Growing Up with Summer Reading

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When I was in middle school, one feature that was different from previous years was the inclusion of summer reading, which students were strongly encouraged to do.

At that moment, books were starting to look appealing to me. My mom, being a preschool teacher, went to a place where a Lurlene McDaniel book came to my attention. Another book also appealed to me, which was about a young girl living a difficult life and having the courage to write about it for a class.

These books were a lot more hip and modern than the books that I came across in the past. While I did read Nancy Drew and Frances Hodgson Burnett, they weren’t as easy to connect to as these books, which were, at that time, contemporary.

That didn’t mean that classics were completely off-limits. One book I found particularly wonderful to read was actually on the assigned summer reading list for students who were transitioning from sixth grade to seventh grade. That book was Louisa May Alcott’s “Little Women.” Those four sisters really seemed to have a wonderful time in each other’s company and each girl had her own personality.

That summer was also when Harry Potter came into my life. Around that age, things that became popular were a turn-off, but my father bought the first book for me and I then fell in love with the series. One night, I read more than 200 pages of “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire” in one sitting and barely slept.

Reading became a favorite pastime. I could spend hours reading books, alone in my room, where air conditioning was readily available. Going to college, though, proved to be a serious academic challenge when it came to reading. I had a semester filled with five courses in the humanities and social sciences. In less than three weeks, the workload was overwhelming; I made the decision to drop a class. The discovery was that American colleges assign heavy reading loads. This was new for me because I had been in French schools, including in the United States, for 13 years.

Trying to meet this challenge, I would go to a local bookstore and see what books would further develop my growth as a university student. Sadly, none of those books gave me the joy from my younger years. Not even the last book in the Harry Potter book helped restore my spirits.

Still, I pressed on, hoping to find that love for books again. Trying store after store, I eventually figured out where enjoyable books could be found. As a journalism student in graduate school, nonfiction and self-help books were particularly appealing.

Attempting to become a full-fledged adult, I understand why some news organizations include book sections in their paraphernalia. A sizable number of American adults want to find out about the latest books being published because books are something that they’ve been taught to treasure and read voraciously.

Books will always be there for those who seek them out. They are the companions who never leave your side and share what they have to say on their printed pages — at your own reading pace.

The cover story in the July 26 issue of The Georgetowner lists suggested books in five genres for summer reading — plus a roundup of Georgetown authors.

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