Summer Reading

Not just for kids

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

As a youngster, I don’t recall ever being forced to read. That’s because even at an early age, I couldn’t keep my face out of books—even during the days, and months, when school wasn’t in session. 

My dad still tells the story of the summer I was 12 and he took me with him on a business trip to Washington D.C. Instead of being agog at the historical landmarks that were all around me, I had to be forced to put down my reading material and get out of the car to tour esteemed edifices such as the Lincoln Memorial.

As the years have progressed, I’ve never given up on my lust for the written word. That said, it’s still nice to get encouragement once in a while.

While there are plenty of programs aimed at persuading kids to keep reading through the months when it’s not part of their educational curriculum, adults don’t often get the thumbs-up to continue perusing pages in order to expand their minds.

That’s where the Bellingham Public Library comes in. As part of its “Groundbreaking Reads: Adult Summer Reading” program, those who take part will be encouraged to engage in a variety of reading-oriented goals that will expand their minds and, if they’re lucky, net them a prize or two. When the program ends Aug. 31, one winner will even go home with a Nook eReader.

Tangible rewards are all well and good, but any avid reader knows the real payoff is in finding—or rediscovering—a really good book.

One of the main ways participants can enter into the intellectual fray is by reading the many titles to be found on a compiled “Groundbreaking Reads” list. Whether you choose a title from “Influential Fiction” (George Orwell’s 1984, Joseph Heller’s Catch 22, F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, Richard Wright’s Native Son, and Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own are among the choices) or “Banned Books” (The Bell Jar, Ender’s Game, In Cold Blood, The Kite Runner, and Push are included), you can rest assured you’ll learn something you didn’t know before.

If the aforementioned categories aren’t to your liking, don’t fret. Further selections include “Influential Non-Fiction,” “Digging Out,” “Groundbreaking Technologies,” “The Political Underground,” “Underground Reads” (a sampling of books and movies that actually take place underground), “When the Ground Breaks,” “End of Life Plans” and “Urban Farming.” 

As part of the challenge, those who engage in the “competition” will be asked to complete one item on the “Groundbreaking Reads” form each week. While reading one of the books on the list counts toward the goal, participants can also attempt to learn new languages using Mango Languages, post on the library’s Facebook page, pen reviews on the Bibliocommons library catalogue, create a list in Bibliocommons, subscribe to a digital magazine with Zinio, download an ebook or digital audiobook from the Washington Anytime Library, or write a book review and submit it either online or at the library.

If it starts to seem like too much work to keep up, remember that “Groundbreaking Reads” is meant to be a fun way to keep your brain ticking even during days when all you want to do is head to the beach or retire to a hammock in the shade. Once you get there, however, I’m guessing you’ll be glad you have a good book to keep you company.

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