Summer break ideas for literature students: Gain culture through literature reading and discussion

Summer literature

Summer literature (Photo by JPott)

Literature can do more than help you pass the warm summer afternoons. It can lead to a career in writing, publishing, library science or teaching. Can you imagine yourself in any of those roles? The study of literature can also serve as an excellent preparation for a career in law or communication. Literature helps us to refine our ability to speak, read and write as well as to perform critical thinking. It opens our minds to new ideas and to other languages and cultures. So, what are you waiting for? Try some of these summer break ideas and explore the many places literature can take you.

Explore the literature landscape

Literature can take you positively anywhere! You can travel into the past through the novels and short stories of greats like Ernest Hemingway or Edgar Allen Poe. Or, travel into the future with Jules Verne or H.G. Wells. Indulge your inner child with the treasures of children’s literature or get dramatic with the plays of Ibsen or Shakespeare. Whatever your interest, you can plummet its depths at Questia where you’ll find thousands of full-text books and articles.

If literature is your passion, then your major is likely be English. While your career path could easily take you to graduate school and then onto teaching, it might interest you to know that many literature and English majors ultimately find their place in such far flung specialties as: advertising, finance, public relations, business and international relations.

Why worship at the altar of literature?

According to Dan Colman, it’s because literature has value for civilization! In his August 22, 2011 post for Open Culture titled, “Ray Bradbury: Literature is the Safety Valve of Civilization,” Colman outlines science fiction author Ray Bradbury’s thoughts on the contributions of literature.

“For the author of Fahrenheit 451, literature has more than an aesthetic purpose. It has an important sociological/psychoanalytic role to play. Stories are a safety valve. They keep society collectively, and us individually, from coming apart at the seams. They’re the linchpin of civilization. And they provide a more immediate source of pleasure and wonder too,” Colman said.

Know thyself — Read

To augment your reading experience this summer, join a book discussion group where you can share your thoughts and experiences of the book with others. You’ll be doing yourself a big favor according to Brittany Allcorn. In her June 9, 2012 post for Changing Lives, Changing Minds (CLTL), titled, “Enter a New World with Deep Reading,” Allcorn describes the benefits of reading and sharing with others.

“Narratives have a literal meaning that all readers can understand, but they can also be manipulated by individual readers who develop their own meaning and interpretation of a text based on their own experiences. The meaning readers develop from a text is important because it leads to a better understanding of the self,” Allcorn said.

Allcorn maintains that engaging in “deep reading” is when one asks questions about the story and discusses the text with others in order to “make meaning out of their personal and collective experience.” By understanding yourself better, you will also gain a greater understanding of your interconnections with others. If you can’t find a group that you like, try starting your very own!

Resources for literature students

For even more inspiration to help you get your lit on this summer, check out these sites:

  • Voice of the Shuttle: Make your way through the many links to literature resources compiled from universities across the world.
  • Blog of the Western Literature Association (WLA): If you love westerns, this is the site for you.
  • Nobel Prize in Literature at Get into the head of a Nobel Laureate author.
  • Shmoop: In spite of the funny name, this site is a wealth of resources for students.
  • DMOZ Writers Resources Chats and Forums: This is your jumping-off point to forums and online communities centered around writing.
  • Library of Congress Poetry and Literature site: No list of resources would be complete without the LOC and its wealth of text and images.

Happy reading!

1 reply
  1. Larry (Lorenzo Bernardotto - It.) says:

    Hello, Claire. I’m Larry, from Italy. I have read your article and I agree with you fully: literature and history are a big journey through the past, indeed. My travels into American history and literature began thirty-six years ago and Questia is really an invaluable resource for my personal studies and research. I usually prefer colonial period of American history, but I also follow other subjects. As you have said, through literature (paper books of my private American collection, collected over the years), I succeeded in writing a small short-story set during the American Revolution in western Massachusetts (I succeeded in writing the English version as well, but English, sometimes, is very difficult for me to do that).


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