Reading at the Halfway Point, or Why Reading is the Best Part of Summer

Though not a fast reader by any stretch of the imagination, I’m most definitely an avid reader. I always have at least one book going, and sometimes two or three.

It’s not uncommon to find people who love summer. They love being outside and don’t mind being hot, sweaty, swollen, and gross, I guess. Those are all of the reasons why I don’t like summer, by the way. I don’t tolerate heat well, and having anxiety means that I just frequently end up with my heart pounding, sweating even more than is normal for summer, and then I feel embarrassed and disgusting. Summer makes me feel really bad about myself.

Alas, this is not a post about any of that stuff, really, so allow me to now get to the point.

The one thing that has consistently always been a summer favorite of mine is reading. When I was a kid, we had this super old free-standing canvas hammock, and I would lie on that and read for hours in the sun. Later, when the hammock was gone, it was a chaise lounge chair where I sat to read in the yard. When it rained, I would plop down on the couch and read books while everyone else watched TV. Then I’d stay up late into the night reading with a flashlight under the covers.

The very best of days in the summer were the ones my parents would take me to the bookstore to buy a new book. The problem was that I would then stay up all night reading said book, and would want to go back the next day for even MORE new books. I was bleeding them dry, so I got a library card instead. I loved the days that my mom would take us for walks to the library and I would walk down the steps to the basement, which is where the kids books and JF books were (before it was YA, it was Junior Fiction). And I would walk right over to the shelf of Sweet Valley books and choose one (Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley High, Sweet Valley Middle School …. whatever I was feeling) that I hadn’t read yet.

This entire process would repeat over and over again. It was great when I was young enough to participate in the Summer Reading Program at the library, too. I loved the feeling of knowing that I was actually achieving goals and winning something by devouring so many books during summer break. It was the only kind of thing I could win.

My favorite part of summer has always been reading.

At the start of 2018, I made it a goal to read 18 books by the end of the year. I just finished my 15th book today, so I figured I’d give a mid-year update on what I’ve read and what I loved. Each of the books below is linked to my Goodreads review.

  1. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck by Mark Manson*
  2. Fire and Fury by Michael Wolff
  3. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas*
  4. Girl, Wash Your Face by Rachel Hollis
  5. May Cause Miracles by Gabby Bernstein
  6. The Liars’ Club by Mary Karr**
  7. All Grown Up by Jami Attenberg
  8. This is Me by Chrissy Metz*
  9. Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng
  10. The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin
  11. Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie
  12. Brain on Fire: My Month of Madness by Susannah Cahalan*
  13. Calypso by David Sedaris*
  14. The Storied Life of AJ Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin***
  15. Young Jane Young by Gabrielle Zevin

* = I gave 5 stars on Goodreads
** = This book was a re-read
*** = This book was a re-read AND I gave it 5 stars on Goodreads

To be fair, I haven’t hated any of these books. My feeling on Fire & Fury changed a bit after I distanced myself a little bit from the book, and especially after I got to know a little bit more about the author (whom I find arrogant and rude, and perhaps not as credible or trustworthy as I want him to be). I ultimately took away one of my stars in that rating.

It’s also pretty apparent that I’ve been into (at least in the first part of the year) personal growth books. I like the feel-good nature of these books when they’re done well (not so much when they make me feel lectured, shamed, and bad about myself) and I like when they motivate and inspire me. I’ve been fortunate enough to see two authors on this list in person this year: Chrissy Metz and Rachel Hollis, and both were fantastic. I got to actually meet Rachel, too, while I was at the Rotary International Convention in Toronto, so that was pretty cool.

I have two more books that I’m pretty close to finishing right now, so I know I’ll have no trouble reaching that 18 goal. I’ve mentally upped it to 21. It will be nice to finish my Goodreads Challenge for the first time in 2 years. I know those mean nothing and there are certain book-related media outlets that are pretty critical of them, but I like them and find that they work for me and motivate me to keep track of what I’m reading. That’s one of my primary goals, and completing the challenge is secondary to that (although nice to do).

What are you reading right now? What are your favorite summer reads? Based on this list, what do you think I should read next? Talk books with me! 

P.S. – I’m bookstagramming now! Find me on Instagram —> @rad.reads.books  — I currently have 99 followers. Who will be #100?! 

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