Summer reading starts now. Here are six (or more) books to add to your list

Introducing the 2019 #ReadICT Challenge

Suzanne Tobias explains the third annual #ReadICT Challenge, a partnership with the Wichita Public Library.
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Suzanne Tobias explains the third annual #ReadICT Challenge, a partnership with the Wichita Public Library.

It’s Memorial Day weekend, and you know what that means:

The official start of the summer reading season.

The longer days, nicer weather and instinctual rhythms of the school year calendar make me think about grabbing a book and diving in. Whether you read dozens of books a year or just a couple, this is a great time for reading — and it’s the perfect time to revisit our annual #ReadICT Challenge and explore some bonus categories.

The challenge urges local bibliophiles to expand their horizons by reading books from a dozen different categories — everything from a book with a face on the cover to a book recommended by a child or teen — before the end of this calendar year.

There’s still plenty of time to get join the fun: Join our “Wichita Eagle #ReadICT Challenge” group on Facebook, and visit the Wichita Public Library’s website — — to get more information, log your reading and qualify for prizes.

To mark the start of summer reading, we’re issuing some extra-credit categories geared toward this book-friendly season. No pressure, no rules. Just six more types of books — two each for June, July and August — that you can add to the original dozen. Here you go:

1. A book with “sun” in the title or on the cover — Lots of possibilities here, including “The Sun Also Rises,” “Half of a Yellow Sun,” “I’ll Give You the Sun,” “A Thousand Splendid Suns,” “The Sun Is Also a Star,” and “A Raisin in the Sun.” Find a nice sunny spot and enjoy.

2. A quick read (200 pages or less) — Let’s face it: It’s summer, but we’re still busy. Or maybe just lazy? Either way, it’s nice to find a book you can read in a sitting or two.

Here are some books that are less than 200 pages but still pack a powerful punch: “Night” by Eli Wiesel, “Of Mice and Men” by John Steinbeck, “Animal Farm” by George Orwell, “The Fifth Child” by Doris Lessing, “Tin Man” by Sarah Winman, “Waiting for Eden” by Elliott Ackerman, and “All We Shall Know” by Donal Ryan.

3. A book about food — Consider a chef memoir, such as “Kitchen Confidential” by Anthony Bourdain or “Yes, Chef” by Marcus Samuelsson. Food writer Ruth Reichl — author of “Tender at the Bone” and “Comfort Me With Apples” — has a new memoir out this summer, “Save Me the Plums,” which chronicles her tenure as editor-in-chief of Gourmet magazine.

You could even pick a cookbook that’s fun to read, such as “I Like You: Hospitality Under the Influence” by Amy Sedaris, “Dinner: A Love Story” by Jenny Rosenstrach, or “Home Cooking: A Writer in the Kitchen” by Laurie Colwin.

4. A book that’s been made into a movie or TV show — A few months ago, inspired by all the buzz surrounding the Netflix movie, I picked up “Bird Box” by Josh Malerman and stayed up way too late to finish it. This year I imagine plenty of readers intrigued by the “Game of Thrones” television phenomenon will be checking out George R.R. Martin’s fantasy series.

Other book-to-film adaptations coming in 2019 include “Where’d You Go, Bernadette” by Maria Semple, “Artemis Fowl” by Eoin Colfer, “The Woman in the Window” by A.J. Finn and “The Goldfinch” by Donna Tartt.

5. A book set in a place you’d like to travel — Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat, Pray, Love,” which chronicled the author’s post-divorce journey through Italy, India and Indonesia, is one of the most iconic books about transformative travel. (So much so, in fact, that its 10th anniversary inspired a follow-up essay collection titled, “Eat, Pray, Love Made Me Do It.”)

Three of the places I’d love to travel — and some books set in those locations — are Iceland (“Burial Rites” by Hannah Kent), Africa (“Homegoing” by Yaa Gyasi) and Cuba (“Dreaming in Cuban” by Christina Garcia). Your travel dreams likely differ from mine, but whatever the locale, find a book and travel through the pages.

6. A book in a format you don’t normally read (audio, e-book or print) — This category is more about expanding the way you read rather than what. I tend toward traditional print most of the time, but I recently discovered audiobooks and am loving how they captivate me in a whole new way.

E-books and audiobooks don’t have to be expensive, either. I’m loving the free audiobooks available through the Kansas State Library system using the rbDigital app. For more information about how to access e-books or audiobooks using your library card, visit any library branch or call the Wichita Public Library at 316-261-8500.

Downloading e-books

The Wichita Public Library will have two sessions this summer where patrons can learn how to use Overdrive and Libby, the library’s free digital e-book services. Bring your digital reader or mobile device and your library card for hands-on help. The sessions are 4 to 5:30 p.m. June 4 at the Rockwell branch, 5939 E. Ninth St. (call 316-688-9361 to register), and 6 to 7:30 p.m. July 17 at the Westlink branch, 8515 Bekemeyer (call 316-337-9456 to register).

Derby Library reading program

On Tuesday, May 28, the Derby Public Library will launch its annual summer reading program for adults who have a Derby library card. (You don’t have to live in Derby to get a card.) To be eligible for prizes, read a minimum of four books of at least 100 pages each and log them online or on a paper reading log and turn it in at the library circulation desk.

Participants will be entered into a weekly drawing for a tote bag filled with books and library swag. Three grand prize winners selected by random drawing will each receive a Kindle Paperwhite e-reader and an Amazon gift card. For more information, visit

Suzanne Perez Tobias, who has covered news in Wichita for nearly 30 years, writes editorials and opinion columns for The Eagle. An avid reader, she also oversees The Eagle’s books coverage and coordinates the annual #ReadICT Challenge. She can be reached at 316-268-6567.