Summer 2019 is long over, and so is my summer “to do” list. The list, inspired by similar lists in 2015 and 2017, was meant to focus my scatterbrained self on a few goals for the summer. Stuff that would be fun to accomplish … but didn’t matter much if I didn’t finish.
Summer Reading List 2019: My Summer Reading List was the biggest to-do during Summer 2019. Consisting of 19 books and 5 graphic novels, it was an aggressive and difficult list … and I’m still working on it. During the summer I read 11 of the 19 novels, and 7 graphic novels. My novel reading was well off its pace from previous summers; looking back there were a few reasons for that
- I didn’t go for my morning walks as I had in previous summers, which cut out 45-60 minutes of listening time each day. That limited my audiobook reading to two novels when I might otherwise of listened to three or four.
- I didn’t read novels during breakfast; instead, I focused on knocking down my comic-book backlog.
- I didn’t read as much on vacation as I expected to; again I focused on comic books
- I got distracted by streaming shows like Stranger Things, Good Omens, and The Boys. Good distractions to be sure, but time spent watching wasn’t time spent reading.
That said, my summer reading list is just that — a reading list. I’d be disappointed if I’d only managed three or four books on the list, but 11 is respectable, and the “summer” reading list continued to drive my reading choices into the fall. I’ve knocked off four more novels since Labor Day and there’s a decent chance I’ll have the rest finished by the new year …. but we’ll see.
Bring Back Monster Week: Alas, Monster Week. One of these days I’ll bring you back. I made progress on it this summer, watching a lot of movies and taking a lot of notes, but I never made the final push to turn those notes into reviews. There’s always next summer…
Complete the Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time: I made more progress on Ocarina of Time than I have in years. I fought my way to the lowest level of the shadow temple and went up against Bongo Bongo, an unsettling shadow spirit with two detached hands which beat on Link and the battlefield.
I died. So after doing some reading, I decided my best bet was to acquire the Biggoron’s Sword, a super-sized sword that does more damage against enemies. After a lengthy trading sequence, I acquired the sword and returned to face Bongo Bongo.
And I died again.
After that, I put the game on hold for a while. Christmas Break sounds like a good time to revisit the game.
Go to the Jersey Shore: It took until the very end of summer, but I finally made it to the Jersey Shore with my wife and Neutronlad.
Backpacking: My son and I joined our scout troop for a two-day backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail.
Play disc golf: I got in two or three games this summer; a few more games would have been nice, but that’s easier said than done.
Run five kilometers: I got back to the point where I could run five kilometers as part of my regular workout. And it felt great!
Swim a mile: I swam a mile at summer camp … which was way harder than running a 5K.
Walk seven miles a day: I hit my goal in July and August.
Get to 200 lbs. This goal evaded me; I ended the summer around 210 lbs., which is about three pounds less than when I started in June.
While there are some things I didn’t accomplish on my list, there are other things that I did that I never anticipated.
Climb a Cliff: I didn’t start off the summer intending to do this, but two other leaders in my son’s scout troop convinced me to try out rock climbing at Camp Ockanickon this summer. I’ve climbed before – my wife and I used to go climbing at our local college’s rock wall for date night – but I never made it to the top of the wall. This summer we basically did the Climbing merit badge, making it to the top of Ockanickon’s rock wall and then rappelling down the other side. We also went climbing on an actual cliff face at High Rocks State Park.
Complete the Ironman at Camp Ockanickon: The Ironman at Ockanickon consists of three things: a 1/2-mile swim, a 5K run, and rock wall climb in under a minute. I surprised myself by completing it – the swim and the run I was confident I could do, but I’ve never made it to the top of a rock wall before.
Unexpected binging: I expected to immerse myself in Stranger Things Season 3 when it dropped this summer, but I didn’t expect to be drawn into other series as well. I watched the excellently funny Good Omens series on Amazon, which adapts Neil Gaiman and Terry Prachett’s novel of an angel and a devil trying to avoid the apocalypse. I heard good things about the book but never read it. When I saw David Tennant was in the series, I thought I’d give it a try – I’m glad I did. It’s got a quirky sense of humor that I appreciate, and made me nostalgic for the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
I also got sucked into Amazon’s The Boys, in which narcissistic and occasionally downright evil superpowered beings are heralded as heroes. Based on a comic book series Garth Ennis and Darick Robertson, the show plays with the tropes of superhero movies, showing us what happens when a speedster accidentally clips a pedestrian while running at the speed of sound, or what a malevolent superman might be like. It can be brutal (see the aforementioned speedster incident) so you may not want to watch it if you’re already in a bad headspace.
Got caught up on my comic book reading: As I’ve mentioned several times before, one of my perpetual goals is to catch up on my comic book reading. At one point, I was nearly two years behind on reading my comic book pile. That was great for being able to complete storylines using Marvel Unlimited (which has a six-month delay in releasing new titles) but not so great for knowing what the heck was going on with current comic books. This summer, I finally closed the gap. I read the big Age of X-Men crossover, then binged on House of X and Powers of X, and now I’m actually reading the first issues of the big X-Men relaunch. Now I just need my fellow X-fan Erwin to catch up so we can actually talk about comic books.
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A view of Pennsylvania at sunset, as seen from Worthington State Forest in New Jersey. Credit: Ken Newquist