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July 18, 2014

A Different Take on Summer Reading

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Everyone knows that summer is a prime time for reading --- school and extracurricular activities no longer take up all of your time, and you have ample hours to peruse (or devour, as the case may be) your TBR (to-be-read) list. However, instead of just pounding through all of the books you were itching to read during the year, Teen Board member Rachel B. has a different suggestion --- pick up a genre you ordinarily wouldn’t. Read below to see why!

 


During the busy school year, most students find themselves too caught up in homework and extracurricular activities to read as much as they would like, so they just add the new bestseller or a recommended novel to that ever-growing summer reading list.  When summer arrives, the student-turned-reader eagerly chooses a first book from the list.  After a few weeks that list has significantly shrunk and, much to the confusion and horror of the reader, all that remains are the dreaded books from the reader's least liked genres.  Although reading a book from an unloved genre would seem to be a terrible way to spend time during a cherished vacation, summer is actually the best time to branch out in what you read.

Whenever my family is heading off to some vacation destination, I delay packing any form of entertainment for the car or plane ride until the last minute.  Eventually, I reluctantly turn to the gigantic pile of books sitting in my living room.  Even though I pick out and read any interesting novels right after I get them from the library, that pile always provides the only hope that I will not be bored during the long trip.

Because of this, I end up reading a book or two that I would otherwise return to the library after only a glance at the summary and the first page.  Sometimes I enjoy the book that I took on a trip, other times it is just better than doing nothing, and occasionally I dislike it.  But, almost always, that novel is from a genre (such as science fiction) that I don't normally enjoy, the author has a writing style that is abnormal or the plot sounds strange.  I have discovered some of my favorite books through desperate summer reading (both during car trips and normal summer days) and I have found that I really enjoy creative nonfiction, even though most people would rather read a good fictional tale.

The actual journey to a vacation spot is certainly not the only time we find ourselves reading on vacation.  After some pestering from my siblings, my dad read the Gone series a few years ago during a vacation to a state park.  When he has the time to read, my dad usually reads military fiction, nonfiction and science fiction.  He never reads young adult novels.  Although the series was unlike most of the books my dad reads, he ended up enjoying it.  He still doesn't read YA fiction often, but now he is more open to the idea of reading another book in that genre.

Summer provides plenty of time to read, but it also inspires our reading choices.  After I find out where my family is going for vacation, I sometimes find books set in a place near where I am going.  It's interesting to read a book set somewhere you have been.  It causes you to rely less on descriptions in the novel and helps you to better visualize the setting. And while it is good to read a new book set in a now familiar place, it's even more interesting to visit the setting of a favorite novel.  When my family went to California last year, my dad and my siblings were excited that we were able to see an area similar to the setting of the Gone series. 

This summer I hope that I will have the opportunity to expand the types of books that I read even further.  Everyone should make a goal to read at least one book that they would otherwise never touch.  Although this may not change a reader's opinion on a particular genre or style, it may help them understand why others enjoy it.