my annual summer reading review

I read 42 books/plays/bound documents this summer, plus 10 stories (some with essays and criticism attached), plus a smattering of other essays, magazines, poems, etc. I will list them here with a vague detail regarding “genre” in that broad, stupid sense that I hate, which defines style and audience more than actual genre.

1. Ampersand: Stories by Rachel Richardson (literary fiction)
2. Swimming by Nicola Keegan (literary fiction)
3. Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan (this was a reread) (YA, literary)
4. Betsy-Tacy by Maud Hart Lovelace (this was a reread) (children’s, historical fiction)
5. Betsy-Tacy and Tib by Maud Hart Lovelace (this was a reread) (children’s, historical fiction)
6. Narrative of the Life of Henry Box Brown by Henry Box Brown (memoir, history)
7. Cum Laude by Cecily von Ziegesar (general fiction)
8. Betsy and Tacy Go Over the Big Hill by Maud Hart Lovelace (this was a reread) (children’s, historical fictio)
9. Betsy and Tacy Go Downtown by Maud Hart Lovelace (this was a reread) (children’s, historical fiction)
10. Fairy Tales by e.e. cummings (children’s, fantasy)
11. Brokeback Mountain: Story to Screenplay by Annie Proulx, Diana Ossana, and Larry McMurtry (short fiction, literary fiction, screenplay, essay)
12. “Sweat” by Zora Neale Hurston, “Characteristics of Negro Expression” by Zora Neale Hurston, and criticism by Cheryl Wall (the first story was a reread) (literary fiction, short fiction, essay, anthropology, criticism)
13. A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb (general fiction)
14. Long Day’s Journey Into Night by Eugene O’Neill (play)
15. Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke (non-fiction, on writing)
16. Granta: Sex (literary fiction, short fiction)
17. Home By Now by Meg Kearney (poetry)
18. Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce (YA, fantasy)
19. How to Keep a Sketchbook by Michael Woods (non-fiction, art)
20. A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams (play)
21. John Hedgecoe’s Complete Guide to Photography by John Hedgecoe (non-fiction, art)
22. Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy (literary fiction)
23. Daisy Miller, A Study by Henry James (literary fiction)
24. “The Beast in the Jungle” by Henry James (literary fiction, short fiction)
25. As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner (literary fiction)
26. “The Yellow Wall-Paper” by Charlotte Perkins Gilman (literary fiction, short fiction)
27. “Editha” by William Dean Howells (literary fiction, short fiction)
28. “Chickamauga” by Ambrose Bierce (literary fiction, short fiction)
29. “Petrified Man” by Eudora Welty (this was a reread) (literary fiction, short fiction)
30. “The Magic Barrel” by Bernard Malamud (literary fiction, short fiction)
31. “Everyday Use” by Alice Walker (this was a reread) (literary fiction, short fiction)
32. “Recitatif” by Toni Morrison (this was a reread) (literary fiction, short fiction)
33. Dutchman and The Slave by Leroi Jones (Amiri Baraka) (play)
34. Heaven to Betsy by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
35. Betsy in Spite of Herself by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
36. Other Electricities by Ander Monson (literary fiction, essay, experimental)
37. Gypsy Hearts by Robert Eversz (general fiction, thriller)
38. Waiting for Leah by Arnost Lustig (literary fiction, historical fiction)
39. Woman Hollering Creek by Sandra Cisneros (literary fiction, short fiction)
40. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (YA, sci-fi)
41. Betsy and Joe by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
42. Betsy Was a Junior by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
43. Blues for a Pretty Girl: Poems by Paulette Beete (poetry)
44. Betsy and the Great World by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
45. Betsy’s Wedding by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, YA, historical fiction)
46. Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (literary fiction)
47. The Lost Symbol by Dan Brown (general fiction, thriller)
48. The Wild Things by Dave Eggers (literary fiction)
49. Winona’s Pony Cart by Maud Hart Lovelace (children’s, historical fiction)
50. The Polysyllabic Spree by Nick Hornby (non-fiction, essay)
51. On Becoming a Novelist by John Gardner (non-fiction, on writing, memoir)
52. The Every Boy by Dana Adam Shapiro (literary fiction)

I think this is probably my most successful summer yet, in terms of experiences, new friends, learning, and books read. The books I’ve read are the best group I’ve read in a summer in a long time, I think, because of the sheer scope and diversity–I read across genres, styles, audiences, and times. I am pleased with myself. I just wish I didn’t have to start reading for school quite yet.

My favorites would be, in no particular order, Jude the Obscure, Daisy Miller, The Hunger Games, Ampersand, On Becoming a Novelist, and Heaven to Betsy. But really, there are only a few that I think were ultimately a waste of my time. I feel like I accomplished a great deal of work this summer, academically, intellectually, creatively, and personally. It’s been really great. I just hope I can get through the semester.

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