Viewpoint: What you could (and should) read this summer

Too often, summer is seen as mere time off. True, the hours are better, and the pina coladas are flowing, but that doesn’t mean the brain needs to go sit on a shelf somewhere in the basement.

Instead of coming home for summer after that last class and throwing your backpack into the fireplace to celebrate, take some time to find a few solid summer reads. A good book does wonders to get the heart and mind back into a healthy place. Despite what school teaches us, reading doesn’t always have to be for points. Sometimes, it can just be for personal gain.

In that tone, here is the annual Signpost summer reading list. Warning: the following content is highly literary.

“Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” — John Le Carre, 1974. Made into a movie last year, this spy thriller is all about the world of indoor espionage. It may not sound thrilling to put James Bond behind a desk, but Le Carre does it and does it well, inventing an almost entirely new language along the way.

“A Walk in the Woods” — Bill Bryson, 1998. The perfect summer read about an overweight travel writer (nonfiction) and his portly high school friend who decide to — why not? — hike the entire Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. Do they succeed? It doesn’t matter. What they discover on their way is just as good, and Bryson’s descriptions of the folks and towns he sees on the way are without comparison.

“11/22/63” — Stephen King, 2012. Usually a writer of grotesque fiction, King takes a break from the macabre and writes a novel about a time traveler who goes back to prevent President Kennedy’s assassination. It’s thick, meaty and the perfect summer page-turner.

“The Remains of the Day” — Kazuo Ishiguro, 1989. Yes, it’s stuffy. Yes, it’s wordy. Yes, it’s British. But if you love “Downtown Abbey,” you’ll salivate over this heartbreaking story of a butler who is the master of an obsolete universe.

“Okay For Now” — Gary D. Schmidt, 2011. One of the best youth authors you haven’t heard of yet delivers an eccentric tale of boyhood life in 1968 New York City. It’s an easier read than the others on this list, but that doesn’t make it any less good.

“What the Dog Saw” — Malcolm Gladwell, 2009. Gladwell writes about hair dye, infomercials, the Dog Whisperer, and the sports phenomenon of “choking,” all with the narrative pace of the best novels. Ever wonder why there are so many types of mustard, but only one flavor of ketchup? He’ll tell you, and enthrall you with the answer.

“Rin Tin Tin: The Life and the Legend” — Susan Orlean, 2012. Rescued by a soldier from the battlefields of France in 1918, Rin Tin Tin, a German shepherd puppy, was destined to become a major movie star back in the U.S. Orlean tells his whole story. Spoiler: No, the dog didn’t actually live for several decades. They used new ones.

“Matilda” — Roald Dahl, 1988. Why put a child’s novel on this list? Because. That’s why. Matilda and every other Dahl novel can be read and appreciated by children of all ages (even the over-18 children). Who decides what ages certain books are for anyway?