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General Education

 

Have a Blast with Summer Reading

If you're like me, you look forward to summer all year round. Those long, lazy afternoons spent on a beach towel in the sun are the perfect respite to a long academic year. It's also a great opportunity to explore your interests by putting together the perfect summer reading list. Whether you prefer science fiction or spy novels, political thrillers or poetry, summer reading can open your mind to exciting new ideas that can take your summer from boring to spectacular.

First things first: Find your style

Everyone has his or her own approach to summer reading. Emily Cozzi, 21, a history major at Colgate University, is all about finding the right kind of balance in her reading. Cozzi looks for books containing relatable characters and good story lines--she's a fan of "The Help" (to be released as a film in August) by Kathryn Stockett and "The Perks of Being a Wallflower" by Stephen Chbosky.

"I try to vary it up, mixing lighter books with classics and trying to catch up on the big books that everyone's talking about," she said.

Not so excited about standard fiction fare? Never fear! There are some really unique fiction books out there that are sure to pique your interest. Interested in science fiction? Read the classic "Ender's Game" by Orson Scott Card. Comic books? Check out "Maus" by Art Spiegelman, a groundbreaking work set in World War II--with the German Nazis portrayed as cats and the Jews as mice. And if you haven't read "The Hunger Games" trilogy by Suzanne Collins, then run, don't walk to the nearest bookstore for an amazing adventure.

When it comes down to it, your summer reading can comprise more than just novels. Consider the academic approach taken by 21-year-old Brianne Crocker, a psychology major.

"I usually read psychology case studies, so those aren't the most typical summer reads," she said.

Starting your list with a 'Pow'!

Once you've determined the type of genre you like to read, you can start a reading list by asking friends for recommendations. Since you and your friends likely have a lot in common, swapping titles can be a great way to discover new books to read.

However, if you are looking for something that falls outside of your typical reading sphere, you can check out the New York Times bestseller lists, look in books such as Nancy Pearl's "Book Lust", or peruse the reading lists of local or online book clubs. The Internet can be a great resource for what is new and exciting in summer reading. You can also check out blogs such as "Candy Covered Books" or "Bluestalking" or discover more recommendations through The American Library Association's reading list.

Amazing websites

One of the most exciting websites right now for great reading (and one I review for) is called Figment.com. More than 100,000 user-written books are available online, according to Ellen Parsons, editor for The Figment Review. The majority of users are between the ages of 13 and 24 and have the opportunity to swap stories, offer feedback on one another's writing, and connect with others on the site.

"This summer, we're recommending a book a week, something our staff has recently read and enjoyed, so that's a great thing to check out for beach reading hints," Parsons said.
You can also look into websites such as Teenreads, which focuses on authors, books, characters, and series, or Shmoop, a website offering various learning guides on everything from music to economics to Shakespeare. Whether you're looking to learn something new or explore a new genre (or even write a book of your own), summer reading doesn't have to be stuffy and boring and can even make for terrific summer entertainment.