I read 41 books last year during the pandemic. Granted, everything else was closed, but still. I’ve been keeping reading lists for the past 15 years, and I was surprised to learn just now that 2020 was not a record for me, bookwise. Somehow, I managed to knock out 47 volumes in 2012. And that was without resorting to my niece’s strategy.
Years ago, when she was in fifth grade, I think, the local library had a summer reading program. Kids got so many points for every book they finished. One day I walked in to see my niece hovering over a stack of preschool picture books, which she was burning through at the rate of one per minute, trying to win the prize.
When I asked her if it mattered whether the books were appropriate for her reading age, she glanced up from “Good Night, Moon” and said, “The rules weren’t specific.”
Which reminds me that I once heard a comedian introduce himself by saying, “Hi, I’m 45. But I read on a 48-year-old level.”
Anyway, compare all that to my list so far in 2021: four books. In my defense, I’ve not been well. But I’m hoping to pick up the pace as soon as the summer begins. While many of my colleagues teach during the months of May through August, I got into this profession for the primary purpose of having summers off. Oh, and to shape young minds and whatnot.
So, I thought I might share with you my summer reading list. If you need something to do next week, you can send me yours.
As of today, I’m 610 pages into reading the Bible, which I had always heard was excellent. Following a daily reading schedule, I’m looking forward to the summer because some really awesome poetry is coming up: Job, Psalms and Proverbs. I’ll be working my way through the major prophets when the fall semester rolls around.
In tandem with this reading from scripture each day, I got a book for Christmas called “The One Year Book of Poetry.” Each day features a poem by a Christian poet from the past, followed by a short commentary. I have 256 poems left.
Four years ago, I started a long-term goal to read one Charles Dickens novel per year — in the order they were published — until I finish all 18. I find Dickens consistently hilarious. Some of the novels I’ll be reading for the second time, and that will be the case when I tackle “The Old Curiosity Shop” this summer, which I read in high school because I thought it might be like “Sanford and Son.”
Last Saturday, I went to a book signing where the Ganus kids — they will like being called “kids” — were signing their dad’s memoir called “I’d Do It All Again.” Everyone who knew Harding’s third president liked and admired him, and I look forward to reading the stories from his 97 years of traveling the world, preaching, leading a university, playing and watching sports, and eating peanut brittle.
I love biographies, and this summer I also hope to get to the latest one from Brian Jay Jones. I’m sure you’ve all read his marvelous book on Jim Henson, creator of the Muppets. In 2019, Jones wrote “Becoming Dr. Suess: Theodor Geisel and the Making of an American Imagination.” Suess and Henson — along with Fred Rogers, George Lucas and Roald Dahl — were the architects of my childhood. Dr. Suess has been the subject of controversy lately, so I’d like to learn more about the man behind the Grinch, the Lorax and the Cat in the Hat.
A few of my summer reads will let me finish up some loose ends from earlier in the year. I started Richard Foster’s “Celebration of Discipline” but only got as far as his chapter on solitude so I could share thoughts from it in chapel. Then the book got laid aside under a pile of incoming essays. I do not read student essays during the summer. I know this will disappoint some of you.
I also started a classic novel called “The French Lieutenant’s Woman” way back in January. I may have to start over, as I have now forgotten who the woman was, and why she was with the French Lieutenant in the first place. I’m sure she had a reason.
The Harding faculty voted two weeks ago to read Brené Brown’s “Dare to Lead” in the fall, so now it’s on the list for the summer.
Throw in some assorted magazines, newspapers and cereal box panels, and it looks like I have enough to keep me out of trouble for the next few months. I hope you have a glorious summer, made all the better by a stack of good reads.