, as you probably already know.
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
This book was okay. The photographs were interesting, and the story was engaging, but I don't really enjoy magical fantasy books. Every fantasy story has its own set of rules and magical stuff, and after a while, this book started to get really confusing. If you enjoy that kind of story, you may really like this one. This wasn't my favorite. It was just okay.
The Absolutely True Story of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
This one may be my favorite. This book is another young adult realistic fiction about a boy living on an Indian reservation. It describes the poverty and hopelessness many experience on the reservation and how this kid tries to pull himself out of poverty by enrolling in a school outside of the reservation. He's rejected by the white kids at his new school, and he's rejected by his own people for trying to act white. I've always thought that generational poverty is a very interesting subject. Be warned, though. This book is quite sad.
Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri
Unaccustomed Earth is a series of short fictional stories about Indian families who immigrated to the U.S. in the 1970's. The stories describe the struggles of the kids as they grow up torn between their family's customs and their desire to live like most Americans. The culture was fascinating. The plots were meh.
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn
Next on my list is a giant stack of young adult novels from my classroom library. I've got to get ready for next school year, plus they are just fun to read.
So what are you reading this summer? Please recommend some more great books for me, so that I can be on the lookout for them when I hit the used bookstores!