Summer Reading List Suggestions

If you’re anything like me, it’s been awhile since you’ve read for fun. I used to read for fun all the time, but since my last years of high school and subsequent entry into college, it’s gotten more and more difficult to read for enjoyment when I have to read so much for my courses. It’s so much less effort to binge a TV show to relax than crack open a book, which I’m sure plenty of people out there can relate to.

I have to make a real effort to read for enjoyment now, and so I’ve been trying to make a reading list for this summer once classes are over. Here’s some of my future reading list, and hopefully it’ll inspire someone else to try to make an effort to do some real reading this summer.

1. Ulysses by James Joyce



My idea for a reading list originally stemmed from wanting to read Ulysses. I’ve always loved adaptations, and this is an adaptation that also happens to be one of the most prominent novels of all time. For those of you who don’t know, Ulysses adapts The Odyssey and sets it in 20th-century Dublin in the course of a single night.

It’s supposed to be one of the greatest novels ever written, but it’s not quite afternoon reading, so I was going to save it for a summer project. But then I decided that hey, there’s a lot of books out there that I might never get a chance to read in one of my classes, so maybe I should make this summer the time to expand my horizons and refresh my former love of reading for fun.

2. The Robber Bride by Margaret Atwood


Margaret Atwood is one of my personal favorite authors. I read The Handmaid’s Tale over last summer break, Alias Grace over winter break, and The Blind Assassin over spring break, so Atwood has been one of my exceptions to the lack of reading I’ve done over the past couple of years. The Handmaid’s Tale and Alias Grace have also been adapted into great television series that you can relax with after you read.

Atwood’s novels focus around women’s stories and postmodern narratives, two of my favorite topics. In this particular novel, three women who were college classmates once twenty years previously, and all having had a destructive friendship with another female classmate who is believed to be dead. I’ve loved all of Atwood’s works that I’ve read so far, and am really looking forward to delving into this one.

3. Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides


Jeffrey Eugenides has been recommended to me countless times, and though The Virgin Suicides is the name that pops up most, Middlesex is the book that I’m most excited to start. It tells the story of an intersex person’s life, their family history through their present day, and all that came together to let them be born and to later transform Calliope into Cal.

To have a hugely acclaimed novel about an intersex individual is unique to Middlesex, as the problems of intersex people largely go unrecognized in the mainstream media and our daily considerations, so I couldn’t be more excited to read a book with such important representation.

4. Pale Fire by Vladimir Nabokov

My high school English teacher loves Nabokov, and there’s no one I trust more when it comes to taste in books. Though I’m not exactly thrilled at the prospect of reading Lolita due to the pedophilia in the plot, Pale Fire is supposed to be excellent. It’s a highly stylized story of two fictional authors within the world of Nabokov, with a 999-line poem from one author and lengthy commentary from another.

Though I have no idea what that’s going to entail, the style in itself is intriguing, and I’ve had countless professors reference this one in class, which is another reason to expand your reading this summer. Maybe next year, you can impress your professors with obscure literary knowledge.

5. Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison

Toni Morrison is one of those authors where you just feel uncultured when you haven’t read anything she’s written, and of her most famous works, Song of Solomon is the one that caught my eye. It tells the story of Milkman Dead, who was born at the same time as a local eccentric threw himself off a rooftop attempting to fly, and how Milkman Dead spends the rest of his life trying to fly, too.

I’m sure Beloved would be well-worth a read as well and if I have time, I definitely want to get more than just a sample of Toni Morrison.

6. Giovanni’s Room by James Baldwin

This book comes at a recommendation of a friend of mine, along with the years of hearing amazing things about James Baldwin both as an author and as a person. Baldwin wrote both about the experience of the African American community and the experience of gay and bisexual men in 20th century America.

Giovanni’s Room is a book about the latter, focusing on an illicit affair between two men in 1950’s Paris. I’ve heard that it’s a wonderful, albeit heartbreaking read and I’m excited to get the time to delve into it this summer.

These are only a few of the books that I’m planning on reading over summer vacation, and am hoping that I motivate myself to read many more. Hopefully this list has inspired some of you to try to read a book or two this summer while we have the spare time! Maybe you’ll even read a book on this list, and I hope that you do!