Summer often brings us hours at home with children, time for sitting beside the pool, or leisurely spending time on a beach, on a cruise, in airports, or in a summer cabin. Several times over the years I resolved on New Year’s Day to read a book a week. I’ve never regretted it when I’ve done that.
Students come into my office, which is lined with bookshelves, and ask if I’ve read all of those books. Yes, I have, but what they don’t know is that those books are only the ones I’ve kept and also don’t include the books on my Kindle.
You don’t have to read a book a week, but even one or two books over the summer will be a choice you won’t regret. Here are some categories that include some of my favorite books.
For children, these books can’t miss. When my son was young, I read aloud to him all of C.S. Lewis’ seven-volume set “The Chronicles of Narnia.” Both of us enjoyed this experience.
For very young children, “The Velveteen Rabbit” by Margery Williams,“ and “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Suess can easily be read at bedtime. “The Hobbit” by J.R.R. Tolkien and The “Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain can be read a chapter at a time.
For teens and adults, these books are amazing and everyone should read them at some point in life. “To Kill a Mockingbird” by Harper Lee, “The Kite Runner” by Khaled Hosseini, “A Lesson Before Dying” by Ernest J. Gaines, and “Angela’s Ashes” by Frank McCourt are so good it will be hard to put them down.
These biographies are unbelievable: “The Diary of Ann Frank,” “Man’s Search for Meaning” by Victor Frankl, “Night” by Elie Wiesel, and the story of John Adams as told by the best historian ever, David McCullough.
Good humor can be found in Garrison Keillor’s “Lake Wobegon Days” and “WLT: A Radio Romance” as well as in Jean Shepherd’s “A Christmas Story.”
Malcom Gladwell’s books “Blink” and “Outliers” are unbeatable. “Why are All the Black Kids Sitting in the Cafeteria Together?” is a wonderful read on culture and race written by Atlanta’s own Beverly Tatum. You also won’t want to skip the classics “Frankenstein” by Mary Shelly and “The Animal Farm” by George Orwell.
For the more adventurous adult reader, I recommend “A Brief History of Time” by Stephen Hawking, “Plato’s Republic” (sometimes called “The Polity”), “The Plague” by Camus, “The Trial” and “The Metamorphosis” by Kafka, and any short stories by Edgar Allen Poe, Jack London, Mark Twain, or Stephen King.
From classic literature, my list includes Homer’s “Iliad,” “Beowulf” from English classic literature, and “The Inferno” by Dante. If you venture into these classics, you might want to select an annotated translation. Cliff’s Notes or some other reading aid might also make these books more enjoyable to read.
You probably have noticed that many of these books have been made into movies. There is a good reason for that. They are fantastic books. But don’t skip the book for the movie. Movie makers only have about 90 minutes to present a story and often much of the best parts of these books are lost in translation. As the old pompous cliche goes, the book is almost always better than the movie.
Plus, you won’t cheat yourself out of the pleasure of holding a book in your hand while your imagination plays the story out in your mind. I enjoy watching movies that are based on books I’ve read because it gives me a chance to see how the movie makers translated the imagination of the author into film.
Often, the images that were in my head as I read these books were craftily transitioned to the big screen when the book made it to film just as I’d imagined.
I wish I had more space because this list doesn’t even scratch the surface and I’m sure many of you readers are saying to yourselves, “Where is …?” – your favorite book. For more of my favorites, you can visit my website (gregmoffatt.com) and click on the Resources link and find many more books, including some of my own. Happy reading!
[Gregory K. Moffatt, Ph.D., is a college professor, published author, licensed counselor, certified professional counselor supervisor, newspaper columnist and public speaker. He holds an M.A. in Counseling and a Ph.D. in Psychology from Georgia State University and has taught at the college level for over 30 years. His website is gregmoffatt.com.]