Summer Literature

For most teens and tweens, summertime means hitting up the nearest beach, river, public pool, swimhole, or neighbor’s garden hose, depending on your locale. For some, it means traveling, or finally getting around to that oft-dreamed-of roadtrip. For others, it means bulking up in secret to astonish your friends and dismay your enemies. But for an increasing number of students, it means mandatory summer reading. Long gone are the carefree summer breaks of childhood, which stretched on for the better part of an eternity and actually made you miss class ever so slightly. And with a slew of summer blockbusters on their way – not to mention having your own car and the ID required for admission – it might seem doubtful that you’ll manage to get everything done on time. Especially considering how long it’ll take to sew your costume for the midnight showing of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Instead of letting it completely obliterate your will to achieve, try and let Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince help you. How’s that, you ask? This July 15th, when you’re camped outside the theater behind three hundred other people, or hiding out in the bathroom so you can sneak into a second showing, take a moment to think back on how the Harry Potter series made you, your friends, your kid cousin, your grandparents, and, let’s not kid ourselves, even the family dog feel about reading. These books galvanized an entire generation of readers, selling hundreds of millions of copies worldwide and getting translated into nearly seventy languages. The best part of all? You can re-capture the feeling during a runtime of just two hours and twenty minutes, which is way less time than it takes to re-read the book (for us mere muggles, anyway). Meaning you can put this extra time toward – voila! – your required reading list.

While you’re at it, you can put some of these literature resources to good use. With study guides, in-depth analysis, fun facts, and essay-building tools, you’ll see how easy it is to apply your summer reading to what you already know. Take Moby-Dick’s Captain Ahab, for example, who is left disfigured after a nasty incident with a white whale and dedicates his life to hunting the monster down – just as Harry Potter is left scarred by a run-in with Voldemort and sacrifices everything to put an end to his terror. Or Prince Hamlet, who is arguably the angstiest protagonist in English literature and spends most of the play contemplating his father’s murder – just as Harry never fails to remind the gang that his parents were killed and his life sucks. (Let’s be honest: Harry gets pretty whiney for a book or two there.) With a little effort and a touch of creativity, you’ll be cranking out your summer reading in no time.

And of course if all else fails, you can always sneak in a second or third reading of Twilight. Harry will never know.