The Summer Reading Challenge begins tomorrow, and several participants have their reading lists up (including someone who is going to read Her Privates We, and man, is that ever an unfortunate title).

#2 son has a summer reading list. $40 worth of reference books, plus seven novels, only one of which is available in a cheap edition. They are to own the books so they can write in them, so we are talking about $150 for a 10th grade summer reading list. This is as bad as a college class.

We also have college classes to pay for — #2 daughter’s tuition for eight weeks is just about the amount of money I take home in five weeks. Fortunately, she has something to contribute, but we are still definitely on austerity measures for the summer.

So I went to Frugalreader, where it turned out that they had all but one of the novels listed. I listed nine of my books, and so far have had four requested. As soon as my requesters receive their books, I get to request #2 son’s books — if they are still there. I am optimistic. This will get most of those novels to us for $1.59 (the cost of sending the books) apiece, instead of $16.95.

Whatever I cannot get that way, I will then check the local used bookstores for. Amazon has used books, but the shipping of $3.95 makes them expensive for used books, even if the seller is only asking for pennies. I may use that method for the reference books, though.

I am not sure whether it seems more unreasonable that the high school should ask us to spend $150 for a summer reading list for one class, or that publishers should offer classic novels only as $16.95 trade paper, rather than $3.95 mass paperbacks. Shouldn’t the masses get to read The Grapes of Wrath on the cheap?