Summertime! When we’re supposed to read books, especially if we are still in school. At least that what we’re told; every newspaper and current-events publication I read has published a summer reading list.
So how to choose? I think I’ve found a solution. The Washington Post has published a list entitled The Best Books to Read at Every Age, From 1 to 100 (https://www.washingtonpost.com/graphics/2019/entertainment/books/100-books-for-the-ages/?). While not specifically designated for summer, it’s as good a place as any to start.
It is an interesting concept, although with only one recommendation for each year of life. The book for age one is The Very Hungry Caterpillar. At age seven comes The Complete Calvin and Hobbes. The choice for the midlife crisis age of 35 is How to Talk So Kids Will Listen & Listen So Kids Will Talk. Age 50 is Fifty Shades of Grey (makes sense on several levels). And if you’re fortunate enough to reach 100, the list says you should read Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author.
Of course, as the car commercials say, your mileage may vary. I was very surprised to see no mention of Dr. Seuss, my favorite children’s author. Any such list should include something by J. K. Rowling, but Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone at age eight? Seems a tad early to me.
Many of the classics, like The Grapes of Wrath and The Sun Also Rises, are in the list, but To Kill a Mockingbird, probably the best example of the Great American Novel, is not. Also absent is my favorite work of fiction, the brilliantly written (I think) The Hunger Games.
So in addition to encouraging reading books, perhaps the list’s other objective is getting us to discuss them?
If so, it’s worked this time.