Willey, Gretschel, Evans recommend books for summer reading


Photo by Sara Denno

Media specialist Tammie Burk displays books for Pride Month. Students can celebrate by reading LGBTQ+ books this June.

While students search for ways to spend their time this summer break, they might choose to do some reading. English composition assistants Amethyst Willey and Regina Gretschel and Creative Writing and AP Lang teacher Annette Evans have recommendations for summer reading.

In the writing center, Willey and Gretschel recommended The Book Thief by Markus Zusak, a story taking place in Germany during World War II about a young foster girl named Liesel who learns to read from the books that she steals and shares with the Jewish man hidden in her basement.

Another option is The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold, a story about a murdered teenage girl named Susie watching her family and friends from the afterlife as they struggle to move forward with their lives, while Susie herself comes to terms with her own death.

For a more lighthearted read, Willey and Gretschel also recommended The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, a comedy science fiction novel series by Douglas Adams about an ordinary and perpetually confused human protagonist who wanders the Universe following the destruction of Earth by hitchhiking on alien ships.

Willey and Gretschel recommend these books specifically for students looking for a book for summer reading. “Really, the most important thing is that you’re reading. People enjoy different books, so it depends on what you enjoy yourself,” Willey said.

“New media, such as social media, is very entertaining, but it will never be the same as a good book and can’t exercise your brain in the same way.”

— Amethyst Willey

Gretschel also listed books that she plans to read herself this summer, including The Lincoln Highway by Amor Towles and The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann. The Lincoln Highway is set in the 1950s and follows the journey of four young, adventure-seeking men heading east to New York, while The Wager is a nonfiction narrative that, according to Gretschel, “sounds very much like a real-life Lord of the Flies.”

Evans recommends that students read classic novels such as The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoevsky and Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes, which is Evans’ favorite book. “For students, I think it’s really great to read the classics. They stick with you forever; they’re formative,” Evans said. “Summer break can be an opportunity to read a book that takes a little more time and patience.”

An author who both Evans and Willey mentioned was Toni Morrison, who wrote novels and plays portraying the Black American experience through her characters’ struggles to find themselves and their cultural identity. Morrison was the first African-American woman to win the Nobel Prize in literature. Her works include Beloved, Song of Solomon, and The Bluest Eye.

Evans suggested that students look through lists such as the American Literary Canon or other online resources to help them find a book to read.

Reading a book can be a good use of students’ time over the summer. “Summer reading is important because reading is important. It’s a way to learn but also have fun and use your imagination,” Willey said. “New media, such as social media, is very entertaining, but it will never be the same as a good book and can’t exercise your brain in the same way.”