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The Particular Personal Torture of Summer Reading Lists

August 15th. Each summer as a middle and high schooler, I would wake up on the 15th and feel a sinking pit in my stomach. After an entire summer of blissful oblivion, this was the day I would face the reality that I had actual homework to do. From the years 1982-1987, I had still not selected – much less read – my school’s summer reading assignment come August 15th.

I’m a procrastinator. I learned that word in 6th grade when my teacher used that word to describe me in front of the class. I felt the sting of it and then the acceptance: hey, somebody understood me! There was a word to describe my condition. I liked to wait for the very last minute. I still do. Why else would I wait all summer to write an article about waiting all summer?

It’s not that I didn’t like to read. I loved to read. I became an English teacher, for goodness sakes. And if a future English teacher didn’t want to do her summer reading, imagine what the rest of the kids must have felt like.

Ugh, the drudgery. Having to pick a book from a Xeroxed list. Just the fact that these books were on a list created by teachers made them incredibly and irrevocably unattractive. I may have liked that S.E. Hinton title before, may have even wanted to read Rumblefish before, with the tough-looking pool-playing, leather-jacket wearing guys on the cover, but not now. Now that Rumblefish was officially on a summer reading list, it was officially off of mine.  Continue reading here.

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