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Everything Counts: Short Books for Summer Reading

As a group, the Eleventh Stack bloggers set a goal of reading 170 books for Summer Reading 2016.  We started off full-steam ahead in early June, but family, friends, work and sunshine keep us all busy, and now some of us are feeling the pressure of the individual goals we set. “Read 30 books over the summer” seemed so attainable when we were still coming out of our post-winter haze.

Never fear — anything you read during these precious warm months counts towards your total for Summer Reading – including short books, graphic novels, magazines and audiobooks. Here are some of the recommendations we have to help you get over the finish line.

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Art Books Count: I have lots of found memories of my mom bringing home art books from the library for my brothers and I to flip through. I’m sure it wasn’t easy for her to lug around coffee-table-sized books and four kids, but I’m glad she did it, because exploring art books is still something I appreciate. Recently, I’ve enjoyed both Why Drag?, a book of beautiful portraits of drag queens accompanied by each queen’s thoughts on the art form, and Alternative Movie Posters, a collection of movie-inspired art by emerging digital artists.  Real Food and Posing Beauty are next on my list.

Audiobooks count: Tip:  Using the “advanced search” function, you can search Overdrive for items that are in auidobook format and sort the results by runtime, giving you the ability to find the shortest books possible. This is how I came across Pictures of Hollis Woods, a middle-grade book I really enjoyed about a young girl living in foster care and the relationships she builds with the various families she lives with, and Here in Harlem, a work of interconnected poems about people living together in the same neighborhood.

Children’s books count: Matilda is one of the best audiobooks I ever listened to, and it’s only about five hours long. If you drive a lot like I do, you can get this finished in a week’s commute, easy.  If this particular book isn’t up your alley, then consider revisiting whatever novels were your favorites as a kid. If audiobooks aren’t your thing, remember that reading aloud with a kiddo in your life is a great way to reach your Summer Reading goal and help them combat the summer slide at the same time.

Comics Count. There are countless numbers of graphic novels out there covering all subject areas. Seriously, if you haven’t picked one up in a while, you might be surprised as the breadth and depth available, both fiction and nonfiction. To wit: Superheros? Check. Depression? Check.  Infertility? Check. Homemaker-by-day-assassin by night? Check. and so on and so on.


Poetry Collections Count: Poetry collections are great for when you only have short periods each day to read. Spend some quality time with one poem per day, and you’ll reach your summer reading goal and invite some beauty into your world. Eleventh-Stackers who read poetry recommend Olympic Butter GoldLunch Poems or the work of Issa Kobayashi as good places to start.

Scrapbook/Journal Biographies Count: Nonfiction can be difficult for many people to work into a faced-pasted Summer Reading schedule. If you’re one of those people who find nonfiction challenging, I suggest checking out one of the many abridged biographies that are less 500-page-brick-weighing-down-your-beach-bag and more scrapbook, journal or compendium. For example, Imagination Illustrated provides a great overview of Jim Henson’s life and career along with lots of pictures, original notes, sketches and letters that give the book a different type of depth than a traditional, straight forward biography. There are lots of other great choices in this category – I have my eye on  With Love, Aunt Eleanor:  Stories from My Life with the First Lady of the World,  and  The Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Short Novels or Novellas Count: When all else fails, head to the library and grab a short book off the shelf; better yet, ask a librarian for a suggestion (you can even tweet us). My quick poll of Eleventh Stack staff yielded many intriguing picks for quick reads, including The GrownupRape: A Love Story, Fight Club, Dept. of Speculation, and We Have Always Lived in the Castle among many, many others.

No shame in my Summer Reading game – switching up your genres and formats to try something new isn’t just a great way to reach your Summer Reading goal, it’s also a way to explore new things and discover authors and themes you never knew you’d enjoy. Just don’t forget to log your books.


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Ginny is a baker of treats, reader of fiction and Coordinator of Volunteer Services based out of the Office of Programs and Partnerships at CLP – East Liberty. She wants to pet your dog.

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