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23 August 2011

It's Time to Go Back to School

Amazing but true.  We move from planting gardens, attending graduations and celebrating Memorial Day to attending more graduations as well as weddings and celebrating Independence Day to packing college-aged offspring (and grandchildren) off to college and getting panicked about those assigned summer reading lists and knowing that Labor Day on the first Monday of September will signal the end of summer.

I recall the summer before my senior year at West Babylon High School when I anticipated being in the advanced level English class.  The summer reading list was long and I mistakenly thought I should start with the first one.  It took me all summer, because it was not the kind of beach reading I normally enjoyed -- Moby Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville.  I kept reading, "Call me Ishmael" over and over again.

The types of titles that are read today are different yet the same.  The list, what a teacher or a program has deemed necessary for a well-educated high school student, is never all-inclusive and always controversial.  Julia Keller had one say recently in The Chicago Tribune, including a dismissal of Rabbit, Run and a recommendation of Illinoisan William Maxwell's So, Long, See You Tomorrow.  I was never required to read Rabbit, Run in high school.  In fact, when the English Honor Society had its annual bookfair and I, (as member) while helping to take books out of boxes and put them on display, had placed that John Updike title (with an illustration of a rabbit on the cover, no less -- I swear) in the Animal section.  Our faculty adviser just shook his head in dumbfounded dismay.  What did I know; I had never read the book.  Should I have read that book?  It obviously was considered a title fit for highschoolers if it was in Scholastic's book fair selection. 

Now, we here at Books on First have some great back-to-school offerings for would-be readers of all ages.   So, between cramming in Much Ado About Nothing (my favorite Shakespearean comedy) and The Color of Water (or even The Great Gatsby), check out these fun titles: