The trouble with making a reading list for the summer – something I don’t normally do, by the way, because who needs lists? Books just call me and I read, all year around – is that it is difficult to know when to stop. Take this summer for example. Normally, I don’t have tons of time to read during the summer, as usually I have worked at a children’s camp, a wonderful job, the best in the world, and one which does tend to absorb one’s hours, especially as one gets so few hours off and even then there is always something exciting going on (send your children to camp, folks! It does them a world of good to get outdoors and try new things). This summer I am writing a thesis, which is not quite as distracting but makes leisure reading a lot more guilt-inducing than it normally is. And yet… and yet there are so many books that I want to read. Yash and Nafiza have posted their respective reading lists for this summer; what can I do but follow suit?
I am trying to keep this list to a manageable amount (and will not post pictures of the academic books which I also want to read and take notes on over the next few months; you will have to imagine the stacks of TOMES that line my room. Think of Elda’s room in Year of the Griffin); there are plenty more books that I want to read and certainly even more that I will read, but these are the ones I will commit to reading, or rereading, now.
Summertime… and the reading is easy (or not):
Journey to the Centre of the Earth by Jules Verne. I began reading last night. It is surprisingly funny. Now I want to visit Iceland and go tolting on an Icelandic pony.
Middlemarch by George Eliot. Megan Whalen Turner and Rachel Hartman, two authors whose works I adore, have both recommended Middlemarch and/or cited it as an influence on their own writing. Incidentally, the mother of a few of the characters in “A Plague of Peacocks” (a short story by Diana Wynne Jones) cycles between two novels: The Mill on the Floss, also by George Eliot, and The Count of Monte Cristo, by Alexandre Dumas. Sooner or later I will have to read both of those as well – preferably sooner.
Speaking of Megan Whalen Turner and Rachel Hartman, both of them have also recommended Lois McMaster Bujold, of whom I had not heard; accordingly, I have borrowed The Spirit Ring from the library (neither UBC nor my local public library have many of her books). I have a sneaking feeling that this is cheating, though, as Bujold is primarily a science-fiction author, and The Spirit Ring looks more like fantasy. Barrayar will fit into my reading schedule somewhere, unless I really can’t stand her style. Which, from the praise I’ve read of her writing, isn’t likely to happen. (Side note: awful cover, don’t you think? I would not have touched it if her writing hadn’t come so well recommended.)
ALSO recommended by Rachel Hartman and Megan Whalen Turner is Rosemary Sutcliff, whom I already like. Well, I liked The Eagle of the Ninth, enough that I bought it used, although not quite enough tosend me madly searching for more. However, I love The Minstrel and the Dragon Pup, so between that and these two authors, I borrowed six more of her books from the library today – Dawn Wind; Sun Horse, Moon Horse; The Silver Branch; Frontier Wolf; and Flame-Coloured Taffeta. That is only five books. I wanted Song for a Dark Queen and I know I got it down from the shelf – oh darn. I put it on the shelf while I reached down the other titles (there were more than I thought was wise to take at once, given my limited schedule; I had to pick and choose), and I bet it is still there where I left it, unless some industrious librarian has put it back where it belongs. (I’m sorry, librarians!) Most unfortunately, no library nearby has The Mark of the Horse Lord. (Side note: Sutcliff’s books have also been afflicted with unappealing covers. Sigh.)
Anyway. The other day Nafiza told me about a great book sale in my area, at which I bought Jane, the Fox, and Me, so the logical course of action is to reread Jane Eyre. At the store I saw a new hardback by Charles de Lint called Over My Head, the second in his Wildlings series. I read a few pages, and although it really isn’t my usual choice of style (I don’t like urban grit and gangs, for one thing), de Lint’s writing drew me right in. So this summer I’ll have to read the first Wildling book, Under My Skin. (Hey Steph, have you tried any of de Lint’s stories? I think you’ll find a few that are right up your alley.)
But the reason I really want to thank Nafiza (thank you, Nafiza!!!) is because at the book sale I found a hardback Islands of Chaldea by Diana Wynne and Ursula Jones. The last one in the store. Oh, gulp. I was so happy to have found it – and now I’m scared to read it. I know it’ll make me cry, partly because I’ve heard the writing and story are that beautiful, and partly because it is the last published book by one of my favourite authors. (Although I can always hope that more from her collection of documents will be printed.) Anyway, I’m saving The Islands of Chaldea for a day when I can linger over every chosen word.
Having thought of Elda’s room (and then tried to hunt up a suitable quote) above, I now rather badly want to reread Year of the Griffin, and probably Dark Lord of Derkholm after that. (Hey Yash, I bought the store’s last copy of Zita the Spacegirl, so you shan’t be able to avoid reading it now!)
And I wouldn’t mind rereading a few Terry Pratchett Discworld stories, particularly the ones about the Witches – Carpe Jugulum, perhaps, and (for the first time) I Shall Wear Midnight. If, you know, I have spare time. (Ha. Ha. Ha.)
Well. That’s a full list – and there are many more that I don’t want to publicly commit to, since discretionary time is severely curtailed these days, and I’m using this post as something of a books-Janet-shall-read-since-she-has-told-everybody-she-is-going-to list, or insurance policy, if you will (i.e. this post ensures that I will read them).
What books are you looking forward to hurling yourself headlong into this summer? I’m always glad to hear what treasures fellow readers find – happy reading!