Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Summer Reading

I guess this is sort of a disclaimer message. After a scorching hot Memorial Day weekend full of yard work and cookouts, I'm mentally on summer vacation. I still have three weeks of work yet, but, mentally, I'm done. So, this is my summer reading disclaimer.
I read a lot in the summer, especially during summers like this one, when we don't have any vacation plans. My vacation is rather short, though, by school standards. I'm back to work August 1, so it's only about six weeks.
During the summer, I tend to read a wider variety of books. In other words, I'm not as focused on YA titles. I still read a lot of YA, but I also catch up on the adult fiction & nonfiction and children's titles that I've been wanting to read.
I also have a couple of summer reading "projects." These projects continue from summer to summer, probably indefinitely. The first is to read a biography of every president and, when available, every first lady. I've been working on this for about three years and I've only made it as far as Thomas Jefferson. This isn't as bad as it sounds - I'm fascinated by Jefferson, so I've read about five different books on him. I also (finally!) found a bio on Martha Washington, published last summer, which I read right away. I also read a bio of Ben Franklin - not a president, but an important historical & political figure who seemed to deserve a place on my list, and on Lewis & Clark (ties with Jefferson, historical significance, etc.). I'll probably read the new one on Alexander Hamilton this summer for the same reasons. I have to admit, I'm pretty fascinated by the colonial period, so I may get hung up here for a while. I'm even contemplating another bio on Washington, since I wasn't fond of the one I read, and I still need to read one on Abigail Adams. Speaking of which, here are the ones I've read so far in my "project" - which, now that I think about it, seems to have become more about American history than just about presidents. But, the presidents will remain my main goal:
  • Brands, H. W. The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin. New York : Anchor Books, 2002.
  • Randall, Willard Sterne. George Washington: A Life. New York : Henry Holt & Co., 1997.
  • Brady, Patricia. Martha Washington: An American Life. New York : Viking, 2005.
  • McCullough, David. John Adams. New York : Simon & Schuster, 2001.
  • Randall, Willard Sterne. Thomas Jefferson: A Life. New York : H. Holt, 1993.
  • Halliday, E. M. Understanding Thomas Jefferson. New York : HarperCollins Publishers, 2001.
  • McLaughlin, Jack. Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder. New York : H. Holt, c1988.
  • Leepson, Marc. Saving Monticello: The Levy Family's Epic Quest to Rescue the House That Jefferson Built. New York : Free Press, 2001.
  • Lanier, Shannon & Jane Feldman. Jefferson's Children: The Story of One American Family. New York : Random House, c2000.
  • Ambrose, Stephen. Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West. New York : Simon & Schuster, c1996.

So that's one project, and one type of book that I'll be reading this summer. I've got my bio on Madison all ready to go, if I decide I'm ready to move on. Of course, there's also a great looking new book out on the Pilgrims by Nathaniel Philbrick that's on my list...

My second project is to read all the Newbery and Caldecott Medal books. I want to work my way through the medal winners, then the honor books. I won't list the ones I've read, but it will suffice to say that I have a ways to go. I also usually try to catch up on some of the other popular children's books from the last year.

My third project this summer (I know, where will I find the time? But I have the rest of my life to complete the other two - this one I'm shooting for this summer) concerns the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I have the two graphic novels, and have just ordered the companions written by Jess Nevin. My goal is to read all the major works associated with the League's characters:

  • King Solomon's Mines by Rider Haggard (Allan Quartermain)
  • Dracula by Bram Stoker (Mina Harker)
  • The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells (Hawley Griffin)
  • 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne (Captain Nemo)
  • The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson (Jekyll/Hyde)

I also intend to toss in the "supplementary" Complete Sherlock Holmes, since I've never read all of Holmes & I'm a mystery fan.

For a complete League of Extraordinary Gentlemen list, check out this one on Amazon.com. I'll work my way through what I can, but my main goal is the major works.

The other thing I read a lot of during the summer is mystery novels. I've just picked up a couple of new ones, so you'll be seeing some posts about those in the next few days.

What I'm Reading: The Trouble With Magic by Madelyn Alt

On My Bookshelf: Stacks of summer reading...


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