When I was in university, I really looked forward to the summer as a time when I could read for pleasure. During the school year, the course reading for my program (Political Science) was so demanding, I didn’t really have time to read a book that wasn’t on a required reading list. After spending months reading the likes of Das Capital, Plato’s Republic and long journal articles on international relations, I needed to read for fun. But I was never very interested in “beach books,” “chick lit,” or other fluff. This makes me sound like a snob, but I want a book that is rich enough in style to really sink into. I remember spending one summer at a consignment clothing store that had just opened up. There were few customers, so once the work of sorting clothes was done, the three of us who worked there would each find a comfy corner and read for hours. I worked my way through a number of classics that summer, including Madame Bovary, Emma and The Mayor of Casterbridge. I’d like to have a job like that again!
These days I have a demanding full time job, so I squeeze in reading during my subway rides back and forth to work, in the evenings and on weekends. I am planning on taking at least a week of vacation this summer and while I haven’t made any firm plans yet, I want to dedicate the time to reading and writing. I don’t have a firm summer reading list. I always find it hard to create a reading list and stick to it. I’m the kind of person that reads one book and then “follow the trail” to the next book. There is always something in one book that suggests another – the style, theme or even the mention of a book or author that I become curious about. It is my way of exploring. However, I do try to alternate between non-fiction and fiction, between contemporary and classic.
I am going to read at least one short story a week. There are so many great sources on the web for short stories these days. Last week the Globe and Mail launched a weekly short story section in the Saturday edition (and online). Last week’s story was “Alyosha the Pot” by Leo Tolstoy and this week it is “Tapka” by Canadian writer David Bezmozgis. Fifty-Two Stories is another great source for a story a week. And then of course there is The New Yorker that makes almost all of their recently published short stories and poetry available for free on their website.
And then, this just might be the summer I finally tackle War and Peace.