Summer Reading List 2016

One of the things I love most about spring is the opportunity is gives me to look for summer reading. In recent years I have become one of those guys who is so obsessed with books, that I spend much of the time when I'm not reading...reading reviews of books that I might choose to read next.

One of my favorite resources for reading ideas is the books blog on Flavorwire. Every year around the middle of May, they release a list of recommended summer reads, and I always pick up new and enlightening suggestions.

This year Flavorwire kicked off the summer with "15 Unrepentantly Trashy Beach Reads for Summer 2016." Admittedly, trashy reading isn't necessarily my style. Fortunately, I was already basing my list on another Flavorwire listcicle, "50 Books Every Modern Teenager Should Read" (March 30, 2016).

Don't get me wrong. I'm an adult, and I typically read adult stuff: literary fiction, historic fiction and nonfiction, mostly. But I teach teens--particularly writing-oriented teens in my creative writing class--so I feel a need to know what's going on in fiction and help writers connect the dots with authors and titles of today. This has really paid off for me as a mentor and teacher in recent years.

The "Modern Teenager" list has several great books that I had already read like Philip Pullman's Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm, True Grit, Louis Erdich's The Round House, and This Boy's Life, as well as Ta Nehisi Coates's Between the World and Me, which I read soon after it came out last year. 

What I liked about this list, though, from the blurbs on the blog, was the focus on sexuality. The last two years I have had students wanting to write about same-sex relationships, and last year I had a student writing about being a transsexual. The list also features quite a few graphic novels--another area where I feel I am behind in my reading.

The Monday after summer started I went to the library and loaded up on books from the list. I'm currently reading (and loving) David Mitchell's Black Swan Green, and Project X is next on my night stand. I have read four other books since April
  • We the Animals by Justin Torres, a look at three brothers growing up in an economically stressed family on the outskirts of the big city and wrestling with racial and sexual identity.
  • The Lover by Marguerite Duras, an indulgent novel set in colonial Indochina about an affair between a 15-year-old French girl and a Chinese man
  • Parable of the Sower by Octavia Butler, a teen must escape from post-apocalyptic Los Angeles, but along the way north, her good deeds and her vision of a better place, begins to draw disciples and threatens to launch a movement.
  • Wolf in White Van by John Darnielle is a drifting, circular tale about a man who has been touched by evil, a moving tribute to driftless teens who seem to do the inexplicable "just because"

How is your reading going this summer? Leave a comment and let me know which books you're reading.