Summer always seems to be the season when I vow to catch up on things that I have put on the back burner for the school year. One thing that I really want to focus on this summer is reading. I’m trying to make sure to read with Jack every day, but I know the best way to help him become a reader is for him to see me reading on a regular basis, so I’m trying to make reading time more of a priority in my daily life.
I’m planning lots of reading time on this swing while I watch Jack play this summer. We also have two road trips planned, which is where I usually get lots of reading done in the car. Here are five books I can’t wait to read this summer:
- Heroine by Mindy McGinnis – I recently attended a Young Adult Literature conference (one of the perks of being an English teacher) and the presenter at the conference did a great job talking up this book. I left with about 100 new titles on my TBR list, and this one was at the top (right behind A Heart in a Body in the World by Deb Caletti, which I have already devoured and gave 5 stars on Goodreads). I’m trying to focus a little more on YA titles this summer so I can have some good recommendations for my students next year, and this one is at the top of my list. The book is about a young girl who gets addicted to heroine and chronicles her downward spiral into that addiction. While I know this book will be dark and heavy (due to the content), I am still excited to read it because I think this is something that so many of my students could possibly relate to. I also think the cover of this book is absolutely genius, given the content.
- Moonrise by Sarah Crossan – This is another book that was added to my list during that YA Lit conference. This one sounds super interesting – it’s about a young boy whose brother is on death row and the boy goes to see him for the last few weeks of his life before his execution – but it is also totally out of my comfort zone. The entire book is written in verse. I’m excited to try something so different from the books I usually read.
- Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell – I love a good mystery book. This is one that I got in my Book of the Month box months ago and haven’t gotten around to reading yet. I actually read a few chapters and was really enjoying it, but got busy with work and life and put it down. I’m looking forward to picking this one back up and finishing it soon.
- Furious Hours: Murder, Fraud, and the Last Trial of Harper Lee by Casey Cep – When I was younger, I never read nonfiction unless it was assigned reading for a class (and then I would just skim it to answer the questions the teacher asked). Now that I’m older, I love nonfiction, and this book jumped to the top of my TBR list as soon as I saw Harper Lee’s name in the title. I love Lee’s book, To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s probably in my top five favorite books ever and I love teaching it to my freshmen students. I also love teaching Truman Capote’s In Cold Blood to my juniors, especially because I get to show the movie Capote with that unit. I love how the movie shows how Harper Lee helped Capote do the research for the book and I think Philip Seymour Hoffman did an amazing job capturing Capote’s personality and acting it out. When I found this title and realized that Harper Lee had also been working on a true crime novel, I was instantly hooked. I can’t wait to get my hands on a copy of this and learn all about the case that Cep says haunted Harper Lee.
- Where the Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens – I have heard so many great things about this book and I honestly just want to see what all the fuss is about. It comes highly recommended from lots of friends on social media and some of my coworkers as well.
What’s on your summer reading list? Let me know in the comments! I love hearing what others are reading and loving so I can add to my never-ending TBR list.
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I have been saving up all my monthly selections from Book of the Month club and am planning to finally make a dent in my pile this summer. I also have a few books that were recommended to me by friends and family and some that I’ve been meaning to read for a long time now. My list is pretty long, so I doubt that I’ll get to all of these books, but I am hoping that I can read at least four or five of these before school starts back, and I’m going to try to make more time for reading in my regular routine once I go back to work in August, so hopefully I can get through this list by the end of the year.
- The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy – This is my most recent Book of the Month selection and the book I am currently reading. I am really enjoying it so far.
- Wonder by R.J. Palacio – I have heard so many amazing things about this book that I want to read it for myself and see what all the fuss is about.
- Emma in the Night by Wendy Walker – This is a Book of the Month selection from a few months ago that has been sitting on my shelf. It had great reviews and is supposed to be a fast read, so I’m looking forward to reading it.
- The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls – I bought this book when I saw the trailer for the movie and have yet to read it. I want to read it before I watch the movie, though.
- A Torch Kept Lit by William F. Buckley – I bought this book for my dad and he said that it is a must read.
- Fierce Kingdom by Gin Phillips – This is one I started around Thanksgiving last year and have not been able to finish yet due to time and to the fact that it kept making me feel on edge (the story is about a mother who is trapped in a hostage situation with her young son, and it is really well written and I keep having to put it down because my maternal instincts are going crazy and I can feel my anxiety getting too high).
- Desperation Road by Michael Ferris Smith – The author was my Creative Writing professor in college, so I’m interested to read this one.
- Then She Was Gone by Lisa Jewell – This is a recent Book of the Month selection. My mom read it and said it was really good.
- Into Thin Air by John Krakauer – I loved Into the Wild, so I have high expectations for this book.
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt – My mother-in-law gave me this book and suggested I read it after Jeff and I went to Savannah earlier this year.
Hillbilly Elegy by J.D. Vance
To say that I devoured this book would be an understatement. I have been wanting to read it for a while, and finally bought it earlier this week after reading even more great reviews about it online. I used to avoid nonfiction books like the plague, but lately I’ve really gotten into the genre (I read Into the Wild for the first time earlier this year and absolutely loved it).
This book was one that I just couldn’t put down. Vance mixes the perfect amount of personal experience with social commentary about the white working class in America and how it really feels to try to achieve the American Dream. I love that shows that it can be done, but he also sheds light on some major issues that are holding people like him (and let’s be honest, like me) back.
While I wouldn’t call my family “hillbillies” (we’re not quite that rough around the edges), there were definitely moments that I could relate to in his story. I will warn you that if you don’t like vulgar language, you might be put off by this book. Vance tells the story of his family as he remembers it from growing up the grandson of transplant hillbillies looking for a better life, and that comes with a lot of cursing and fighting. I didn’t really expect that kind of language when I picked up this book, but I understand why he included it. This is a memoir, after all, and he’s trying to paint a true picture of the lifestyle he grew up in.
Overall, this one gets 5 stars. I almost wish I could make it assigned reading for all of my Juniors when we study the American Dream. I think it’s an important book for young people to read, especially ones who want to blame all their failures on their circumstances and on other people (which is exactly the epidemic that Vance addresses in this book). This one is a must read, for sure.
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
I had great intentions to read tons of books this summer, and I started with this one. It took me a while to get into it, and I got busy with other things, but I finally picked it back up and finished it this week.
This book is so far out of my normal genre, and I honestly would have never read it if it wasn’t assigned as summer reading for my 11th grade students this summer. This book was already on the summer reading list before I came to my current school, so I had to read it in order to be able to discuss it with my students. I never would have chosen this book for myself, but sometimes it is good to get out of your comfort zone and try a new genre.
I typically don’t enjoy science fiction, and it did take me a while to actually get into this book and get to the point where I was invested in the characters, but about halfway through it started to get really good. While its not one of my favorite books, I think it was a good choice for my 11th grade students and it brings up some really good questions about ethics, individuality, and will be great for talking about growth mindset and how choices (not DNA) determine a person’s destiny.
Overall, I would recommend it for young adult readers (high school aged) and give it a total of 3 out of 5 stars.
Have you ever read this book? If so, what did you think of it? Let me know in the comments!
Last week, I saw an Instagram post about this book: Long Days of Small Things by Catherine McNiel. I know that I don’t have little kids yet, but I decided to go ahead and order it from Amazon and start reading it as I’m waiting for my little one to get here. I’ve been going through it slowly, just reading one chapter at a time and giving myself time for the scriptures and the lessons to really sink in, and it has been so good so far.
One thing that I really want to do is get back into Bible Journaling. I really enjoy being creative and spending that time in the Word, so I have been journaling my way through this book.
Here are my pages based on the first two chapters. The first page highlights scripture from Luke 1 where Mary is told that she has been chosen to be the mother of Jesus and she accepts God’s will and surrenders her life to him. The second page focuses on Colossians 3:23, which says, “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men,” and deals with us inviting God to be a part of our everyday activities like cleaning and cooking and laundry. I love that the author of this book focuses so much on God meeting us right where we are in our daily lives, because that’s exactly what He does if we allow ourselves to slow down enough to notice. I am only two chapters in so far, but I would highly recommend this book to any mom or mom-to-be!
Do you journal in your Bible? If so, do you do really artsy journaling or do you stick to more traditional highlighting and notes? My Bible is kind of a mix of both. Some days I put a lot of color and artistic elements on a page and on other days, I do a lot of writing. One thing I had to decide early on when I got my journaling Bible and started journaling was that I would not compare my Bible pages with the ones I see on Instagram. I follow a lot of ladies from the Bible journaling community, and they make beautiful pages. I love looking at their work as inspiration, but I try really hard not to compare my pages with theirs. This Bible is for me to connect to God and to be able to look back and see how God was working in my life at different moments, so I really have to let go of my perfectionist gene when I’m working on a page in my Bible and just let myself enjoy it.
Here are some other pages I’ve done in my Bible: