Thursday, July 6, 2017

Summer Reading Lists: Not Just for Kids ~ Leah St. James

Do you have a summer reading list? I haven’t for many years, not since that summer between junior and senior year of high school where I had to read 10 literary classics...yes, 10...before the start of the new year. That was a lot of mandatory reading, considering all the dark, heavy themes in the list. But I spent my summers reading anyway so it wasn’t a stretch for me. (Although it definitely was a stretch to switch from my favorite Gothic romances to serious literature for the summer.)

I wish I could find that list, but off the top of my head, it included:

  • “The Ugly American” by William J. Lederer and Eugene Burdick (1958)
  • “Profiles in Courage” by John F. Kennedy (1955)
  • “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck (1937)
  • “All the King’s Men” by Robert Penn Warren (1947)
  • “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding (1954)
Photo of hubby's well-read
copy of GATSBY
I also remember reading others around that time, although I don’t remember if they were on the official list – several by Hemingway, Fitzgerald’s “The Great Gatsby” (which hubby considers to be THE “great American novel” and Nabokov’s “Lolita” (which I'm pretty sure was my pick; I wanted to see what all the fuss was about).

So the other day when I ran across this list of classic southern summertime reading (from Southern Living), I had to take a peek. I live in the south these days, after all, and wondered how close it was to my own experience.

Their list encompasses the younger grades through high school, and I was surprised at how nostalgic it made me feel just looking at the children's titles, like:

  • “Little House on the Prairie” by Laura Ingalls Wilder (read the whole series) 
  • “Charlotte’s Web” by E.B. White (oh, how I sobbed)
  • “Old Yeller” (more sobbing)
  • “Nancy Drew" (of course!)
  • “Misty of Chincoteaue” (again, read the whole series and dreamed of going to see the ponies myself one day. Hey, I just realized I don’t live too far from there now! Road trip!)
I did a quick count and think I’ve read a little more than half the titles from this list. Hmm....maybe I’ll take part of this summer to tackle the ones I’ve missed.... Or maybe not. I have some pretty great "beach reads" on my Kindle right now. :-)

Which of these get your memories stirring, and what’s on your list this summer?       

Happy summer reading!


Leah writes stories of mystery and romance, good and evil and the power of love. Although she appreciates the literary genius and important social/moral themes in these literary classics, she'll still opt for a love story/romance every time. Please visit her on Facebook ... she loves meeting readers! Learn more at



Angela Adams said...

"The Great Gatsby" is my favorite Fitzgerald novel!

Rolynn Anderson said...

I'm enjoying Louise Penny's mysteries....will read more (she writes about the Quebec area, so a friend who knew I was traveling here, put me on to them). Just read Jannine's WILDE THING, and enjoyed it. As I travel, I'm reading a couple books a week, so the list grows. Happy summer reading everyone!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks for the stroll down memory lane, Leah. i've read most on your lists. The literature classes in college were my favorite. Reading the classic plays too. Death of a Salesman, The Glass Menagerie. Good stuff!

Andrea Downing said...

I remember one summer when I piled thru The 7 Pillars of Wisdom and The Once and Future King, each weighing in at around 700 pages. I must've been nuts. Thsnks for the memories!

Alison Henderson said...

I remember summer reading lists very well. I'm not sure any of the books you mentioned were on those lists or if I read them during the school year, but I read nearly all of them at some point in my youth. I didn't LOVE them all, but the only one I disliked intensely was Lord of the Flies. I was already convinced boys were beastly barbarians, and that just sealed the deal.

Leah St. James said...

You and my hubby could have a nice conversation, Angela! I enjoyed the book but not as much as he did! :-)

Leah St. James said...

I'm not familiar with Louise Penny but will check her out! I don't go through books as quickly as I once did. My reading time now is right before bed ... Love my Kindle with its built-in reading light!

Leah St. James said...

I loved The Glass Menagerie, Margo. Thanks for reminding me!

Leah St. James said...

Yikes, Andi, that is impressive! I remember starting The Once and Future King but don't remember it so probably never finished!

Leah St. James said...

I'm with you on Lord of the Flies, Alison. I had a hard time with that one. (Shudders...)

Brenda whiteside said...

Oddly enough, I don't remember summer reading lists. But then I didn't need one. We had the mobile library in our neighborhood every week and I scarfed up many books without any prompting. I now keep a list of want to reads going all year long. Never enough time.

Leah St. James said...

You're right, Brenda, never enough time. I also scarfed up books from our little library...good times. :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

I remember reading a few classics in high school but more in college. I enjoyed Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre and hated Pamela. My roommate and I (both English majors) called it Spamala. LOL Of the kid's classics, I've probably read all the Little House books at least 10 times each. And I had the complete set of Nancy Drew hardback. I remember sending in labels off Nestle's Quick and $2 to get books. Great post, and sorry I'm late. My husband broke his clavicle mountain biking, and I spent yesterday at the hospital while he had surgery. Fun times, but he'll recover.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

I'm late, too, Leah. My excuse isn't as drastic as Jannine's. I just somehow forgot. I slept most of the day away. The pain pills I'm on for kidney stones are worse than the stones, I think. I hate being "muzzy-headed." I never had summer reading lists. We lived so far out in the country. Farm girl here. All my college classes were reading and writing intensive, or so it seemed. My favorites were "The Peloponnesian Wars" and "Charlemagne."

Leah St. James said...

Great memories, Jannine! I had the Nancy Drew books in hardback, too. I hope your husband is feeling much better!

Leah St. James said...

Vonnie, I recall reading Charlemagne, but I'm not sure I ever got through it! I hate feeling muzzy-headed, too. Hope those nasty kidney stones dissolve (or do whatever they're supposed to do) quickly!