While many people believe that Exeter Summer has taken away specific integral parts of the summer holiday experience, students should be able to relax during the holiday. One way to recline during summer is with a good book. Whether at the poolside or a briskly air-conditioned library, summer reading can actually be enjoyable, believe it or not
A major misconception is that summer reading means dense, monotonous books, too heavy to lug across campus. However, summer reading can come in all shapes and sizes. “Recently a lot of the books that I have checked out include ‘The Song of Achilles’, ‘Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda’ and a lot of John Green books,” said Elliot Diaz, the librarian at the Phillips Exeter Library. Generally, mainly current Young Adult fiction seems to be the most popular. I think this is because it is more relatable, especially when compared to non-fiction. It’s really fun to read it as you can imagine and high school readers can often empathize better with characters in that kind of books.”
Some students are already taking the incentive to participate in summer reading. “Since I’ve been here I’ve read ‘Elanor & Park’,” said Chantel Wong, a student from Beijing. “I love it so much and it is a really sweet and romantic book. Rainbow Rowell just has a way with words I guess. One book I really want to read is ‘The Hate U Give’ because it seems really interesting, unique and different.”
Some of the best reading recommendations can come from our teachers. Mr. Putman and Mr. Barton shared a list of six books that they believe was deeply meaningful.
Mr. Putnam’s list included:
• “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley
• “Collected Poems” by Mark Strand
• “Walden” by Henry David Thoreau
• “The Writing Life” by Annie Dillard.
• “The Brothers Karamazov” by Fyodor Dostoevsky
• “Man’s Search For Meaning” by Victor Frankl
Mr. Barton’s list included:
• “David Copperfield” by Charles Dickens
• “Anna Karenina” by Leo Tolstoy
• “Catcher In The Rye” by J.D. Salinger
• “The French Laundry Cookbook” by Thomas Keller
• “The Odyssey” by Homer
• “To Kill A Mockingbird” by Harper Lee
Despite the heavy subject matter, numerous students found these books interesting to read, especially “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Mr. Barton described “Catcher in the Rye” as “The best narrative voice in literary history” and “To Kill a Mockingbird” as “A book that shows how hard (and simple) it can be for goodness to prevail.”
Both “The Brothers Karamazov” by Dostoevsky, and “Anna Karenina” by Tolstoy are esteemed pieces of Russian Literature. Mr. Putnam deeply enjoyed “The Brothers Karamazov” as “A fictional story that serves as a reminder we are all capable of acts of tremendous love and tremendous horror.” Furthermore, Mr. Barton described “a descriptive power that stops time.” However, the student’s reaction to these books was a little different.
“One of them sounds like a Harry Potter name and the other one sounds boring,” joked Olivia Titus, a student from Raymond, New Hampshire, when reacting to “The Brothers Karamazov” and “Anna Karenina.” “While they may actually be incredible books, they might be a little too much to stomach during the summer. However, I would consider reading it during the school year. One book that I want to read during the summer is ‘Looking For Alaska’ by John Green because I have wanted to for a long time and I finally have time.”
However, not all of these books were classics or heavy reads. Some had a personal value like “The French Laundry Cookbook” by Thomas Keller. Mr. Barton praised the book, stating that “this book taught me technique and art and allowed me to see cooking like I see design.”
Summer reading should not be spurred by professors and teachers, it should be voluntary and it should branch into wider ranges of thought. Whether your choice of summer reading is young adult fiction or classics from a spectrum of time, it should be your choice. Not your peers’s choice, or your teachers’s choice, but your choice.