Summer Reading for Two

I am an avid reader. For as long as I can remember, a great majority of my free time has been spent reading books. In the years 2005-2008, I even made lists of 40 books that I wanted to read over the course of the year, understanding that each list needed to be flexible and impermanent, since the order in which I read the book depended on my mood and I also could not predict whims and recommendations so far in advance. Anyway, when I found myself deep into my only truly serious relationship, I realized that I either needed to give up some of the time I wanted to devote to reading OR find a way to combine the two.

At first, my boyfriend and I sat on opposite ends of the couch and read our own books, pausing to discuss plot twists, inspirational moments, etc., but remaining essentially in separate worlds. However, when you love two things so much, sharing them fully is more fun. So we started reading to each other. It began haphazardly on a road trip… he was driving, so I became his own personal audiobook. It worked for us. When stationary, we switch off every few chapters and make it interesting with voices and accents and dramatic inflection. There have been times that we’ve stayed up all night reading aloud to finish a book. Nerdy, yes, very, but pretty cool too.

We read  the entire Harry Potter series together a few months ago, which took a very long time. We took a bit of a break after that, going back to our respective libraries and preferences for a while. We took The Outsiders with us on a weekend getaway more recently, but last night, we decided that it’s time to begin again with true gusto… so we started a summer list.

Lewis Carroll

1. Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, by Lewis Carroll

(Me: reread; Him: new)

I’ve read them; my boyfriend has not (which is often the case with our choices as I am such a pushy recommender of books). He realized how unfamiliar he was with the actual stories when we went to see the Tim Burton film in theaters. He’s going to love how trippy they are.

Mark Twain

2. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, by Mark Twain

(Me: reread; Him: new)

We were discussing British and American authors once and trying to figure out our favorites’ contemporaries and international counterparts when it came out that my boyfriend had never read Huck Finn. We (I) decided that this travesty needed to be eradicated from our lives immediately.

Mark Twain

3. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain

(Me: reread; Him: new)

Of course, you can’t talk about Huck Finn without talking about Tom Sawyer. And similarly, you can’t have read Huck Finn without also reading Tom Sawyer. I know the rules. Added bonus: we are going to have so much fun with all those ridiculously Southern accents.

F. Scott Fitzgerald

4. The Great Gatsby, by F. Scott Fitzgerald

(Me: reread; Him: reread)

We’ve both read Gatsby, but it’s been a while for each of us, and it’s such an important book (especially to me), it was a no brainer to add this one to the list. Also, with the on and off discussion of a Baz Luhrmann remake film adaptation with Leonardo DiCaprio as Gatsby, Carey Mulligan as Daisy, and Tobey Maguire as Nick, we are curious to read it with them in mind.

William Golding

5. Lord of the Flies, by William Golding

(Me: new; Him: reread)

This is one that my boyfriend has read and I have not. He seems to really have enjoyed it, even though it was a required read in one of his high school English classes (a circumstance which often killed his desire to read a book). I don’t even know very much about it, except that it is about an anarchist society and it is often considered a new classic by most’s standards, which is enough for me.

I see now that our list is made up of books read in one’s youth or adolescence, books that shape one’s thoughts and philosophies and ideas about the world. This was unintentional, although it should make for some very interesting discussion along the way.

Other possibilities we considered were Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Sir Walter Scott’s Ivanhoe, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner, and Michael Chabon’s The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, all of which would be new to both of us (with the exception of Kavalier and Clay, which he has read before).

I’d be happy to have suggestions, recommendations, comments, thoughts, etc. about the books on our list or perhaps the ones that aren’t. No matter what, it ought to be a pretty good summer.

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One response to “Summer Reading for Two

  1. I love you both. I hope you know that. That said, I don’t think the Alice in Wonderland books are a good choice. I LOVE them, but I think so much of their mastery is in their wordplay, and a lot of it is very hard to enjoy unless you can actually see the words on the page. Phenomenal books, but it wouldn’t be where I would start for a read-aloud-a-thon. JUST. SAYIN’.

    Also, I hate Huck Finn, but Emily I think you and I have hashed through this argument too many times for us to bring it up again…(TYLER! RESIST!)

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