Summer Reading for Grown-Ups

July 7, 2009 at 10:40 pm 2 comments

Are you like me and have a pile of books you’ve gathered this year and haven’t had time to read? Will you get to them all this summer? Maybe you participated in the summer reading program at your Public Library as a child and loved all the incentives, prizes and competition. I was a fixture in Mary Jacobs Library in Rocky Hill each summer. That’s where the pattern of a summer reading plan started. I’m hoping that even just writing about this is the incentive I need to start finishing more books each summer. I’m excited to see that Adult summer reading programs are popping up all over. Library websites and Facebook pages allow the programs a great online presence and wider audience. I may have found the answer to my summer reading dilemma.

For me, summer seems to be the perfect time to catch up on reading- At least in theory. As a school librarian, I have my summers free (well, I’m using that word loosely- Those that don’t have summer jobs like most of us are free, that is) from my full-time work. So, every year, when school gets out in June, I set out with a noble plan to read hundreds of books before Labor Day.

My initial strategy for summer reading-
• Gather reading lists, YA, Adult, and non-fiction.
• Read recommendations on Shelfari, and pages for “grown-up” suggestions, like Katherine Day’s suggestions, found at
• Gather the piles of books I’ve gathered at ALA and BookExpo that I plan to read and then give away as prizes or promotion at school.

Then what happens?
I start my first summer book with high hopes and optimism and often finish it right away, then I get 2 or 3 going, eventually getting distracted by a fourth and next thing I know, I’m sitting on the beach in mid-July with unfinished books in my beach bag, and enough frustration to last until Thanksgiving. Would a summer reading program designed for busy adults help? I think so. Don’t you get more done on a day when you have several things scheduled? Time and project management are essential to my productivity. It sounds rigid, but I end the day much more satisfied when I accomplish more. That’s why I think summer reading program for adults are worth promoting.

When I make my reading plan in June, I never factor in that I’ll be doing outdoor activities every sunny day, traveling as much as my job allows, repairing my house, cleaning my garage, taking care of family, and generally just trying to get enough energy back to start another school year in September. Sometimes I need the freedom from so much “input/output” that goes on during the year that reading another “heavy” book in the summer might not be what the doctor ordered. When did my reading excuses become so “adult”? Gerie Madak posted this quote in reference to Bridgewater’s Adult Summer Reading Program, “Too often adults deny themselves the pleasures of reading for fun. They’re so busy taking care of everyone else that they begin to regard reading as a self-indulgent pastime they don’t have time for because of chores, appointments, and deadlines.” I’d like to find the happy medium between the guilt of not reading and the gluttonous satisfaction of reading more books than someone else. These programs aren’t designed to be competitive, they’re more like open book clubs for the summer months.

So, in creating this post for LG in early July, I’ve decided to stop being so hard on myself and celebrate each book I do finish OR start! I’ll do more walking, yoga, and reading for pleasure. Unlike my students, I don’t HAVE to read a certain number of books to complete a summer reading project. Unlike the summer reading program I promote in school, I won’t win a prize for reading 100 hours at my public library (that’s changed in many places and I honestly did not know that until I started researching for this post). Since I began writing this, I’ve learned about some great adult summer reading programs. Like a book club, I think it’s great to have deadlines and discussion when you’re reading. The prizes are cool, too, don’t get me wrong- like restaurant and movie gift certificates, and of course, books!

My Summer Reading Tips

  • Make a “wish list” of books you’d really like to read, or mark up Nancy Pearl’s Book Lust with all your must-reads, like a book bucket list
  • Read a book about a hobby, new or otherwise
  • Hang out at the library with your kids or friends — you’ll be inspired
  • Join a successful Summer Reading program for adults, like the one in Seattle (Their summer reading Facebook page: or Burlington County (

Happy summer- Happy Reading!

I’d love to know more about dynamic summer reading programs for adults, and if you have your own plan that you’d like to share.


Entry filed under: Uncategorized. Tags: , , , .

Teaching Generation M handbook–"hot off the presses!" A New Role at ALA Annual


  • 1. cwood  |  July 13, 2009 at 11:22 am

    The National Center for Education Statistics estimates that 14% of adults have a below basic level of the ability to use written information to function in society. Adults who are functionally illiterate have more difficulty finding and keeping a job. West Deptford Free Public Library staff wants these folks to be comfortable sharing how they believe we can help them. The Adult Summer Reading in house display has already prompted one library user to inquire about the possibilities of “reading better.”

    This summer the West Deptford Free Public Library begins an Adult Summer Reading Program to promote reading for pleasure and lifelong learning. The program is built on the Seattle Public Library’s successful program of the past few years. Motivated readers can submit titles read online or in person at the Library. (See the Adult Services link at WDFPL's site to learn more.) Readers have been submitting hardcopy forms daily for the past few weeks. Online submissions can be made using a simple form created with Dreamweaver that sends an email to a specific West Deptford staff email account. Titles read throughout the summer will be posted weekly to the library’s West Deptford Reader Reviews blog by a volunteer.

    Program participants receive one drawing entry to win a ‘Booklover’s Bag’ of goodies for every three titles read.
    Readers are invited to an Ice Tea and Talk Reading Circle on Tuesday, August 18, 2009 10:30 a.m. We will be drawing the winner of the Booklover's Bag at this program.

    Online and hard copy forms include a request for the reader’s email address. The library is compiling them and building a database to use for permission marketing efforts in the near future.
    Marcus, E. N. (2006). The Silent epidemic — The health effects of illiteracy. New England Journal of Medicine, 399-341. Retrieved July 13, 2009, from

  • 2. April Bunn  |  July 13, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    That's really great! I hope more follow the lead. Thanks for sharing.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Disclaimer: The thoughts expressed on this blog are those of the authors and are not intended to reflect the views of our employers.

A Note on the history of posts

Please note that all Library Garden posts dated earlier than September 13,2009 originally appeared on our Blogger site. These posts have been imported to this site as a convenience when searching the entire site for content.

If you are interested in seeing the original post, with formatting and comments in tact, please bring up the original post at our old Blogger site.

Thanks for reading Library Garden!


%d bloggers like this: