reading460The summer reading list is a rite of passage (and annoyance) for the majority of high schoolers.  Most see it as “homework for the summer break” and they toss the books somewhere under a mess of clothes in their bedrooms-eventually digging them out in late August to rush through the readings.  I actually loved doing my summer readings.  It gave my aimless search for something to read structure and purpose.  As I get older, I feel that even though I’m pretty well read, there is still so much out there that I have left to checkout.  I just don’t know where to start.  I wish I still had summer reading lists.

One of my great personal literary shames is that I hadn’t read a lot of Kurt Vonnegut’s work.  Somehow, in the 26-years I have spent on this planet, I’ve only read three novels (Player Piano, Cat’s Cradle, and Slaughterhouse-Five) and a couple short story collections.  It’s more than most, but not that great for someone who has Vonnegut’s New York Times full page obituary taped to his wall.  I’d been contemplating a “Vonnegut Marathon” since his death in 2007, but just never got around to it.  Then, on Sunday night, I finished reading David Cullen’s Columbine (an emotionally tough read, but I felt it was important to know the full story) and was left to try and figure out what to read next.

Finding a book to read is a strange process.  Sometimes it’s a clear straight path to a title, something new that’s getting rave reviews or recommended by a friend.  Sometimes it takes a little bit of wandering through a bookstore, waiting for a cover or title to just jump out at you.  But every once in a while, not often, it’s fate that brings you to a book.  As I left for work on Monday morning, a couple back issue New Yorkers in my bag, I noticed that another tenant in my building had left some used paperbacks on a table in the hallway.  If you’ve don’t live in an apartment building with people who leave out books they no longer want for their neighbors, it’s a glorious thing and I suggest you move.  There, midway into the stack, was not only a Vonnegut title I never read, but one that I’ve always wanted to, Mother Night.  “Hell yeah!” I said, and snatched it.  It was just the push I needed.  I’m going to assign myself a summer reading list: every Vonnegut novel I’ve never read.

After a quick check on Wikipedia, I count that Kurt Vonnegut wrote 14 novels.  That leaves me with 11 books to read before I can say “I’ve read all of Vonnegut’s novels,” by September 1st.  This should be fun.

Update: I’ve decided to post my progress.  Check out my Summer Reading page with a full list of the books.  I’ll cross them out and post reviews as I go.

[Pic via www.guardian.co.uk]

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