Summer Reading As Real Reading

For many people summer reading means cheap books marinated with sand and suntan lotion. It means forgettable, relaxation induced coma. Not so for me or some of my writing friends. Summer reading is more like the reading lists that teachers once sent home at the end of each school year. The difference is this: as an adult you get to choose. Here’s the plan I shared with seven friends this week.


Courtesy of KVDbooks

  1. Begin where you are: list your ten favorite books and then branch out or go deep.
  2. Peruse Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer or at least consider these elements from her table of contents: Close Reading, Words, Sentences, Paragraphs, Narration, Character, Dialogue, Details, Reading for Courage. This list might guide you as you read.
  3. Create your reading diary/card catalog/notebook. Make a standing date with yourself to work on this and aim for a book a week.
  4. Explore two libraries and evaluate their holdings in your subject. Talk with a librarian. He or she may suggest books in your genre that you don’t yet know exist.
  5. Be faithful, proud and humble. It’s a commitment to your skill and talent as a writer. Be proud of what you do and humbled by the vastness of the written word.

My own plan involves poetry anthologies. I want to read lots of poems, dozens, maybe a hundred, before I go to Marge Piercy’s summer workshop in June. Just soak my brain in contemporary poetry. I’ve started my diary, a cheap steno pad that’s light to pack and no harm done if I tear out a page or two for whatever purpose.

Please, don’t take the summer off. Make it count. Between baseball and the beach, read with conviction and purpose.

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