Summer is here and so is summer reading. Both my boys are doing swim team and dive team at our pool. This means a LOT of hours logged in at the pool, which can also mean a lot of hours of poolside reading. However, it’s the kind of reading that demands something light, something that you can put down and pick up again, something that doesn’t strain the brain too much.
For me, that has meant a full and mostly fun immersion in middle grade and young adult fiction, mostly from my childhood, in conjunction with The Shelf Discovery project at Girl Detective. I’ve read a few other books, also fiction but it’s been a nice light month overall.
Read in June for the Shelf Discovery project:
Shelf Discovery by Lizzie Skurnick
Celebration of re-reading young adult fiction, mostly from the 1970s and 80s. More of a memoir than a comprehensive list of the best of the genre. I don’t agree with Skurnick a lot of the time, but I am enjoying the nostalgia of the project and the discussion at Girl Detective.
A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle
I read this one with John. I didn’t love this one as a kid but I enjoyed sharing it with John. There is still something about it that doesn’t quite do it for me. I think it’s a little too mystical for my taste, which is also how I’ve felt about L’Engle’s more adult writings.
Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret. by Judy Blume
The classic early puberty book. I don’t really get the controversy over this one. Blume really gets the details of early middle school exactly right.
The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin
Perhaps the book that got me hooked on mysteries. I enjoyed this one almost as much as I did the other times I read it.
They Never Came Home by Lois Duncan
Amnesia and a mystery by one of the queens of teenage suspense. This is one of her least scary and least supernatural books.
Other Young Adult/Middle Grade Fiction read this month:
Stand in the Wind by Jean Little
I was reminded of this book by Semicolon’s book tag on summer books. Two pairs of sisters learn about themselves and each other while living in a house on the beach together for a week.
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler
I think I first saw this one at Mental Multivitamin. It’s very well-written and the illustrations by Maria Kalman perfectly complement the story. On one level I found this one hard to read for the teenage romance and sex storyline. However, I really liked the treatment of the sexual relationship in this book. The girl in the book is deeply hurt by the boy and it is made clear that a large reason for the hurt is due to their physical intimacy. It’s almost more of a warning against casual sex or even against sex in a teen relationship where the participants think they are in love. I’m not sure if that’s what the author intended, but I did read it as more a more realistic depiction of the emotional side to a physical relationship than what is usually portrayed in movies and on TV.
Other Fiction Read in June:
Caleb’s Crossing by Geraldine Brooks
I really like Brooks’ writing. I’ve read most of her books and mostly enjoyed them. There is always a little tinge of irritation on my part though at her very obvious worldview and the way she imposes it on history. I felt that less with this book that the others. The story is based on the true story of Caleb Cheeshahteaumuck , the first Native American to graduate from Harvard in 1665. Brooks makes an interesting choice to tell the story not from Caleb’s perspective but using the voice of Bethia Mayhew, a young Puritan woman whose father is a missionary to the Native Americans. Overall, a compelling read about a fascinating chapter in American history.
An Impartial Witness by Charles Todd
The second Bess Crawford mystery. I enjoyed it but found significant plot points unbelievable or a little predictable. Still a good summer read.
The Housekeeper and the Professor by Yoko Ogawa
I thoroughly enjoyed this slim novel about mathematics, memory, relationships and the beauty found in simple everyday life.
Read with the boys:
Silver on the Tree by Susan Cooper
The Water Horse by Dick King-Smith
Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn
and we started Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder
Still Working On:
On Rereading by Patricia Meyer Spacks
The Poetry of William Carlos Williams of Rutherford by Wendell Berry
The God Who Loves You by Peter Kreeft
I’d really like to finish the three above in the next week or so. Then I see July being another month of young adult fiction, rereading, mysteries, and some thumping good fiction reads. Most of which will be poolside.