Summer Reading

Awhile back, I started scrounging around for new ways to put together my summer reading lists. I love the ones that are out there already, the beach reads and must-reads and exciting reads. But have you ever noticed how they all tend to recommend the same small pool of books? I wanted a list that would lead me to titles I might not have found otherwise.

This year, enter the New York Public Library.

The good librarians at the NYPL come up with a new reading challenge every year, primarily to keep school kids from lapsing into jellyfish while on summer break. It’s a good plan for adults, too, especially for writers.

(Writers must read, btw. Even if it’s 80 degrees and sunny and friends are beckoning and the lawn needs mowing and that hammock just looks so comfy there in the shade.)

This year, the NYPL suggests you read at least one book in three categories:

  • Books about immigrants or refugees;
  • Books about an unlikely friendship;
  • Nonfiction about an issue you’re passionate about.

What fertile, fascinating subjects! When I saw it, I thought it would be a good idea to share my favorite books in each category with Gotham’s students and friends, while also looking for new titles for myself. I thought, this will be fun!

But putting this list together exposed a yawning, gaping, and, frankly, embarrassing gap in my reading history: I could not for the life of me remember ever reading a book about refugees. Not a novel or a nonfiction book or a picture book or a poetry collection. I combed my shelves at home, and then scoured my old notebooks, and scrolled through my “Read it” list at Goodreads. Nothing.

I am a writer who teaches writing—how did I never read a book about refugees? Short answer: Laziness, probably. Slightly longer answer: With reading, as with everything, it’s easy to fall into familiar, comfortable habits, which become deep ruts if someone doesn’t come along to give you a push.

This year, the NYPL librarians gave me that push, and for that, I’m grateful.

Click here to see my list of books in those three categories that I hope you’ll love as much as I did. And if you’ve got a good suggestion for a book about refugees, don’t be shy about sending it on!

Kelly Caldwell
Dean of Faculty

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.