School makes reading feel like drudgery. When I spend hours a week reading books I didn’t choose, I begin to question if I even like reading—do I just do it because that’s what writers do? The assigned reading swallows me up, causing me to lose hold of myself and my interests.
But when a holiday nears and I expand from my school-self to my self-self, I remember the stack of books on the top shelf of my bookcase. This is the stack designated “to be read,” this is the stack that creeps higher and higher no matter how often I tell myself that I cannot buy any new books until the pile is gone. And with the anticipation of a few unpressured hours to indulge in these books, I remember that I really do love to read and I cannot wait to get home. This summer, I have heartily devoted myself to reading as often as I can. Here’s what I’ve read so far.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood I’d heard some unpleasant things about this novel from a classmate and wasn’t keen on reading it; but as fate would have it, my best friend from high school gave it to me as a Christmas present. She claimed it was one of the best books she read that year, and I love Atwood’s poetry, so I thought I should give it a chance. And oh my goodness, am I glad I did! It’s a sophisticated dystopian novel, wherein religious texts have been twisted to force a group of women, the handmaids, into serving as mistresses and surrogate mothers for political leaders who cannot otherwise have children. Atwood’s poetic voice comes through strong in this novel, which makes it a delight to read. The rhythm and word choice are impeccable.
Jesus in the 9 to 5: Facing the Challenges of Today’s Business World by Dennis Hensley This is the first book I read by Dr. Hensley, my professor and the head of the professional writing department at Taylor University. Looking back, it’s fun to see how much his teaching style is reflected in his writing—I’ll have to keep that in mind as I look for jobs and graduate programs. This book is a combination of fictional vignettes, spiritual applications, advice on how to run businesses, and advice on how to behave as an employee. It felt like it was trying to go too many directions at the same time, though it gave me some lessons to ponder as I embark into the adult world of full time jobs.
Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë The ominous Brontë sisters! I have spent the last few years hearing about this book and it has been taking up a lot of space on my stack so I thought it was time to tackle it. As predicted (by myself and my classmates), I didn’t like it. The characters are disagreeable, with the exception of the housekeeper, Nelly. However, I would be interested in reading criticism of this work—I’m sure it has something to offer, I just don’t know what. Also, this jab at the Brontë sisters will always make me smile.
The People of Paper by Salvador Plascencia The day after I started reading this one, I found it way on the bottom of a list of unconventional novels. Rightfully so—its unconventionality is its best quality. The story of a father and daughter who leave Mexico and wage war on Saturn was okay, but the form of the novel is what is truly intriguing. It was worth the read just to have my ideas of the author’s role within a story stretched.
The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by Alan Bradley I don’t know what I was expecting when I picked this one up, but it was certainly not what I got. Narrated by eleven-year-old Flavia de Luce, this is a murder mystery set in 1950s England. Spunky and smart Flavia is the reason I kept reading. She loves chemistry and struggles to feel familial affection for her father and sisters, but is chummy and conspiratorial with the family gardener who suffers from PTSD. I can’t tell if Bradley was writing for adults or children, but I am sure both audiences could enjoy this book.
That’s it for June. I’m guessing July will have more non-fiction, so get ready!
If you’ve read any of these books, what did you think? What’s on your night stand this summer?