Summer officially began on Sunday, so it’s time to think about summer reads! Personally, I tend to read all the super long books and weighty classics I don’t have as much time for in the school year while it’s summer vacation, but I know a lot of readers associate warm weather with fun beach reads like contemporary romances. This is the second post of a three-part series in which I recommend books for all three types of readers. See the first post on YA beach reads here.
The Long Haul
The Canterbury Tales by Geoffrey Chaucer
Even though Chaucer never fulfilled his goal of writing two stories for each of the twenty-nine characters on pilgrimage, the book is still pretty long. Over twenty stories span the genres of the Middle Ages, from chivalric romance to hagiography to fabliau. Readers can dip their toes into the work by reading a modernized translation and selecting some of the most popular stories, like “The Wife of Bath’s Tale.” Or they can go full out with a Middle English version of the tales. (See my tips for reading Middle English here.)
The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Alexandre Dumas serialized his stories, which explains why The Count of Monte Cristo is over 1000 pages long. However, that also means the story has tons of action and lots of fun cliffhangers. Readers will be treated to Edmund Dante’s journey for vengeance after he is falsely imprisoned for a crime he never committed.
Middlemarch by George Eliot
According to Krysta: Middlemarch presents a sweeping vision of a rural community, weaving together the stories of the rich and the poor, the young and the old, the kind and the selfish, in a stunning tapestry that illustrates the hidden connections that bind us all. Though the upper echelons of Middlemarch desperately want to believe themselves independent of the lower orders of society, George Eliot deftly illuminates how all of us depend on each other and how anyone can make a large difference in the lives of those around them. Some of her characters, like Dorothea Brooke and Dr. Lydgate, actively seek to do good in the world, but even those who act unthinkingly or who suppose their actions small, often create large ripple effects in the community. Thus Middlemarch elevates itself from a mere depiction of rural life to an extended commentary on the nature of love, the role of the individual in society and in family life, and the social pressures that shape those individuals.
The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson
Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings is the start of an epic fantasy masterpiece. A shrouded past, a world at stake, and a plethora of character who barely realize their own power make the world of Roshar a frightening, fascinating place to visit. Sanderson’s characteristic attention to detail and insight into human nature add to the immersive experience. At 1000 pages, the book is a drop in the bucket of the projected ten-book series, but there’s no better time to start reading than now.
The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien
An epic fantasy classic, The Lord of the Rings follows Frodo Baggins and the other eight members of the Fellowship of the Ring on their quest to save Middle Earth from the evil lord Sauron. The book is sweeping in scope and impressive in depth; Tolkien imagined the history of Middle Earth back to its very creation and created maps, languages, and detailed family trees. Summer is great time to start joining the adventure.