Opinion: Sleepless in summer readings
I haven’t slept well in a week thanks to my stupid idea to encourage my kids to read this summer. Like most parents, I am constantly nagging my children to put down the “electronical” devices (as my 10-year-old calls them) and pick up a book. Generally they laugh in my face or offer lame excuses like, “I have to read at school. I need a break!” But with two months of salt mine vacation and loads of free time, that pretext no longer applies.
Normally I read fantasy (though I had to stop mid-book three in Game of Thrones because Martin starting killing off characters who were still alive in HBO’s Season Four), but my summer default is fluff romance, specifically Nora Roberts. Easy reading and just enough smut to whisk me away from suburban parenting. This year, however, I decided to expand my perusing to other genres in hopes of inspiring the aforementioned anti-literary offspring. Perhaps they would even read along with me!
I began with The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien. A student had left it in my classroom, a byproduct of his AP World Lit course, so I assumed it was at least decent. Plus, the cover implied a supernatural vibe, like maybe what soldiers carried with them into the afterlife? No. The pseudo-memoir focuses on the dual nature of fighting in Vietnam, both the horrible and the beautiful. A far, far cry from Nora, and definitely not an uplifting escape from my soccer mom life. Plus, too many F-bombs for a family book club.
Next up, The Fault in Our Stars. I went in to this one knowing it would be sad – my youngest had just finished it – but what I didn’t anticipate was the perfectly injected humor. Somehow this made the story “real” for me. So not only did I empathize with the main characters, as a mom I could also relate to the grieving parents. Double depressing! Another two nights of disturbing dreams and crying-induced headaches, added to a sex talk with my fifth-grader I was not prepared for.
I am now on my latest book, one I was sure would not leave me miserable, Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep. WRONG! It’s a sequel to The Shining, with the protagonist being Jack Nicholson’s now-grown-up son who is trying to overcome his alcoholism despite still seeing dead people. A captivating premise, but one that’s leaving me scared poo-less to use the bathroom at 3:30 a.m. I’d put it down, but in the daylight it’s awesome!
Nevertheless, I need sleep. I’ll be returning to Nora ASAP and my kids can go back to their dumb electronicals. I’ve changed my mind on this summer reading thing. Peace out.