Semi-Serious Summer Reads
Because I am an elementary school teacher, I have very specific rules for the books that I read in “my time” outside of the school building and outside of classroom time.
Rule #1 – The book has to be fiction. The life I lead is REAL enough, my kids are from low socio-economic rungs, I teach students with special needs who are years behind in development and academic achievement, and I have been bitten on the job this school year. My books should be fun and out-of-this-world… really, out of this immediate world.
Rule #2 – The book has to be more than 200 pages long. I teach little kids whose books have a plotline something like this: “The dog went in the house. The cat went in the house. The pig went in the house. The elephant went in the house. There is no more room!” I need a plot with a start, some complication, a middle, more complication and suspense, and a polished finish.
Rule #3 – The book has to have a strong female lead. I love reading about women who have power and use it! Hopefully, if you are reading this, you do too!
Therefore, I have put together a short list of books that I would suggest for some summer reads for all my fellow teachers, as well as my fellow not-teachers.
1. The Lady of the Rivers by Philippa Gregory – I would actually suggest anything by this woman. She wrote The Other Boleyn Girl, which was turned into a film with Scarlett Johanssen and Natalie Portman (which was great, and is a good summer flick, too!). The story revolves around Jaquetta of Luxembourg, who mothers the line that directly leads to Henry VIII’s ascent to the throne. There is love, forbidden magic, alchemy (which leads to some scary accusations of witchcraft), and a brush with Joan of Arc.
2. Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen – This was a case of the book being MUCH better than the film. Don’t get me wrong, I really like Reese Witherspoon, but the book paints the characters in a much deeper way – all the men are larger than life and meaner than Jafar, and the women are more secretive and willful. An easy read, and an interesting part of history!
3. Wicked by Gregory Maguire – For those of you who love the musical, and for those of you with darker and deeper desires in reading, this is a must-read. The question that drives the novel is: are “wicked” people born that way, or are they made that way? The Wicked Witch of the West, or Elphaba, has had many troubles in her lifetime, including being born green, being assigned an overbearing blonde roommate at university, and falling in love with the most popular boy in school. It is no wonder she has a strange sense of right and wrong… a great read which gives more depth to the Dorothy story.
4. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson – I honestly needed the first 60 pages to “get into” the story and understand why I was reading a book about a boring editor with a wife and a lover. But once I was in the book and in the story, I could not put it down! Lisbeth Salander, the main character, is a kick-butt, genius girl-woman who can ride a motorcycle and hack a computer in the same breath.
5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins – do I need to say more? This fits all the criteria: fiction, more than 200 pages, strong female lead. Do it. Do it now. But good luck finding a free copy at the public library.
With so many good books to read, it’s about time to start! See you on the beach ☺
Image from http://www.oprah.com/omagazine/Summer-Reading-List-Summer-Books