In the US, Memorial Day is the last Monday in May, and it is considered the unofficial start of summer. Time for the kids to get out of school, time to fire up the grills or hit the water. Although the solstice itself isn’t for three more weeks, late May feels like summer, and that’s good enough for most people.
But there’s one hint of school that stays with us through these next glorious weeks of peace: the summer reading list. Many will remember that awful thing, the educational system’s attempt to infringe on a child’s last refuge. I hated it, and you probably did, too. The books they chose were either awful (Ayn Rand’s Anthem) or tainted by association with school (Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer). Just like the reading assignments of the other nine months, the summer reading list seemed designed to suck all the enjoyment out of a book.
Now that we’ve outgrown it, things are different. We no longer need to read to please others. But that doesn’t mean we stop reading. No, we instead choose our own path.
So here’s a bit of a challenge for you. Read three books between now and Labor Day (September 5). That’s roughly one a month, so it shouldn’t be too hard. There won’t be any reports due, so you don’t have to worry about that, either. Remember, adults can read for fun rather than work.
It wouldn’t be a challenge if there weren’t rules, so here they are:
You have to read three (3) complete books between May 30 and September 5 of this year. (For following years, it’s the last Monday in May to the first Monday in September.) Giving up halfway doesn’t get you partial credit, so make sure you pick something you can stand to finish.
One (1) of these books should be nonfiction. It can be anything from history to self-help, but it has to be real. (Historical fiction doesn’t count for this, by the way.)
If you’re an aspiring fiction writer, then one (1) of the books must not be from your preferred genre. For example, a fantasy writer should read a non-fantasy book, perhaps sci-fi or a modern detective story. The idea is to branch out, expand your horizons.
Graphic novels count, but comic books don’t. The distinction is subtle, I’ll admit. I’d say a comic book is a short periodical, usually in magazine-style binding, while a graphic novel is a longer work presented in the same way as a text-only work. You can be your own judge, as long as you’re honest with yourself.
And that’s it!