So, I definitely tell most people that I'm Co-Editor-in-Chief of our school paper, mostly because I'm proud of my job, and I feel that the work I produce is pretty good (yes, that is my minor ego flaring up a bit, but don't you need a bit of an ego to have a blog anyways?). And while there has been some definite drama raging in the Journalism room recently, I remain a solid supporter of our staff and their work, which is why I've been throwing myself with a little more force into my work recently (and Nancy seems to be, once more, suffering for it. Do you think that when my teacher says, 6 pages, double spaced, she'd be okay with a 10-pager? Because I suck at revising, and that's where I'm at right now). Anways, one of the topics I write about for our newspaper is frequently books, obviously, because it just so happens to be a subject I'm fluent in. The only reason I'm mentioning this is because my Dad is getting tired of my infrequent posts, and feels that I should spread my work to a wider audience by supplementing my withering blog with the articles I submit to the paper.
So, here's my stuff. Or, at least, one of them. (But be forewarned: Obviously, I write a little differently for my peers). Enjoy.
Building a Booklist for Summer
[submitted for the May issue, being released April 28].
You may be trying to get ahead of the competition. You may be looking to escape from present uninteresting circumstances. You may be under the jurisdiction of another overpowering party. Honestly, there are plenty of reasons why you might be induced to pick up a book this summer (or an eReader, whatever). However, the real problem that always seems to accompany the pleasure (or threat, depending on your scenario) of reading, is figuring out what you are supposed to read.
It is clear enough if there is an actual list. This is classified as the “Teacher Told Me To” approach. Either the school supplies you with a catalog of books they expect you to choose from, or an especially industrious teacher hand-selects a few for the class to explore themselves. Regardless, the books you end up with, by applying through this approach, tend to be the classics. There isn’t anything wrong with that. Classics are celebrated, time-treasured pieces of literature: they are famous because they are great, and popular; not just because some nut named Dickens or Austen sat down at a typewriter two hundred years ago and said, “I’m going to write a book that will be inflicted upon the developing minds of adolescents two hundred years from now!” No. Dickens is known for his enduring comic characters, and celebration of the downtrodden hero, in books like Great Expectations, Oliver Twist, and A Christmas Carol. Austen is known for her expertly crafted romances, which find new love with every passing generation, in books like Pride and Prejudice, Persuasion, and Emma (and, in this generation at least, she also seems to be well known for her zombies). So heed your teachers. The books they pass under your discerning eye may actually be worth something more than the opportunity to say that you actually read one. (And, as always, make sure you get your assigned summer reading done on time. Trust me: summer is much more fun with a clean conscience and a light backpack).
Other ways of pursuing a serious lit-fix is by being adventurous. Summer is a time of freedom, without restrictions, and without people judging you by the kind of stuff you read. So, go ahead, pull out a couple of girly, frou-frou, romance-y novels. I promise I won’t tell. Or maybe steal a couple of those cool non-fiction biographies or science books off of your Dad’s library shelf; we won’t call you a nerd. All closet biblio-freaks are safe during the summertime. This is a better time than any to satisfy your fluffy, sugary Young Adult novel sweet-tooth than any other. No one can chastise you for your choice of literary sustenance from the comfort of your own home, so have at it!
Or maybe your idea of an adventure is fulfilling a quest, like they do in those books you read when no one else is looking (just kidding, fantasy books are awesome!). Setting a cool theme for books to pursue can make for a really interesting activity, and may even turn out to be a major accomplishment. For instance, are you a huge spy movie fan? Then you may already know that the character of James Bond was based off of a series of books by Ian Fleming. Reading a few of those may give you a closer insight into the film series! The same goes for all films based off of movies, like the Lord of the Rings series, the Harry Potter series, or the Twilight series (once again, we’re not judging), so maybe it’s time you read some of them, instead of just appreciating the cinematography. Or, why not go for the whole box office list? Some of the most loved movies of all time emerged from library shelves. The Princess Bride: William Goldman. The Godfather: Mario Puzo. Geez, you could make a blog out of this thing… now wouldn’t that be a way to get into your next year’s English teacher’s good graces?
The moral of this story is, good reading material can come from anywhere. You just have to give it a chance, and maybe do a little hunting, until you can find books that will really interest you. The best part is, I can already read you the Epilogue: it ends with you, spending your summertime lost in the pages of books, but emerging having found a true treasure: Knowledge. (Now wasn’t that nice?) So go have fun.