Summer Reading

One of the pleasures of vacation is curling up with a good read.  This summer’s reading fare?  The MG/YA novel.  Both of my teens are into fantasy, so all three of us enjoyed reading and passing around the books we had chosen.

I chose Susan Cooper’s Over Sea Under Stone, the first novel in her Dark is Rising series.  This one is classic fantasy in the vein of C.S. Lewis.  Although slow to start, the plot picked up with the discovery of an old map.  From then on, it was a real page-turner as the Drew children raced one step ahead of their enemies in a classic Arthurian-inspired quest.

For my second selection, I traded with my son for Sea of Monsters, Book Two of Rick Riordan’s Olympian series. My daughter gave me a hard time for starting with the second book, but I argued that I should be able to pick up any series on book two and still be able to follow the plot.  Riordan didn’t disappoint. His book was written in a modern style – first person narrative, lots of voice, and humor (which my son loved). Of course, there was the requisite quest and a cadre of kid heroes, but with a clever twist on classical mythology.  This was especially interesting to me as I’m currently working on my own twisted version of the Cyclops myth.

Not only was this fun reading, but also educational from a writer’s standpoint. The authors wrote in two very different styles.  I noted how both told satisfying stories while planting the seeds of an overall arc for their respective series.  And I gathered ideas as I prepared to revise my own middle-grade fantasy, gaining insight into what works in my novel and what still needs attention.

I’m ready to delve into another book, but my daughter hasn’t finished with her selection yet.

What are you reading this summer?  How does it inform your writing?


7 Responses to Summer Reading

  1. What am I reading? I do read young adult (YA) for the very reason that it does inform my writing. I also read whatever my book club has chosen and, if I’m lucky, I have time to tackle one of the titles in The Stack. For YA, I just completed “The Wrong Hands” by Nigel Richardson. The tale of a 14 year old boy in London who has webbed hands. I plan to read Ellen Kagles’ “The Green Glass Sea” on my impending vacation. I saw the author speak a few weeks ago and will be blogging about this soon. Meanwhile, for book club, I am reading “Across the Mountain” by Reyna Grande. On the top of The Stack: “Eat, Pray, Love” by E. Gilbert and Ken Follett’s “The Pillar’s of the Earth.”

    • chs says:

      “The Wrong Hands” sounds interesting. What did you think of it? I look forward to your blog on Ellen Kagles, as well.

  2. Ros says:

    ‘Over Sea, Under Stone’ is probably the weakest in that series. Try ‘The Dark Is Rising’ itself to see Cooper at her best. I always try to re-read it over Christmas each year and it never fails to chill, thrill and satisfy. The Welsh ones in the series are good too.

    • chs says:

      Hi Ros!

      I plan to read “The Dark is Rising” too. I read “Over Sea, Under Stone” first on a friend’s recommendation that I start the series at the beginning. I think I will enjoy the sequel very much. Thanks for the rec.

      • Ros says:

        Although OSUS was the first one published, TDIR is like a second, separate, beginning. The two then start to come together in Greenwitch.

      • Ros says:

        Oh, and, whatever you do, DON’T WATCH THE FILM!!!!

  3. I did enjoy “The Wrong Hands” and would recommend it. The book captured the mind set of a 14 year-old boy, had an intriguing (albiet unbelievable) plot and interesting characters. I listened to the book on “Books on CD” and the narrating voice had an English accent that further captured the London setting.

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