Despite always having a passion for reading, I never much liked being told what to read. When I was still in school, and got to the age of summer reading lists, I rebelled against the idea of it. Although I read all the books, it always took me a long time and I spent a lot of my summer reading other books of my choosing. But still some of the books I was assigned did end up having an impact on me; like King Lear, it was the first Shakespeare that I made it through and more importantly, understood.
Nowadays, one of my favorite sections at Barnes and Noble is the summer reading one. While some of the books are the classics (The Giver, Lord of the Rings, Pride and Prejudice or Little Women), I’m surprised at some of the newer additions to the table. Think Harry Potter and the Hunger Games. I wish those were books on my summer reading lists when I was in school.
In honor of summer reading lists, here is a list of my own choosing. They are all books that I have been wanting to read and reread. And they just so happen to be written by women, about women. So here is my feminist summer reading list.
The Girls by Emma Cline: The Girls was the most buzzed-about thriller of 2016 and I’m just now getting around to it. Its premise, about a cult based in Northern California in the 1960s, was enough to hook me. See my obsession with all things crime-related. But I’ll let the New York Times say it best, “Emma Cline’s thoroughly seductive debut novel…reimagines the world of Charles Manson’s female followers, and does so with a particularly effective literary device.”
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout: This Pulitzer Prize-winning novel from 2008, about a woman living in rural Maine struggling to find a deeper meaning and understanding of her life, was a recommendation by my sister. She has good taste so I always take her word for it. And of course, there is a miniseries that I can watch once I finish.
Modern Lovers by Emma Straub: I’m a big fan of Emma Straub’s The Vacationers, so her new book, about a group of college friends whose own kids are going to college (and who haven’t quite grown up yet themselves), felt like the perfect summer beach read. Now I just have to get myself to a beach.
We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie: I’ve now heard Adichie speak on multiple occasions, all about her new book and its origin story. It has gotten rave reviews and Adichie herself seems like such a cool, progressive woman. I’m very excited to read this book, which based on its size I imagine will only take me an hour or so to get through.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee: Surprisingly this will only be my second time reading Harper Lee’s iconic classic, the first time when it was an assigned book in high school, but I’ve seen the 1962 movie countless times. It was a favorite as a kid (despite some scenes being a little scary and a few mature themes) and inspired the name for my dog, Scout. I want to reread this book before I read Lee’s Go Set a Watchman; I know, I’m a little behind the curve.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood: This book has been recommended to me by my sister many, many times. And with the Hulu series having premiered this month, I wanted to be able to get through the book before watching the series. In recent days, women’s rights are coming under fire, making this book feel especially relevant (and its premise is only slightly terrifying).
The Girl With the Lower Back Tattoo by Amy Schumer: I’ve read Tina Fey’s Bossypants, Lena Dunham’s Not That Kind of Girl, and Mindy Kaling’s Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, so Amy Schumer’s book is next on my list of memoirs written by female comedians, hopefully soon followed by Amy Poehler, Jessi Klein, and Caitlin Moran’s takes. Schumer is one of my favorites, I can’t help but find myself laughing out loud watching any of her interviews. I’m hopeful this book will have me doing the same.
What are you reading for the summer?