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 third 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 and the second on the long haul here.
The Classics Kick
Villette by Charlotte Bronte
Lucy Snowe goes to teach at an all-girls boarding school after a family tragedy. There she encounters romance from unexpected quarters and a mysterious ghostly nun. Enjoy all the elements of love, Gothic influence, and psychology you found in Jane Eyre, in what is argued by many critics to be Brontë’s best work. (And if you like Villette, you can always go on to read The Professor, which features a male protagonist in similar circumstances!)
Silas Marner by George Eliot
Silas Marner addresses what is important in life. Two main characters, Silas and Godfrey Cass, play the primary roles in revealing the secret. One is poor, and one is rich. One is older and unmarried; one is young and in love. Together they show that what Eliot is trying to convey is something everyone needs to hear, regardless of his or her personal characters. Godfrey and Silas both find redemption. They both reconcile with what they have done in the past. They both learn that relationships are far more important than money.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The story of how attorney Atticus Finch tries to help a black man unfairly accused of a crime, and the story of how Atticus’s young children learn a lot about life and each other while the town is in an uproar over the case, To Kill a Mockingbird is one of those rare classics that nearly everyone seems to love–even those readers who “don’t like classics.” With the release of the sequel Go Set a Watchman set for July, this is the perfect summer to revisit Harper Lee’s first novel.
My Name is Asher Lev by Chaim Potok
Chaim Potok is a visionary author whose gift lies in telling compelling stories that touch the heart of what it means to be human. In My Name Is Asher Lev, the main conflict is often described as being between a boy’s devotion to art and his devotion to faith, but the question is not as simple as whether he should paint or whether he should pray. Asher believes it is possible to do both, but he is almost alone in his opinion, and a number of tensions grow up between him and his family, him and his teacher, and him and the Jewish community.
A Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare
A Midsummer Night’s Dream is arguably one of Shakespeare’s “simpler” works. It’s short, and it’s a comedy, so it doesn’t deal with a lot of the weighty issues of death, madness, authority, and the meaning of life that come up in plays like Hamlet and King Lear. And while there are two main plot lines that run parallel to each other, neither is particularly convoluted and they don’t extensively interact (in terms of character overlap; they do interact thematically). It’s the perfect tale of madness and love run amok to enjoy on a summer’s day.