It’s common knowledge that students, like myself, can’t wait for summer to come. When we’re weighted down with our backpacks and hectic schedules, the countdown on the calender is a small comfort.
When the sun finally begins to wake up from its reverie, melting the snow and disappearing the thick, cottony gray blanket that engulfs the sky, then all the summer lovers perk up. We blink our bleary eyes and turn our faces to the sky, because finally, finally there is warmth to be found there, instead of the bitter reminder that, though technically the orb is heating our planet and making sure life goes on or whatever, we sure can’t feel that heat through our heavy Winter coats, hats, gloves, snowpants, etc. The first thing I do when I feel the Sun’s warmth for what feels like the first time in years? I grab a book and I hit up whatever patch of nature sounds good.
My reading suffers in the winter. Oh sure, it’s very cute to sit in a comfy armchair by the window as the snow drifts down with a mug of cocoa and a fantastic book. But while I have many a fantastic book, numerous packets of hot cocoa, and enough, I repeat that is enough, snow, I also have an abundance of homework and, well, an abundance of exhaustion as well. I also have to go to school, which takes up a majority of my time. And while I could read during my classes, I’ve found in past experience that professors don’t like that much. Shout-out to the girl who read Fight Club during presentations in my Critical Thinking class. You are an inspiration to the rest of us readers who just can’t find the time.
When summertime hits, I have more time and more enthusiasm for reading. Part of the enthusiasm comes from having time to read what I want, instead of books like Foundations of Earth Science for class. I never want to look at that book again. But the books I read during summertime? I have the fondest memories of those books. They sit on my shelf and remind me that yes, free time does exist, and of the days that I spent in the sunshine, reading blissfully.
When I graduated high school, I was exhausted from books assigned in my literature class. While I loved the class, my brain was tired of working through complicated books that I didn’t particularly care about. My whole high school career had taken a toll on my love of reading, simply because my time was filled with reading boring, supposedly moral teaching books they push at students.
If you’re thinking of your favorite book that you know is a standard for a high school syllabus, and you’re thinking she can’t possibly mean [insert book title here]. That book is one that actually means something! I do mean that book. I didn’t like it. There might be those of you out there who are offended that your favorite classic was spurned by someone who so clearly is lacking literary taste. I’m not sorry. I’m really glad you like it; the books I didn’t enjoy are very worthy books. It’s how they ended up on the syllabus. But I still didn’t like it.
So after graduating, I took my time reading all the books I gravitated toward. They were nearly all contemporary young adult novels with a healthy dose of romance. And I loved every last one of them. It was amazing; I didn’t have to worry about learning a moral or why it spoke to me. I just got to like the book and not explain myself, its contents, or its subtext to anybody. What a liberating time that was for me.
After awhile, when my love for reading had been reignited, I branched out. I got back into science fiction and fantasy. I discovered a love of women’s memoirs, particularly the funny ones. A lot of my books stay in the young adult section, but I’m very mindful now. I seek out books with representation, whether that be LGBTQ+ or PoC books. And I’ve found so many to love. Since it is summer, there is no teacher asking me to write a report or classroom discussion to participate in about the books I’m reading.
And now, the sun is out, the end of the semester is nigh, and my books are looking very welcoming.
Hannah Hohman is associate editor at Foreword Reviews. You can contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.