Remember in high school, when you were given a lengthy list of books you had to read before the school year started again and the sweet freedom of summer came to an end? The books were never ones you would have picked out on your own — or, at least, they weren’t for me. Don’t get me wrong, I loved to read, and still do! I definitely consider myself a bookworm. But I hated being told to read, if that makes any sense at all. Reading was a hobby, a pastime, something I genuinely enjoyed doing. I didn’t want it to feel like homework. That seemed to take all of the fun out of it.
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One summer, The Great Gatsby was on the list of our must-reads. I trudged through it, reluctantly, very much with the lens of being forced to read it, and I didn’t find it enjoyable in the slightest. My mom was shocked to find I didn’t like it. “Read it again, when you don’t have to,” she convinced me, “you’ll like it so much better.”
And guess what?
She was right.
I reread Gatsby a few months later, and sure enough, I fell in love. There was something seductive about Gatsby’s tortured love for Daisy, and I was entirely enamored by the twenties. I fell for the symbolism of Doctor T.J. Eckleburg’s eyes, and by the time I finished it for the second time, my heart belonged to Nick Carraway’s observant story.
To this day, The Great Gatsby remains my favorite book of all time (save, of course, for Harry Potter, because that’s a genre and nostalgia all of its own). I reread it at least once a year, and I’ve got 3 different copies: that original copy from summer reading, a more updated edition from Shakespeare & Company, and the digital edition on my Kindle.
So in the spirit of my yearly trip back to East & West Egg, I’ve rounded up some of my other favorite books from summer reading – all of which, it should be noted, I didn’t love until I reread them.
To Kill A Mockingbird: Yet another classic that I reread regularly. In fact, the boy got me a hardcover copy of this one for Valentine’s Day this year, because he so sweetly remembered that I mentioned wanting one. I just finished rereading it again, and I must say – it takes on a whole new context in today’s society.
A Tale of Two Cities: I will say, this one is still a hard one for me to get through, but I’d be lying if I said I don’t think this book is what first instilled my true love for London and Paris.
The Kite Runner: Okay, full disclosure, I think I read this for a book report, not summer reading, but I did definitely read it for school, which meant I wasn’t overly thrilled about it, until I went back and reread it again (ironically enough, I think I reread it by choice during the summer…)
A Separate Peace: I’m a sucker for historical fiction, if you couldn’t tell by the other books on this list. I’ll also say that I think this was one of the summer reading books I actually like the first time around.
Sometimes, you just can’t judge a book by its cover… or the list it’s handed to you on! Do you have any favorites from summer reading lists of years past?