Summer Reading List Woes

We did it. We endured months of snow and trudged through puddles under umbrellas and heavy rain clouds to get here. Blacksburg has finally decided to deliver us sun, heat, and finals, and in approximately one week, we’ll be done. Exams will be over and papers graded. We made it to summer, and while that usually means the freedom to spend our time however we want, for some of us, a new anxiety creeps in, partially exiting and partially intimidating – the summer reading list.

What do we do with this precious time off from work, our graduate studies, from teaching, from meeting the expectations of our professors or needs of our students? We yearn to spend this time immersed in books, but how does one go about prioritizing this all-important list?

Do we begin with a literary classic we’ve always wanted to read and would be proud to say we’ve accomplished? At least one literary classic needs to go on this list, but do we kick off the summer with it or save it for later, starting with something fun? *Debates internally and decides not to save Tolstoy for the end of August* Okay, let’s start the summer with a classic, then move on to the less intimidating stuff.

When we treat ourselves, where do we go for these fun reads? Do we finally get around to the “must-reads” our friends and family have been recommending to us all year, unsure of why we haven’t had the time to get to them yet because they “thought we’d fly right through it”? Do we strike out on our own, browsing for new authors, names or genres?

Dare we see what that bookstore houses on its “Must Reads” shelf, or look at the table marked “Soon to be Movies”? No, we skip that table because nobody wants the cover with the film actors or actresses when the original cover was perfectly lovely.

Should we keep most of the summer reading light and breezy? Or challenge ourselves, tackling a genre we aren’t super comfortable with but have time to dedicate to sampling? Is this the summer we finally start our goal of reading one Presidential biography every year? What about that novel that professor recommended because we enjoyed the book we read for class so much?

A love for reading and writing can be pushed aside in the midst of a crazy year, whether we’re in grad school or working, and summer is the perfect time to enjoy these practices. Compiling the perfect reading list, then, is essential to making the most out of the time we have. How do you create your summer reading list?



Anna Harjung is finishing up her first year as an MA in Literature student. She is the blog editor for the minnesota review, and she’s looking for recommendations for her summer reading list.  


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