Written By: Sam Gross
This summer is shaping up to be a hot one, but the good news is that we should (hopefully) be able to go places and do things again this year. And that means pool days and beach adventures (or, maybe continuing to hide in our air conditioning). So pack your swimsuits and tote bags, because we have some making up to do from last summer.
Personally, my favorite beach or poolside activity is setting up shop on a lawn chair and cracking open a book. And with so many classes giving students assigned reading over the summer, reading at the beach can be a great way to multitask; having fun and getting things done.
Now, my assigned reading days are far behind me, but that doesn’t mean I’ve stopped reading classics. In fact, there are quite a few classics out there that are actually fun to read, whether they’re in a high school curriculum or not. So, if you’re looking for something else to read that will still keep the academic corner of your brain happy, I’ve got good news!
Here are a few favorites to add to your reading pile that should be both interesting and help prepare for the coming school year:
The Importance of Being Earnest by Oscar Wilde
I’m a big fan of seeing this performed when possible, because Oscar Wilde’s prose on stage is phenomenal, but the book form is just as funny. A Victorian comedy of errors, every sentence in this play packs a wittier punch than the previous, with subtle jabs and silly phrases that will have students rolling their eyes just as often as laughing. Satires are always fun to read, and nobody does them better than Oscar Wilde.
Leaf Storm by Gabriel Garcia Marquez
This book (and really anything Garcia Marquez does) is magical realism at its finest. While this book isn’t one read in many high school curriculums, it teaches readers about the importance of suspension of disbelief and sets the scene for Garcia Marquez’s later novel, One Hundred Years of Solitude. This is a collection of short stories, so it’s a great option if you’re looking for something short to read.
Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery
Little House of the Prairie vibes but with a bit more moxie, this is a coming of age story that’s a bit easier to swallow than Holden Caulfield’s cynicism. This story follows spitfire Anne, who ends up in Green Gables by accident, but manages to worm her way into the hearts of its residents, even if she’s a little unorthodox and brash. It also exists as a Netflix series, so if you fall in love with Anne you can continue her adventures in another medium.
Much Ado About Nothing by William Shakespeare
I know what you’re thinking; you read Shakespeare in school and the language is confusing, old, and boring. Great news: Much Ado About Nothing, unlike many of the other Shakespeare tragedies many English classes choose (Hamlet, Romeo and Juliet, King Lear), is a comedy, and an incredibly witty one at that. This is like the original ‘enemies to friends to lovers’ trope and includes some truly chaotic and flirty arguments. Give Shakespeare a try this summer!
Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen
Now, I know Jane Austen can be kind of hit or miss with people, but this novel in addition to being a grand sweeping romance, is also an ironic Gothic satire. The heroine loves Gothic novels and makes a few mistakes in trying to make her real life more like the books she loves. Perhaps a year of living our lives vicariously through the media will make this heroine seem pretty relatable.
There are so many good books out there, classics or not, so even if nothing on this list appeals to you, odds are you’ll be able to find something else that will. So keep reading friends, whether it’s in an air conditioned room or at the beach.