Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Summer Reading List

By the end of my Master's Degree in English Lit., I was pretty tired of reading. After all, reading academically is so much different from reading for pleasure that I'd actually forgotten how to switch off. And having written my thesis on superheroes, I couldn't even read my favorite medium (comics) anymore without applying this theorist or that model, yada yada.

But now, having just finished teaching my first lit. class, I suddenly love to read again! All semester I kept adding to a mental list of books I wanted to finish, start, even reread! Once the end of the semester was in sight, I started keeping an actual list of books I wanted to read over my summer break. And here is that list:

Dracula, The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, and The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde: The first novel I taught this semester was H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines--a book I discuss here incessantly in relation to Resident Evil. Rereading it along with my class and following it with Alan Moore's The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen reminded me how much I love Victorian lit. Not only that, but both books were fairly successful among my student (though The League more so). So when I was offered another lit. class for the summer, I knew what the topic would be! And these are the other novels for that course.

Zorro: I've been wanting to read Isabel Allende's take on "The Fox" for awhile now. It's sort of a Native/Mexican American retelling of the character. It's also research for a short story I'm planning to write over the summer! *gasp*

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt: I started reading this a few years ago and really enjoyed it until I got caught up with other things. But it's time I revisit Savannah, especially since I won't be moving there this year as previously planned.

Stories from the Edge: Jimmy Santiago Baca may be visiting my campus next fall to present to several different Learning Communities that I'm either teaching or helping to organize, so I'd really like to get more familiar with his work. Sadly, I've read very little.

Sometimes a Great Notion: I've been slowly reading a little bit of Ken Kesey's novel every summer since it was given to me as a graduation gift from the chair of my thesis committee. The book is excellent but very dense! I felt bad for taking so long with it until I read that it was a book best savored. So I've been savoring it for three years now!

Doom Patrol: Crawling from the Wreckage: A colleague of mine insists I give Grant Morrison another chance (I'm not a fan), so he lent me this comic for the summer. I've actually been wanting to jump into this series for a long time, making for a nice compromise.

Every Piece of Dead Space Literature I Can Get My Hands On: What? I have to have some guilty pleasures on here. I'm a big fan of this game series, and I actually got into it via the first movie. And as much as I enjoy the games, the best stories come out of the side works. I've read bits of the novel and comics, and really, they're not that bad. The novel's author B.K. Evenson (his science-fiction pen name) is actually a pretty accomplished writer and wrote a companion book to the work of Robert Coover (another author I taught this past semester and on whom I plan to write more in the future). And the comics' writer Antony Johnston has a pretty decent resume himself.

This is what I'll be reading in the comic weeks, and you can count on my thoughts concerning at least half of them. There are other works too, I'm sure, but my preference lie on these.

So what will you, dear readers, be perusing this summer?


Melanie said...

Sometimes a Great Notion! Very cool. That's a lot of reading! I'll be reading many fun books (: Just finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, which took longer than I wanted it to, but still good! Gave me lots of ideas for my thesis (:

Ben Villarreal said...

Yeah, I really like it, but I love reading it slowly. What's amazing is that I can pick it up every June, read for 2 minutes, and remember everything that's happened to everyone up to that point. I also like drinking a beer while reading it :-)

I've been enjoying your book updates via Facebook. You're definitely reading much faster than me, as I've yet to start my list, haha! I've got about 5 books coming through ILL, 3 desk copies for my class that haven't arrived, and I haven't been able to find Zorro! I'll get on it though :-)

Melanie said...

Yeah, the only reason I can think of about why I'm getting through these books so quickly is because I honestly have nothing else to do. My week has consisted of naps, baking cookies, and reading. Which isn't too bad of a week!

I never thought of getting books through ILL. I think I may do that for some on my list I'm not too pumped about, or are too expensive. I switched to Amazon Prime today so I could get free shipping, and then I bought four books, haha. Loving books is an expensive illness!

Ben Villarreal said...

Yeah, comics are ridiculously expensive, especially on a price-by-minute basis, so I have a strong report with the library :-)

Now video games, that's an expensive illness, which incidentally, will be the topic of my next blog :-)

Veronica said...

I hope your taking the time to start reading some of them while I'm gone.

Ben Villarreal said...

As a matter of fact, I plan on sitting down with a beer and reading Sometimes a Great Notion tonight :-P


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