I begin each semester asking this question. I get a few summer reading titles, I get a few other titles, and sometimes I get dead silence. I then move on to film, music, art, and experiences. It’s a good icebreaker.
It’s also a great insight into someone’s personality. I want to get to know my students– don’t get me wrong– but I also have other motives. I’m jotting down their responses. I use them as references throughout the semester. I can talk about style whether I’m talking about Henry Miller’s Black Spring or Welcome to Nightvale. I can talk about characterization whether I’m talking about Welty’s “Why I Live at the P.O.” or Brooklyn Nine-Nine. The point is that I meet my students where they are, and then I eventually lead them to higher ground.
I’m of an age that the pop culture references that I used when I first started teaching don’t mean anything to my current students. Why aren’t they laughing at my Seinfield references? “What do you mean, you haven’t seen the X-Files? We’ve got some serious work to do.”
So, what did I read this summer? Mostly, I read blogs and news feeds, but I also managed to work in a few real in-your-hand books and literary magazines.
Can’t see the titles? Here you go:
- Hologram for the King by Dave Eggers
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath (re-read)
- Can’t and Won’t by Lydia Davis
- The Family Fang by Kevin Wilson
- Paddle Your Own Canoe by Nick Offerman
- Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple
- The Obstacle is the Way by Ryan Holiday
- The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien (summer reading)
- Island by Aldous Huxley
- Frog Music by Emma Donoghue
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy (re-read)
- The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick
- The Pinch
- The Paris Review