My Summer Reading Challenge

Summer is here and it seems to me the perfect time to catch up on my reading. If you read my post from January about my goals for 2019 (you can read it here if you missed it), you will know that to read more was one of those goals. Summer is a terrific season that brings with it gloriously bright days, warm light nights and everything in between slows down. This makes it the perfect season to take some time out to settle down and immerse myself in a good book.

I, however, am spoilt for choice.

One of my favourite things to do when I find myself out with nothing to do, is to wander around charity shops and explore their impressively stocked book shelves in search of wonderful hidden treasures. I have stumbled upon everything from marvellous classics and current best sellers to fantastic one off oddities. I must admit that this has become one of my worst habits; one that has grown my book collection to epic proportions. But, I never give myself the time to delve into it.

However, with two holidays coming up and a long commute to and from work to endure daily, I have no excuse in spending some of my free time with fictional characters. So I am challenging myself to read four books over the summer that I’ve left gathering dust for too long.

I am going to be sharing with you the books that I have challenged myself to read this summer, alongside other recommendations that I’ve read before that would make perfect summer reading:

  1. Vladimir Nabokov’s, Lolita (1955)

The first book on my summer reading challenge is Vladimir Nabokov’s, Lolita. I am currently half way through this marvellous little book. It has been on my to-read list for a number of years since my discovery of Adrian Lyme’s fantastic film adaptation at a much younger age. Lolita tells the story of Humbert Humbert and his perverse relationship with little Lolita. This book will not be every ones cup of tea, but I am finding it a splendid read. It balances the controversial subject matter with the intensely lyrical musings of poor doomed Humbert whilst being laden with dark humour. Nabokov offers a completely marvellous, one of a kind read that would be a perfect addition to everyones summer reading list.

2. Abi Andrews, The Word for Woman is Wilderness (2018)

Obviously, because I didn’t think that I owned enough books, I have recently subscribed to the Books That Matter subscription box. It is a ‘feminist’ subscription box that delivers themed pieces of literature to your door every month, with different trinkets and gifts designed by independent artists – all with the intention to empower and inspire the mind. This book is the first offering to me from July’s theme, ‘Wild Women’. I must admit that I am quite excited to make a start on this one. I love reading about people’s journeys. Some of my favourite books are the wonderfully hilarious memoir’s of Susanna Kaysen and Augsten Burroughs, so Erin’s one woman odyssey will be the perfect summer read for me. We all experience loneliness and isolation at times and I think this will be the perfect book to navigate and explore those feelings within myself. I think this book would be an enlightening summer read.

3. F. Scott Fitzgerald, The Great Gatsby (1925)

The Great Gatsby is regarded as one of the greatest novels of American Literature, capturing the decadence of the Jazz Age alongside the tenderness of regret and the all too familiar story of enduring love and shattering heartbreak. It is a timeless story that I am sure most people are familiar with. I must admit I am quite the romantic and a sucker for a hopeless love story, so I am surprised that I’d never read this book before. I think that this book will be the perfect holiday read and I plan to pack this alongside my factor 50 and sunglasses and savour every moment of this classic on a Croatian beach or at the poolside with a cocktail.

4. Jean Rhys, Voyage in the Dark (1934)

After reading Good Morning, Midnight as part of my Women Writers module in my final year of University, I went out and purchased every novel that Jean Rhys had wrote during her writing career. I’d never got around to reading them, but, Good Morning, Midnight was a fantastic exploration of one woman’s feelings of vulnerability, loneliness and desperation – themes that for me were really relatable at the time. I’d originally decided to put J.D Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye on my summer reading list, but I spotted my Jean Rhys collection and my curiosity was sparked. Good Morning, Midnight is meant to be a continuation of Rhys earlier work, so I expect similar themes are negotiated within Voyage in the Dark. But, it was the books title that really caught my attention, with its implication of an ambiguous journey. I think that everyone is on a journey in their own right and when life has a habit of tossing you around, it seems to me the perfect novel to reconcile this within our own lives. It think this one will be a comforting summer read.

These are some of the wonderful books that I have challenged myself to read this summer, although this list is definitely not exhaustive. I am also currently wading my way through the delightfully illuminating pages of Sylvia Plath’s Journals and was recently bought The Diary of Anne Frank that I am eager to make a start on too.

Other recommendations:

Poetry – Rupi Kaur’s, Milk and Honey; Carol Ann Duffy, The World’s Wife and Sylvia Plath’s Aerial.

Novels – Sylvia Plath’s, The Bell Jar; Ian McEwan’s, The Comfort of Strangers and Jeffrey Eugenides, The Virgin Suicides.

I love hearing about new writers, and exciting reads, so please feel free to share with me some of your favourite authors, reads, or what you are planning to read this summer.

Happy reading!

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