Summer Reading

The perks of being a student is that you get a summer break. Even if you work all summer, chances are you won’t be working nearly as hard as you would during the school year. For me, surviving a forty-hour work week while fighting rush-hour traffic is easier than juggling a part-time job, five term papers, and senior symposium. It just is.
Now that I’ve graduated, everyone’s asking me “what’s next.” Being the compulsive planner that I am, this question stresses me out because I don’t have an answer. I start my summer job on Monday, and that’s about all I know. Grad school? Not sure. Job in Memphis? I hope. What kind of job? No clue.
Still, I’ve found ways to cope. I’ve unpacked, reorganized, made countless reams of lists. I know what I need to do (make a résumé, find a job, save money, buy a car, move out, start paying off student loans) and when I need to do it (résumé: next week, find a job: by end of summer, buy a car: eventually, move out: by January). These lists orient me, push me, encourage me to succeed, but they also stress me out because they’re full of Big and Adult Things that I don’t feel adequate to achieving. So I make more lists. Fun lists. Lists of penpals, potential blogposts, to-do lists, and weekly goals.My favorite list, though, is my summer reading list. It doesn’t matter if I’m working full-time or part-time or not any time at all; summer reading has always been a part of my life, and this year is no exception.

Shelby’s Summer Reading List 2016

  • White Noise by Don DeLillo
  • The Writing Life by Annie Dillard (reread)
  • Outlander by Diana Gabaldon
  • The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah
  • Long Ago God Spoke by William L. Holladay
  • The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
  • The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Milan Kundera
  • The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri
  • Jazz by Toni Morrison
  • The Lake House by Kate Morton
  • The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien
  • Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
  • This Is the Story of a Happy Marriage by Ann Patchett (reread, slowly)
  • Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson
  • The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield
  • Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner
  • House of Mirth by Edith Wharton

This list will change. I’ll start a book and decide I’m not ready for it, I’ll decide another isn’t worth it, and I’ll go to the library to pick up one novel and come home with fifteen. But the purpose of my list isn’t to chain myself to five, ten, or twenty-five books. It’s to orient myself, to give myself goals, and to foster a sense of accomplishment when I go to check an entry off my list.

So here’s to a happy summer full of good books and finished lists and maybe (hopefully) a car and full-time job.


5 thoughts on “Summer Reading

  1. Wendelah says:

    Good luck with your job hunt. No one feels entirely ready to move on to the next thing. Change is hard. As a new RN, I was worried I didn't know enough. I couldn't sleep at night, I was so worried. It was a hard transition–but I made it.

    Your list is ambitious. Sigh. I can't read as fast as I used to. I've had “The Things They Carried” on my Goodreads “to read” list for a couple of years. I should dig it out and give it a try.


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