I mentioned last week that part of my summer reading list is included in a round-up. What I didn't explain was that I constructed my list with one criteria in mind: books written by someone with whom I once shared a classroom during the MFA program I completed nine years ago, or a writer who followed or preceded me in that same program.
I bought those authors' books when they were released, to support my fellow alumni in their writing lives, and because I genuinely want to read them. Inevitably, the To-Be-Read pile grows worryingly high, the books I thought I'd read soon get buried, and before you know it, I'm hopelessly behind. I suppose this is forever the case for anyone who loves to read and who has to read for work...the want-to-read list must always wait until the have-to-read list is completed, and we hope there's some time and mental energy left over.
The summer reading list idea took hold when I learned there's to be a reunion later this month for the Stonecoast Program MFA (University of Southern Maine). Although I'm still not sure I can get to it, the idea alone was enough to kick off my list. That, and this spring I was leading a memoir writing group at my local library just when the staff was preparing the children's section for the big summer reading extravaganza.
I remembered back to all the summer reading I did as a child, how much I longed for those long unstructured summer days when I could sit under a tree in the backyard with a pile of library books a foot high. Mom would periodically bring me a glass of lemonade, and ask, "Still reading?" Yup.
Here's the Stonecoast part of my summer list (I'm also sneaking in a few others). Perhaps you'd like to add a few to your TBR pile!
Those I've completed (you can read my reviews over on my Goodreads page):
The Butcher's Daughter by Florence Grende, a memoir of growing up as the child and grandchild of Holocaust survivors.
A Kinship of Clover by Ellen Meeropol, an unusual novel about plants, ecoterrorism, family, and being different.
In the Context of Love by Linda K. Sienkiewicz, a novel of family secrets and the always challenging path of love. (Linda's Q/A on that book's path to publication is here.)
Writing Hard Stories by Melanie Brooks, in which she interviews writers who tackled difficult memoirs (also- find Melanie's guest post here).
Pigs Can't Swim by Helen Peppe, a memoir on growing up the youngest of nine in a hardscrabble Maine woods family.
Love & Fury by Richard Hoffman (an MFA mentor of mine), a memoir of the extremes of male family relationships.
I just know that ten minutes after I post this, I'll find a couple more Stonecoast student or faculty books in my teetering pile. And I'll move them over to the summer list. And maybe I'll get lucky and get them all read before that other pile/list insists on my attention: the books that I must read before my students are required to in September.
Meanwhile, I'm pouring myself some lemonade and heading outside.
What are you reading this summer?