Reading List: Summer

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There’s something special about reading in the summer. Maybe it’s because you finally have more time to read because of summer break, or because the evening weather invites you to read outside. Either way, summer reading lists are popular among schools and libraries across the country.

After looking over reading lists for the Jackson Madison County school system and several local private schools, I’ve compiled a list of classic library books that are often used for summer reading. Whether you need to read for school or not, you can read these books along with students in our area this summer.

*Book descriptions are provided by the publishers, c/o the library catalog. Click the link to see where each book is located in the library and to check availability. If you are not a Union student or employee, your Union library access may be limited; please refer to our guest policies or visit your local public library if needed. The Union library does not provide a summer reading program for children or current summer reading lists for local schools; these are merely a compilation of books that have often been used for “summer reading” in general for those interested in reading along or catching up on classics that they missed.

 

Same Kind of Different As Me by Ron Hall & Denver Moore

The co-author relates how he was held under plantation-style slavery until he fled in the 1960s and suffered homelessness for an additional eighteen years before the wife of the other co-author, an art dealer accustomed to privilege, intervened.

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

On Long Island in the early 1920s the mysterious Jay Gatsby tries to rekindle his romance with Daisy, a young woman who has married another man, the wealthy and cruel Tom Buchanan.

 

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

A traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda’s freshman year in high school.

 

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

In a future totalitarian state where books are banned and destroyed by the government, Guy Montag, a fireman in charge of burning books, meets a revolutionary schoolteacher who dares to read and a girl who tells him of a past when people did not live in fear.

 

Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie

The Darling children begin the adventure of a lifetime when Peter Pan flies into their window one night.

 

The Whipping Boy by Sid Fleischman

A bratty prince and his whipping boy have many adventures when they inadvertently trade places after becoming involved with dangerous outlaws.

 

Educated by Tara Westover

Tara Westover was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom. Born to survivalists in the mountains of Idaho, she prepared for the end of the world by stockpiling home-canned peaches and sleeping with her “head-for-the-hills bag.” In the summer she stewed herbs for her mother, a midwife and healer, and in the winter she salvaged in her father’s junkyard. Her father distrusted the medical establishment, so Tara never saw a doctor or nurse. Gashes and concussions, even burns from explosions, were all treated at home with herbalism. The family was so isolated from mainstream society that there was no one to ensure the children received an education, and no one to intervene when an older brother became violent. When another brother got himself into college and came back with news of the world beyond the mountain, Tara decided to try a new kind of life. Read our review here.

 

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The struggle of three brothers to stay together after their parent’s death and their quest for identity among the conflicting values of their adolescent society.

 

Tuck Everlasting by Natalie Babbitt

The Tuck family is confronted with an agonizing situation when they discover that a ten-year-old girl and a malicious stranger now share their secret about a spring whose water prevents one from ever growing any older.

 

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The adventures of the well-to-do hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, who lived happily in his comfortable home until a wandering wizard granted his wish.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Review: “Educated” by Tara Westover

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Educated took the book-loving world by storm when it was published in 2018. It’s also been consistently checked out from the library since we ordered it. In this powerful memoir, Tara Westover describes her unconventional upbringing and how finally gaining access to formal education changed her life.

Mild spoilers ahead.

What Educated does right: Westover’s story is heartbreaking, but it needs to be told. You’ll learn about the horrors of family violence, abuse, undiagnosed mental illness, and willful ignorance in this book. However, you’ll also learn about the power of education and the hope for a better tomorrow. The times I teared up from the book were not because of the sad situations (although there were many), but because of how proud I was of Westover for doing well in school, in spite of all odds.

What Educated gets wrong: This is not a critique of the book (it’s hard to critique memoirs from a content standpoint anyway), but more of a warning for readers: this one will hurt you. My student assistant, Mya, warned me that I would be angry while reading this book, and she was 100% right. There’s a lot of misinformation and injustice regarding Tara Westover’s family and upbringing.

For example (spoiler): the Westovers survive a bad car wreck but don’t go to the hospital due to their distrust of the “medical establishment,” which results in serious trauma and long-term injuries. So what do they do the next time they’re driving on a long trip? They let the dad take the wheel; he drives super fast to prove a dumb point; and then they have ANOTHER deadly car wreck in which, guess what, they don’t seek medical attention AGAIN. It’s infuriating to read this through the lens of a brainwashed child who knows something isn’t quite right, but who can’t articulate what it is and defends her father even though he constantly endangers her life. It’s even sadder when she’s old enough and educated enough to know that her family is not treating her the way they should, but she still reaches out to them and tries to help them even as they destroy her.

Who should read Educated: Fans of true stories. Family members who have lived with and understand serious mental illnesses. Teachers of rural children. Anyone who wants to know how NOT to raise your child (like, living in a rural area is totally fine, but throwing scrap metal at your child is not).

Who shouldn’t read Educated: If your blood pressure goes up every time you read about children in danger (like mine does), think twice before picking this one up. The negligent and downright abusive way that these children were raised is mind-blowing.

Top 5 Recent Bestsellers At The Library

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Since the Union library is an academic one, the books we have on our shelves are primarily for research and school-related purposes. However, we also have some “fun reads” and bestsellers in our Recreational Reading section (which is on the 2nd floor near the DVDs). Several of these bestsellers have been popular here at the library, appearing on our most checked out items list for several months now. You can find brief descriptions of them, as well as links to where they are located in the library, below:

 

Educated by Tara Westover

Publication Year: 2018

Genre: Memoir

Description: Tara Westover describes her upbringing in an isolated, survivalist family who did not trust conventional schools or medicine. Westover eventually went to college and learned about the world beyond her mountains.

 

Where The Crawdads Sing by Delia Owens

Publication Year: 2018

Genre: Mystery

Description: The “Marsh Girl” is a local legend in Barkley Cove, North Carolina. This mysterious figure emerges in the midst of local crime.

 

The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead

Publication Year: 2019

Genre: Historical fiction

Description: Two boys struggle to survive the horrors of their juvenile reformatory and racism in the Jim Crow era.

 

The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah

Publication Year: 2018

Genre: Historical fiction

Description: A family moves to Alaska in the 1970’s and deals with harsh wilderness, PTSD, and complicated relationships.

 

The Testaments by Margaret Atwood

Publication Year: 2019

Genre: Dystopian fiction

Description: More than 15 years after The Handmaid’s Tale, the oppressive Gilead regime is still standing- but there are signs that it is beginning to rot from within. (You can read our review of The Testaments here.)