Avoid a Brain-Melting Summer by Staying Cool with Books
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Summer is a great time for relaxation, recreation and refreshment.  It is a good time, whether you are on a break between junior year and senior year of high school, or awaiting the beginning of your first year of college, to enjoy a bit of time doing leisurely things and bask in the summer sun.

It is very important to allow yourself some time off from studying and classes every once in a while, but it is important also to remember to keep your brain functioning and alert.  Over the summer, many students will forget a lot of things that they’ve learned over the previous school year; in fact, memory loss can begin as early as two weeks after learning new information if it is not relearned and retained properly.  This is why it is very vital that you remember to exercise your brain, if you will, every once in a while.

Reading is a fantastic way to do this.  Reading books, old and new, helps you reinforce and build your existing vocabulary bank and uses your imagination actively.  Reading a good book will force you to think analytically, critically, and develop many ideas about the storyline and its characters.  Books engage your mind.

Many people will say that reading literature and canonical novels is the best way to go about this.  Although, I do agree that reading literature provides you with a wider range of vocabulary and themes that could be beneficial to be exposed to before college, I still believe that reading young adult novels can still be helpful.  In high school, I had an English teacher who called young adult novels like Twilight ‘hot Cheetos.’  To him, ‘hot Cheetos’ had little nutritional value, or in the book-sense, no educational value.  But, as mentioned before, reading is good for the imagination, and therefore, for summer reading, reading in general will always remain helpful.

So whether you are re-reading the Hunger Games series or checking off the next Jane Austen novel, here are a few suggestions to get you started with some summer reading.  These books are, in general, on the shorter side, but will nonetheless prepare you for another year of learning and thinking.

The House in Paris by Elizabeth Bowen

“When eleven-year-old Henrietta arrives at the Fishers’ well-appointed house in Paris, she is prepared to spend her day between trains looked after by an old friend of her grandmother’s. Henrietta longs to see a few sights in the foreign city; little does she know what fascinating secrets the Fisher house itself contains.
For Henrietta finds that her visit coincides with that of Leopold, an intense child who has come to Paris to be introduced to the mother he has never known. In the course of a single day, the relations between Leopold, Henrietta’s agitated hostess Naomi Fisher, Leopold’s mysterious mother, his dead father, and the dying matriarch in bed upstairs, come to light slowly and tantalizingly. And when Henrietta leaves the house that evening, it is in possession of the kind of grave knowledge usually reserved only for adults.”

This Is Not Your City by Caitlin Horrocks

“Eleven women confront dramas both everyday and outlandish in Caitlin Horrocks’ This Is Not Your City. In stories as darkly comic as they are unflinching, people isolated by geography, emotion, or circumstance cut imperfect paths to peace—they have no other choice. A Russian mail-order bride in Finland is rendered silent by her dislocation and loss of language, the mother of a severely disabled boy writes him postcards he’ll never read on a cruise ship held hostage by pirates, and an Iowa actuary wanders among the reincarnations of those she’s known in her 127 lives. Horrocks’ women find no simple escapes, and their acts of faith and acts of imagination in making do are as shrewd as they are surprising.”

One More Thing: Stories and Other Stories by B.J. Novak

“Stories and Other Stories is an endlessly entertaining, surprisingly sensitive, and startlingly original debut that signals the arrival of a brilliant new voice in American fiction. A boy wins a $100,000 prize in a box of Frosted Flakes—only to discover how claiming the winnings might unravel his family. A woman sets out to seduce motivational speaker Tony Robbins—turning for help to the famed motivator himself. A new arrival in Heaven, overwhelmed with options, procrastinates over a long-ago promise to visit his grandmother. We also meet Sophia, the first artificially intelligent being capable of love, who falls for a man who might not be ready for it himself; a vengeance-minded hare, obsessed with scoring a rematch against the tortoise who ruined his life; and post-college friends who try to figure out how to host an intervention in the era of Facebook. Along the way, we learn why wearing a red T-shirt every day is the key to finding love, how February got its name, and why the stock market is sometimes just . . . down.”

By Megan Luu