“Words are, in my not-so-humble opinion, our most inexhaustible source of magic, capable of both inflicting injury, and remedying it.”
- Professor Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore
Summer—or at least the months associated with summer—is upon us and as we plan for camping trips and superhero blockbusters and iced tea, let us not forget the heady delights of reading. Be it on the beach, in the grass, beside a campfire, or in the comfort of your home, reading affords the luxury of endless new worlds for discovery.
With three months of sunshine-filled revelry ahead, Freddy decided to assemble a summer reading list largely inspired by recent movies, television shows and other pop culture awesomeness. Of course, some of the books are on the list because Freddy just can’t resist sharing his favorite literary adventures regardless of timeliness. What is opportune timing against the compulsion to share your favorite characters with the world at large? And Freddy is all about sharing his favorite pop culture moments with the world.
In no particular order, here are 10 books you should absolutely sink your brain into this summer:
- Little Women by Louisa May Alcott. Why? This is a book that has endured, folks. It has stood the test of time, delighting readers for more than 140 years. Jo is an engaging protagonist, the March family will have you feeling the warm fuzzies and, if that’s not enough, the BBC adaptation just started airing in the United States this May.
- The Killer Angels by Michael Shaara. Besides being an incredibly moving story—be sure to read this with a box of tissues handy—The Killer Angels inspired Joss Whedon’s beloved space western, Firefly. Whether you read it because you love Firefly, because it won a Pulitzer Prize in 1975 or simply because it’s a book and books were meant to be read, it’s a meaningful story.
- Ready Player One by Ernest Cline. A genius nerd creates a brilliant virtual reality world which he will leave to the person who can discover the Easter eggs within this world. What’s not to love? This book is a love letter to pop culture, to Dungeons of Daggorath, to WarGames, to Pac-Man, to Blade Runner, to every person who has ever sought solace in entertainment. And by the time you’re done reading the book, the movie will be out on DVD and you can rewatch that too.
- The Portable Dorothy Parker by Dorothy Parker. Why? For one thing, it’s portable, as the name suggests which makes for easy carrying. More importantly, this was the book Rory Gilmore was reading in the Gilmore Girls episode, “Rory’s Dance” which happens to be one of the best episodes in the show’s history. Also, Dorothy Parker’s wit is unrivaled and her observations of humanity’s foibles are both keen and cutting. Pair this book with unsweetened ice tea.
- The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. Why? No one ever said summer reading had to be light and with a movie based on the novel and directed by Kirsten Dunst scheduled for a release some time in 2018, it’s as good a time as any to dive in. The Bell Jar has been referenced in countless television shows and, while the subject of the protagonist’s deteriorating mental health makes for intense fare, Sylvia Plath has an undeniable skill at communicating emotions through words.
- Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. Why? A movie inspired by what is perhaps the classic dystopian novel just aired on HBO in mid-May and there’s no better book to read beside a campfire than Ray Bradbury’s tale of the horrors of censorship. Also, you’ll love your books all the more after reading this story.
- A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L’Engle. Besides the fact that it won just about every award a children’s book can win, the recently-released film version was the first live-action movie with a budget of this size to be directed by a woman of color. The tale is a celebration of inclusivity, imagination and the power of youth to change the world.
- Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. As the Jurassic Park movie franchise marches forward with its fifth film, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom, many don’t realize that it all started with a book. As any bookworm will tell you, however good the movie might be, it’s never quite the same experience, some degree of nuance is always lost. Plus, why not pay a visit to the story that started it all?
- The Autobiography of Ben Franklin by, well, you know. With recent fascination with the founding fathers—or one in particular—it seems like an opportune time to learn more about another great mind in American history. More importantly, this happens to be the book that Robin becomes obsessed with in the Teen Titans Go! episode "Books" and with a Teen Titans Go! movie scheduled for release in July, it’s fitting to give the superhero quintet some literary love.
- Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling. We kicked off this reading list with a quote about the magic of words from Albus Dumbledore so of course J. K. Rowling’s beloved series is going to have a place on this list. Given that each book starts during the summer, around Harry Potter’s birthday to be precise, summer feels like an appropriate match. But which book to read? All of them, of course. What are you waiting for? There’s magic in those pages.