I managed to get a lot of reading done this summer. Some dissertation-related, some just-for-fun.
In fact, some of it was so fun, I had to cut myself off (Sookie Stackhouse, you and I will meet again, but you and your vampire boyfriends suck away my will to do anything except read, so I must gain some willpower before I request the next four books in the series...).
Some of it I slogged through and I almost dread teaching it (ugh, Moll Flanders! I don't care if you were the novel start of the novel, your string of husbands and abandoned children and petty crime somehow did not interest me. Must read some more criticism and reframe my attitude so that I can convince college students you are actually awesome.).
Some of it inspired me to learn more (Guernsey and the Literary Potato Peel Society was so not what I expected -- better than expected! -- plus I am a sucker for the epistolary novel).
Some of it I still haven't gotten to (Drood will be the perfect book to dive into on a dark, cold winter's night -- same goes for Sarah Waters's new book. I never got my hands on that hedgehog book, and I'm not sure it still interests me as much as it did... we'll see).
Some of it I returned to, unexpectedly, but with much enthusiasm (David was reading Harry Potter Book 7, but it became my great escape on the transcontinental flight when my TV sound wonked out and I couldn't watch any more movies).
Some of it lived up to its literary hype, even though the ending was sort of, well, awkward. Actually, I don't know if it was awkward, or if it just made me feel awkward. Either way, The French Lieutenant's Woman was worth the read and damn I like that guy's prose style.
Some it confirmed what I already knew: G. H. Lewes was a fascinating and unconventional Victorian, and Rosemary Ashton's G. H. Lewes: Unconventional Victorian is quite aptly titled.
Some of it was totally fun and at the same time made me feel like I was getting smarter (The Historian has so many scenes that take place in libraries so it was almost like actually getting work done... plus there was so much geography interspersed with all the bloodsucking!).
Some of it took me back to those post-Anne of Green Gables, pre-Jane Eyre days with that same feeling of optimism and angst. I Capture the Castle was surprisingly bittersweet and after I read it, it felt so familiar even though I don't think I had read it before.
And there were others that I've forgotten or just temporarily overlooked as my feeble brain tries to remember what I've done with all my summer days.
But there was also a clear winner this year! My favorite summer read! The book I did not want to put down, even on a European vacation, the book that I thought about when I was not reading it, the book that made me want to finish right away because I had to know how it ended at the same time I wanted it to go on and on:
The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.
I saw it recommended on another blog, and then the nurse practitioner at Barnes who saw me for my burn when I was first referred to the hospital recommended it to me. I saved it for my summer vacation, and it did not disappoint. Written by a former academic, it's a gothic mystery set in England and I declare it un-put-downable. It is the winner.